In a very odd arts piece in yesterday’s New York Times, Michael Kimmelman presented a maudlin and surprisingly one-sided picture of the debate on bullfighting in Catalonia.
Grouping together Catalan nationalists and animal rights activists, he presents the anti-bullfighting side as a conglomerate of the hypocritical (you eat burgers, don’t you?) and the culturally myopic (you’re just doing this because you hate all things Spanish). Kimmelman notes that in Southern France, historically Catalan territory, bullfighting is embraced in reaction to the French government’s ban on it, and argues that Catalans in Northern Spain oppose it as part of their separatist agenda. This is how he links the two agendas. Tidy piece of logic there, Michael.
The author goes on to quote British travel writer Robert Elms who comments, “At a point when Europe is becoming bigger and more multicultural, Barcelona is becoming smaller and more Catalan.”
(Elms’ big claim to fame in the culture world is naming the band Spandau Ballet. Europe thanks you, sir.)
If Kimmelman had actually spoken to any continental Europeans, he may have discovered that cultural relics like bullfighting are a big part of what makes Spain-Catalonia-the Iberian Peninsula different from the rest of Europe. Until medieval practices like bullfighting, outdated laws on domestic violence, and incompliance with European environment laws are eradicated, Europe will continue to think of Spain as a second-rate country.
I could go on, but instead I’ll just wrap this up by asking Mr. Kimmelman to consider interviewing parties on both sides of the debate, rather than choosing a British travel writer and a bullfighting columnist for La Vanguardia, one of the most conservative newspapers in Spain.
Bullfighting is in no danger of disappearing as long as tourism is the main source of income in Andalusia and other regions of the peninsula. To say that anti-taurism is separatist is akin to saying that abolitionists were anti-American. I expect better arguments from the New York Times. Articles like this one make me question the paper’s credibility, as well as the editor’s cultural sensitivity.