Wall Street Journal furor

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article by Keith Johnson which questioned the usefulness of Euskara, the Basque language, in a modern context. He makes a number of points, most of which are pretty ridiculous. For example, he criticizes Euskara for having non-native words for concepts like democracy, which, of course, isn’t a native English word either as it derives from Greek roots. Because of the number of incorrect assertions Johnson makes, this article has generated quite the response from online Basques. Unfortunately, the WSJ article is only viewable to those who have a subscription to the journal (if you have one, you can see the article here). However, you can get the gist of the article by reading the responses to it. Here are a couple:

  • Itsasertzeko zubia (which also posts a reply by Johnson in response to the criticism his article has generated)
  • Luistxo’s blog
  • Mikel Iturbe‘s response to the article
  • EuskoBlog‘s take on the Basque-phobe-of-the-week
  • EiTB‘s initial response to the article and
  • Mikel Morris‘s answer to Johnson (Morris is the author of the leading English-Basque dictionary)

All of these responses do a much better job than I could in debunking Johnson’s article and I agree with what they say. To criticize the Basque Country for wanting Basque to be a viable language within its borders seems utterly ridiculous to me. And we wouldn’t criticize other, larger countries for doing the same. Don’t we essentially demand that doctors know English in the US, even if they are administering to predominantly Spanish-speaking areas? I know there are schools taught primarily in Spanish, but the teachers know English all the same. It seems to me quite a double standard.

What do you think?

26 thoughts on “Wall Street Journal furor”

  1. Anthropologists will tell you that an essential for the survival of an ethnic group is its language. Despite almost fifty years of the Franco regime’s “ethnic cleansing”, Euzkera, the Basque language survived. Under Franco, the consequence for speaking Basque was imprisonment. As for Euzkera’s utility, the adoption of a unified Basque dictionary has made it an increasingly important and widespread language for commerce, research and letters. It is worthy of note that the support for your contention that Euzkera is extraneous to “real life” comes from a member of Partido Popular, the modern inheritors of Franco’s Fascist legacy.

    I further find fault with your loose usage of the terms, “separatists” and “nationalists”. You use them as if they are interchangeable. They are not and there are many people living in Euzkadi who are neither but love their language and seek its restoration as a hallmark of ethnic identity.

    If you wish to engage in Francoist propaganda, please label it as such, just don’t call it reporting.

  2. this is for me, the best exemple of the position of someone who doesn’t know the basque culture.. and doesn’t want to know it… certainly the interview could be directed by Aznar himself (because of his position in the board of director of this journal)..
    I’m basque, and i’m proud to see this kind of position, it means that i’ve to do more falorisated my culture, my language, nand my children language… somewhere… my treasure… they don’t know, they will never know and understand what being basque means.
    I think, if we are so stupid how can they explain us Paul Laxalte position, Dabe Bitter or John Garamendy ???

    ikus arte to all

  3. I was wondering if someone could provide me with a copy of the article by Kenneth Johnson in English. I have not had the opportunity to read the entire article.
    Thank you very much.

  4. I was born and raised in Navarra. Only a small fraction of the Navarresse speaks Basque language. Luckily for me, Navarra’s government has been more pragmatic with its language policy by not imposing Basque language to those who don’t want to study it (who is the large majority of Navarresse people). However, this description of Basque Inquisition reflects extremely well on what I know first hand is going on in our neighbor, the Basque Autonomous Community. I am very happy that the Wall Street Journal decided to let the world know what is really happening in the Basque Country.

    There is no room for the totalitarian ways of Basque Nationalism, its tyranny will be defeated just as other tyrannical regimes were in the past.

    This article of the WSJ is a very important step into defeating Basque totalitarianism in the global arena.



  5. Fernando,

    How is what the Basque Autonomous Community doing any different than what Spain as a whole does? Spain wouldn’t allow a doctor to practice within its boarder that didn’t know Spanish. How is it any different? If the Basque language is to survive, such steps are absolutely necessary. Maybe you don’t think that the Basque language is worth saving, but what the Basque government is doing is no different than what other governments do.

  6. Dear Buber,

    First I thank you for publishing my comment and that you are willing to engage in a debate. I would happily give out my full name but I have to be cautious in the light of ETA’s return to terrorism and that my opinions put me in antagonist positions of theirs in many ways.

    That said, and going back to your question, you might like it or not but languages are kept alive by their speakers not by imposing them into people (which is also the reason why Basque language survived attempts to vanish it even in places like France that had a way more restrictive language policy than Franco’s Spain until very recently ~ 1995).

