‘Cómo no hablar de Ayuso’ (How could we not speak about Ayuso?) is Neftalí Villanueva and Manuel Almagro’s new article for ‘CONTEXTO’. Our colleagues reflect on testimonial injustice, asymmetrical polarisation and disagreements. These are key elements that need to be explained so as to deal with controversies in an increasingly identity-focused public sphere.
‘Cómo no hablar de Ayuso’
‘Communism or freedom’, Ayuso’s recent statements, cannot be countered with a flood of figures or mockery. Those who want to undermine the chances of the Spanish Popular Party’s candidate should find a way to reconstruct public debate.
In 2017, Boris Johnson, who was Foreign Minister, visited the Schwedagon pagoda, one of the most sacred Buddhist centres in Myanmar, which was a source of dispute during the colonial period. He had just rung the bell that substituted the original one, which was stolen and lost by Portuguese mercenary soldiers during the 17th century, when he started reciting Rudyard Kipling Mandalay’s poem. This poem had become popular as a song entitled ‘Road to Mandalay’ in which the wind and the bells represent a girl’s longing for his beloved singing: ‘Come you back, you British soldier, Come you back to Mandalay’. The British ambassador, who clearly seemed uncomfortable, tried to redress the situation in the following exchange:
Ambassador: You’re on mic.
Boris Johnson: Oh, yeah.
Ambassador: Probably not a good idea…
Boris Johnson: What? The road to Mandalay?
Ambassador: No, not appropriate.
Boris Johnson: Good stuff.
Boris Johnson, who tackled a 10-year-old kid during a rugby match in Tokio, who said that voting for conservatives would make your wife’s breasts grow, or that women who wore a niqab looked like a postbox or a bank robber, was portrayed as a fool by progressive newspapers after the events in Shwedagon. But that was not the first time. Summaries of his ‘achievements’ were regularly published with mockery by British and international newspapers.
Boris Johnson is certainly not the only successful politician who has displayed a careless attitude towards the most basic facts or data. According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump made 30,573 false claims during his presidency, more than half of them during the last year of his presidency, and was consistently accused of “making a fool of himself” with his statements, especially during the 2016 campaign in which he became president. Puigdemont is another politician who frequently receives these disqualifications / fair accusations, even before he left Spain. Even though their reputations have been damaged, this hasn’t particularly affected their political careers. In fact, they seem to have turned their lack of reputation into a lever to push their political agenda.
You can continue reading the article at CTXT.