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.