The pictures coming out of Catalonia over the weekend were violent: Spanish riot police dragging women by the hair and beating elderly men to the ground; a torn T-shirt revealing a bloodied torso; angry young people facing a wall of shields. Before they were deleted from the public eye by the atrocity in Las Vegas, the images stirred anxiety and even shock. How, people asked, could such anti-democratic and draconian violence happen in the heart of Europe? And why not just let Catalans vote in their referendum?

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