Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Some Of My Best Friends Are Chinese

I don’t believe it, it must have been my general indifference towards the Olympics that meant that this one passed me by. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Spanish basketball team presents its “respects” to the Chinese nation!

In Spain, as in China, there is a certain resistance to losing face so incidents like this get made much worse by the excuse machine going in to overdrive to try and explain away what has happened. So we are told that they did this picture as a gesto cariñoso. Now I know that Prince Philip once told a group of British volunteers in China that they would go slitty eyed if they stayed any longer in the country, but he at least has the excuse of being a Royal and is therefore expected to say stupid things.

I have a piece of advice for the Spanish football federation. The next World Cup will be held in South Africa. If any of your sponsors suggest that the players black up their faces and dress as Zulu warriors to show the South Africans how much they love them, confiscate their passports and leave them in Madrid. Believe me, it's for the best.


Midnight Golfer said...

Wow. Just, wow.

John said...

Just when you thought you'd seen everything... Amazing, truly amazing.

The "debate" on the El Mundo forum is something to behold. It's all the fault of the British press, it's absurd to call it racist, it is a "gesto cariñoso" (my personal favourite justification). How can any sentient being not see this is pure, unadulterated racism of the clearest kind? Looking forward to seeing Lib Dig's take on the matter.

Graeme said...

Sadly, the debate isn't much better at sites where you might expect some more intelligent comment. Over at Público the average level of the comments makes playground debate at the local kindergarten seem quite intellectual by comparison. "They're more racist than us and their basketball teamm is rubbish" more or less sums up the argument. I tried finding an item on Lib Dig and I couldn't see it.

leftbanker said...

You would have hoped that there would have been at least one damn guy on the squad who would have told the others that this really wasn't cool. Nope.

Far be it from me, an American, to lecture the Spanish on race relations. Our gesto cariñoso is to bomb the living shit out of you.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think that's the most amazing thing - that so many people were involved, not just the squad but also the sponsors, the federation, publishers etc and no-one shouted "stop!". It pains me to say as a happy resident but the Spanish still have a lot to learn.

StarHound said...

And then José Calderon adds to this peculiar Spanish blindspot by coming with the classic 'Some of my best friends are Chinese'...line.

Any chance of this of some leadership on this from Zaptero's supposedly equality minded government?

I'm not holding my breath...

Graeme said...

Well it seems that Gasol has repudiated the photo, saying that he didn't feel comfortable doing it.

Uno cualquiera said...

I don’t understand the obsession that you, Anglo-Saxon people, have with the racism in Spain and, specifically, with Spanish sport. I think you still think in terms of Black Legend.

I think may be we have different meaning for the word racism. In every big anglo-saxon city there are a china-town and a black ghetto, both are poorer than the white-only areas. And the last one has the worst infrastructure, worst schools, worst medical care in that particular city… but of course, this is not racism, because you call them “coloured people” instead of black.

You are not racists towards “native Americans” or “native Australians”. Of course. You hadn’t enough time. You killed the 90% of them before.

May be I’m being wounding. But your Black Legend-ism is also hurting. And very unfair. Unfair like the Black Legend of the XVII century was.

You can say what you want, but I have travelled a lot, and I find the Spanish cities are more homogeneous than British or American ones in terms of integration of the immigration. Even in the wealthiest neighbourhoods of Madrid, like Salamanca or Aravaca there more than a 10% of immigrants. And the barrio with more migrants, the humble, San Cristóbal in Villaverde has a 40%. It is not a perfect model, I know. But I would be grateful if someone gives London or NY data… to make a comparison.

And every Spanish-colonized country in America is a mixed society. Of course there are social differences between more or less Indian-blood, but most people is Mestizo. A word, BTW, with no equivalent in English… since you insist on talk about words when you talk about racism.

I thought the key fact when fighting again racism is the facts. Words and gestures are also important. But facts are more.

You are not less racist than ours. The only thing you are is stuk-up polite people. And, sorry, we’re not polite. We’re politically non-correct people. But no more racist than the Anglo-Saxon peoples… cause facts are more important than gestures in this issue.

Midnight Golfer said...

U.C. - How do you say 'troll' in Spanish?

And, even though you should ignore trolling in the comments, I can't help but address some of your statements, just in case you actually believe any of the lines of B.S. you are using to troll with.

You have cast so many lines in the water that I'm not sure where to start.

Nobody says 'Anglo-Saxon' anymore.
Just because someone speaks English, doesn't mean they are Anglo. It definitely doesn't have anything to do with Saxony. (I know, I know, I'm trying to be ironic.)

Nobody who speaks English as their first language knows, or even cares to know, what you mean by 'Black Legend."
We don't need literary theories, we have a photo, and the photo is what we're talking about here.

The meanings of 'racist' in English, and 'racista' in Spanish have practically identical definitions, and connotations.

Which cities are you talking about?
Again, with the Anglo-Saxon? London?
S.F. L.A. N.Y? There are no 'white-only' areas. None.

I grew up in Southern California. Some of the best healthcare to be found, and the cheapest, is in hospitals and urgent care centers there especially the ones that allow illegal, Mexican immigrants, along side any poor people, whether they be white, black, Chinese, Indian... to receive treatment, even to give birth, for FREE.
(Also, one of my favorite doctors growing up was a Pakistani, who sometimes even made house calls.)

I am native American. I was born on the American Continent, and I also happen to be a U.S. citizen. I am also part 'Native American.' But, mostly I am a run-of-the-mill, non-P.C. 'white guy' with a lot of ancestors from all over Europe, including Spain.
I didn't kill anybody, not even 90% of anybody ;-)
My ancestors also didn't kill anybody; not over race, color, language , nor religion.
Also, they didn't have slaves. They didn't force their religion on anyone, in fact they left Europe in order to be able to practice their various religions more freely.

Far from wounding, you are amusing. At least, I laughed. This 'legend' you speak of has nothing to do with you, with me, nor does it have anything to do with how we view the individuals who participated in this photo. The way Spain happened to have been portrayed centuries ago in some old literature, books that none of us have read, has nothing to do with the behavior that we have been observing recently on T.V., and in the papers.

Most of us live in Spain, or spend significant amount of time visiting, because we enjoy it. News from Spain, and stories about her, interest us, because we find SPAIN interesting!
- You may now take a moment to feel flattered, as you were born in a country that people from other countries actually LIKE ;-)

There are few national sports teams as 'homogenous' as Spain's basketball team. Mocking a physical trait of a group of people who don't happen to look like your group, is worse than 'Not-Politically-Correct' It IS racist, and it is an example of one of the MANY ways that people express their racism.

Mestizo = Half-Blood (As in Harry Potter)

No said that English-speaking people were less racist that Spaniards.
But, now that you bring it up, Spaniards do have a tendency to use, and find acceptable, certain phrases that are no longer used, nor found to be acceptable, among most English-speaking peoples. I am not saying that this makes one group less racist than the other, but I will say that it is NOT just a matter of 'Political Correctness.'

Facts are more important than gestures. Too bad you didn't provide any relevant facts to this issue.

Here's a fact: This photo makes the members of the Spanish team to be stupid, not Asian.
Here's another: Both of the Asian people that I have spoken to about this photo are both offended by it, and embarrassed by it; embarrassed that the team from the country they live in, and want to be proud of, is making itself look stupid.

What a shame.

Uno Cualquiera, you have done nothing to alleviate this shame.