I have commented before on the curious moral malady that seems to have overtaken Europe (see, for example, this). Even those who dream of a united continent, like Timothy Garton Ash, ask with a kind of despair: What does it mean to be a European?
Well, we now have one answer. Domingo Tringuero, mayor of the small Spanish town of Pozuelo de Calatrava, was quoted as saying: “To be European means not to get angry with your wife if she sleeps with someone else.” This, according to Spain’s excellent newsblog, periodista digital. The good mayor also stated, “I went to a hooker’s funeral, and people were offering me their condolences.” All a misunderstanding: “I’ve gone to whorehouses to chat, we politicians have to know how to do things like that.”
Tringuero belongs to the opposition conservative party. The Socialist Party, in power since the elections that followed the deadly bombing of the Madrid train stations, has raised a hue and cry about the mayor’s public blatherings – though not, as it happens, because of his original approach to family values. The socialists find Tringuero repugnantly antifemenist, and have called on the head of the conservatives to “stop these outbreaks of machismo among your friends.” Moral qualms there are none.
The comments that follow the article add another layer of insight into the European condition. One commenter demands, with a certain befuddlement, if you want to do something, and can, why should you not? Another compares the political correctness of the socialists with “American biblical fanaticism,” which he had just read about in the NYT.
Yet a third agrees that anger at a cheating wife is indeed un-European, and concludes with a rhetorical flourish: “Would you prefer the image of the Spanish male to stay the same as in Bizet’s Carmen?”