On September 20, the offices of puntCAT, the foundation that oversees the .cat domain dedicated to Catalan heritage, were raided by Spanish police looking to squash the region’s upcoming independence referendum. On September 21, white supremacist site The Daily Stormer, domainless after multiple providers dropped it over its coverage of the violent rally in Charlottesville, registered dailystormer.cat.
Since then, a reported majority of Catalonians voted for secession in a referendum on October 1, triggering a violent backlash by the Spanish government and an ongoing political conflict that Reuters labeled the “Catalonia independence crisis.” The Daily Stormer site continued to be served from its new .cat domain and adopted a cat logo at the top of the site.
Websites on the .cat domain are required to have content in the Catalan language. The domain’s gatekeepers generally resist attempts to take advantage of the arrangement. However, the chaos around the independence referendum and the Spanish response may have allowed the Daily Stormer to slip through.
When a user asked puntCAT about the website on September 30, a representative for the foundation said “our team is already doing procedure for the immediate suspension of the domain for lack of contents, to put in danger the integrity and the good name of the register .cat, the language and the Catalan culture,” according to an email shared with The Outline. This morning, dailystormer.cat went offline.
That is a double blow for the site’s founder, white supremacist Andrew Anglin, because the .cat domain had the extra benefit of being attached to an independence referendum that the alt-right and white supremacist movements have rallied behind. “I wasn’t into it before — because it’s basically just about these people wanting to pay lower taxes — but I’ve since decided that any form of nationalism is good. It doesn’t matter the motivations,” Anglin wrote in a blog post on Daily Stormer.
“Any and all movements that have people aggressively flying a nationalist flag feed into what we are trying to do. It is the right kind of energy, whatever built that energy. And for the average Catperson, it’s not taxes. They couldn’t have this fervor if it was. Maybe it is soccer teams, but at least on some level, it’s genuinely that they want to have self-determination from another people who speak a different language and have a different history.”
The Catalonian cause also attracted support from alt-right figures like Big League Politics writer Cassandra Fairbanks, who compared the referendum to Trump’s election. Vox Day, a racist and prominent writer of the alt-right, also repeatedly endorsed the Catalan cause on Twitter. “I support nationalists and the breakup of the European Union,” he wrote. Breitbart has covered the referendum exhaustively, framing it as a righteous uprising. The livestreamer Tim Pool, who has increasingly aligned himself with the alt-right, went to Barcelona to cover it live.
Others in the alt-right and white supremacist movements are confused by the Catalan independence movement, however, and seem to feel that it is more analogous to the antifa or progressive factions in the U.S. “Catalan Separatists want to join the EU and want more refugees, they aren't nationalists,” a user with a Pepe avatar tweeted back at Vox Day.
The region, which includes Barcelona, is rich compared to the rest of Spain. The Catalan language was illegal under the Franco regime until the dictator’s death in 1975. The conflict between Catalonia and the rest of Spain is centuries old, but it flared up again over the last decade in the face of financial problems in Spain and the EU, according to Raphael Minder, the New York Times reporter who wrote a book about the independence struggle. “The ruling conservatives in Madrid and Barcelona... fell out over money rather than sovereignty,” Minder wrote. There are strains of racism in the Catalonian independence movement, but they are fringe, according to Minder; instead, it is the Spanish response is the one that seems to be more rooted in nationalism.
Prominent white nationalists and alt-right voices are projecting some of their beliefs onto the Catalonian independence movement. But puntCAT and the Catalan web presence have been central to the region’s autonomy, and their rejection of The Daily Stormer suggests that most Catalonians would not be sympathetic to the site. It’s likely that the Daily Stormer will continue to seek out smaller domain registrars in the hopes of coming back online.