    Here in the United States, Spanish will be spoken in a few years (estimates say around 2020) by more people than in Spain mainland because there is a large community of Spanish speakers that keep it alive and growing. And guess what, all that happened not because of the action of the Spanish Government neither because of some kind of linguistic imposition here (in fact there are several states with English-only laws like California, but they do nothing to prevent people from learning Spanish). In my opinion, it has been key that the US doesn’t have an official language at the Federal level.

    I have nothing against Basque language. Quite the contrary (the reason I ended up in this page is because I had been listening lately to the cover of “Lau Teilatu” done by Amaia Montero and Mikel Erentxun).

    Where I do take issue is with language cleansing and totalitarian imposition, which is what the Basque Government is doing in the Basque country. The WSJ journal reflects very well that aspect.

    The Navarresse government allows all those who are interested in learning Basque language to study it, but it doesn’t impose its learning. To me that’s a KEY difference. Contrary to the catastrophic propaganda of Basque Nationalism, Basque language is very alive in Navarra by those people who had it as mother tongue. In fact the first native Basque speaker in the Navarresse executive is BegoNa Sanzberro, from UPN. At the same time those who don’t speak it natively are free to either learn it (if they wish to) or to learn something else. End result since Spain’s transition to democracy: Basque totalitarianism (which includes Basque Language imposition) has pushed people outside the Basque Country. Only recently the trend has been reversed, mainly due to immigration from abroad. At the same time, Navarra has been increasing its population steadily during that same time. And people in Navarra know that they are judged in their jobs for their merits not for their ability to speak Basque language.

    Your love for Basque language might be clouding your ability to discern between what is fair game and what is totalitarianism. Just because Basque language has been repressed in the past, it doesn’t mean that the Basque Government can repress Spanish speakers with no interest in learning Basque language today. It’s a lesson most of us learned in preschool: two wrongs don’t make a right.

  7. Well, no one ever learns anything by just listening to opinions they agree with.

    I agree that in an ideal world, everyone should be able to choose what to speak. But, even in the US, while there is no official language, it is clear that you have to know English to get most jobs that aren’t labor jobs. No one is going to hire a doctor, an engineer, or whatever that doesn’t speak English. And while English is not the official language, there is no choice to go to a school where the focus isn’t English. The defacto official language is English. You can’t do much besides do blue collar jobs without knowing English.

    Again, there are lots of countries that have official languages that are doing the same thing as the Basque government, but no one criticizes them. Spain, France, and so on. Can you go to school in Spain and not learn Spanish?

    The Basque language is in a somewhat different situation in that it is on the border of surviving. It isn’t Spanish or English which have critical masses. So, again, the question is whether the Basque language is worth preserving. If it is, then it needs special help. And, within its borders, that is fair. The people there voted for the government that created these policies. The people within the borders want Basque to survive. This isn’t something imposed without justification or the will of the people. It is something the people want.

  8. The big issue that I have with your reasoning is that it ignores the crude reality of life in today’s Basque Country (ie, this is not 5000 years ago Basque Country). In Spanish there is a saying that goes something like “you cannot put a wall in the middle of the countryside” (“no se puede poner muros en el campo”).
    By your same token, the best way to preserve the Native American languages would be to have an aggressive imposition program in those places in the US where there are still spoken. However, given today’s reality in the US I doubt that such a program would increase the number of white collar professionals that would speak any of the Native American languages.

    The Basque Country is part of Spain not only because of political imposition (as it is claimed by Basque Nationalism) but also because of centuries of shared history with the rest of Spain. Spanish-speaking Spain is the largest (by a huge margin) cultural and economic partner of the Basque country. And that’s a reality that cannot be ignored. As the WSJ says “in San Sebastian, a hotbed of Basque nationalism and the region’s second-largest city, not a single person chose to take the driver’s license exam in Euskera, says Mr. Barrera.”. I could go on with naming the Basque companies that conduct business mostly with the rest of Spain or the mentioned Amaia Montero (ex-singer of The Oreja the Van Gogh) and Mikel Erentxun who have lead very successful careers mostly because they sang in Spanish. The “de facto” language in the Basque Country is Spanish not euskera. If the Basque government tries to go and impose that companies based in the Basque Country conduct their business exclusively in Basque those companies will end up moving somewhere else. If it tried to impose singers born in the Basque country to sing exclusively in Basque, it would push people like Amaia and Mikel to move away and so on. They are implementing their aggressive language policy with government employees (the ones who are defenseless) but the end result is that maybe the most qualified young people will seek work somewhere else (and as a result the quality of the service provided by those public employees will suffer).

