Monday, August 11, 2008

Spanish Basketball Team Scandal


Take a look at this picture. These gold medal contenders seem to mock their Chinese counterparts. The Spanish team claims that they don't mean to poke fun at the host team, but there is no question that this picture will spark a great deal of controversy - perhaps in a diplomatic sense. Hopefully only the players took part in this childish display. This is a seemingly recurring problem. In 2004, some black soccer players were subject to a great deal of verbal abuse from the Spanish team. Moreover, after the game the Spanish coach (who was going to be fired) made this statement: "he called Thierry Henry a "black sh*t". The team includes quite a few NBA players including Pau Gasol, JC Navarro, and Jose Calderon.

AND: I did not mean to offend anyone by writing this article. If I did, I am wholeheartedly sorry.

21 Comments:

jamiepenkethman said...

The problem is many people are analyzing this incident based on what is acceptable in the US or UK and are applying those norms upon the Spanish.

Firstly, the intent behind the gesture was not hurtful. I think Americans and the British have a bit of complex about diversity—it’s great and all, just as long as we ignore it. The great thing about the U.S. for example is that everyone is allowed to be white. And although I say that somewhat ironically, that is still an amazing thing which allows anyone to have a place in this society. On the flipside, it’s as if recognizing someone’s difference whether in looks, culture, accent or language has become taboo, as if that difference were something bad that we better pretend doesn’t exist. I think its great and cause for celebration that people around the world are different, and I also think its fine to make light hearted jokes about these differences. That is all the Spanish national team was doing. They were calling attention to the fact that they were going somewhere where the people were really really different. They were celebrating it and joking about it. The gesture would only be cause for offence if there was malicious intention behind it, or if having the eye’s of an Asian were something to be ashamed of. Neither is the case. In Spain, and many other countries, there is no such hangup in regard to other people’s differences.

I think this photo from the world cup in Korea and Japan illustrates this point. Either Ronaldo is a racist or the Japanese or Koreans host is a mean teethmakerfunnerofs. http://www.basicmedia.co.uk/doteu/worldcup/2006/06 ...


Spain is not perfect. Nowhere is. But the Spanish (and Catalans, and Basques, and Gallegos), in their complete disregard of political correctness, live in one of the most tolerant places on earth. Yes, racism exists, and maybe Spaniards are too tolerant of that racism, but there is very big difference between the hurtful words that some (fascist) fans in Zaragoza yell at a black player, and the general political incorrectness that is part of Spanish life, most of which is light hearted. Much of the non-PC talk in Spain could be offensive, but the source of much of that talk is not maliciousness, but a certain naiveté that stems from Spain’s relative lack of diversity (although that is changing). Luis Argones was out of line for his comments about Henry, someone of his stature should know better. However, I suggest you ask Samuel Eto’o (or Google) what he thinks about the distinction between hurtful words and merely politically incorrect ones. (note: Eto’o is a Cameroonian striker who spoke out on behalf of Argones following his comments about Henry. He also left the field because of the racist chants in Zaragoza).

I think in the US and UK, there is far too great a focus on superficial racism and that the real injustices inflicted upon the helpless in society are ignored. One example (and there are many) is US immigration law which is draconian compared to the Spanish. Additionally, there is no popular movement in Spain to build a wall to keep immigrants out of the country and if sick, an illegal immigrant in Spain will receive the best possible healthcare. Americans in the US cannot even say the same.

Spain is a great place, and I can’t help take of offence to the unwarranted criticism against it. But what annoys me even more is the PC fascism we see more and more of. It is true that Spain is not as PC as the US, but it is a much more equitable and tolerant society.

windarkwingod said...

jamiepenkethman - have you seen the political posters on the walls in Spain? I'd like to read 5 more of your excusing paragraphs explaining these...

hymie said...

windarkwhatever

After 6 years of living there, I haven't.

Maybe you should read more, or are you only interested in opinions which conform to your way of thinking.

sanjeev said...

@jamiepenkethman:

I have absolutely nothing against the Spanish people - I studied Spanish at school and I loved it - the culture, literature, everything!

I just wanted to make that point clear before anyone got the wrong impression.

- Sanjeev

luis said...

