Saturday, August 16, 2008

Anglo hypocrisy

Me: PingPing, come here, I want to show you a picture and tell me what you feel!
PP: I feel nothing. What’s the problem?
Me: Look well, this is the Spanish basketball team. The British and the American press say that the picture is racist.
PP: Racist? Is it because they are stepping on the dragon? I do not think they did it on purpose.
Me: No, it is not because of the dragon. Look at their eyes. They pretend they have slit eyes like Chinese
PP: They look cute.
Me: So, you do not find it offensive.
PP: No, it’s funny. Maybe, they should have stepped back a little bit in order not to step on the dragon.

This is the conversation I had yesterday with my wife, a mainland Chinese. I wanted to acid test whether Chinese felt offended with the picture or not. Clearly she did not feel offended at all. Her only remark was related to the Dragon, something that was not even noticed by the British and American press.

It is clear that Spaniards in general, and I have to include Catalans in the bucket too, lack cultural awareness. Someone in the advertising company should have realized that, in some countries, the picture would not be appreciated and it would be misinterpreted, but unfortunately, most Spaniards have a very simplistic and monocultural view of the world. But the level of racism in Spain is lower than in the anglo world. There is a lot of interest in Spain for China, its people and its culture. After USA, Spain the country with more adoptions in China. In Catalonia, I know many families with Chinese kids, the families adore them, they are great.

It is unfair for the British press to attack Spain for this ad. If the reaction had come from the Chinese, we should have apologized, but coming from the British, what the heck, aren't British notorious for their racism? Wherever they went, they either eliminated the local population (America) or segregated it (India, Africa). If by “accident” a mixed child was born, the child would no longer be Anglo, he/she will be the other race, even today, Obama is black, even if he is 50% Anglo-white.

Obviously, the objective of the Anglo press is to hurt Madrid candidacy for the Olympic games. If you want to know, I support Madrid’s candidacy full heartedly. I just hope that Catalonia will participate as an independent state.

The slit-eyed gesture is innocuous. How many times in China I have been called "gao bizi" (high nose – big nose), how many times people have hinted to me that the size of my nose most probably mimics the size of other appendices south of my belly button. I always smiled and I never sent a complaint to a British tabloid.


Agus said...

"If you want to know, I support Madrid’s candidacy ..." =>> WHAT? ARE YOU NUTS? THEY'LL HAVE ANOTHER EXCUSE TO STEAL OUR MONEY.

"I just hope that Catalonia will participate as an independent state" =>> Ha, ha, ha. Take a seat and wait.

"British are racists, bla, bla, bla ..." ==> and the Spanish, and the French, and the German, and the Arabs, and the Chinese, and me, etc.

Did you feel offended about the reaction in the Anglo press? Your whole post could be written by a Spaniard!

On the contrary, I rejoyced. Yeah, they want to damage Madrid reputation. So what? It's OK for me! I support any excuse to show the world what Spaniards are: CRAP.

Ian, are you a Spaniard or a Catalan? Grow up, make a choice.
Don't be "cojonless" -as you say.

ian llorens said...

It is always a pleasure being slapped right and left.
I am what I am and I cannot change to please my readers. If you do not like it, read something else. I do not hate either Spain or Spanish language. I think we can be good neighbors.

Carles said...

Well Ian, my wife is also from Mainland China, we have two Spanish-Chinese kids and we live in Barcelona. She feels terribly offended by this picture. We're fed up of my kids' classmates making this racist gesture towards them. Even worse, my wife has also suffered this gesture, as well as being called "chinita" by adults here in Spain.

I'm really glad that your wife feels this isn't racist. However, I must tell you that all our Asian friends here in Barcelona think that this gesture is offensive and racist. Of course there is no way we can go to the press and say this, since the Spanish media has decided that the gesture isn't racist and that the Anglo-Saxons merely want to pick on Spain. I'm sorry, but I think that you're merely another Spaniard who refuses to ackowledge that this country has a a problem with racism, as this picture so clearly shows.

ian llorens said...