    I agree that it would be great if Basque language survived. The problem is that the very same aggressive policies pursued by the Basque Government instead of creating a society where there are more teachers, doctors, engineers, who speak Basque language might be accelerating the dismissal of Basque language by some of those wannabe teachers, doctors and engineers who feel oppressed by the Basque Government. I don’t have a definitive solution to the problem of preservation of the Basque language, but clearly the policies of Basque Nationalism doesn’t seem to be working towards achieving its stated goals despite billions of dollars spent during the past 25 years of language imposition.

    I have one final word on democracy. Just because most people in the Basque Country vote for Basque Nationalism, it doesn’t mean that they, as a majority, agree with all of its policies. Since people elect their representatives only once every 4 years, in many cases their election is a compromise over many issues. The will of the people comes in many shapes and forms, it cannot be 1-1 mapped to the platform of the political party they vote once every four years. By their actions, like the example of the driver licenses or by not adopting Basque language more pervasively, they show that they are not as committed with the Basque language agenda as the political propagandists of the PNV want the rest of the world to believe.

  9. I have had an after thought about this. I saw that you are both a physicist, a Basque speaker and apparently (correct me if I am wrong) as sympathizer of Basque Nationalism (at least PNV-version). So is Pedro Miguel Etxenike. If you guys were so committed to the ideas you express about making Basque a language for the learned class, you would publish your work exclusively in Basque language or at least make the effort of publishing everything both in English (English and Spanish for Pedro Miguel) and Basque. I am afraid that is not happening and that I know the reason why it is not happening: for your professional dealings you prefer to use a language (English your case, English or Spanish in Pedro Miguel’s) that would assure your work is known/discussed by the maximum number of people. Yet, you think that the Basque Government has the right to impose government employees the exclusive (or priority) use of Basque language.

    One wonders why there is such shortage of educated professionals in the Basque Country,


    Who wants to conduct business exclusively in a language (Basque) that is of so little use outside the Basque Autonomous Community when at the same time Madrid offers better paid and more interesting careers to all those who can speak Spanish no matter where they came from outside Madrid. This might explain why I know tons of educated Basques working in Madrid but I don’t know many educated people outside the Basque country interested in relocating overthere!

  10. Well, I’m not a Basque speaker. My dad is from the Basque Country (Munitibar, Bizkaia), but I was born and raised in the US.

    That said, sure, you have to publish in English to get your work known. If you publish in any other language, no one is going to know your work.

    But, seriously, this is no different than any other language. There is very little science, especially internationally-recognized science, published in Spanish. Or French. Or German. Yet, you wouldn’t deny the Spanish government’s right to demand that government officials speak Spanish. Again, how is this different than what the Basque government is doing? To me, it is exactly the same, just on a different scale. If you don’t like what the Basque government does, why are you ok with the Spanish government doing it?

  11. I am a strong believer that to be taken seriously, one should always put one’s money (and by that I mean not only actual $$$ but also resources, etc) when one’s mouth is. In any case, you seem to have strong feelings for this Basque language issue so I guess that a good starting point would be you mastering Basque language to a point that it allows you to write Physics papers in Basque language and write some. On the contrary, if what you are defending is that people who live in their territory (the Basque Country) because they born there to speak a language that is not theirs natively but it’s that of their country (Spain), you are just being a supporter of Basque Nationalism without any regard whatsoever to the linguistic rights of those people who are being abused by the totalitarian policies of the Basque Government. That’s my opinion.

    The fundamental difference between what the Basque Government does within the Basque Country and what Spain does in the rest of its territory has to do with the legal status of Spanish and Basque. Spanish is, according to the Constitution the official language everywhere in Spain. The Basque Country and Navarra have both Basque as co-official. Catalunya has Catalan as co-official. It’s interesting how each of the communities has approached the issue. To me, and it’s not because I was raised there but because I think it has been the best approach that has resulted in the least controversy, is that implemented in Navarra. In 1986 they took a look at the state of the situation and decided to divide the region in three linguistic parts according to the number of speakers in each one. In the so called Basque-region, Basque speakers have absolutely the same rights as Spanish speakers in their dealings with the Navarresse Government. In my region (tne non Basque region), we don’t speak Basque (and it has been like that for several centuries, since the Middle Ages) and we conduct our business exclusively in Spanish, both in the private and public arenas. In the mixed region (that includes Pamplona) those who want their kids to be educated entirely in Basque up to K-12 can do it (one of my closest college friends went to an Ikastola up to grade 12th in Pamplona) . But those who don’t want, don’t have to. In addition, since the mid-1990’s every elementary/secondary student in Navarra who wants to study Basque language as a second language can do it. In my small town there was some initial interest until most parents realized that given that euskara is not used at all in the town, the time spent learning Basque could be better spent learning something else.

