Monday, January 06, 2003

Francesc-Marc Álvaro of La Vanguardia cites an imaginary friend of his as saying, "Nobody talks about what is really in our interest...Do you know why nobody is protesting the National Library's demential measure to separate Catalan and Valencian as different languages in its cataloguing? Do you know why we live in a country where, despite the use of Catalan in the schools, there are almost no toys available in Catalan? Do you know why the politicians don't really support the official recognition of the Catalan national soccer team, with the exception of friendly matches?" The imaginary friend then says that the silent majority in Catalonia is concerned about these issues and that--conspiracy theory alert!--the central government in Madrid manipulates people's feelings on a daily basis.

No. About 20% of Catalans, the Cataloonies, actually care about these things, and they're so obsessed with them that they think about nothing else. Going back to George Orwell's indispensible "Notes on Nationalism", "A nationalist is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of comparative prestige...his thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs, and humiliations...Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception." Only a nationalist--an uncommonly stupid nationalist--could get worked up about something so ridiculous as a Catalan national football team. (Or, for that matter, burning the American flag or saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school.) Fortunately, most people in Catalonia are more worried about such issues as prices, economic growth, unemployment, housing, crime, education, health care, transportation, and the like.

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