15 August 2008

The Guardian - in good faith?

As a Briton living in Spain I was somewhat astonished to read in the Guardian on Sunday a holier than thou piece accusing the Spanish of racism (yet again). This time the 'culprits' are the Spanish basketball team at the Beijing Olympics.

The Guardian article starts: "Spain's Basketball Federation has published a good luck advert for their men's team, the world champions, in which they stand pulling at the sides of their eyes in a slit-eyed gesture."

The Guardian "staff", who don't even have the courage to sign with their own names, then accuse the Spanish of being "irresponsible" and that the picture"could be interpreted so as to lead to accusations of racism." Possible, but only by a racist.

Of course, this leads us to question, exactly what the purpose of this article was. One reason could be to put the Chinese public against the Spanish basketball team who play the US tomorrow, and are serious challengers for the Olympic gold medal.

Sid Lowe, one of the Guardian's football journalists, who actually lives in Spain and should know better, then took up the torch on Monday:

"The advert features two large photographs, one of the men's basketball team, above, and one of the women's team. Both squads pose in full Olympic kit on a basketball court decorated with a picture of a Chinese dragon. Every single player appears pulling back the skin on either side of their eyes. The advert carries the symbol of the sport's governing body.

No one involved in the advert appears to have considered it inappropriate nor contemplated the manner in which it could be interpreted in China and elsewhere. No offence was intended by the advert, but whether the Chinese see it that way is a different matter"

I say should know better because, as a sports reporter for the Guardian living in Spain, he should have been aware, as the NYT was aware, that "Spain basketball has been sponsored by and wearing uniforms made by the Chinese company Li-Ning since 2002 and just signed an agreement to continue doing so through 2012. "

They quoted Calderón, the Spanish player in the Toronto Raptors as saying "“Whoever wants to interpret something different is totally confused.”
“It turns out that in the photo shoot for the submission of our team, one of our sponsors asked us to make, as a ‘wink’ to our participation in Beijing, an expression of Eastern eyes — we felt it was something appropriate and that it would always be interpreted as an affectionate gesture,” Calderon says. “However, some European media have not looked on it well,” laments the linchpin of the national team.
Calderon denies any racist tinge in the gesture and expressed his “great respect for the East and its people.” The Extremaduran highlighted his great personal relationship with several Chinese friends by his team in the NBA, Toronto Raptors, and recalled that the sports brand Li Ning China outfits the Spanish team as one of its sponsors

And, as the Spanish daily El País published yesterday, the Chinese Embassy in Madrid also said they didn't consider it offensive and were sure that no one in China would have been offended by the advert either: "ese gesto no lo entendemos como una ofensa".

The FEB (Spanish Basketball Federation) is now looking at taking legal action against the Guardian and Sid Lowe, and quite rightly too, as they consider that the only meaning of the gesture is one of "affection, friendliness and recognition" ("el único significado de dicho gesto es de cariño, simpatía y reconocimiento, que es lo que siente esta federación por el pueblo chino y su país.")

This is once again another gesture of British double standards, intending to foist onto others their puritanical and hypocritical morals, considering the deep racism at all levels of British society.

Sid Lowe is quite happy taking money from Spanish television (he is a football commentator for the Spansh TV La Sexta) while sticking the knife in the back of Spanish sport. One hopes they will send him packing.


Anonymous said...

Complete rubbish.

Spain is totally racist.

The lewis hamilton incident.

The barcelona incident(s)

Luis Arragonis incidents

The racist monkey chants when playing european teams.

But hey, pulling ones eyes apart to somehow "ape" the chinese is a sign of affection??? COME ON!

Why not "yellow up" their skin?

I suppose the black and white minstrals were just showing affection too.

The guardian is a joke, no arguement from me but spain is a hugely racist country.

Much better the slag off britian tho right?

David Sketchley said...

Thanks anonymous. Rubbish? I see you base your opinion on a couple of sporting incidents, elevated to the same heights as ths one by the British media.

I presume you live in Spain, right? If you don't, how on earth can you hold any opinion on the matter?

I do live in Spain and have for 20 years.

I have never ever witnessed one single incident of racism towards Chinese, ever. And there are Chinese in evey town and city in Spain.

As in all countries there are tiny elements, normally found in extreme right-wing organisations (neo-Nazis and the like) who tend to gather at football matches, who indulge in this sort of behaviour, but to equate that with the enormous majority is just plain ignorance.

If no harm was intended and no harm taken, where's the harm?

Anonymous said...

Wow, this shows what a nutter David Sketchley is if he thinks the Guardian is involved in some type of conspiracy for reporting a clearly racist incident involving the Spainish basket ball team.

You're cracking up, pal.

David Sketchley said...

Thanks Mark. No need for insults surely in a civilized discussion?

Who said anything about a conspiracy? I didn't.

The real problem is with the English. Why is it such a 'sensitive' subject in the UK? Because the vast majority are racists with their own built-in racist thinking (from an upbringing in a culture racist against Eastern Asians).

Your own preconceptions, make it impossible for you to escape your own racist 'ghosts'...

Thanks Derek.

GingerZilla said...

This was a very interesting read. I'm not sure how to take the advert, however it would be a bit stupid considering Chinese investment/sponsorship to then insult the hand that 'feeds'.

It's also a bit rich of the British media to slate the Spanish. Racism and xenophobia is rife in football (and more) this is not so much the case for your 'own' team but is very different when it's the opposition where anything goes. The only reason it's not voiced so much at Premier League games is because you get a life ban - it doesn't mean it doesn't exist (as can be found when leaving the ground or watching down the pub). I also distinctly remember Tugay being subject to racist chanting a few years back (heard with my own ears too - rather than the media telling me afterwards), and that was at a ‘family’ club (unfortunately mine).

Although this was in the red-top Sun, rather than the Guardian, today they apologised (119 words) to a bus driver they accused of kicking everyone off the bus so he could pray (that was a 395 word article). Some 5 months later they admit it was 'completely untrue'. Now to me that is incitement to religious hatred - but they get away with it. And yet the Sun will shout down anyone when it comes to anti-semitism and still protest how they are Islam friendly. How does this relate to Spain? Well after this 'story' the blogsphere was full of utter racism and prejudice towards muslims. The UK media are quite happy to pander to these stereotypes because they say ’this isn’t all muslims’. But the mud sticks. What the Guardian did was happily reinforce the stereotype. Racism is rife and systematic in the UK (I have seen it in work and social environments) so to be belligerent about Spain is hypocritical. Yes we may, on the whole, shut up during (high profile) football games and yes we may not be the worst, but we are too quick to judge others for what we already do.

'Caste ye not the first stone...'

Again - interesting post. Nice to see how things lay in Spain.

GingerZilla said...

Realise this isn't too clear...'And yet the Sun will shout down anyone when it comes to anti-Semitism and still protest how they are Islam friendly.'

What I mean is the are very quick to stand up against anti-Semitism yet they foster anti-Islamism (despite their protestations they like Islam and that it is a peaceful religion).

Don’t even get me started on what they say about immigrants…..