The Last Day of Summer: Talking About Tradition, Identity, Sovereignty and Islam
The last day of summer has finally arrived and today is out last full day here in Coma-ruga and I have to say it’s been great. Amazingly, this will be my fifth video in seven days so it’s not as if I’ve stopped completely but only having Internet access for an hour or so a day has meant that I’ve really had a chance to disconnect. It’s also interesting to look back and reflect on what’s happened and how events have shaped the videos I’ve created.
I made the first video this week was called “Why we have to fight for our way of life” and I filmed it here on the beach. The second was another beach video called “New Technology and Why I’ve Never Been a Progressive”. I actually recorded a third video on the beach on Wednesday about “Brexit, Catalan Independence and the Idea of Sovereignty”, which in many respects was a continuation of the previous two and a dry run of what I want to talk about in this one.
However, Wednesday was the day of the vote on the Catalan Referendum Law in the Catalan Parliament and I found myself straying into giving explanations of a political situation. I don’t mind rambling on about anecdotes and opinions to the camera but I prefer to sit down and talk to the webcam if explain something complicated so that’s what I did on Thursday for the Catalan Referendum Law and yesterday for the Law of Transitional Legality and the background to the problem.
So in this video, I want to take a look back at the issues that are obviously important to me once I have the stimulus of Internet taken away, and to be perfectly honest it shows what the whole channel is about, which is basically Tradition, Identity and Sovereignty. I’m principally motivated by standing up for the things I love, which all revolve around my dual English and Catalan identities.
For example, this is the reason why I supported Brexit. I haven’t lived in England for 30 years but as soon as I began to understand that the Midlands and the North, the part of the country I love was being decimated by lack of investment, draconian policies and mass immigration, it was clear that the only way to turn this around was to regain control and that means taking back British sovereignty from the EU.
That doesn’t mean I hate the Bremainers or even most people who work for the EU. It just means that I think the system is undemocratic, excessively bureaucratic, corrupt and unreformable. Obviously, I’ve had to learn about the EU in order to be able to criticise it but I certainly don’t need to hate it.
The reason why I see that British identity and sovereignty is so important to defend is that I have a very good grasp of what makes British tradition and culture different from other European countries. I’ve always had an interest in history and literature but the fact that I taught English as a foreign language for 25 years years at institutions such as the British Council and the Autonomous University of Barcelona meant that I’ve been telling people about the oddities of British tradition and culture for most of my adult life.
My reasons for supporting Catalan independence are pretty much the same. Back in 2006, I was optimistic about the new Catalan Statute of Autonomy solving the problem of Catalonia’s difficult cultural, linguistic and economic fit with the rest of Spain but when it was overturned by the Spanish Constitutional Court in 2010 after having been approved by the Catalan Parliament, the Spanish Parliament and the Catalan people at referendum, it was clear that Spain wasn’t interested in making it possible for Spain to be part of the country. For me and most of my friends, independence was never the first option but after 2010, and Spain’s reaction since the independence process kicked off in 2012, there doesn’t seem to be any alternative.
Once again, this certainly doesn’t mean I hate Spain and the Spanish at all. I feel much the same about them as I do about the French or the Italians. In fact, I like them a lot more because I speak the language to an advanced level, have travelled all over the country, love the food and really understand the culture. In fact, we were in Zaragoza with Maño friends just a couple of weeks ago. As long as we steer clear of the subject of politics, we get on brilliantly and have a great time.
Just like with my English identity, I have soaked myself in Catalan culture, tradition, literature, history and language. In fact, the reason why I got into it was that I quite quickly realised that the way to be happy in a place is to do as much as you can to integrate and that means learning the languages and understanding the history and culture. When I first got here back in 1988, other foreigners, who complained about the language, food and customs, really used to get on my nerves.
I remember being on the metro with my mate Tim and a whiny Brit. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Mediterranean people don’t seem to understand the idea of standing on one side of the escalator and the whiny Brit was complaining about this, when Tim said to him “If it’s so important for you to be able to walk up escalators, you shouldn’t have fucking come here in the first place.” If you live in another country, you just have to accept that things will be different.
