(Adaptation of the article published in El País 12th December 2012 and written by Antonio Gutiérrez Rubí)
The Spanish minister of Education, Culture and Sports, Mr. Jose Ignacio Wert Ortega has finally approved a law for “hispanizing” Catalan people on its purpose of lapidating our culture and language. But he is not alone, though we do not know whose orders he is following. His political attack against Catalan language, his mission, camouflaged in an reform of the education system, is not casual neither improvised. It is not an isolated action either. There is obviously a background strategy.
Some months ago, in an interview to a Catalan newspaper, Mr. Wert declared: “first I point, and then I shoot”. And he added provocatively: “I am conscious that one of my virtues is not oral continence”. Yet it is true, he is irresponsible, as he declared with his smiley face. But he is not a fool at all. The Spanish king calls him “poor Wert” and his little things, but he does not require kind comprehension to his actions, but total reproval. And publicly. The Spanish parliament already tried in vain due to the PP majority. But Mr. Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish president, cannot keep looking somewhere else: or he supports his minister or he overrules him. Or could it be Wert is talking for Rajoy? Or against him?
The key points of the strategy that Wert uses to attack Catalan language as a tool of political domination have previously been tested in Valencia region and recently in Balearic Islands. Nobody can deny they have been successful. But neither can anybody deny they have damaged our culture. And I am not talking about of “collateral damages”. The damage has been deep and the wound is still bleeding, causing coexistence confrontations within the population and avoiding true structural reform measures to be put in place within our institutional architecture: diversity must not be seen as a problem but as an opportunity.
Some months ago, the parliament of the Balearic Islands approved the reform of the Law of Public offices (and indirectly, they also approved the law of language normalization), which abolished, for example, the requirement of Catalan knowledge as indispensable to work for any public office in the islands; this political campaign promise from Partido Popular was highly criticized by the opposition parties and for many social and cultural associations.
Furthermore, the Spanish conservative government has stigmatized Catalan language so grotesquely that is has pitifully been defined as “co-official language different to Spanish” in the Balearic Islands or as “language spoken in the eastern area of Aragon”.
This political attack follows a persistent and calculated plan. It is a well-engineered political strategy that is executed systematically and with absolute determination. Some believe it is easier to defeat your adversaries if you destroy their social eco-system. Here I list just a few approaches of this peculiar mental frame against our language:
1. Deny the unity of Catalan language in the territories where it is spoken: politics against philology.
2. Label Catalan language as a strange (or foreign) language wherever it is naturally spoken.
3. Devaluate Catalan language, consigning it to a minority or residual language, and cancelling its status of co-official language.
4. Suggest that the protection and promotion of Catalan language is supposedly covering the imposition of the Catalan culture and language, and that may limit individual freedoms or avoid the development of the Spanish state, its harmony and sustainable laws.
5. Define the use of Catalan language (and other official languages within the Spanish state) as a superfluous and needless cost in times of crisis. Unfortunately the aggressive and bitter debates at the Spanish parliament in these regards are a good proof of this horrible approach.
6. Identify Catalan language with nationalism, miss-using it for political manipulation.
7. Believe that the promotion and protection of Catalan language are directed to remove any individual freedom or used for sectarian indoctrination. According to this, public schools and media are used with the unique purpose to clean people brains massively. Therefore, they must fight against Catalan language to obtain freedom and democracy.
8. “Hispanize” all territories within the Spanish state, taking the Spanish language as a totalitarian flag. Other languages are a threaten that must be exterminated or at least limited.
Mr. Wert, who is a sociologist, keeps on tensing the rope and measuring reactions. Or maybe producing reactions, like a marksmanship: with accuracy and precision. Just when we would expect tension to lose up between the leaders of Catalonia and Spain, Wert –and whoever directs this malefic plan- is directly attempting to dynamite Catalonia identity and language, by imposing a law of “language normalization” to secure Spanish is the main and only language learned in schools.
All our effort of bringing our language back to life after Franco’s dictatorship will be in vain if we let Mr. Wert apply this law. The parliament of Catalonia must do a strong and decisive action to defy the instructions of the Spanish Education minister. Since supposedly we live in democracy and not dictatorship, they should not be able to impose a law that over 75% of the population rejects completely. This is a clear sign Catalan people must immediately push for a democratic revolution, before we lose our identity and our language forever.