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To Pau Gasol and teammates: From a Spanish viewpoint

Pau Gasol in Beijing A special Ticket to Beijing post by Pablo Scarpellini, an editor for Hoy, the Spanish-language newspaper owned by Tribune, which also owns the L.A. Times:

Don't worry, Pau, you don't have to apologize. And, no, you didn't do anything wrong. Because, you know, it was just a stupid picture, a photo promoting the Beijing Games with you and your teammates using your fingers to slant your eyes.

And, yes, it was a kind gesture toward the Chinese people, as the Chinese Embassy in Madrid is saying, and it didn't mean to offend anybody, because the intention was the opposite and that's what counts. I guess that to some people having slanted eyes is something embarrassing or wrong. Otherwise, I just don't get it.

You have to understand, Pau, we are dealing with the narrowest minds of our times, those capable of finding unforgivable sins in innocent things, those capable of blowing of the alarms when a Janet Jackson breast is exposed. But we both know that not everybody is like that here in this big country, that there are a lot of people who convince you every day to stay. And it's not about the paycheck.

I wouldn't waste my time or yours exposing concepts that you already know if it weren't for the fact that I work in this building too, and I don't want you to think that we -- at Los Angeles Times Media Group -- don't have broader mentalities to understand what's going on in other parts of the world. And just for the record, there are intelligent journalists working here who really get it. 

As you may imagine, a lot of people from Spain have been writing to this blog about this issue, offended because a columnist who obviously doesn't know us says that we practice racism in the privacy of our own little country. And, as you can also imagine, they said the obvious, that a country like the United States, at this point in time, cannot give lessons to anybody in human rights or racism, that comments from twisted minds are the ones that create international antipathy toward this big country.

Maybe the problem is that they once tried to cook paella with basmati rice and thought they were starting to understand the culture. Ouch!!

We need to open our minds and stop writing about issues that are simply not there. And I, on my part, will keep on proudly wearing my L.A. Times T-shirt. Yes, I finally stopped by our gift shop. You never know. 

-- Pablo Scarpellini

Photo: Pau Gasol. Credit: Oliver Morin / AFP/Getty Images

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Comments (26)

i guess those bloggers are right, all spanish are racists ! we do NOT need you in LA, go back to where you guys are from !

Very good, Jas, all spanish are racist? Did you meet all spanish people? Or maybe...not? This has a name, and its.. PREJUDICE.
Stop insulting a whole country just because you dont like a few people there, because everybody could do the same with you...or worse. Because, you know, its to easy insult just for hobby.
Everycountries have good and bad people, but maybe you are thinking that in your country everybody is perfect and they have exactly the same personalities. All of them?

Racism is rife in Spain so much so that it becomes common and Spaniards committing this type of offense cant see they are doing wrong. The way the Spanish crowd racially abused Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton and France's Thiery Henry would not have been seen as negative and would be interpreted as acceptable by Spaniards. Spain need to shed itself of this bad habit and treat other racial groups as equals or they will never be accpeted by the international communities or have any rights to bid for international events such as the Olympic Games.

Pablo, I guess what you're saying is that it would also be ok, if the Olympics were being held in Mexico, for the Chinese basketball team to pose with their faces painted brown as a "kind" gesture to all Hispanics.

I don't believe this article is in the sports section instead of the commentary or blog section. This article from another Spaniard perspective just reaffirms what is already known, and that is most people in Spain truly are ignorant of human and cultural progress. It is disconcerting when the whole world can not convince a nation and its people what is symbolically appropriate or inappropriate. But I am sure that Spain's contribution to the world in the form of paellas can justify their continual ignorance.

jass777888 thank you very much for this inmaculate expression of your own racist and xenophobic positions i am sure there´s a lot of united states people who do not agree with you

Wow Jas, lucky you. Did you meet all of spanish people? You have a lot of time to meet 47 million of people!
Pf, stop insulting a whole country just because you dont like a few people there, because evreybody could do the same with you....or worse.
I´m spanish, I´m not racist and I hate racism... why are you including I and other million of people? We could talk about a lot of bad things of you, like we can talk about a lot of good things of your country. But that dont mean that you are like that things

Hi Pablo. Although I agree with most of your position on this matter, there's a point you made in your article that leads me to believe there's a little misunderstanding on your part. Before I reveal what that is, let me just say that I have been to Spain and I have nothing but good things to say about the Country and its charming citizens. Do I find them to be racist? Absolutely not! I believe a few embarrassing racial events that occurred in the past (and as well as the current) were isolated incidents, and does not represent the views of the Spanish population.

