Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bunch of racists

Check out this article in the NYT about the coming World Cup and what goes on at soccer matches in Europe. Imagine somebody throwing a banana peel or making a monkey noise at a black player here. It's just unthinkable.
People come up with all sorts of lame explanations to justify why Germans behave abominably towards people of color. Oh, they have unemployment in East Germany, oh, it's the alcohol. Maybe THEY ARE A BUNCH OF RACISTS. If they had a job and stopped drinking they would still be a bunch or racists.
The fact that they invented the Nazis, shouldn't that count for something? It is not a coincidence, you know.
Of course there are a lot of Germans who are not like that. We all know that everybody, including me, deep inside is a racist. There is always someone to fear, dislike, misunderstand and mistrust. In my case, if you must know, it's Arabs (and rednecks, and ultra-orthdox Jews and girls in Williamsburg who wear bangs and cowboy boots with shorts, and Germans, can't help it). In fact, I kind of hate mankind in general.
But in certain societies, like ours, the culture discourages such thinking, and as people of color are more integrated, the thinking loses power. It's not that it isn't there, but it is weaker.
Meanwhile in places like Germany and Spain, which have been mostly homogeneous for centuries, (and when they were not, they did everything in their power to remain so), they are not used to human variety, they are provincial and they are obtuse and they are unwelcoming. They are light-years away from the relative enlightenment we have in the US, but that does not prevent them from scorning the US and feeling superior to Americans.
I'll give you an example: I was in Madrid a couple of years ago. I met with some very nice friends of a friend who lives here. They were extremely charming and welcoming to me. They were all college educated, middle class, doing well. At some point we were discussing world affairs. 9/11. All of a sudden I am informed that Jews control the worldwide media. So I ask, do Jews own El Pais? No. Do they own Der Spiegel? No. Do they own Le Monde? No. Do they own the BBC? No. So? Well they still control the media. I said, "I can't believe that people like you can say such stupid things. What exactly is it that you imagine? Do you imagine a bunch of bearded Jews huddling over a table on top of the Empire State Building dictating what goes on in the newspapers?" WTF? They were rather taken aback because I guess that nobody had ever challenged their idiotic assumptions. And, this, I have to say, cannot be ascribed to ignorance, as it usually is. OK?
The following night, I get into a cab late at night and the cabbie starts, unaided:
The Chinese are pigs, they make this city filthy. Look at all the garbage they leave on the streets. It's disgusting.
(The "Chinese" sell street food to clubgoers.)
Well they come here to feed their families, I say, like most immigrants they are here to work and make a better life.
You are not from here, are you? What are you doing here?

That's how it is over there.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:57 PM

    Just discovered your blog while looking for information about Romain Durys (“De battre, mon coeur s'est arrêté »). Regarding Racism in Spain, Germany or the States, I think there is good and bad everywhere. So, I chose not to focus on the negative sides of humans, because by giving importance to some mediocre people, you strengthen their influence, starting from the effect they have on you ! Don't let them hurt and change you in the negative way. Here in France, I always felt home, and never experienced racism in 20 years! How come? I am Black and was born in Guadeloupe. I do not know what suffering from your ethnic origins or your colour means, simply because being Black or Jewish or Asian or White does not define a person. So, when racist crimes are made, the human in me cries whoever the victim, not the Black. Do you see what I mean? So, I do not want to give back the hatred that was sent to me. I’d rather neutralise it so that it stops at “my door”. I do not want venomous plants in my garden. Humans slaughtering other humans is a nightmare I discovered at early age (the first time I read a paper, it was an article describing techniques of torture during the deportation and slavery of the African people). So the girl is not naïve and listens to the news. However, when she meets humans they are, first of all, humans, not representatives of a given race. A few years ago, I made racist comments about Germans, saying they were "degenerated" as far as refinement, civilization, culture, "humanity" are concerned. I thought this was funny. But, this was sterile. Even if many of them just cannot stand foreigners. I cannot develop now, because it's late here in Paris, but I guess I started to pull the thread explaining German xenophobia. They really have a kind of pathology-which does not justify their cruelty-a historical pathology that must have appeared in remote times. Hitler acted as a "catatalyseur" that triggered those monstrous instincts that were kept on leech till the 30s. Do you know something? The Germans are scared to death of Black people (they fled when the “Tirailleurs Sénégalais” rushed on them during WWI, look at their football teams: not a Black, and they are the only European country who did not conquer/steal any territory in Africa: surprising for a nation of warriors who praises physical strength). Here, the French coming back from the States are surprised by people’s behaviour in big American cities. They often talk about an inability to bond, about superficial relationships, lack of "introspection", lack of "soul food", about racism against Black people and tell they are looked down upon when they have Black friends, which here people don’t even think about, as we are raised together since kindergarten. Racism here is more present in very low ranks of society-like everywhere else, the last comer is blamed for taking the jobs of the natives!- or used for political “manipulation”. Doesn’t this happen in the States? Appart from that, they are also energized” by the awesome dynamism ot the American people. Which is tremendously missing here. But here, people get up in the subway and offer me their seat whereas I am young, in good wealth and not tired. And sometimes they don’t and rush on the first available seat, selfishly screwed on in as on a gold mine! They are nice and do me favours, complete strangers talk to me as if we new each other, we do not need to be introduced by s.o. else. In fact, the French are a simple and human people. But we have two big failures: we are arrogant and negative. Appart from that, there have been Black and non-Caucasian people here for only 46 years! (Compared to 400 years in the States, apart from the Native Americans?) And look at the Paris streets! So many foreign languages spoken, so many races, religions, mixed couples. People have been living quietly together, until religious extremisms recently arose and political “manoeuvres” came in the way. Here, which is not a paradise for day-dreamers, nor a model-society, the mainly cherished art is: l’art de vivre. No doubt we have a lot to learn about life. We are awkward, too intellectual, not enough pragmatic, we theorize too much (one famous French essayist, Guy Debord, was nicknamed: Guy The Bore!). One last word, maybe you already now it: the French are Germans!
    Hope to have the opportunity to read your answer. My email address: