You know, I think there's more anti-Catalan feeling in the rest of Spain now than there was ten or fifteen years ago. This is, of course, ridiculous when you think about it; there's no point in being anti any national or ethnic group. Individual Catalan people have done absolutely nothing to individual people from the rest of Spain, and vice versa, and you would think we'd all get together and realize this. But no.
I think a lot of the anti-Catalan feeling originates among a fairly small group of extreme Spanish nationalists. They are angered by the idea that a few extreme Catalan nationalists consider that they are not Spanish. They feel rejected, since these Catalans have chosen to reject a Spanish identity. Something that always goes along with feeling rejected is the reaction that those who rejected you consider themselves superior to you. Spanish nationalists therefore expand their dislike of extreme Catalan nationalists into a dislike of anything Catalan, and vice versa. We think it's all pretty childish, and from our perspective it is, but we do some things that seem pretty childish to them, so I suppose it more or less balances out.
Since Catalonia is a good bit richer than most other regions of Spain, it kicks in more tax money than most other regions of Spain. Some Catalans resent this and call for the Catalan government to receive all the taxes collected in Catalonia, rather than only a part of them. This is considered non-solidarious and selfish by Spanish nationalists; Catalan nationalists conclude that less hard-working Spaniards are ripping them off through the tax system. Add to this the fact that Catalan nationalist political groups have been decisive in four of the last five Spanish legislatures (González's last two terms, Aznar's first term, and then Zapatero's new term), and you get some Spanish nationalists going around complaining that Catalonia is far too influential in Spanish afairs and needs to be taken down to size.
Recently we've seen an outburst of minor incidents that are all adding up together to provide a climate of irritation. A key issue, of all things, is the damn water plan. Remember? They were going to transport water from the Río Ebro down to Valencia and Murcia. Catalonia and Aragon bitterly opposed the measure, which was shot down when the Socialists won the last elections. So Valencia and the southeast are really p.o.ed at the Catalans. Another one is the damn sports teams. Some Catalan nationalists really, really want their own sports teams. Spanish nationalists will not tolerate this attempt at athletic separatism. There's no middle ground on this question, and a lot of Spanish nationalists are feeling triumphant right now. It's goddamn roller hockey, for Jesus H. Christ's everloving sake. Add to that the stink about whether the Valencian dialect is a form of Catalan or its own language, and the extreme Catalan nationalists' very irresponsible public outcry against the new European Constitution because it doesn't recognize Catalan as an official language, and you've got mucho bad feeling building up on both sides.
Then that demagogue Carod-Rovira, who is completely irresponsible, went off and demanded that Catalonia not support Madrid's bid for the 2012 Olympics in revenge for alleged pressure applied by Spanish nationalists to the goddamn international roller-hockey federation. Everybody agrees that was just going too far, even most Catalanistas. So did Carod do something to soothe the savage breast, like say apologize? Of course not. Then some fuel was added to the fire when the Catalan wine-growers' association (heavily subsidized by the Generalitat) made much publicity of the "fact" that Catalan wines had beaten out Rioja wines in allegedly blind taste tests that they paid for. Reaction? There's a grass-roots Spanish nationalist campaign now going around calling for a boycott of cava, Catalan sparkling wine, at Christmas this year.
EVERYBODY GROW THE HELL UP, ENJOY SOME NICE WINE, HAVE A GOOD CHRISTMAS, KEEP THE RIVALRY ON THE SOCCER FIELD, AND SHUT UP ALREADY.
Sorry. Hope I made myself clear.
Wine suggestions: I'm no wine snob. I like inexpensive wine. Not wine-in-a-box, you know, stuff that comes in bottles with corks and costs five bucks or so. If you want red, try Torres Sangre de Toro and Raimat Cabernet Sauvignon from Catalonia, Señorio de Sarriá from Navarra, and Campo Viejo, Siglo, and Marqués de Caceres from La Rioja. For whites, Alella Marfil, Torres Viña Sol, Marqués de Monistrol, and the no-name stuff that comes from Verdú that we buy in four-liter jugs out in the pueblo are all just fine. They're all from Catalonia. I like Anna de Codorniu, Segura Viudas, and Torelló Brut Nature cavas.