This is an exclusive repost of this exclusive post from Gawker regarding yet another “slanty-eyed Chinese” photograph from a Spanish sports team.
i-f2d77389e69b9b7bbc1413ef7ed3411c-Olympics_Spain_Racism.jpg
Read the story at Gawker. Hattip: Phil.

Comments

  1. #1 Sigmund
    August 15, 2008

    What has Marco Polo got to do with Iberia?
    I thought he came from Venice?

  2. #2 Iago
    August 15, 2008

    Maybe it is to do with our somehow bizarre sense of humor, but I find the whole affair quite amazing. So depictions of Spanish as bull-killing lovers with dark skin and oily hair are OK, but a clear joke on what all westerners perceive as the most striking characteristic of most people for East Asia is a deeply offensive mistake. And yes, Marco Polo was not Spanish, but nevermind, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese: they all the same southern folk, aren’t they?

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2008

    Sigmund: The opening sentence and the title of this post changed three and four times in rapid sequence. Do not expect earlier versions to make sense.

    “Marco Polo” is a reference to one of the absurd preface’s of J. Philippe Rushton book on race. (Yali’s question, Marco’s answer).

  4. #4 Sigmund
    August 15, 2008

    The change makes more sense now but doesn’t exactly fit.
    Both ‘slanty eyed’ episodes came from Spain, which, though part of Europe is also part of the ‘West’. There are many parts of Europe where this type of behavior would be regarded as racist, probably in the same way that it would be viewed as racist in the US so it is rather over-generalizing to say its another racist incident from Europe (factually it is, but its also a racist attack from the west, from a NATO member etc).

  5. #5 Iago
    August 15, 2008

    I also find the pictures unfunny, but racist? Probably driven by ignorance more than prejudice. And putting together all Iberia shows, in my opinion, the same kind of sweeping generalization.

  6. #6 Stephanie Z
    August 15, 2008

    Iago, what is prejudice aside from ignorance?

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2008

    I’m not quite ready to assume that racism does not exist in Europe — from Finland to Portugal to the Ukraine — until some novel evidence shows up. Europeans, together with North Americans, invented modern Western racism pretty much as a joint effort (you can tell it was made by a committee).

    The link here that you are missing is looking at European views of “The East” (here, China) spanning Marco Polo to the Spanish Olympic team.

    Oh, yes, this is racism, and of course it is also humor, I assume (at least it looks like they are trying to be funny).

  8. #8 Iago
    August 15, 2008

    I would like to think they are the same, and that education could correct it. But I see a major difference in using racial stereotypes to degrade a group of people as a way of achieving certain means and, as in this case, using “racial characteristics” as a way to describe a group of people, without any intention of insult.

  9. #9 Iago
    August 15, 2008

    I am not going to try to deny that racism was a Western invention, as you say it bears the ‘design by committee’ trademark. But that kind of state-promoted racism, for clear economic gains, I find to be quite different from this type of unfunny humor. Is depicting an Spanish as a waiter with the catchphrase ‘I know nothing, I am from Barcelona’ as in BBC’s Faulty Towers funny or racist?

  10. #10 Stephanie Z
    August 15, 2008

    Iago, why not both? There is nothing so wrong it can’t be made to be funny.

    As for the difference you’re seeing between institutionalized racism and this event, I think that’s largely the addition of classicm and doesn’t have much to do with the degree of racism present. That is, that’s people using race to reinforce class.

  11. #11 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    No, no,no, make no mistake, this is racism. It’s based on ignorance and insensitivity, and quite typical for Spain.

    I’ll repost here what I posted in another thread, and I’m not willing to make a pass on this one :

    I’m french and live in Spain, and must say that most Spaniards are just so ignorant and insensitive to these kinds of issues, it’s just fucking unbelievable !

    Here’s an opinion poll carried out by a spanish free paper (a rag, so don’t expect very educated people to be reading it), but it just gives an idea of what the situation is wth the average middle class / lower middle class Spaniard :

    http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/405613/0/jjoo/chinos/racismo/

    (click on ENCUESTA ¿ Es ofensivo ?) and see the results for yourself !

    An english Newspaper has accused Spaniards to be racist for this picture, do you consider it a racist gesture ?