    In the mixed region, there is a lot of debate if the offer matches the demand and if and why some kids need to move “long” distances if they want to be taught in Basque, but to me that’s a minor issue. When I was a kid, the high school I was assigned to was located in a town 35 Km away from mine, so for 4 years I had to pick up the bus every day for 40 min to go to school. That’s the extremely small price that I had to pay if I wanted to have an education in Spanish!
    There is a larger debate about the language of higher education in Navarra. Most classes at it public university, UPNA (except those who are trained to become elmentary/high school tearchers in Basque) are taught in Spanish. And to me (and I acknowledge that for other people it’s not the case) it makes sense. At the end of the day, UPNA needs to have the best interest of its students in mind when they allocate their limited resources. In engineering (my case), it makes perfect sense to use Spanish or English, and only if there is any money left, put some classes in Basque. The reality is that most engineers that graduate from UPNA either end up working in Madrid or they work on a daily basis with people from other parts of Spain. They need to be trained in the language they will be using for their professional careers. And you cannot ask the rest of Spain’s engineers to be trained in Basque for their dealings with those Navarresse engineers who only speak Basque. It’s not realistic.

    On the other extreme, you have the Catalonian Goverment, who applies a “catalan only” policy. In addition to being illegal (the opponents of the “catalan only laws” have won several important cases in court), the net result of it is that, despite having been in a very prominent position 25 years ago before the linguistic apartheid started, Catalonia is less competitive than Madrid economically (both in absolute and relative terms) and the area of influence of Catalan universities (students they recruit, faculty exchanges, etc) is limited for the most part to the communities which also have Catalan as co-official language (Comunidad Valenciana y Baleares). In other words, they are killing themselves in important scientific and business areas and becoming mostly a tourism destination for non-Spaniards.

    The Basque Government began with a model that was roughly similar to the model that Navarra adopted for its mixed region. It has been moving for some time (which is what the WSJ journal article denounces) to the Catalan model. Giving the reduction in population that has resulted (of which the linguistic imposition is only one, albeit important, cause) you can judge by yourself what would be in the best interests of both the Basque Country and Basque language.

    The only way the Basque government could legally impose a Basque-only policy is if it became an independent country. But, given the economic and cultural interests of the Basque country, I think independence doesn’t make any sense. So think the different associations of Basque business owners and, according to numerous rigurous polls, think the majority of inhabitants of the Basque Coutry. This is one instance where you have a mismatch between the political platform of the PNV and that of its voters. But again, in Spain, we don’t have the mechanisms of referendum/initiative that exist in many local/state governments in the US. Of course the vast majority of Navarra inhabitants, including many native Basque speakers who vote UPN, don’t even want to think about that possibility.

    To summarize, the linguistic policy undertaken by the Basque Government is repressive, illegal in many instances, disrespectful with the linguistic rights of Basques who don’t speak Basque language natively and that they don’t want to speak it, non pragmatic and stupid given the results both in terms of forced exodus and dismissing interest in Basque language. And finally, for those being oppressed by the Basque Government, that some Basque Americans lobby so that they (the Americans) can feel better that “other people” are being forced to learn the language of their ancestors doesn’t nothing more than adding insult to injury.



  12. There are several typos grammatical mistakes (result mostly of my rush) but there are three that I have caught that that make my last posting difficult to understand, let me rephrase them,

    where it says “… you are defending is that people who live in their territory (the Basque Country) because they born there to speak a language that is not theirs natively but it’s that of their country (Spain), you are just being…”

    it should say

    “… you are defending is that people who live in their territory (the Basque Country), because they WERE born there, to speak a language that is not theirs natively, BECAUSE THEIR’S is that of their country (Spain) (ie I mean Basques who natively speak Spanish but don’t want to learn Basque), you are just being …”

    where it says

    “….In my region (tne non Basque region), we don’t speak Basque (and it has been like that for several centuries, since the Middle Ages) and we conduct our business exclusively in Spanish, both in the private and public arenas….”

    it should say

    “…..In my region (THE non Basque region), we don’t speak Basque (and it has been like that for several centuries, since the Middle Ages) and we conduct our business exclusively in Spanish, both in the private and public arenas. HERE (the non Basque region) the language policy of the Navarresse Government is no different from the language policy of other regions of Spain which don’t have a second official language….”

    Where it says

    “….And finally, for those being oppressed by the Basque Government, that some Basque Americans lobby so that they (the Americans) can feel better that “other people” are being forced to learn the language of their ancestors doesn’t nothing more than adding insult to injury.”

    It should say

    “….And finally, for those being oppressed by the Basque Government, that some Basque Americans lobby so that they (the Americans) can feel better that “other people” are being forced to learn the language of their ancestors DOES nothing more than adding insult to injury.”

