José Antonio Sorolla,
December 17, 2021
Languages are sensitive material and if they are used politically and as an identity element they can become stuff with a high explosive capacity. This is what is happening in the case of Canet de Mar because a family has asked that 25% of the teaching in Spanish be applied in the school and also because of the fierce debate provoked by the recent ratification by the Supreme Court of the sentence of December 2020 of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), which requires that this percentage of Spanish in the classrooms reaches the entire Catalan educational system.
Before Canet there have been other cases, such as the one happened in Balaguer in 2015, in Mataró or in Castelldefels, but none reached the media coverage of the current one. The political situation will have something to do with it, both in Catalonia and throughout Spain.
In Catalonia, the linguístic immersion that was implemented decades ago with a wide consensus, at least political, has ceased to count on the apparent unanimity with which it was born and is increasingly questioned, to the point that the previous managers of the department of Education, headed by Josep Bargalló (ERC), proposed making it more flexible – later it was forgotten – so that it could be applied taking into account the sociolinguistic context: more Catalan in areas that are mostly Spanish-speaking and more Spanish in areas where Catalan is fluent.
It is also what the PSC defends and that is why – and because it is in favor of complying with the sentences – it did not vote on Wednesday in Parliament against the PP’s proposal that 25% of hours be applied next year lectures in Spanish, an initiative that brought down the pro-independence votes (ERC, Junts and CUP) and those of the Comuns.
The flexibility of the immersion would improve the knowledge of the two languages that, despite what the PISA reports say, are not learned in Catalonia at the same level as in the rest of Spain. You only have to hear how many Catalan politicians and academics speak in Spanish to verify the deficiencies, and the reverse is the case. If prepared people express themselves like this, it is very doubtful that all students end up knowing both languages equally and at a similar or higher level than in the rest of Spain, as is repeatedly stated.
The consensus has also been broken in Catalonia by the radicalization of Catalanism, converted to independence, and because Catalan, with the appearance of worrying data about its decline in the classrooms and outside of them, has become the new battle to be waged in the sovereign post-procés.
The extremism installed in social networks and outside them has used the case of Canet to subject a five-year-old boy and his family to harassment, which the Generalitat has not condemned, and to refuse to apply the ruling of the TSJC, with appeals of the president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, and of the CUP to the counselor of Education, Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, to take charge of the Canet school to breach the 25% percentage of Spanish and thus free the teachers from retaliation.
In the whole of Spain or, better, in political Madrid, the case has become politicized to unimaginable extremes, with comparisons as extravagant as with Nazi Germany, South African apartheid, racial segregation in the United States or ETA terrorism. The last outburst was pronounced on Wednesday in the Parliament by the spokesman for Ciudadanos, Carlos Carrizosa, when he equated Canet with Ermua when ETA assassinated Miguel Ángel Blanco.
The polarization and tension of Spanish politics have led the three rights to similar hyperbole. The leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, has threatened Pedro Sánchez, Pere Aragonès and Gonzàlez-Cambray with taking them to court if after a period of two months they do not execute the ruling of the TSJC, and has repeatedly demanded the application of the article 155 of the Constitution in the educational field to ensure teaching in Spanish. Ciudadanos speaks of “fascism” and “apartheid”, while Vox calls for the application of 155 in full, as was done in 2017.
Casado went so far as to say to Sánchez in Congress: “How do you leave a five-year-old boy abandoned while his separatist partners say that he should be stoned because his parents have asked for his rights to be fulfilled?” No secessionist party has asked, however, to stone the boy, but rather a university professor did it in a tweet. But it doesn’t matter. Thus, between lies, exaggerations and half-truths, languages - each one of them – become trenches when they should be an instrument of knowledge, communication, cohesion and coexistence.