I linked to a story on the Spanish Olympic Basketball Team photo in one of the Olympic posts last week, but I didn’t do anything else with it because I just didn’t feel up to it. Why waste time on it when Michael Phelps is just blowing away the world. But Michael Phelps is done. So…
For those who never bothered to look at the photo in question, the Spanish team members are all holding fingers to the corners of their eyes, and pulling at the eyelids to make them slanted, thus giving them a mock Asian appearance. Yeah, it’s pretty stupid. And it’s probably not a good idea to go mocking the host of the country you’re visiting. The situation could probably have been diffused had the players apologized. They went the Roger Clemens-defiance route instead. Then U.S. basketballer Jason Kidd decided to open up his mouth, talking of double-standards and about how much trouble the U.S. team would be in had it done something racially insensitive like that – I guess Kidd didn’t see future Congressman-to-be Charles Barkley in the 1992 Olympics.
But here’s the thing: what gives those of us here in the States the right to criticize the racial insensitivity of the Spaniards? I think the blog The Big Lead does a good job of addressing this here, and I’ve got to agree. After all, if we were such a racially sensitive country, would Chief Wahoo be allowed to be the mascot of the Cleveland Indians? Hell, if we were a racially sensitive country, not only would Chief Wahoo not be allowed on the Indians’ caps, but there wouldn’t even be a baseball team named the Cleveland Indians. Or the Atlanta Braves. Or the Kansas City Chiefs. Or the Washington Redskins, which have a dark, red-skinned Native American on their helmets.
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Seriously, U.S. anger over another country racially mocking another is kind of like George W. Bush lecturing Russia about invading sovereign nations (also, I do hope that someone explained to Dubya that the Georgia invaded by the Russians is a country on Russia’s border, not the state on the border of Florida). Perhaps when baseball fans in Atlanta and college football fans in Florida stop doing the tomahawk cop during games, and perhaps when various pro teams drop offensive logos and names, then the United States can lecture the Spaniards about what to do, or not do, for photos. – John Royal