    Sí, la cultura china es muy sensible
    (Yes, Chinese culture is very sensitive) 3%

    Sí, porque puede malinterpretarse
    (Yes, because it can be misinterpreted) 19%

    No, no tiene maldad alguna
    (No, there’s nothing wrong with it) 38%

    No, es una estupidez
    (No, this is stupid idea) 40%

    Well guess what, most spaniards never travel abroad, don’t speak english or any other international languages (apart from Catalan or Vasco which s very useful of course :-( , have no idea what they are talking about, and are probably even more ignorant then Americans in Geography and international cultural issues.

    You know, having been closed to the outside world under Franco’s dictature has had some effects, as one can see, but that’s no fucking excuse to continue like this forever, even 30 years after the start of democracy.

  12. #12 Joel
    August 15, 2008

    I am not going to try to deny that racism was a Western invention

    What? You’re kidding right?

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2008

    Lets get our facts straight here, at least about what I said. Which was:

    “Europeans, together with North Americans, invented modern Western racism”

    Which is not:

    “…racism was a Western invention”

  14. #14 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    Not very interestng to discuss who invented modern Western racism, it’s kind of obvious that it’s “the West”, by definition, and who else can that be than Europe + North America ?

    The issue here, is that some countries in “the West”, are just more insensitive to cultural differences than others, simply because historically they have been less open to foreign cultures and people are just more ignorant than in others.

    Spain is a good example, and frankly, I’m not surprised to see this happening and see opinion polls that demonstrate that people don’t realize what’s going on.

    Most Spaniards have

  15. #15 Matt Penfold
    August 15, 2008

    Spain does have problems with racism in sport.

    British teams playing either international or club competitions there have had black players subjected to monkey chants, bananas thrown on the pitch and other racist behaviour, by opposition fans. There seems to be a reluctance on the part of the Spanish football and civil authorities to take a tough stand against such behaviour.

    Racism by fans used to be a problem in the British game as well. Lifetime bans for those fans caught engaging in racist behaviour, and the threat of large fines, loss of points and relegation helped end it.

  16. #16 D
    August 15, 2008

    So…what exactly is being claimed here?
    a. That the Chinese don’t tend to have slanty eyes
    b. That slanty eyes are ugly, so noting that they do is to insult the Chinese
    c. That making fun of people for their appearance is wrong
    d. That ones aesthetic preferences must not disparately affect people of different ethnic groups

    It doesn’t seem clear to me that any of a – d can be justified.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2008

    negentropyeater: Putting it the way you put it, it does sound less interesting than it actually is. There is in fact a pretty healthy debate as to whether racism is innate or inevitable in some way or if it is an invented cultural construct.

    D: what are you claiming?

  18. #18 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    D,

    e. that most Spaniards just don’t realise that doing such things is stupid because it can be misinterpreted by many people all over the world

  19. #19 Stephanie Z
    August 15, 2008

    D, I’ll start with a and c and add that the Chinese are, as a nation, being reduced to one supposedly shared physical characteristic. Got a problem with that?

  20. #20 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    Greg,

    sure, that’s interesting, but I don’t think “modern Western racism” is.

  21. #21 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    Greg,

    one discussion is :
    1) what is racism, is it innate, what causes it ?
    2) what are the factors that discourage it ?

    I don’t think Spaniards are any different than any other human beings w.r.t 1), but because of 2), mainly cultural isolationism, you see it more present in Spain than in other countries.

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2008

    is what?

  23. #23 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    …interesting.

    Better understanding racism (the 1) in my point above) is very interesting, of course, discussing about a concept of “modern Western racism” isn’t interesting IMHO, because it just doesn’t mean anything, apart from “racism in the modern western countries”, which will vary a lot depending on the countries, and gives the impression that racism doesn’t exist in non modern western countries. Let’s discuss the factors that encourage/discourage racism, such as in Spain, perfect example, without entering nto a debate about “modern Western racism”.

  24. #24 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    What I found particularly damning here, are the reactions of the spanish people.
    I mean, you always know that unfortunately, there are going to be some ignorant racist pigs in a country.

    But what is striking here, is the fact that close to 80% of Spaniards see nothing wrong with this. They just don’t get it, and actually think it’s the british press, in this case The Guardian, who are just trying to make Spaniards look bad and over-reacting on something which they see only as a joke!

