United Spain” is used as a threat rather than a unifying sentiment There is nothing easier than to anonymously, or otherwise, post malicious bile
My column this month – Happy New Year by the way – has its origins in a reader’s letter to be found on page 8 of this magazine, written by one Xavier Espinosa Llandrich. Xavier laments the fact that social media explodes when someone sings in Catalan on one of those singing contest shows so popular nowadays. Although I don’t watch them myself, as I don’t watch TV in general, I must admit to seeking out highlight shows of good singers on YouTube, as I’ve always been quite enthralled by the idea of someone just singing emotively in public for the first time and a new voice being “discovered”. It is such an emotional shot in the arm. I’ve even shed a few tears listening to some of them, though I’ll be honest and say I usually watch the English versions. And that’s because I’ve always been attracted to the lyrics of songs, even if the music is what transports me in the end.
Why do I mention this about English? Because Xavier’s complaint is precisely that on Spanish TV, in a supposedly “united Spain”, as we are by now quite sick of hearing if you live in this particular part of it, given that “united Spain” is used as a threat rather than a unifying sentiment, there are strong reactions to Catalans wishing to perform their songs in Catalan. “I find it terrible that this week someone will sing in Catalan, this is Spanish television!” is just one of the comments he quotes. Importantly, he notes, “they sing in English and it’s not a problem at all. They also sing in Spanish, French and Galician”.
Now this last sentence is what struck a chord with me, if you’ll excuse the pun, as my experience of living here for nigh on 25 years confirms this Spanish celebrating of all things Andalusian, Galician, or any other region when it expresses its core identity. Not so much with Catalonia, however, where the expression of any patriotic sentiment is aligned more with Nazi fervour than admirable national pride.
As I said, I don’t watch TV anymore, but when I did watch Spanish TV in the past, certain channels – TVE1, Telecinco and Antenna 3 in particular spring to mind – the news appeared to almost ecstatically praise any event involving Andalusian culture or Galician cuisine or anything any region is famous for, while Catalan culture did not appear to receive the same treatment.
Now, having said all that, if you take social media as a barometer of national sentiment then you’re making a big mistake. Any strong language will shock through its very power, and there is nothing easier than to anonymously, or otherwise, post malicious bile aimed at antagonising a group you don’t like or have been brainwashed into thinking certain things about by a biased media. Better to ignore all that and build your own positive view of the world to project on to those around you. And with those sentiments in mind, may 2019 be a positive year for you all.