For some time prior to 2001, September the 11th had a much different meaning. It wasn’t about mourning the dead from an act of terrorism brought on by horrid American foreign policy. It was and still is a national day in Catalonia and unlike 9-11 in the US which is fading from memory, 11-9 in Catalonia is meaning even more. You see, unlike a great many countries who celebrate their victorious days like the 4th of July for independence in the US or the 14th of July for Bastille Day in France, Catalonia celebrates a day of defeat.
It was in 1714 that Catalonia was defeated in the War of Spanish Succession by the Spaniards to bring it under the crown of Spain. Catalonia had the unfortunate luck to back the losers in that war and thus ended up becoming part of a kingdom that did everything they could to try and wipe out all things Catalan. The French were a great deal more successful in this as Perpignan and the surrounding areas all used to be part of the Catalan Kingdom as well. These days, you won’t find any true trace of Catalan Pride in that region.
The Catalan areas that are in Spain are a great deal different though. Despite nearly 300 years of occupation by Spain, their identity lives on. They managed to even weather the years of Franco who did everything he could to wipe out all trace of Catalan history and language. It didn’t work and now the issue is becoming very polemic.
Due to the general attitude of Spain, which despises having to speak another language in Spain, thus the reason most Spaniards are monolingual, stuck in Spain, and ignorant. The common battle cry of the nationalist Castellano speaker is that Spanish is in danger of extinction in Catalonia and that allowing Catalan to continue to be taught is a threat to the “true” language of Spain. As anyone can see, Spanish isn’t in danger of extinction. It’s the third most spoken language in the world actually. Other people claim that there are, “Twelve year-olds in Catalonia who can’t speak Spanish properly.” I love this argument because as you can hear in the audio clip two links back, it’s actually the 12 year-old Spaniards from families who move to Catalonia who can’t speak Spanish properly. And honestly, I know a lot of 12 year-olds in the US who can’t speak English properly.
But, getting back the National Day, there is a rising tension in Spain regarding secessionist movements. No, there won’t be war over it, but people who weren’t necessarily nationalists are being forced to become even more so due to the ever-present harassment of Spaniards. This could easily culminate in an Independence Referendum in 2014 which would mark the 300th year of Spanish occupation. If the referendum for the Basque Country proposed for later this year goes well, there is a chance that one for Catalonia might go well. The only issue is that there are so many Spaniards from outside Catalonia that moved there for work because where they lived was poor, that a referendum might very well fail despite every single Catalan voting for it. I only hope that I will be living there and able to vote in 2014 so that my ‘yes’ can be counted. By the way, if we ever wanted to break off California from the rest of the Hick USA, I’d vote a solid ‘yes’ on that as well.