The United States eh? What to make of ’em? The world’s most advanced country? Some of their conceited propaganda would have us believe so, especially under the current president. And yet the insistence on the right to bear arms would contradict that in so many people’s view, given that one of the principal measures of a country being civilised would be for its citizens not to blow each other away whenever the feeling takes them.
Why does any of this matter here in Catalonia? I’ll tell you why. Because US embassies around the globe have recently taken to advising American schools, no matter where they are located, to have armed guards at their gates. And one such school in Barcelona - I haven’t yet done the research to determine whether it’s more than just one for the moment - has followed this advice and now has security guards toting guns at the entrance to the school. In other words, America has brought its trigger happy culture to our city, and it’s been allowed to happen.
Why should you care about this? Perhaps you don’t. Why do I? Because my son happens to attend a nearby school, whose parents - unbelievably to me - are now petitioning the school board to adopt the same measures. “If the American school guards have guns, we should have them too” seems to be the reasoning. I call it reasoning, but of course it’s nothing of the sort, it’s blind fear dominating these parents’ thinking. Can I blame them? Yes, I can, but first I must question why the American school is allowed to bring its dangerous culture to our community.
Many times over the years of writing this column I have argued the case for immigrants - whether rich or poor - needing to adapt to the society they have adopted, even if they are only here for a short period of time. That’s not to say that the native culture should not be enriched by influence from other cultures, of course it should, and that must also be encouraged, but we must be extremely careful as to exactly which cultural influences are welcomed. The right to bear arms cannot be one of them. I, like many others, shake my head in disbelief when I hear the tragically all-too-common news of school shootings in the US. Not to mention the use of guns in other crimes such as robberies often leading to the loss of life.
If Americans need guns to defend against attacks on their premises around the world, perhaps they should be asking themselves why they are coming under attack rather than spreading their dangerous values of the right to carry a lethal weapon to societies who do not believe in such values themselves.
If other immigrant nationalities were to introduce customs that are against the law here, there would rightly be an immediate clampdown on it, as happens with religious intolerance, gender violence, homophobia, abortion due to gender, and so many other practices unacceptable in our liberal but sensible culture. The introduction of guns into American schools in Catalonia should be dealt with in the same way.