  25. #25 penn
    August 15, 2008

    For everyone who doesn’t undestand why this is racism, I propose a hypothetical.

    Let’s say that an African nation eventually gets the olympics, and team photos are taken with members in black face? Would that be offensive or racist? Africans do tend to have darker pigmentation.

    What if the Olympics are in Tokyo and we bust out some old school WWII era propaganda. Would that be racist?

    Get real people. This is offensive and racist. If you don’t understand that then you are either lying or stupid.

  26. #26 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    If you don’t understand that then you are either lying or stupid.

    or racist…

  27. #27 D
    August 15, 2008

    Greg – that Americans are going overboard, that neither the Spaniards nor the Chinese mind that much, and that people should lighten up ;)

    Ok, I’ll be serious. I’m assuming the the issue here is that a group of people is being laughed at for the shape their eyes tend to have. I have a big problem with the idea that it’s racist to dislike openly the appearance of particular groups of people – we all have our aesthetic preferences after all, and so long as you don’t do the Leon Kass thing and decide icky = immoral or ugly = inhuman I see no issue.

    I like Asian eyes. So do lots of others. These Spanish don’t. Great. De gustibus and all that, and more for me.

    D, I’ll start with a and c and add that the Chinese are, as a nation, being reduced to one supposedly shared physical characteristic. Got a problem with that?

    – I don’t know what you’d mean by “supposedly.” Is it now declasse to note that people from different parts of the world look different? I’m hoping you’re not suggesting that we can’t say such things unless one can justify: “for each Asian and every European the former has more slanty eyes than the latter”

    – I honestly don’t see how saying “Chinese eyes are kinda slanty” “reduces” them, let alone to said shape. People aren’t a kind of shape, round or oval or amphibious-landing-craft-shape or anything.

  28. #28 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    D,

    that neither the Spaniards nor the Chinese mind that much

    Spaniards don’t mind it that much, that’s for sure (see the opinon poll linked in my post above).
    Chinese, do you have any evidence for that, is this just an assumption on which you base the rest of your thinking process ?

    I have a big problem with the idea that it’s racist to dislike openly the appearance of particular groups of people – we all have our aesthetic preferences after all

    To dislike someone, or have negative prejudices based on his appearance and/or his belonging to a particular group of people (or “race”), is basically what racism is about.

  29. #29 Stephanie Z
    August 15, 2008

    D, have you measured the slant of eyes with epicanthic folds versus the slant of eyes without them? Do you know in which populations epicanthic folds are more and less likely to occur? Hint: this is not an attribute that just occurs in Asians. Do the eyes of anyone in this picture actually look like the eyes of anyone with an epicanthic fold, or do they just look like distorted eyes that lack an epicanthic fold? Thus supposedly.

    Is there any indication that anyone in either picture has even a passing familiarity with or interest in any of the cultures of China? Any hint they know anything beyond “Chinese eyes are good for a laugh”? Thus reduced.

  30. #30 D
    August 15, 2008

    negentropyeater –

    * Yes you’re absolutely right. I make it a sacred, foundational principle of my being – which animates every action I undertake and guides all the rest of my thinking process – that the people of China don’t mind having Spanish basketball players strike poses with slanty eyes.

    But yes, I do think as a foreigner (Indian here) that the Anglo-Saxon sphere is where this sensitivity stuff reaches its highest pitch. Separated from its not unmixed influence some of the benighted rest of us, Chinese and Spanish alike, do make ethnic jokes from time to time without feeling like moral midgets…

    Anyway, here’s a New York Times story that suggests the Chinese aren’t nearly as pissed off as Americans seem to be:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/14/sports/olympics/14araton.html

    * Your account of racism as applied to my argument is glibness itself. It is indeed racist to have prejudices about someone’s character, morality, intelligence or emotional stability based simply on what racial group they belong to, but having opinions about a person’s *appearance* based on their (wait for it) appearance isn’t exactly the same thing.

  31. #31 D
    August 15, 2008

    StephanieZ –

    D, have you measured the slant of eyes with epicanthic folds versus the slant of eyes without them?

    “Slanty” is slang to describe Asian eyes with epicanthic folds, which doesn’t imply inclination of the eyes any more than calling someone doe-eyed suggests a resemblance to antelope. Take a look at the first picture google throws up when you look for slanty eyes, and note how straight the eyes are:

    http://linuxgazette.net/issue78/misc/alcidi/redflag_geek.jpg

    So yeah, I really don’t know what such a measurement as you suggest would show. If you find the term confusing, we can simply say instead “Asian eye”, where by that term we’ll understand such eyes as have these folds and which make some seek blepharoplasty. Deal?

    Hint: this is not an attribute that just occurs in Asians.

    I’m aware of this. I also fail to see the relevance; the claim was that Asians (I mean east and neighboring southeast/central Asians of course, not inhabitants of the continent Asia) have such eyes disproportionately, not that they’ve cornered the market on them.

    Do the eyes of anyone in this picture actually look like the eyes of anyone with an epicanthic fold, or do they just look like distorted eyes that lack an epicanthic fold?

    Am I to understand that if these people were better facial contortionists you’d no longer disapprove? Of course they didn’t mimic perfectly. That’s why it’s a funny caricature – or unfunny, if it isn’t to your taste.

  32. #32 Stephanie Z
    August 15, 2008

    D, I’d be much happier if anything suggested that these people knew anything about the folks they’re mocking–or even the traits they’re mocking. Right now, everything suggests that they don’t and they don’t care to. “Chinese eyes are ‘slanty’ and different. Different equals funny,” is all they need to know. Hence the reduction. Hence the racism.

    If you want to mock people based on their appearance, go right ahead. If you have no qualms about it, me calling someone else ignorant for how they do something similar really shouldn’t bother you that much.

  33. #33 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    D,

    this article means nothing. You obviously don’t know the chinese, and their way of not over-reacting to things.
    My boyfriend is from Malaysia, has slaunted eyes, lives together with me in Spain, when he saw this picture he said : “ah, the spaniards, they’re just so ignorant and insensitive, it’s always like that, they have so many prejudices against us”.

    Keep assuming that nobody cares and all is fine and defending the Spaniards, that’ll help.

    And to the last point, to dislike someone’s appearance is not racism. To dislike someone’s appearance because of his race is racism, wether you like it or not.

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2008

    Or, for that matter, to like someone’s appearance because of their race is racism. Beware of ‘benign racism’

    Regarding the above discussion of who has ‘slanty eyes’ (aka epicanthic folds) … geographically, this feature occurs mainly OUTSIDE of asia, and within Asia, over only about half of the Asian landmass (very rough estimate) with any consistency. The trait is also highly variable. It is therefore very incorrect to call it an Asian trait. You can only call this an Asian trait if it fits some racist stereotypical concept of “Asian” (such as in that absurd drawing linked to above).

    By count, anything that goes with all ethnically Chinese people has a leg up in the numbers game, but you must understand that this would be a bad way to count biological features.

  35. #35 D
    August 15, 2008

    StephanieZ –

    I have no problem with calling these Spaniards boorish or insensitive. Fine by me. I make such jokes, about Bengalis and Tamils and Brahmins and Gujjars and Germans and Chinese and Americans et al, listen to them and don’t have a problem with them being made about me. I suspect a vast majority of Indians share my childish delight in sardarji jokes (jokes about how how sikhs are stupid. you wouldn’t understand if you’re not Indian). You can think me ignorant if you want, though such Ethnocentrism toward The Non-Western Other from the Global South would be atypical in someone making the sorts of arguments you’re making :)

    However, the thread calls them racists. I cannot on principle acquiesce in this absurd notion that making an off-color joke makes you a moral degenerate. Maybe it does in the US. (You do after all have a society where Japanese were interned in camps during the war, and blacks were subhuman till ’64 /snark). Different societies have differing levels of ethnic tension and differing ways of dealing with it. Stick to your borders, I say. Quit telling the people of Spain they’re racists because their words make Chinese-Americans in your society feel bad.

    You obviously don’t know the chinese, and their way of not over-reacting to things.

    I thought this thread was all about not “reducing” entire peoples to stereotype :P

    To dislike someone’s appearance because of his race is racism, wether you like it or not.

    This is remarkable. Apparently it’s now racist, for example, to have an opinion – positive or negative – on the blond hair blue eye look. I thought the whole reason why racism was so bad was because it used superficial details of physical appearance to judge deeper qualities of mind or character. Race is skin deep, after all.

    But so’s beauty, it’s been noted. Since people of different races look different, I can in principle think them better or worse looking. I don’t think, for example, that pygmies look very attractive. Naturally, your judgment can differ from mine, but why on earth should this make either of us racist?

  36. #36 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2008

    I cannot on principle acquiesce in this absurd notion that making an off-color joke makes you a moral degenerate

    I think this is part of the problem with mutual understanding here. I would not equate “moral degenerate” with “racist.” (applied to person, a way of doing things a way of saying things, etc.)

  37. #37 Stephanie Z
    August 15, 2008

    D, your definition of racism is limited. There’s a reason Greg is referring to benign racism above and a reason I separated racism from classism. To greatly oversimplify, racism is thinking that what you know about someone’s appearance or parentage tells you much more about the person than it actually does.

  38. #38 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2008

    … and also using the concept of race (a race, this race, that race) as though it was real.

  39. #39 D
    August 15, 2008

    StephanieZ / Greg Laden –
    To greatly oversimplify, racism is thinking that what you know about someone’s appearance or parentage tells you much more about the person than it actually does.

    I’m not sure we disagree on what racism is – I thought my definition (“us[ing] superficial details of physical appearance to judge deeper qualities of mind or character”) was functionally equivalent.

    I think you’re misapplying and overextending a definition we both share. Misapplying because there’s no evidence whatsoever that the Spaniards here are deducing anything at all about the Chinese (of the sort your own definition demands) from their physiognomy. They’re just making fun of the eyes. (see also below)

    Greg –
    All I need to sustain my assertion that your argument is mistaken is:
    – people differ in appearance (only on average, but systematically) in ways that correlate well with geography
    – We each can attribute to such variation aesthetic significance, without thereby being morally diminished

    I don’t think I assumed anything at all about the reality or unreality of “race” as a scientific category. I was merely responding to your post calling people racist – hard to do that without using the word.

  40. #40 gwangung
    August 15, 2008

    I’m of Chinese ancestry. I’ve seen this periodically. Generally, I see this done by very young kids, or adolescent bullies, mocking the target of their bullying, generally accompanied by racist taunts.

    Neither description is very flattering, I’m afraid….

  41. #41 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2008

    It is true that this is not an instance of Spanish people overtly making assumptions about people given specific physical features. It is a case of these athletes making a mimetic version of a racial slur. Making the assumptions is the fundamental nature of racism, but racism once it exists is of course a complex phenomenon. Using racial slurs, mocking gestures, etc. are not ‘making an assumption’ but these activities are non-trivially part of the game. (The game of racism)

    D: I’m guessing that you come from a culture in which racism is very widespread, much like the culture I grew up in. It was normal to make Polish jokes and I heard my share of them being told to the Polish neighbors across the street. It was normal to make Italian jokes, and the were often made in the presence of the Italian family down the street. The Irish members of my family redily made Irish jokes.

    No one made German jokes, interestingly enough.

    And in this context those of us who were being raised properly saw jokes or slurs about African Americans as being wrong. The other jokes were white on white humor, ethnic, etc. Not racial. We were wrong of course. These ethnic jokes were simply leftovers from a previous error when Italians, Poles, etc. were not “white.”

    Hey, no problem, these things change over time. But today, when I see a South Asian waking down the street, I pretty much know what to expect if we get into a conversation about race and racism….

  42. #42 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    D,

    Since people of different races look different, I can in principle think them better or worse looking. I don’t think, for example, that pygmies look very attractive.

    Because that’s where racism begins. And from there it continues, with peer pressure and other forms of racist encouragements all the way to “those who don’t look attractive to us, as a group, must be far less intelligent than us also, so we’re going to enslave them”.

    When humans live in diverse multi-ethnic groups, and they are used to beeing in contact with a wide varety of ethncities, they tend to display far less these kinds of marked aesthetic preferences based on ethnicities and stop makng any form of value judgements on a person, wether on his aesthetcs or other things, based on hs ethnicity. Then they really are non racist.

    For example, I can say, that I really do not prefer or dislike any ethnicity wether for its aesthetics or any other things. That includes pygmees.
    There are some individuals, that I found more or less attractive than others, of course. But it doesn’t depend on their ethnicity, the colour of their skin, of their eyes, their hair, the shape of their nose, or of their face, etc… It depends on the individual, and I refuse absolutely to make an internal statistical evaluation of my preferences to say, for instance that generally, I prefer black men, or generally I don’t like asians.

    This I consider racist. We need to get rid of it, and this will happen when people grow up seeing different ethnicities and are used to diversity.

  43. #43 D
    August 15, 2008

    Fair enough. I hope though that as India progresses culturally, that even as we see our children are better raised, we’ll continue to set the bar on Being Offended rather higher than the US does. It’s almost stifling sometimes, the sensitivity and hippie feelgoodery. Continental Europe feels freer. There I can take the jokes about arranged marriage or cow worship and make them about German women and Italian drivers. We can each laugh, and often we all learn something.

    As you might expect given my posts, I think the rough and tumble of frank discourse is better at living with differences and removing prejudice than pussyfooting around while afraid to Offend. Obviously, one a balance needs to be struck, and the mix probably also depends non-trivially on where you live.

    One aspect of this of course is that judgment of prejudice from remarks like this is itself culturally fraught. Note how these prejudiced Spaniards of ours pulled out of your war on Iraq and approved gay marriage nationwide three years back. I’ve found Spaniards quite willing to enjoy a good gay joke by the way.

    But today, when I see a South Asian waking down the street, I pretty much know what to expect if we get into a conversation about race and racism

    Well, if you met such a one as me, you’d probably get nothing beyond milquetoast were we in the US. Outside, yeah, you’d probably get more crudeness and badinage than you’re accustomed to.

  44. #44 negentropyeater
    August 15, 2008

    Sorry wanted to add :

    This I consider racism. We need to get rid of it, and this will happen when people grow up seeing different ethnicities, are used to diversity, and all forms of encouragements to racism, such as with this absolutely blatant one from Spain, dissapear.

  45. #45 D
    August 15, 2008

    “those who don’t look attractive to us, as a group, must be far less intelligent than us also, so we’re going to enslave them”

    This cannot be right as an model of racist thought. My stay in the US convinced me people think of Asian guys as simultaneously unattractive (see for example John Tierney’s recent NYT article on transracial speed-dating data) and intelligent. Or, if you want an Indian example, the standard of beauty privileges light skin. Nevertheless, South Indians, who have dark skin, are stereotyped as being bookish and brainy, without too many street smarts. Rather like your own Asian American stereotype, oddly enough.

    Your assessment of peoples’ physical beauty does not depend on eye color, hair color, shape of the nose, skin color or shape of the face.
    – What *could* it depend upon if any facial feature whatsoever that varies among ethnic groups is left out?
    – How likely is it that the world is going to follow you in this admirable enterprise?

    I refuse absolutely to make an internal statistical evaluation of my preferences
    – If you were serious, you’d explicitly make such statistical assessments all the time to ensure that you in fact like faces and bodies of all different sorts equally.
    – Since you’re not, you’re merely refusing to analyze your own preferences objectively. That’s your prerogative, but is an odd basis to suggest for human dignity.

  46. #46 Stephanie Z
    August 15, 2008

    D, a couple of things, since I’m catching up. If you want to promote frank discourse, equating something as ubiquitous and sometimes subtle as racism with moral degeneracy may not be the way to go. Making someone defensive about their worth as a person does not invite the risks that frank discussion can require.

    On the question of attractiveness, things like symmetry and proportion of features and general fitness are frequently high on people’s list of what constitutes attractiveness, as are developmental traits that correlate with social status. These are not particularly related to what part of the world people come from.

  47. #47 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2008

    There I can take the jokes about arranged marriage or cow worship and make them about German women and Italian drivers.

    Germans are not funny.

  48. #48 Stephanie Z
    August 15, 2008

    :)

  49. #49 D
    August 15, 2008

    Ah, Germans

  50. #50 D
    August 15, 2008

    Hmm it ate my link. It was the Germans clip from Fawlty Towers, of course. No Spanish waiter though.

  51. #51 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2008

    The link works. You had left off the quote marks, but I fixed it.

  52. #52 SC
    August 16, 2008

    Is depicting an Spanish as a waiter with the catchphrase ‘I know nothing, I am from Barcelona’ as in BBC’s Faulty Towers funny or racist?