I left Catalonia 16 years ago and I have never lived in Spain with my wife and kids (I also have 2 Sinocatalan children). When we visit Catalonia, everyone is very friendly to us and we have several friends with adopted Chinese kids. If what you say is true, I feel very disappointed in Catalonia.

ian llorens said...

By the way Carles, how many times have you been called lao wai in China or people have pointed out the size of your nose. Do you feel offended? I do not.

California CAT said...

I think this is an example of a lack in judgment by whoever decided to have the Spanish team make this gesture. Maybe I'm being hyper-sensitive, and overly politically correct, but for a national Olympic committee to release this photo on purpose shows an extreme ignorance to the norms of social behavior.

This reminds me of the time a few years ago that Madrid was hosting UN peace talks between Israel and the one of its Arab neighbors, and the caterers served tapas with cured HAM???

I think Spain might need a little more cultural sensitivity training (as does most every other nation in the world).

I do understand that we all have tendencies for ignorance and prejudice to one degree or another, its just human nature. The problem lies in what you do with those beliefs. If your goal is to belittle and destroy others who are unlike you, then it becomes an evil we should not tolerate.

I agree with Ian that the Americans or the British have no moral footing in telling others how they should behave.

Sara said...

What's a racist gesture? Is it a gesture with racist intentions, or is it a gesture that is interpreted as being racist? In this case, I find it hard to believe that there were racist intentions for the simple reason that it would make horrible marketing, and though some Spaniards are racists, the whole national basketball team most likely isn’t.

However clumsy this type of marketing is I think it is important to take into account the intentions, and, of course, it is also important to see what kind of reactions these photos are met by. Judging by your comments, the reactions seem to vary… Maybe the reactions depend on what the intentions are assumed to be?!?

When it comes to the dragon I'm a bit confused. Aren't they standing on a basketball court? That would mean that the dragon is in the middle of the court and will inevitably be crossed many times.

ian llorens said...

Two things about the Dragon,
- I assume that the dragon was put there by the advertiser.
- The dynamic traffic on top of the dragon would be much less offensive than someone stepping statically on top of it. This would be a gesture showing victory over the dragon, which was a representation of China.

Nick said...

In my opinion people are too quick to jump on the bandwagon when someone calls racism. You correctly point out that it's the British and American press who are accusing the Spanish, not the Chinese. On the other hand the Spanish Olympic Committee should have had a little more common sense. This makes me think of the Danish cartoon of the Prophet - half the world is up in arms because they think it's racist while the other half claim it should be allowed under freedom of the press.

It's hard to find the right balance, but I disagree with the reference to the British colonial past. Sure they made a mess of parts of it, but they also brought benefits to these places which are often overlooked (for example in India the railway system, which has hardly changed today and still runs with the equipment brought in 60 years ago). On top of that their behavior was no different to that of other colonial powers, including Spain in South America. The British today aren't inherently any more racist than an average Spaniard. Don't forget the Lewis Hamilton/Fernando Alonso F1 saga (Hamilton being half black).

But coming back to the racism issue and your picture, it would be nice if people were a little more relaxed about stereotypes - because that's essentially all this is. As a couple of people pointed out, intentionally showing racism in this picture would serve no useful purpose. As Sara points out, it's more a question of interpretation. Besides, does it actually matter if someone has eyes that are a different shape, or is black instead of white? If it *actually* impacts your life (i.e. discrimination for who you are, for example you can't get a job - and this has even happened to me, a white 'typical' male, so there are no real exceptions) I can understand the complaints, but in this case, to be honest, so what? People just need to get on with their lives and take things a little less seriously. I've been called names, stared at, pinched because they can't believe I'm white, photographed (including at a wedding in Beijing 12 years ago because they couldn't believe white people were passing by), but what difference does it makes? Until any of that actually disadvantages me in some way people can say and do what they want.

Johnny Tastavins said...

