Monday, February 04, 2008

Update on the Lewis Hamilton flap: The British media is angry, and with good reason. Check out this story from the Times, including a photo of Spanish spectators in blackface wearing T-shirts reading "Hamilton's Family." The IHT is reporting that the crowd was yelling "puto negro" and "negro de mierda," and it was not just a few isolated individuals.

A quote:

Despite the perception abroad that Spain suffers from a serious problem with racism, the Spanish Government insists that there is little cause for concern.

“Spanish society does not show a racist tendency,” Estrella Rodríguez, the Government official charged with dealing with the issue, said after the attack on the Ecuadorean girl. “What happened in Barcelona is an isolated incident that cannot be tolerated, but the signs are that society is adapting to immigration in a mature way.“

Not everyone agrees with that assessment. The European Commission Against Racism, a network of pressure groups, said in a report that Spanish authorities were in denial about the existence of racism in the country. It charged the Socialist Government with “cowardice” in tackling the issue.

The standard Spanish response is, "We're not racist, we're just trying to insult whoever it is we dislike, and so if the recipient of our abuse is black, we'll give it to him for that."

Of course, I call bullshit on that. It is true, though, that Spaniards tend to be insensitive toward the feelings of others, and frequently downright rude by international standards. They hand one another the same kind of taunting that they hand outsiders. Also, Spain has always been somewhat of a provincial backwater, and many people here have no idea of what is considered acceptable behavior in the world at large.

Get this: A commenter at TV3's website said that Catalonia is not racist, and the incidents were caused by non-Catalan Spaniards. Yeah, right.

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