It might seem like a headline from a satirical newspaper, but it is not: Spanish will no longer be the official language of the Spanish State or the lingua franca in education. It is part of the socialist-Communist government’s new education law. This war on the Spanish language is the ransom that socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez has to pay the Catalan nationalists of ERC (a party that represents 3 percent of Spanish voters) in exchange for their vote to pass a general state budget of which Chávez would have been proud. Sánchez will do anything to stay in power, even trample on Spain’s greatest treasure, one that is shared with 500 million people: the Spanish language.
Thanks to this new law, the only lingua franca in Catalonia will be Catalan.
As a Spaniard, it is difficult for me to explain to people outside my country what is happening here without sounding dire. But in many cities in Spain, children will not be able to study primarily in Spanish. In Catalonia, mathematics, science, and philosophy will continue to be taught in Catalan, as they have been for years, hindering the education of those children who don’t speak it. But this time, parents won’t be able to demand, via the justice system, that their Spanish-speaking child be educated in Spanish, which is a direct violation of the right to freedom of education as set forth in the Spanish Constitution.
The same will happen in the Basque Country and in Galicia, two other regions with their own minority languages, where in fact this discrimination of Spanish was already taking place — with the consent of the PNV nationalists, in the case of Basque, and the center-right PP, in the case of Galician. What has changed now is that the war on the Spanish language will be made official, sponsored by the Spanish state itself. The policy is about as intelligent as repeatedly hitting one’s big toe with a hammer to cure osteoarthritis.
The cause of this madness is an extreme-left Catalan nationalist party that represents relatively few Spanish voters, and that within Catalonia represents 22 percent of voters. But it is Pedro Sánchez’s socialist government that is permitting it to happen. Sánchez, who last week celebrated in parliament the “resounding defeat” of American conservatism, is the only one to blame. It is as if someone decided to leave education in the United States in the hands of Antifa leaders.
To be able to understand the regionalist mania among Spain’s politicians and elite, you must realize that nationalism is a lucrative business. The case of the Pujol family is well known in Catalonia; the clan behind the current Catalan nationalism and the region’s former president Jordi Pujol are involved in an endless judicial investigation for corruption in which millions of dollars, diverted from the Catalan people, keep cropping up in tax havens. Behind every extravagant nationalist policy, there is an elite class of government officials and associated companies getting rich.
The Spanish language has been in the sights of the nationalists since the beginning of democracy. They have peddled a fictional narrative of Marxist inspiration to divide the people between oppressive languages and victimized languages, creating a problem where there was none. The Spanish people speak in whatever language we prefer to, and we regard all the country’s state languages a source of cultural richness; not as a reason for confrontation. In Catalonia, for example, nationalism does not seek to reaffirm a Catalan identity, but to damage Spain. This has succeeded. Today, children who speak Spanish are humiliated, singled out, and even attacked in schools. In the last election campaign, the independentistas made a show of cleaning the sidewalks with bleach after the leaders of non-independence parties passed through their streets.
The perverse Catalan nationalism stands out in its immigration policy. For decades, they have despised Latin-American immigration because they are Spanish speakers, giving priority to immigration from Arab countries. Today, Catalonia has a fierce anti-Christian, anti-Spanish strain in many neighborhoods. There is hope: Nearly half of its population continues to heroically defend their right, against all odds, to be Spanish. But from now on, they no longer have the moral support of the Spanish government.
In Galicia, the Basque Country, or Catalonia, their minority languages are used to bar Spanish speakers from entering government posts, and in places such as Catalonia, the regional government imposes fines on traders who hang signage in Spanish. In the 1970s, Barcelona was a city open to the world. Today that city is Madrid, while the nationalists welcome foreigners to Barcelona with graffiti spelling “death to tourists,” which might just be their avant-garde and novel way of boosting an industry that gives employment to 14 percent of Catalans.
We need no reminder that in the Basque Country, just a couple of decades ago, you weren’t given a fine to convince you of the importance of putting up your bakery’s signage in Basque; instead you were simply issued a bullet to the back of your head by the socialist-terrorist group ETA. Now they issue their threats from parliament.
In Galicia, my beautiful homeland, the situation is less dramatic, because exclusionary nationalism has never triumphed there. The party that has imposed the Galician language for the names of towns and streets is the PP, strangely the same party that, in parliament, denounces not being able to study in Spanish in Catalonia. The only party with the guts to condemn it clearly is the new right-wing VOX, which may be the reason that for many months now they’ve been rising in the polls. To be fair, the regions governed by the PP, including Galicia, have already stated that they will use all the legal means at their disposal to not apply this state mandate, at least regarding the exclusion of the Spanish language and the end of academic meritocracy.
The new education law, however, not only gifts us with the muzzling of Cervantes’s language, but also hides an unprecedented attack on Catholic schools. The law aims to economically ruin the so-called “concerted education,” a mixed public-private system made up of 80 percent Catholic schools, which are the real target of the government.
Although, without a doubt, what has elicited the most indignation in Spain is the closure of special-education centers. The new government law closes specialized schools and will force parents of children with disabilities to send them to conventional schools. Once again the socialist-Communist utopia of equality clashes with reality: The integration of children with special needs will not offer them any advantage, but rather more inequality and discrimination. There is now an emotive campaign on social networks in which dozens of children with mental illnesses and disabilities are asking the government not to close their school where they are attended by specialists, and they beg for their parents to be given the right to choose freely.
Unfortunately, Spain’s current socialist minister, Isabel Celaa (who of course sent her daughters to a Catholic women’s charter school), recently made clear what socialists think about your children: that they belong to the state: “Children are not the property of their parents.” Some parents quipped on social networks: “Madam Minister, since my children are not mine and you are in charge of everything, I ask you to come home this morning at 2, 4, and 6 to feed and change diapers, and please do not forget the antibiotics for the eldest, who is due medication at 3 in the morning. Bring a spare set of clothes, he sometimes throws up.”
Luckily for us, even when the winds blow against freedom, Spain is still the same place that Goethe described as “the country of wine and song.” Amidst our joy, good humor, history, and heritage, we Spaniards hide the hope that we will never be enslaved by Communism. We have Cervantes, Becquer, Quevedo, Machado, and so many others on our side. What’s more, centuries ago, we managed to reconquer our land, pushing back the Moors from a small Asturian cave, where later we built the sanctuary of the Virgin of Covadonga to celebrate the victory of Christianity. So a socialist such as Sánchez who dreams of being JFK, and a Communist such as Vice President Pablo Iglesias who dreams of being Castro, might make us retch, but we are not afraid of them. We Spaniards only fear one thing: running out of beer.