I'm really tired about the political correction that governs everything in these last times.

Stop to morons that try to create a new where there is nothing.

My concern is that if chinese don't think it is a racist pic, it isn't. And from my experience, I can also tell you that there are not bad interpretations among chinese people about this ad.

Racism were the attacks to chinese shoe dealers in Valencia two or three years ago. You can be sure that my chinese friends asked me about that matter, but no comment (0, zero, law, nought) about our silver medal players.

Agus said...

All of a sudden, it appears that every Catalan has got a “Chinese friend” that loves doing that gesture.

I guess they do that gesture while wearing a T-shirt with a photo of Pablo Gasuelo (formerly Pau Gasol) printed on it. Pablo Gasuelo’s image being enclosed between two of his most notorious statements: “Catalonia is a tiny piece of Spain” and his more recent and colourful “Catalonia is a silly thing [tontería]”.

Agus said...

Oh, for those who didn't know it, Pablo Gasuelo is an ex-Catalan player in the very-Spanish basketball team. Maybe, its captain. He's in the photo "doing the chinito".

Johnny Tastavins said...

Agus, what is your problem?

boynamedsue said...

I saw this picture in an inflight magazine on route to Buenos Aires and thought "great chance for a racist Spaniards blog entry" then thought "fek it, I'm on holiday". Boat well missed.

Sorry but it is a racist gesture. I remember vividly two comic geniuses walking into a Chinese takeaway in Wakefield doing the slitty eyes bit and asking for "two flied lice please".
The owner pulled up his eyelids so his eyes were as round as possible and said "Fuck off" in the broadest Yorkshire accent imaginable. The fact he then refused to serve the hilarious lads suggests this was not healthy intercultural banter.

I suspect that Chinese people in minority communities would find this much more offensive than Chinese from PRC, it reveals a basic cluelessness amongst the Spanish about the meaning of multiculturalism.

When I came to BCN my girlfriend was of Nigerian origin, and she felt distinctly uncomfortable, because of the stares and unpleasant comments she received from Spaniards.

Spanish culture has not yet managed to adapt to treat immigrants as citizens with an equal right to be in the country, however, it may do so in future.

Also the Spanish in general have an unbelievably primititive sense of humour (Miscellaneous included), this and Cruz y Raya prove it.

Rab said...

For once, and "sin que sirva de precedente", I have to agree with BoyNamedSue.

Agus said...

"it reveals a basic cluelessness amongst the Spanish about the meaning of multiculturalism." [boynamedsue]

And the problem is not only with foreigners but with internal nationalities like the Basques and the Catalans.

Castilians [Spaniards] treat all Basques as terrorists and Catalans as Jews and Galician as idiots, etc.

You wouldn't believe the degree of disdain with which Castilians treat other Spanish cultures.

The Spanish government and the Spanish media systematically hide the Spanish cultural diversity or present it just as quaint folklore.

And they are truly determined to help it vanish.

At times I feel I'm living in Africa or Eastern Europe with all that ethnic turmoil.

Such is the pressure, that many international Catalan sportsmen prefer to present themselves as Spanish [=Castilian] to avoid being criticized by the Spanish nationalist media.

[That's my problem, Tastavins.]

So when the occasion presents itself to denounce the intrinsic xenophobic nature of Spanish society; it's a gross miss of point -Ian- to blame the messenger (English-speaking media). That's why I was so upset with Ian's post. I think Ian has been living abroad for too long.

Johnny Tastavins said...

Agus, you should respect the right of each individual to be what he wants to be. If Pau Gasol prefers to be spanish, he has the right to choose. Or are you a small dictator telling people in Catalonia what they must be? I feel happy when Spain wins some title, as well as when Catalonia wins anything. Should I be deported for this reason? A lot of people in Catalonia thinks like me. I'm sorry.