    Again I thank you for your willingness to debate this issue in yout blog.



  13. Well, clearly, there are things we are not going to agree with. I personally don’t see how the language policy within the CAV is different than that in Spain. The CAV policy is legal, in my opinion, as that is a co-official language. That means it has the same status as Spanish. If you have to know Spanish to hold a job, why not Basque? That is what the duly elected government of the people have decided to do.

    You are right I’m an American who maybe doesn’t have a place to say what should happen in the Basque Country. I personally believe that preserving minority languages is beneficial for all of humanity, so I applaud their efforts. Not just because it is the land of my ancestors, nor because I have many family and friends there, but because I believe it is intrinsically beneficial. But, I am not affecting policy there, I’m just expressing my opinions.

    Criticizing me for my opinions because I am not from there seems unfair because the same can be said of you. You are not from the CAV. Therefore, if I cannot express my opinions, why should you be able to?

    In the end, again, it comes down to if minority languages are worth preserving. And I find many majority language speakers hypocritical on the issue. I’ve seen French politicians, who do not support any Basque department in France at the same time support the language policies of Quebec. If Spanish were ever in a dangerous position, I’m certain that many people who are anti-Basque policy would be very pro the same policies for Spanish.

    But, I also agree with part of your sentiment. As I’ve been told before, languages don’t die because people don’t learn them, they die because the people who know them don’t speak them. The government can impose all the policies they want, but if people don’t use the language, it won’t survive. So, maybe these policies aren’t the best way. But, I personally believe that the intention behind them is good and is what the majority of people in the CAV want.

  14. Blas,

    Until I get my US citizenship, which will happen not very far in the future, I have a vested interest in defending myself, and the region where I still have legally my residence as Spanish citizen, and where my parents and siblings live, from the imperialistic policies led by the CAV Government and the PNV.

    But even when I have my US citizenship, I will be looking forward for the day when I can see Basque Nationalism defeated for all the evil the have caused, inside and outside the borders of the CAV, since they arrived to power in the early 80s.

    They (the Basque Nationalists; be it the killers of ETA/HB or the Basque Government led by the PNV) have inflicted more oppression and suffering to people than any other government I have known in my entire life (I was born in 1974 therefore I didn’t experience Franco’s times).
    Since my assumption, based on your writings/positions, is that most of the people you know in the CAV are Basque Nationalists, it’s unlikely that you, or them, know what I am talking about.

    The CAV has been very invasive with its language policies, financing not only a very repressive language policy within its borders but also funding groups that, under the excuse of promoting Basque language, have been trying to extend their Basque Nationalist agenda in Navarra (like funding textbooks used by some Ikastolak in Navarra that put forward their distorted vision of Euskalherria as political entity or their funding of AEK’s activity in Navarra).

    On the question of the legality of the CAV policies, I think that we should see court challenges in the future. They are definitely moving towards a model, the Catalonian, whose legality has been challenged successfully several times in Spanish courts. The co-official status means, according to the courts, that both languages should be given equal treatment in those places where they are co-official. It doesn’t mean, as it happens in Catalonia that you can only receive publicly funded education in one of the two (in Catalonia’s case that’s Catalan).

    And, with respect to the original subject of this debate, I think that given CAV’s lack of frontiers with the rest of Spain, language imposition is a path that is going to be harmful for both euskera and the CAV itself.

    It has been a pleasure to debate with you.



  15. I am not a Basque nor do I have Basque ancestry. But I did find that WSJ article to be typical of the kind of mindless anti- Basque propaganda we see so often in North America.

    Here there are just two things people know about the Basque country – thanks to the press. If it is not the Guggenheim Museum, it is about terrorism. That is it. That is why the article is so unhelpful.

    Second, the article makes it appear that there is no Pays Basque, that there are no Basques in France. Again, this is a fallacy. I wonder, if the Basques are as “Spanish” as the Spanish government and WSJ would have it, what about the ones who live in France?

    Also, the author appears to have no idea of the history of Euskadi, Nafarroa, or the Basque language.

    What is the recent history?

    You had the situation after the Civil War, when thousands of Basques were killed or chased out of the country.In Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, not long ago, people were afraid to speak Basque, told not to speak it, it was chased out of the schools, there was overwhelming immigration of industrial workers so Basque speaking areas were forcibly turned into areas where Spanish is the norm.

    In the Pays Basque the language simply was not allowed in the public schools, plus again, overwhelming immigration from the rest of France.

    The Basques are a small people that have few friends around the world, thanks to articles like this one. I am lucky, I have been (CAV, Iparralde, Nafarroa) and I have seen at first hand the struggle to preserve the Basque language. It is not easy, much easier to slip into Spanish or French.