    Y’know, based on my experience of 2+ years in Barcelona, I suspect most Catalans would be more offended by being depicted as Spanish than by being depicted as ignorant. :)

    And like negentropyeater, I found racism to be common there, as in [the rest of] Spain. Strikingly so, actually. (This is anecdotal, of course.)

  53. #53 negentropyeater
    August 16, 2008

    D,

    Since you’re not, you’re merely refusing to analyze your own preferences objectively. That’s your prerogative, but is an odd basis to suggest for human dignity.

    No, because by refusing to do this, I refuse to encourage racism, either for myself, or for others. What good does it serve, to spell it out, and say “aesthetically, I prefer Chinese, and I don’t like Indians” ? Then comes an Indian gentleman that I found attractive, and a Chinese one that I don’t, so what shall I say ? “. We’re not talking of a type of foodstuff or a garment that I choose, we’re talking of the dignity of other human beings. And I’m not here to encourage racism, which I found despicable.
    Sure, I have had mental biases take over my brain, because of my ignorance and my personal experences, but why should I encourage them to take over my brain even more by acknowledging them and spelling them out for myself and others and think I can get away with it, and not simply try to discourage it, for myself and others ?
    What good does it serve to encourage racism ? we know the results, so why can’t we all be a bit more responsible and careful, and refuse to partcipate ?

    Why can’t you do the same ? It’s not that difficult, try it, you’ll like it, let yourself be surprised and simply open to others, including pygmees.

  54. #54 Greg Laden
    August 16, 2008

    we’re talking of the dignity of other human beings

    here here

    D: I’ve lived among the Pygmies for several years. They are beautiful people. Interestingly, the degree of facial variation among the Pygmies is actually larger than any other group I know of. For a relatively insular small population, they are not genetically limited as far as anyone can tell (despite rumors by the ignorant to the contrary) and this shows in their physical appearance.

    As a result, if you hang out with Pygmies, you can find individuals who look like people you know, or famous actors or politicians, etc. I knew a guy who looked exactly like a short black Gene Hackman, and another guy who looked like a short Billy Dee Williams, and another guy who looks just like my friend Miles from High School.

    “Pygmy” does not parse as a race in the way you are using it (I assume, like many other South Asians, you are incorrectly using the word) and “Pygmy” does not work as a term to identify the typical appearance of anyone other than, in some but not all areas, short stature.

  55. #55 D
    August 16, 2008

    negentropyeater –

    – Look, somehow I suspect the dignity of people, independent of ethnicity, might survive Your Disapproval of their appearance. It certainly does mine. Here is self-importance, I want to say.

    – Your assertion (that so long only as you don’t consciously examine your own preferences re people’s appearance you’re in this regard non-racist while I who choose self awareness regarding my aesthetic preferences am therefore racist for that reason) is exceedingly odd. For one thing, it creates an ethical imperative in favor of self-deception. It would be at least sensible if you said in fact that your hotornot ratings are blind to such things. Simply saying over and over again that you choose to keep yourself in the dark does nothing. It does nothing, good or bad, to change the speed dating results I mentioned earlier, for example.

    Greg –
    * As I said before, I have nothing useful to say or think on race, except inasmuch as you’ve called people racist. Whether pygmies are one race or twenty seven, whether “race” means anything at all, I don’t care. I just don’t like the several pygmy looks you’ve detailed, at least to the extent that I’ve viewed National Geographic – it’s the short stature mostly. All else being equal I think tall people sexier than short ones. Yes, that doesn’t make Indians unusually sexy.

    Even more than that, I assert that no-one has any reasonable business assigning moral significance to my aesthetic preferences, whatever they be. It’s a form of Leon Kass-ism to do so. The only argument against that position I’ve seen on that thread is that thinking people ugly => thinking people stupid, an argument that’s quite bizarre given how smart and ugly your country thinks Asian guys, and how Native Americans have always had this aura of sexiness and gravitas, which doesn’t seem to have helped them any.

  56. #56 Anne Gilbert
    August 17, 2008

    So many people have made so many comments about this, that I’ll only say one thing: My daughter used to try that kind of “chinky eyes” thing on me. She picked this up from some idiot kids at school. She was eight years old at the time. I told her it was stupid. I kept repeating myself. She did not grow up to be the kind of person who did that kind of thing. Too bad the Spanish Olympic team was not so lucky.
    Anne G

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