The Olympics are about the bringing the world together in perfect harmony, right? Maybe that was just an old soda commercial.
I have definitely been enjoying these Olympic games — in fact, I might be watching too much. The other day, my daughter identified the Chinese flag without prompting. And she’s never studied flags or nations or anything of the sort in her five years of life. It must be from all the handball, fencing and table tennis I’ve been watching.
The Olympics are supposed to bring us together, to provide a literal playing field upon which nations can come together and forget their differences. And yet, as the headlines of reality remind us, nations still continue to sabre-rattle, posture, provoke and invade one another. Even within the games themselves, we are reminded — despite Visa’s best advertising efforts (“Go World,” to which we respond, “Go where?”) — that we still have a long way to go in understanding one another. A very long way.
Eugene Cho has been a powerful voice to speak out against the blatantly insulting, demeaning and, yes, racist actions of the Spanish basketball team. David Park also weighs in thoughtfully about the hatred of others against Asians and our own self-hatred, both of which are often expressed through dealing with almond-shaped eyes.
What drives me nuts about the whole incident is the response of the Spanish basketball team, fans, officials and even media. They have expressed indignation and outrage that Asian people would be offended by the stupidity of the Spanish basketball team pulling their eyes back in full “Chinky” mockery. Because everyone knows that when you do something wrong and hurt someone, the only right response is to be even more offended that they were offended at all — it’s the victim’s fault for having such thin skin.
It’s hard to believe that the following quotes are real:
“We thought it was appropriate, and the idea was conceived as a friendly gesture; it was never offensive,” Calderon said. “We have a lot of respect for the Chinese people; actually, some of my best friends in Toronto are of Chinese background. Only a confused mind would want to turn this into a controversy.”
Seriously, Jose, get your head together. How on earth could this gesture be perceived as friendly? And, even if you thought that was true, can’t you understand how it is highly offensive, condescending and just plain wrong to those on the receiving end after people who are Asian explain it to you? Are you seriously going to blame the victim here?
But the hits just keep on coming:
“I have two adopted daughters from China, and they’ll both pose with Asian ‘slant-eyes’ when asked about their background,” said Goyo Panadero, an executive at one of the most successful construction companies in Spain. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Great. As if children of adoption didn’t have enough to work through already, particularly kids who are adopted by parents of a different racial or ethnic background. But this defies reason — I cannot imagine the difficulties these two daughters will face in the future.
Main media outlets in Spain have called the picture “a genuine act of friendship to the Chinese community” and “a misunderstood act of innocence.” As part of the message, Spanish media outlets have accused counterparts in the U.S. and England of triggering an unjustified accusation of racism toward Spanish society.
It’s just bad PR to act like such a bunch of backwards goons. Look at Roger Clemens versus Andy Pettite — Clemens insisted on stomping around and attacking anyone who would oppose him at all, and his career isn’t looking so great these days. Pettite, on the other hand, eventually apologized and is still pitching today. Even if the Spanish basketball team wanted to continue on in such willful ignorance, it’s not helping their image to stomp around like this.
On top of all of this, the search for some conspiracy theory among the British or American press utterly reeks of hypocrisy. You don’t like it when people make broad and wrong assumptions about your people? Can’t imagine how that might feel…
Well, at the end of the day, I suppose they want to focus on their game. Which is probably pretty important at this point, considering the beatdown LBJ and company handed them the other day.