I absolutely ensure you that there is no racism in this picture
Here in Spain people are amazed about this issue. (if you can read spanish check this newspaper:http://www.elmundo.es/jjoo/2008/2008/08/12/baloncesto/1218564829.html)
I agree with jamiepenkethman´s words.
Besides some of spanish basketballers are good mates of Ming Yao(Pau Gasol ig)
Kind Regards from Spain

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

¿Eso es racismo? simplemente es una foto para una marca que patrocina al equipo de baloncesto español y dicha marca es china,Li Ning, concretamente. No vean cosas donde no las hay e informense antes de publicar falsas noticias aunque en diarios sensacionalistas es dificil no hacerlo. Como española espero que todos esos periodicos sensacionalistas rectifiquen y pidan disculpas a la selección que representa a un país como es España

Jacksonbms said...

Dear SANJEEV: I don't know from where are the people that call that gesture racist. I guess some of them are american and don't know a bit about the people from Spain. They are judging it from their point of view. And that's is what the spanish team did. They made a gesture that from their point of view were correct. Call them ignorant, but don't call them racist. Some people that are talking down the spanish team for doing that gesture are also ignorant about the spanish people.

dinkus said...

It's racism however you cu the mustard and if Spain or the Spanish deny it, it just proves that they are simply ignorant. Maybe they can learn from this, move on and not be known in the world only for sardines and paella.

Anonymous said...
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guenyen said...

At lot of points here based on differing POVs. One POV I'd like know about are from the people in China.

A common and implied assumption here is that it is undesirable and unattractive to have slanty eyes, hence the offensive part of the gesture. However, that might not be the case in China. So, the victims here are really the Chinese ex-pats that are a minority in other countries where this gesture may have brought back bad memories.

Or, does someone want to make an objective case for the superior attractiveness of Western eyes?

oligoqueto said...

I'm spanish, and I agree with what jamiepenkethman said.
In fact, in many places of Spain, you could get amazed with the kind of thing we say to salute us when we casually met(strong things like "son of a b****" and many other worsds that I don't really know how to translate here).

It is another view of what it is political correctness. And let me assure you that in Spain that gesture is not taken as a racist gesture. It would only be taken this way if the person who did it wanted to hurt oriental people making fun of them, and, obviously, that is not the case.

I agree with guenyen too. If the POV of China is against the gesture, then Spain should make a formal apology. But the embassy of China in Spain has already said that it was "neither racist nor offensive". And regarding chinese ex-pats... well I am sure that if they feel they deserve an excuse from the Spanish basketball national team, they will receive it.
But do not expect a kind of retractation, it would be more an apology for how they may feel, just because we (spanish) dont feel that was something wrong.

Anonymous said...

we are not racists!!!

If a man disguises as a woman in carnival, is he a sexist??

No, he isn´t, this team just tried to said they were going to a far place as China.

The Spanish olimpic team has some oriental members. I want an apologise to Spain from the New York Times and The Guardian to see racists where there is only an affectionate gesture, I assure you that is affectionate, I´m Spanish and people in Spain aren´t racists if they make that gesture.

Anonymous said...

I think if the Olympics were hosted in an African nation and the Spanish team wore blackface it would not be tolerated. The "slanted eye" gesture is not one of respect or "good fun."

It has always been a gesture of mockery for non-Asians mocking Asians. As a child I have been mocked by this gesture. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that they were mocking Asian features.

Anonymous said...

YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING. THIS IS RASCIST. THERE IS NOTHING VAGUE OR CONFUSING ABOUT IT. IT'S INSULTING AND SHAMEFUL. IT'S EVEN MORE SHAMEFUL THAT THE OLYMPIC OFFICIALS ARE DOING NOTHING TO CONDEMN THIS SORT OF IGNORANT BEHAVIOR. STOP MAKING LAME EXCUSES FOR THE IGNORANT ACTS OF THIS SPANISH TEAM. THIS IS ENRAGING AND I'M APPALLED BY EVERYONE'S APATHY TOWARD SUCH DISGUSTING BEHAVIOR. ANYBODY ANYWHERE, IF THEY'RE ASIAN, THEY WOULD BE INSULTED BY THIS GESTURE. EVEN IF ONE ISN'T ASIAN, ANYONE WITH ANY SORT OF DECENCY WOULD NOT WANT TO MOCK ANY RACE'S FACIAL FEATURES. I THINK THE "SLANTED" LOOK OF ASIAN EYES ARE BEAUTIFUL AND SERENE. IT'S NOT SOMETHING TO BE ASHAMED BY OR A POINT TO BE MOCKED AS THESE COWARDS CHOSE TO DO. PEOPLE THINK ASIANS IN GENERAL WANT TO AVOID CONFRONTATION AND THINK THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH THESE THINGS. IT'S TIME FOR ASIANS TO VOICE THEIR DISGUST WITH THESE "SUBTLE" FORMS OF RASCISM THAT ARE TOLERATED BY INCONSIDERATE PEOPLE. GIVE ME A BREAK THAT THEY THOUGHT THIS WASN'T MEANT TO OFFEND! THIS IS UTTER BULLSHT.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

If the Chinese team went to sweden for a competition and made an ad where they wore blond wigs, what would your reaction be and why?

Do you think such an incident would make news.

also, if you have the time, please define racism.

Bob said...

The same Spanish people who are now excusing this ad as "just a joke" are probably the same ones who make monkey noises when black soccer players have the ball.

Spain is an extremely racist country. As a person of color, I have personally experienced far more hostile treatment there than in any of the other European countries I've visited (15 in all). Don't believe the lies the Spanish racists are trying to spread now.

rena said...

I grew up in the US as a Chinese American. It has always been offensive for me when my classmates made the eye slanting gesture. It is not only immature but personally, it can be very hurtful. When my classmates did that it may be out of their fun but it was on my behalf.
It was shocking for me to see these adults acting in the same way. These are supposed to be heros for their country in a sportsman arena. They choose to act in a way that is not only offending but the sad part is they don't even realize what they do is hurtful.

Your Mom said...

jamiepenkethman - "it’s as if recognizing someone’s difference whether in looks, culture, accent or language has become taboo"

So your implying that all asians look the same, with slant eyes and funny accents?
Obviously, they dont. It is a stereotypical image that ignorant people see all asians as.
This is generalisation and racism.
Here is an example of a similar situation, of racism towards the Jews in Germany from Nazi Propaganda:

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/story3.htm

peace.

Anonymous said...

your mom,

You condemn racism but then you use insults to address people whose opinion is different than yours.

you said that the statement "it’s as if recognizing someone’s difference whether in looks, culture, accent or language has become taboo" implies that all asians look the same, with slant eyes and funny accents?

"This is generalisation and racism" That implication is yours alone. It seems to be you think that any generalized reference to an ethnic group's physical characteristics or way of speaking is something pejorative.

So by your line of thinking anyone who says that the Swedish are blond is ignorant and a racist. We generalize all the time and I do not see anything wrong with generalizations as long as there is no intent to harm behind it. In fact generalizing is a fundamental facet to how humans, think, learn, and perceive the world. So just because generalizing can be inaccurate, as in the Swedish example, does not make it inherently evil. And it is not evil to acknowledge that many Swedes have blond hair, when in fact many don't.

The problem is if people start ignoring the fact that people from different places look, different speak differently, act differently, then we risk in living in a world that is bleached of all color and variety. I prefer that variety and have no problem acknowledging that it exists.

Furthermore, the reference is to Nazi Germany is a bit much and belittles that situation, don't you think? For one Spain has a very very small population of people Asian origin, and that is precisely why no one over there learned in school that making such a gesture is impolite. That's all the gesture was, impolite, stupid, ill advised, una falta de savoir faire, a result of growing up in a homogeneous culture that simply doesn't have a lot of non-iberian ethnic groups. The gesture was not racist because there was no mal-intent.

So 'your mom' if you have even bothered to read this far, please answer the following question:

If the Chinese basketball team were playing in Sweden and mad an ad in which they wore blond wigs, would they be racist? Would it have made news? Would anyone with a life care?

I would appreciate your response, as it seems to me that those who enjoy passing quick judgment, are the same ones who are least interested in examining, and sharpening their ideas.

Here's to a diverse open minded world.

peace

latest sports news said...

Their team picture is so hilarious. I dont find it scandalous.