    When I see today that Euskara is spoken on the streets of Gernika, Durango, etc. after what the Franquists did there, to attempt to wipe the Basques off the map, it is overwhelmingly gratifying.

    And I see Lizartza, Gipuzkoa, where the Spanish recently imposed a mayor and nullified the votes of 90 per cent of the residents, yet they cannot stop the people from flying Basque flags on every balcony in town,it speaks for itself.

    So many people move to the Basque country, and so few bother to learn the language. When I see the immense gratitude of people, their shocked reactions to just a few words spoken in their language, by someone not born there, one realizes how seldom this actually happens in their lives.

    This is called respect. Generally, no one respects you unless you stand up and earn that respect. That is what the Basques – or some of them- are doing now. Sudenly, after thousands of years!

    As a person, as a people, some people don’t like it when you suddenly demand respect. Especially WSJ types.

    Governments only need to impose language policies where that lack of respect is rampant, as it has been in the Basque Country.

  16. Dafydd,

    I have to step here because yours is the type of propaganda, based on ignorance, that has been fueling the radicalization of Basque Nationalism since Spain’s transition to democracy.

    I for once was born and raised in Navarra. So what I have said so far, and what I am about to say, is based on first hand knowledge of the evil policies of Basque Nationalism both in its soft versions (practiced by PNV/EA/Aralar/NaBAi) and hard versions (ETA/HB/EH/Batasuna/ANV/PCTV).

    >But I did find that WSJ article to be typical
    >of the kind of mindless anti- Basque
    >propaganda we see so often in North America.

    In my opinion is one of the most accurate descriptions of the linguistic apartheid that has been going on in the CAV for years. We, in Navarra, where I have have to remind you that ~ 80-75% of the people, both Basque and non-Basque speakers, steadfastly reject Basque Nationalism, are tired of the continuous imperialistic attempts of cultural invasion by Basque Nationalism, which includes strong lobbying efforts so a similar linguistic apartheid is instituted by the Navarresse Government. One of the most infamous ETA crimes, one that evidences the type of evil that drives that organization, was the 2001 murder of Leiza city council member Jose Javier Mugika Astibia, ethnically and culturally Basque, native euskaldun but UPN member. Something that apparently was too much to bear for ETA. And from what I know, is also too much to bear for many PNV/EA people.

    >it is about terrorism. That is it. That is
    >why the article is so unhelpful.

    Something you have to thank Basque Nationalism, both PNV-like and Batasuna-like, who has tried very hard for years to present ETA internationally in the light of their imaginary political conflict that has resulted in the killing of innocent police and military officers, children, women, judges, university professors, journalists, businessmen, etc.
    It’s PNV and Batasuna’s international marketing strategy that you have to blame for it. And personally, I am extremely happy that all the evil that Basque Nationalism has caused is backfiring against them. It was only very recently that the nationalist-led Basque Government issued a public apology for ignoring the victims of ETA terrorism since they came to power in the early 80s. An apology that was too little too late for many people.

    >Second, the article makes it appear that
    >there is no Pays Basque, that there are no
    >Basques in France. Again, this is a fallacy.

    Well, not sure which version you read, but the one I read makes it very clear that there is the official Basque Country and the “hoped for Basque Homeland” which clearly includes my beloved Navarra and the French Basque Country.

    >Also, the author appears to have no idea of
    >the history of Euskadi, Nafarroa, or the
    >Basque language.

    You seem to be even more clueless!!

    > What is the recent history?

    Since I am in my early 30’s I can speak first hand on the RECENT history of Navarra, and our neighbor. What you describe below are the lies that Basque Nationalism has been trying to put forward as facts.

    >You had the situation after the Civil War,
    >when thousands of Basques were killed or
    >chased out of the country.

    As did thousands of non-Basques all around Spain. It was a Civil War and it claimed the lives of several hundred thousand people all around Spain. Navarra and Alava fought on the side of Franco. Franco won the war and Navarra kept its legal status untouched since 1841 until 1983, when its leaders decided to decline the invitation to join the Basque Country and create a community, the Foral Community of Navarra with its own personality in the context of the Spain that was born with the constitution of 1978. The political parties that took that decision have been obtaining between 75% to 80% of the vote in every election that has taken place in Navarra since 1979. So it’s people like you who are constantly trying to distort the reality of Navarra. The current ruler, UPN, was founded in the late 1970s’ by Navarresse people, many of them of Basque ethnic origin, with the only purpose of counteracting Basque Nationalism.

    >In Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, not long ago, people
    >were afraid to speak Basque, told not to

    When was that? Because since I remember, I have been listening to Basque language from the ETB-1 (which was created in the early eighties, when I was a boy). And I have been to both Bilbao and San Sebastian. There, just as in Pamplona, whomever wants to speak Basque, can.