In fact, knowing so much about Catalonia makes living here so much fun. My first book “Going Native in Catalonia” is all about Catalan culture, my website Barcelonas.com is about curiosities and things to do in Barcelona and my last book with the provocative title “Catalonia Is Not Spain: A Historical Perspective” is basically a history of Catalonia from the arrival of the Greeks in 600 BC to the present. Knowing so much about the place means I really love it and that’s why I want to defend it.
So quite simply I’m pro UK, Catalonia and Western culture as a whole. My main motivation is love of the cultures and traditions of where I was brought up and now live. I’m in favour of freedom of speech and liberal democracy and only put myself in a position of opposition when people or institutions directly challenge what I love.
However, the case of Islam is a little different because the more I learn about it, the more loathsome it becomes. It’s a cancer, an aggressive alien ideology that needs to cut out before it gains too strong a foothold and the longer we put off removing it, the more painful the operation will be.
We went to El Vendrell the other and although the town centre wasn’t overrun by Muslims, there were just slightly too many wearing full body coverings and hijabs and one of the two bars on the Rambla was called Kebap Gust and the only customers were a largish group of bearded Muslim men sitting at the tables outside. I couldn’t help but think that this looked like the beginning of the colonisation of the centre of a lovely old Catalan town.
Incidentally, the word Rambla is of Arabic origin. The word “ramla” (without the B) means “seasonal river bed” and came into the Catalan language after the conquest of Muslim Valencia by Jaume I the Conqueror in 1239. As the whole Catalan and Valencian coast is back by a mountainous ridge a short way inland, hundreds of seasonal rivers lead down to the sea. They let the water run down to the sea in the rainy season and dry and can be used as paths in summer. Count Jaume was building Barcelona’s medieval city walls at the time and the name Rambla was given to the seasonal river that ran outside them. This was the first Rambla and now pretty much every Catalan town has one. I digress but you can see that life is much more interesting when you know these things.
As I was saying before, Islam and the Muslim colonisation or islamisation of our towns has to be directly opposed. Mosques must not be given planning permission because they are a direct sign of conquest, extremist preachers and anyone involved in jihadi activities should be arrested and deported if possible and I, for one, would approve of banning the burka and niqab.
I’d also discourage immigration from majority Muslim countries and make it difficult for Muslims who are already here to gain citizenship. I also think restrictions on receiving benefits until someone has been in the country for at least five years would make coming here less attractive and obviously there has to be strict control over things like polygamy and female genital mutilation.
Speaking personally, I don’t shop at Muslim shops and I don’t eat in Muslim restaurants or use Muslim taxis. Whilst remaining polite, I try to have as little as possible to do with Muslims. In fact, the other day an English-speaking Muslim was in the bar I go to in Barcelona telling everyone he was a Muslim and asking whether one of the meals contained pork. The guy behind the bar asked me if I could help translating and I politely replied “I’m sorry but I don’t help Muslims.”
You see I think it is pretty much all Muslims. If you’ve bought into the ideology and follow the supremacist Quran and hadiths and believe that the paedophile warlord Mohammed is the perfect man, you’re views a quite simply not compatible with Western liberal democracies. The recent jihadi attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils made this perfectly clear.
There’s an expression in Catalan. “Catalunya ha de ser catalana o no serà” (Catalonia has to be Catalan or it won’t be). I don’t know how much I can do to help save England but I’m going to do everything I can to save Catalonia from the scourge of Islam because I don’t want this place turning into Brick Lane or Bradford.
I decided to spend the rest of my life in Catalonia precisely because I fell in love with all things Catalan: the food, the culture, the language and gentle olive-skinned complexions of the beautiful Catalan people. We know that Islam doesn’t respect tradition and identity and if we let it, it will take away our way of life.
So after a week’s holiday, I’m still more or less in the same. This life we have here is definitely worth fighting for. I’m sure you agree.
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