So, are the Spanish racist?
Well, here are the items I found in today's papers on the subject of the photos of both the male and female basketball teams making slanty-eyed gestures:-
First, a letter in El Mundo:-
I read with shock the criticisms of the Spanish teams for the supposed racist content of the ads in which they stretched their eyes so as to imitate the Chinese. The ad is of dubious taste, infantile and unimaginative. But racist? I can neither believe nor was expecting such a facile journalistic response from various foreign media.
Secondly, the comments of the one of the team members:-
It doesn't make sense that in the USA and the UK they think we're offending the Chinese people. It wouldn't offend me if someone made an ad showing himself as Spanish.
Thirdly, the comments of the President of the Spanish Sports Federation [who is not, by the way, Luis Aragonés]:-
The criticisms in some British and American journals such as the Guardian and the New York Post are malintencional and are designed to try to damage the image of the Spanish basketball teams. They are clearly inappropriate. The gesture was affectionate. The twisted intentions of the English and the Americans would be worth more if they worried more about the racist antecedents of their own countries.
Fourthly, the view of the leading Spanish player [Gasol], who actually plays and lives in the USA:-
Well, I thought at the time it was both funny and offensive. I would not have taken part if I'd known what reaction it would cause.
And, finally, some comments from non-Spanish observers, together with a long Spanish response that is typical in that what it says is not incorrect while, at the same time, the writer misses the point. Thus justifying the headline I saw somewhere - The Spanish just don't get it. Which is true; they don't. Hence the screams of pain and the counter-accusations.
So, the answer to my opening question - Are the Spanish racist? - is possibly No, the Spanish are not racist. Or, rather, they don't think they are because they don't mean to upset anyone. But in this, as in other things, they show a remarkable inability to empathise with other cultures. And so can come across as racist. Just as they can come across at times as being exceptionally rude whereas they think of themselves as very polite. Which, on a one-to-one basis, they always are.
Some would say that, as regards sensitivity to racism, things have gone too far in Anglo countries but not far enough in Spain. And others would say, I guess, that it's a waste of time hoping that that a balance will be struck between the extremes. But you never know.
And now for two 'positive' photos taken in Pontevedra this week . . .
Although this is a mess, it's a legitimate mess as it's the excavation of the Roman approach to the original Burgos bridge, across which runs the Portuguese Road to Santiago. The council is to be commended not only for doing this work but also for keeping it open permanently and for changing the traffic flow so this could be achieved. Bloody nuisance as the roadworks have been for at least a year now. Especially for anyone trying to find the Parador. Which was tough enough before.
Secondly - The Pontevedra council has recently removed the granite blocks used to stop drivers going into this part of the old quarter and replaced them by more-attractive-but-still-granite large words such as this one - VILA. Its mate [albeit a few hundred metres away] is BOA, and together they mean Pretty City. In Gallego, of course. And also Portuguese, I suspect. A bit self-congratulatory, perhaps, but acceptable.
Finally - and reverting to negativity - here's the parking offence that annoys and mystifies me in equal amounts.
Let me explain . . .
1. Those who park like this - to go to the pharmacy - can't be bothered to drive 15 metres to a side road.
2. They park either on or [as here] right next to a crossing, obscuring the view for both drivers and pedestrians.
3. They park just after/between two bends, creating risks for other drivers going either down or up the hill.
4. They force drivers coming down to overtake on a crossing AND to move into the middle of the road - across a solid white line - into the path of cars going up the hill as they are negotiating their bend.
I like to think the people who do this must belong to one or two categories of folk who disdain others - 1. the rich pijos who live at the top of the hill, or 2. the gypsies who live at the bottom. But perhaps I'm being too kind. Maybe you just have to be stupid. Or excessively 'individualistic'.
And I guess the police could stop this if they levied some punitive fines. But the signs are they don't care either.
Later . . .
Well, that was going to be that but, as I drove down to the bridge midday today, I came upon the spot featured above, only to find that not only was a car was parked on the zebra crossing but there was also a delivery van on the other side of the road. This, of course, obliged me to pass through a small gap between them. As I did so, I blew my horn in protest - only to have the [gypsy] driver of the parked car blow his in response and the van driver to throw up his arms in a protest of innocence. However, when I parked and walked back, I found that the van had driven into the unloading bay and the car had taken its place on the other side of the road. And, since it now had its hazard lights on, by Spanish convention everything was now alright. Safe, even. I leave you with the photo . . .