    Your problem is that you are depicting a reality that ceased to exist 30 years ago!!!!!!!!!!! Do you get it? The reality that I have known is that people being killed by ETA for not willing to buy its totalitarian agenda. Terror is what is the word intimately related to the REAL RECENT history of the Basque country. But TERROR practiced by ETA to non Basque Nationalists with the tacit support of many sympathizers of the PNV and the Basque Government.

    >speak it, it was chased out of the schools,
    >there was overwhelming immigration of
    >industrial workers so Basque speaking areas
    >were forcibly turned into areas where Spanish
    >is the norm.

    Just as a massive immigration of English speakers made the US an English speaking country. Or by the same token, a massive immigration of Basques made the Basque country a Basque speaking region several thousands years ago, and a massive immigration of Romans made the Southern part of Navarra non Basque (Latin first, then Navarro-Aragones, and finally Spanish) ~ 2000 years ago. Because, what science tells us is that the oldest humans lived in central Africa, not in the Basque Country, so the Basques certainly came from somewhere (what is not known is from where). It’s called human nature stupid! And like it or not, migrations will continue to happen in the future as long as there are humans!

    >The Basques are a small people that have few
    >friends around the world, thanks to articles
    >like this one.

    I disagree. It’s the evil Basque Nationalists that have a lot of foes around the world. And in my opinion those foes are well deserved given the amount of oppression Basque Nationalism has caused during the RECENT history of the Basque Country.

    >I am lucky, I have been (CAV, Iparralde,
    >Nafarroa) and I have seen at first hand the
    >struggle to preserve the Basque language.

    O yeah, whenever ETA doesn’t think that some native Basque speakers don’t deserve to live, like happened to Jose Javier Mugika and has happened to other people who don’t buy their agenda.

    >And I see Lizartza, Gipuzkoa, where the
    >Spanish recently imposed a mayor and
    >nullified the votes of 90 per cent of the
    >residents, yet they cannot stop the people
    >from flying Basque flags on every balcony in
    >town,it speaks for itself.

    This can only be compared to the heroic efforts undertaken by several US governments who banned KKK and supported civil rights activists in their struggle (like the one led by US President Eisenhower). ANV is the political wing of ETA who killed hundreds of innocent people. And I have very vivid memories of that.

    >So many people move to the Basque country,
    > and so few bother to learn the language.

    See? This is one of the points where your ignorance is evidenced. Since the 1990’s (and until last year) the trend was that people were moving out of the Basque Autonomous Community (and interestingly enough all while the population of Navarra kept increasing) among other reasons because of the linguistic apartheid imposed by the Basque Government. And the trend has been reversed only last year mainly due to immigration coming from outside Spain (who no doubt will follow suit once they experience the apartheid themselves). What a sick policy that soon will leave nobody left to whom teach Basque language or teach any thing at all.

    >When I see the immense gratitude of people,
    >their shocked reactions to just a few words
    >spoken in their language, by someone not born
    >there, one realizes how seldom this actually
    >happens in their lives.

    Well, I was born in Navarra, I don’t speak Basque, I have nothing against Basque language or Basque speakers, but I have a lot against people like you who despite not having any links to my region, embrace the ill-conceived agenda of Basque Nationalism which is rejected by 75-80% of my fellow Navarresse.

    Why don’t you fill your ego messing around somewhere else? Here in the US, a good place to start would be that you lobby to reinstate the language of the Native American tribes as official language of those states where there are still native speakers. Ah! And if you find opposition, you should then go ahead and create a terrorist organization to kill dissidents of your plan. Only then you’ll understand how insulting and inconsiderate you pathetic words are.



  17. Fernando, at first I thought you were interested in a real debate about the article and the realities behind it. But, more and more, as you write more, it seems that you are no more accepting than the people you condemn.

  18. Buber,

    Outrageous and false claims, like those of Dafydd, deserve a strong response.

    And please, don’t put me in the same side as the totalitarians. That’s pure demagogy on your side. My actions haven’t killed any body, nor pushed anybody to exile for fear of retaliation.

    If you cannot stand hearing about the evils that Basque Nationalism has caused from people who have experienced it first hand, like myself, then it’s really not worth debating with you. You are the one who has a problem.

    My response to Dafydd is full of facts (like the opposition of the Navarresse electorate to Basque Nationalism, or the population trends in the Basque Country) that I can support with data while Dafydd’s posting was full of distorted myths with no relationship whatsoever with the reality that I know.



  19. And one more thing,

    I thought that we were engaging in a serious debate backed with facts. If what you wanted to discuss is about imaginary realities with no relationship whatsoever with reality, then you should have been more clear at the beginning of this entry.

