Because of Spain’s contemporary history of being sheltered from the rest of the world during much of the 20th century, its people lack any sense of cross-cultural sensitivity in dealing with foreign cultures. Consequently, Spanish people will frequently make remarks or use gestures in reference to foreign cultures and races that would be considered offensive, inappropriate and outright racist in any other modern, dynamic and heterogeneous population. Nonetheless, the Spanish will laugh off these usages as being terms or signs of affection. The offended should learn not to take offense, and the proponent of political correctness should learn not to be so hypocritical.
The latest example of this is the Spanish men’s olympic basketball team’s photograph with all of its players making their eyes slanted. What is remarkable is how innocently naive and childish their gesture believes itself to be an act of “appreciation” towards the Chinese. While most Spanish newspapers are never color blind (they always refer to the race, religion, or nationality of their subject matter as long as it is not the majority in Spain), at least this time El Mundo asks whether the team pose was appropriate.
What is shocking is that in Spain, absolutely no one will find the photograph troublesome in the least.
Update: Just read the story covered in Yahoo!.
Update 2: Apparently, the Spanish national basketball team isn’t the only Spanish team to define Asians by eye shape.