Catalonia has not official national teams so, would you prefer that Gasol or Puyol or Xavi choose to play no international teams? Do you know how much money do they earn with each international match? Are we the catalans ready for paying them this money? May be I'm catalan, or even jewish, but not idiot. May be you are dealing about feelings, they can feel with their pockets.

What it is not acceptable for me the fact that the no.1 (in played matches) football/soocer player, a guy called Sergio that started in Español (with ñ like ñba) and is now playing in Deportivo de la Coruña that catalan is a dialect, such as galician and asturian (told to the club newspaper last july). If such stupid guy doesn't know the meaning of our language he shouldn't play with Catalonia.

Agus said...

I don't care if those guys play in a Spanish team. What I do care is how they deal with the Catalan national sentiments because those Gasol, Xavi and Puyol do it as badly as that Sergio.

May I remind you of Pau Gasol's "Catalonia is a silly thing" or Rafa Nadal's "better in Spanish [than in Catalan]"?

So why do you blame Sergio but defend Gasol?

And you seem to suggest that is acceptable that Gasol and the like disdain the Catalan nation if it's economically lucrative for them.

You're a bit confused.

ian llorens said...

The point of my post was to say that the Anglo press has no moral authority to call the Spanish basketball team racist, neither have some of the commenters in this blog who come from counties in England notorious for their racially motivated hate crimes (even if they are in the process of getting an Evo Morales tattoo in their right shoulder).

Is there racism in Spain? Yes, there is, in the past it was confined to gypsies and now, with the immigration, it is directed to those who look different. I still believe that the problem is less acute than in the Anglo world, but since the phenomenon is fairly recent, the Spanish have not developed the politically correct coating that sanitizes racism and makes people look very civilized.

I sincerely hope that instead of this coating to disguise racism, Spain and Catalonia develop true tolerance and understanding of diversity. I agree that there are reasons to worry.

However, the examples you give about the Nigerian and Chinese women, have little to do with racism, they have much more to do with a problem that is much more acute in Spain than racism, they have to do with machismo.

Regarding our sport stars, I think that those who are Catalan or Catalan speaking have the moral responsibility to spread the knowledge of our culture and the fact that we have an own language (like another famous Pau did, Pau Casals). We cannot rely on Spain to portray our diversity. If we do not do it, no one will do it for us.

I am clearly disappointed in Pau Gasol and Rafael Nadal (Sergio es simplemente corto) because, following the pure essence of "botiflerism", they look down upon their culture, country an or language, for personal gains (advertising contracts, etc., since someone who supports Catalonia or the Catalan language cannot sell a damn thing in Spain). Botiflerism, a.k.a., "cojonessless-ism" is pretty dominant in Catalan society, including myself, as well pointed out Agus

boynamedsue said...

The UK does have a history of racist violence, and Yorkshire certainly has been one of its hotbeds. This reflects the violence of our culture in general, Spanish racism, thankfully, rarely takes on violent form. This reflects the fact that the Spanish are usually only violent in the comfort of their own homes.

However, there are very few people in the UK who would say to an immigrant, or the child of one, that if they don't like the way things are in England they should leave, which is a very common Spanish attitude. I would say Libyan attitudes are more racist, but a white Spaniard is unlikely to consider a black Spaniard to be as Spanish (or Catalan) as them, and ultimately to be an equal partner in society with them.

And as for Pau (me gusta la)Gasol(ina), he has no responsibility to be "Catalan" if he doesn't want to be, he is a human being and therefore a republic unto his own self.

Neil said...

Ian, I have read your last comment a few times and I'm rather dissapointed on how far you've slipped these days. Gone are the valid and salient points regarding Catalonia, replaced with such gems as telling people that they have no "moral authority" to criticise others because of their origins / place of birth / country's history. Using your logic, presumably someone from Sudan has no moral authority to comment on racism either, regardless of wether it would be hugely informative, accurate and insightful. I sincerely hope that Catalonia does not have a future politician whose thinking is so generalised and flawed.

Jose Luis said...