That said, your assertion that using fingers to slant eye is not a derogatory gesture is way off course. Yes, it's unfortunate that some folks here in America (and possibly other nations) believe having slanted eyes is embarrassing and wrong, but that's just how we roll here in the USA. I have never heard of an incident in America where an individual flashed the slanted gesture towards an Asian followed by a thumbs up sign. Here in America, the Asian gesture is typically accompanied with a middle finger. Preferably we would like to see the US and others shed this negative connotation, but that’s just not the case.

Speaking of thumbs up, that particular sign does not resonate throughout the world as a gesture of 'OK'. Some Middle Eastern countries, in fact, find it insulting. Similarly, many nations do not perceive the slanting of the eyes a 'kind' gesture. In business, we are taught to learn the cultures of other countries so that we can respect their customs and not offend them. Your article, nevertheless, suggests Pau and company did not adhere to this practice.

If Spain is intelligent enough to believe that there is nothing wrong and embarrassing with having slanted eyes, then Spain is in the forefront of the rest of the world, in that respect. However, it's egotistical to believe that the rest of the world shares the same views as the spaniards. Just because using hands to slant eyes is ok in Spain, doesn't necessary mean it's ok with the rest of the world.

In the interim, Spain should refrain from using this gesture until the rest of the world catches up.

I suppose that many here do not know, but Spain has a law against xenophobia and violence in sport wich Europe and Britain don't has.

why is the guardian going day after day into this headline?

I kept thinking that this article was satirical, but then realized the author was being entirely serious. Um, wow. You've simply proved the point that Plaschke made. Ask Lewis Hamilton, Samuel Eto'o, Thierry Henry, and dozens of other black athletes who have been subjected to racist chants and had bananas thrown at them whether Spain is "misunderstood." I've spent quite a bit of time in Spain, and love the country, but amigos, it's time to look outside the Iberian Peninsula and join the 21st Century.

And you know what? We DO get to pass moral judgment, because no matter how imperfect our efforts may be, the U.S. actively deals with and discusses issues of race and diversity on a daily basis. We don't ignore it (see: the Spanish FA and Luis Aragones) or blame other countries for our sins.

Just to throw in a cheap shot, nice to see that Pau Gasol isn't the only soft Euro, as the entire Spanish team simply quit this morning. But perhaps we've misunderstood a 40 point loss.

Joseph, if you and your people used this gesture to insult asian people in the past, its your problem. In Spain, its not an insult. There are different cultures, and in spanish culture IT´S NOT AN INSULT. Can you get it or not? Why do you think the CHINESE EMBASSY in Spain said that its just humor and not an insult?!! But you are continuing over and over again. What do you need then?

Oh, I forget a thing. Do you know that people who insulted Hamilton were punished? No? Because in Spain there are laws to punis these actions. But ey, nobody wrote about that. Why? And after that, Hamilton said that he loves Spain. But, again, nobody wrote about that. Do you know why? Because in that circuit were 100.000 people, and just 20 stupids screamed him, You just know what you want to know, just insult like a hobby.

Is anybody else also thinking on Mars Attacks and the dove scene?

Pablo and LukeLoser80, loved seeing your wussy Spanish team get spanked by the US. That was one of the most satisfying games I've ever seen. Loved every second. I hope they meet again so I can see Spain get blown out again.

LukeLoser80, just because something is acceptable in one culture doesn't make it acceptable everywhere. If you weren't so ignorant, you'd realize that.

I'm not saying that the US is any better. Racism may even be worse here, but at least we acknowledge that it exists. So go ahead LukeLoser80, keep insisting whatever you want. So what if the Chinese Embassy in Spain doesn't care. I and every Asian person I know are furious. So just know that the actions of a few pea brained individuals in your country just set race relations back a 100 years.

"Ladies and gentlemen...
...it may be a cultural misunderstanding.
Maybe to them, doves mean war.
We all saw how they reacted to that dove.
It frightened them."

"This is the president of the United States.
I'm speaking in the hope...
...that what happened earlier today in the Nevada desert...
...was a cultural misunderstanding."