    Seriously there are fantasies that I find way more interesting than the mythology put forward by Basque Nationalism. I am a huge fan of Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings universes and I would not waste my time here is mythology is all you, or the others like Dafydd, were interested in debating.



  20. I have sent an email in private to Blas since I don’t want to disclose my identity here.

    I don’t expect to continue debating although I would truly encourage that all of you watch this video to have an understanding of why so many people are fed up with ETA and Basque Nationalism. As evidenced by the incident showed around minute 6:40, being fed up with the totalitarians has nothing to do with Basque language. The incident shows a harsh word exchange (in Basque language subtitled in
    English) between the family members of Jose Maria Korta (who was killed for not willing to pay money to ETA) and representatives of ETA’s political wing.




  21. I am sorry Fernando, if that is your name, I dont live in the US, dont embrace Basque nationalism in the sense that you describe it, and am a supporter of indigenous and minority language rights everywhere. We are pro-Basque. Your insulting and dismissive tone is indicative of those who are anti-Basque, that’s too bad. BTW you have the bast rock band on the planet in Nafarroa and they sing in Euskara.

  22. Fernando is indeed my name. I am not anti-Basque, as I have clearly stated I am anti-“Basque Nationalism”. And that includes anti being anti-“Basque Nationalism Distortions” like the ones you listed.

    How do you reconcile the fact that the ancient Kings of Navarra were the ones destroying the Basque language (and favoring a now defunct Navarro-Aragones over both Basque and Spanish) during the Middle Ages and that those same kings were more worried about defeating the moors, like the landmark battle of Navas de Tolosa in 1212, than creating a Basque only political entity? Or that many people of Basque origin were among the greatest collaborators of the Spanish empire since the 1500’s until the dismissal of the empire, as evidenced by the elevated number of people who have a Basque-origin in Latin American countries or Basques like Unamuno who were strong supporters of the empire (and steadfast anti-Nationalists)?

    Blaming the current state of the Basque language solely on Franco’s linguistic policies is first and foremost a lie unsupported by the historical record. In addition, is one of the many lies that has been repeated by the propagandists of all sort of Basque Nationalism with the hope of making it an established truth.

    You repeating it makes you, at the very minimum, a sympathizer of Basque Nationalism in that respect.

    Human history is an evolving matter. The only totalitarian regime/policies that I have known in my life are those put forward by Basque Nationalism in the Spanish Basque Country. Its effects were well felt in Navarra and the rest of Spain. That Basque Government has been defending vigorously HB/ETA/Batasuna (Batasuna is considered part of ETA by both the EU and the US), funding family members of convicted terrorists, allowing public tributes to terrorists all while at the same time it despised the victims of terrorism as acknowledged recently by Ibarretxe himself,


    Basque Nationalism is the most evil ideology that I have known and as such I have nothing but contempt for it.

    Having some of its evil policies back-firing, like the linguistic apartheid denounced by the WSJ, is a sweet vindication that I thought, while I was growing up, I would never witness in my life.

    But surprisingly, justice works in the most unsuspected ways. I am extremely happy that the world is made aware of The Basque Inquisition.

  23. And one more thing that came to my mind while I was jogging. You Dafydd are either extremely ignorant or extremely evil in soft and hypocritical ways. How do you reconcile,

    “I dont live in the US, dont embrace Basque nationalism in the sense that you describe it”


    “And I see Lizartza, Gipuzkoa, where the Spanish recently imposed a mayor and nullified the votes of 90 per cent of the residents, yet they cannot stop the people from flying Basque flags on every balcony in town,it speaks for itself.”

    Should I remind you that


    “a feat achieved only because the Spanish authorities barred candidates of the Basque Nationalist Action party (ANV), judging them to have been “contaminated” by links with the Batasuna party, outlawed by the government in 2002 on the grounds that it was the political arm of the terrorist group ETA.”

    Batasuna is seen as part of ETA by both the US and the European Union.

    So, do you or you don’t support ANV? This is a very simple binary question that doesn’t admit an ambiguous answer. If you do, you are as despicable as the ANV/Batasuna/ETA people who have committed hundred of infamous crimes. If you don’t, I don’t understand why you are so outraged that they have been taken care of.

    Even more difficult to understand is that you don’t show outrage for the killing of Jose Javier Mugica, one who spoke uncontaminated Basque natively. That type of crime is making more against the Basque language (both because ETA left one less native speaker alive and because of the bad image that results from a terrorist group that kills people in the name of Basque language) than the WSJ article which was exquisite in its reporting, save a couple of inaccuracies that were pointed out in the online version.



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