So Majorca has apologised to the Jews for the Spanish Inquisition.
Francesc Antich, the regional president of the Balearic Islands, issued an official condemnation of the killings in what was heralded by Jewish groups as the first of its kind in Spain.
“We have dared to gather here to recognise the grave injustice committed against those Majorcans who were accused, persecuted, charged and condemned to death for their faith and their beliefs,” Mr Antich said at a memorial service held in Palma de Majorca.
Much like the wailing guilt fest we have endured over the transatlantic slave trade. At the time that Bristol was being exhorted to apologies to a somewhat bemused young black population for something that the people apologising didn’t do to other people long dead, I was scathing, just as I am scathing now and for th same reason.
An apology, to be meaningful, has to be an act of contrition from the person who perpetrated the slight. The Spanish Inquisition’s activities in the 15th Century were carried out by people long dead against other people, who are also long dead. They don’t care very much either way, being dead. I’m not sure that modern Jews give it over much thought these days – and if they do they need to get out more.
There is an arrogant egotism involved in accepting the guilt of someone else – and there is another matter, that of revisionism. The events of the 15th Century in Spain need to be observed in the light of the preceding war against the Islamic invaders. Spain had rid itself of the conquerors and Christendom was again in charge of the peninsular. At that time, Judaism and Islam were viewed with mistrust and it was in the light of this that the Inquisition acted and flourished. That it was a malignant perversion of Christianity is pretty much a matter of record, but to apologise for that some six centuries later is absurd.
With modern eyes we have the luxury of looking back at such events with disdain. But, then, we hadn’t just fought a war against a conqueror. It is not up to us to judge those people with the sensibilities of our times. If we judge them it must be with the sensibilities of theirs. The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there. They believed differently, their experience was different, their society was different.
But, ultimately, those people alive today who have assumed the effrontery to apologise on their behalf did not commit the atrocities. The people in receipt did not suffer from them. Any apology therefore is hollow, meaningless gesture politics. The politics of self-hatred.
No apology is due and none should have been proffered.