To Agus:
The whole discussion here revolves around racism and xenophobia, it seems to me that you way of thinking regarding Spaniards follows the same pattern. I would not ascribe to all Catalans your moronic views, so full of hatred.

That is why nationalism is such a pernicious sickness, you are supposed to focus on an enemy and the differences instead of what makes us similar.

Agus said...

To Jose Luis:

Crongratulations to Scotsman Andy Murray for beating Spaniard Rafael Navidad.

ian llorens said...

I also read the story about Rafael Eguberri (Nadal in Basque) paying taxes in Euskadi. If proven true, this will show that his only motivation is money and his total contempt for Catalan language and culture is financially motivated.

On the flip side, it appears that Andy Murray is a Scottish Unionist (Rab please confirm), although judging from his words, even Catalan nationalists are not as proud of their country as Scottish unionists are. He is quoted as saying:

"We Scots have a fierce pride in the things we do that others can never appreciate. I am the British No. 1, but I would prefer to be the British No. 1 from Scotland every time."

Personally I shed no tear when Nadal lost.

Agus said...

From the press:

" Marseille lodged an official complaint with European football's ruling body after several of their players were targeted by Atletico fans during their match in Madrid on October 1.

Monkey chants were aimed at the French club's players, while the Marseille team bus was attacked after the match.

UEFA said Atletico must play their next two European matches, the first of which will be against Liverpool on October 22, at a stadium at least 300km away from Madrid."

Do you see? Spaniards are racists.

Agus said...

I més:

The Spanish soccer federation fined Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday for racist taunting during a match on Feb. 26.

Fans made monkey noises at Real Madrid defender Roberto Carlos during a Spanish league game, forcing officials to stop play and have stadium personnel confront the spectators.

Spain's government and soccer federation has condemned racist chanting during a friendly in Madrid between Spain and England, blaming a small group of fans for behaviour that has caused outrage in Britain.

England's Football Association has vetoed Madrid as a possible venue for a proposed friendly against Spain because of the racist abuse that met the team last time it played in the country's capital.

Three days of racist attacks in the southern Spanish town of El Ejido in the province of Almeria have left up to 50 immigrant workers injured. Many of the town's mainly Moroccan agricultural workers are in hiding.

LUIS said...

To Agus:

I´m from Madrid (living now in Barcelona) and I´m not identificate with flamenco and bullfight and I´m sure none of any part of Spain (even "Andalucia") are identificate with this; but it´s just a topic like when you say:

"Castilians [Spaniards] treat all Basques as terrorists and Catalans as Jews and Galician as idiots, etc."

In the same way I can say:
"Calalonians treat all "Extremeños" as poor and illiterate and "Andaluces" as lazy and thieves and "Madrileños" as
pimps and officials, etc."

when you (Agus) say:
"You wouldn't believe the degree of disdain with which Castilians treat other Spanish cultures.

The Spanish government and the Spanish media systematically hide the Spanish cultural diversity or present it just as quaint folklore."

I could say exactly the same just changing few words:
"You wouldn't believe the degree of disdain with which Catalonians treat other Spanish cultures.

The Catalonian government and the Catalonian media systematically hide the Spanish cultural diversity or present in Catalonia it just as quaint folklore".
It´s unveliveable and funny but it´s true than Catalonian politics want´s to associate spanish culture as flamenco and bullfighting too.

To Ian:

I´m agree with you. This photo was "taken out of context" and it doesn´t want to offend anyone, anycase it could be catalog as churlish not as racism.

Probably we are yet a bit racist but I think as much as English, French, German or Italian people. The only difference is that we are a bit more churlish.

(Sorry about my bad english).

martina2 said...

Agus, someone should denounce your "intrinsic" idiocy. And also the liar that you are.
You hate Spain because you hate yourself. Because you're not an adult and think that anything but what you are is better than what you are.
That is a common characteristic among Spain-hating catalonians (fortunately, very few).
Grow up and stop lying about Spain. You're actually lying about yourself.