Mars Attacks

You know what I found more offensive than the original Spanish basketball team photo, Pablo? It is your, and many Spanish posters', arrogance. It is this arrogance that made you come up with lame excuses and the "if-we-don't-think-it's-offensive-nobody-else-should" stand. You even outdid your countrymen. Now you call anyone who was offended narrow minded. Congratulations! You just won the arrogance contest.

By your logic, I'm sure you'll have no problem if some Asians dress up in a caveman getup in a Pau Gasol's jersey in a Lakers' game to show our solidarity and affection toward him. After all, Spaniards have more body hair and body hair is nothing to be ashamed of, right? And I think those cavemen in the Geico ads just adorable.

No, Spanish basketball team doesn't "need" to appologize. You can keep Spain's image in many Asians' eyes on a par with your northern neighbor, France, and I'll rethink my vacation destinations.

P. S. Learn something about Asian communities around the world. Chinese embassy in Madrid by no means speak for us. The photo offended us and there are more of us than the whole population of Spain.


you are just as ignorant as all of your countrymen who have posted comments on this blog. I am really surprised by this ignorance. I've spent a lot of time in Spain and I didn't notice it. (Maybe because I am fair-skinned and people mistake me for a Spaniard even though I am Mexican). But your people have shown their true colors when it comes to this issue.

There have been several documented incidents in the world of Sport, that clearly show that Spain has a problem with racism. Yet, Spaniards refuse to acknowledge it. It's almost as if they are proud of their ignorance. Instead they point to the flawed foreign policy of the US that is irrelevant when it comes to this issue.

It's a good thing you work for HOY, since nobody reads it. What's pathetic is, nobody reads HOY and it's a FREE publication. It's fitting that you are an editor at HOY.


I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the United States crush Spain this morning. I already knew Pau Gasol was soft and worthless from watching him in the NBA finals. The rest of your team is too.

Only 16 comments compared to 500+ on Bill's. Pablo, you are a small timer. Your claim that you are not narrow minded didn't get off the ground.

Written by Todd Christian:
"Yes, it's unfortunate that some folks here in America (and possibly other nations) believe having slanted eyes is embarrassing and wrong, but that's just how we roll here in the USA. I have never heard of an incident in America where an individual flashed the slanted gesture towards an Asian followed by a thumbs up sign. Here in America, the Asian gesture is typically accompanied with a middle finger. Preferably we would like to see the US and others shed this negative connotation, but that’s just not the case."

I mostly agree with you. And I think you've reached the fact of the matter. The spanish team thought they were doing nothing wrong, because in our culture it's not offensive. They can't apologize for being racist because it was not racist. But they clearly chose a wrong gesture without knowing it would be considered to be offensive in other places. That was the mistake, and that's what they apologised for. They said "sorry if someone felt offended by it, it was not our intention". But they can not apologise for making fun of chinese people if that's was not what they were doing.

Eric, the other blog counts many more posts because Bill was so offensive and showed such ignorance, that it has enraged many people and forced them to response. In this case, having many more responses from offended people is not a reason to feel proud, just the opposite.

ok pau
ok spain
k.o. referees

i am spanish,are you fools?
Please,be intelligent people

The world according to Victor: to condone offensive behavior is not as offensive as to object to offensive behavior. Victor is the reincarnation of the Roman Emperor that sought to entertain the masses with gladiators. His next reincarnation will be either as an Asian or an African in a not-quite-ready-for-primetime Spain. Hail Magnanimous Victor!

spanish guy: your blog got me into the word association.

"I'm a little spaniard, you are a little spaniard." Wow, that sounds like the Spanish time-honored song "Chinito de Amol!"

BTW, what's so intelligent about "ok pau"? No need to answer, PLEASE.

To Eric, and others who think the same way.
I don't think that the ad is racist (I think it's silly), but let's assume it does. 15 men doing a racist gesture is enough to say that more than 40 millions persons are racist? An entire country is racist? All the spaniards are ignorant, retarded, stupid, insensitive...? So that's what Bill and other has done. Do you think it is correct?

David 986: Silly is not strong enough for me. For me, offensive is more accurate. For you, it's silly. For Bill, it's racist. Many people read it differently and everybody who has an opinion thinks his is the correct way to look at things.

Bill did not say 40 million Spaniards are racist. That was your interpretation. I'm glad he offended some people. Maybe now they know what it feels like to be offended and can put themselves in my Asian shoes.



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