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Reply to the Boston Review

Un bon amic del Col·lectiu Emma, el senyor Toni Strubell, ha fet arribar una resposta a Boston Review presentant el punt de vista català sobre la qüestió de la memòria […]

Col·lectiu Emma
Col·lectiu Emma 25/10/2009

Un bon amic del Col·lectiu Emma, el senyor Toni Strubell, ha fet arribar una resposta a Boston Review presentant el punt de vista català sobre la qüestió de la memòria històrica a propòsit de l’article “The Memory That Will Not Die“. Ens ha semblat oportú reproduir la seva resposta.

L’article de Julius Purcell, malgrat ser escrit a Barcelona, omet Catalunya i té el següent paràgraf com a única referència al nostre país:

I live in Barcelona, whose leftist regional government is one of the few in Spain to have enthusiastically embraced historical memory. Payne’s warning note strikes a chord here, in a city with its own historical taboos. As Catalan separatism grows, and with it the tendency to lay all blame at the door of reactionary Spain, certain things are best not mentioned. The brutality of Barcelona’s anarchist mobs during the Republican era itself, for example, is rarely discussed in liberal dinner party conversations. Likewise, the violent anti-clericalism and church-burnings.

Volem felicitar a Toni Strubell per la seva iniciativa.

Resposta de Toni Strubell

In general a good article. A little “classical”. Just two comments. Yes. It’s particularly terrible for the defeated that “History… May say Alas but cannot help or pardon”. And that seems to be the lot for us Catalans. But why doesn’t this happen in civilised countries? Another thing. It saddens me deeply that the author, though living in Barcelona, should only cultivate the Machado-Silva emotional vein, which may be fine, but what about Catalonia? Why is it that so much CW lit. by Anglo-Saxon authors systematically shuns things Catalan? I didn’t like the only paragraph in the article “reserved” for us Catalans, with mention about liberals not liking to talk about the “historical taboos”. I may be Catalan myself but allow me to say that Catalan society has been quite brave about facing the past. Where else in the Peninsula has impunity for Francoists been so hotly disputed? In Spain proper, Franco is alive and kicking. In Madrid, attempts by democrats to take down street name plaques still honouring 56 Franco generals are met with physical violence by neighbours. Needless to say, the City Hall (PP) does nothing to mop them up (the plaques). In Catalonia, where people are very much anti-Franco, all such plaques went in the 70s! What “narks” me to some extent is the need to reach out for Machados and Silvas (a great bloke mind you) to decorate articles written in Catalonia. Are there no Catalan heart chords to be plucked? Are there no Companys, no Sunyols, no Carrasco i Formigueres, no genocide against our language to be remembered even in passing today when Catalan TV channels are being dismantled in Valencia in what is surely one of Europe’s last great Fascist razzias? Were not the national rights of Catalans one of the major preys of Francoist hate? Is a dim view of growing “Catalan separatism” the only look-in we are to get in such articles? Weren’t we one of the nations of Europe to first and most bitterly fight against Fascism? I think all this is most unjust. OK, in Barcelona there were crimes committed in 1936-37. Lots. But what happened in post-Vichy France in 1944? Were not 75.000 Petainists shot on the backroads of France? Yet the Sorbonne has patriotically overlooked the “affair” for 65 years! Slanging Catalonia for 4000 similar deaths (at the hands of uncontrolled FAI thugs) seems to be a fairer sport… Rubbing Catalan noses in the shit is OK it seems. One final word. As is stated in a very much overlooked UN Human Rights Committee Document of October 2008, Spain is the great shame left for Europe in its inability to (and distaste for) overcoming a dictatorship. One spokesman put Spain on the same level as El Salvador! Spain is quite unable to put Franco into the past and denounce his terrible crimes: 120 concentration camps, 150.000 executed after the war and the largest mass graves in Europe (Valencia) are there for all to see. Yet no-one seems to see anything! Indeed, a good Hollywood film is there for the making. The world must know that Franco’s daughter appears on chat shows on TV and that there are ex-SS officers (yes, there are some still around) who are known to give active support to the PP. When will the world see this and react? When will the Catalans get a bit of very much deserved support in their age-old struggle for freedom and peace, rather than quite unjust snied comments?

Toni Strubell i Trueta