Someone has pulled the carpet under my feet when it comes to political correctness. Because I swear to God, I have no idea what is acceptable and what isn't, these days.
The Spanish Olympic basketball teams have apologised for the picture. And the Chinese aren’t terribly offended, by the looks of it. But everyone else and their pet turtles are.
Perhaps I should begin by asking, "Since when did slitty eyes become a bad thing??" I have dated many Chinese men in my 29 years of roaming the planet we fondly call Earth, and I think it looks very good on them, in case you hadn't noticed yourself.
You know ol' Stevie of You-Tiup? He has slitty eyes and he's very cute. I should know - I've gone out with him before AND sat in his famed 1990 Honda CRX with a 1.6l DOHC ZC engine before it got sold off. (Eat your hearts out, girls).
How could natural physical features ever be a bad thing?
I once went to Kenny Rogers for lunch with three of my Malaysian-Chinese colleagues. If you've never been there, I should explain that their meal-set provides for one muffin, the flavour of which is your choice.
Yours truly picked chocolate, while the other three picked banana and vanilla flavours, I think. When the muffins arrived together, I found it amusing.
"Look," I pointed out, "we've chosen our flavours according to our skin tones!"
I was severely chastised for that. "You shouldn't say that about your own skin colour," my colleague rebuked me.
I don't understand why. I'm Malaysian-Indian. I'm dark.
Compared to a Scandinavian, I'm charcoal. Compared to the Spaniards, I'm somewhat tanned. Compared to the average Malaysian-Indian, I'm sort of light-skinned. Compared to an African, I'm paleface.
So-freaking-what? I love my skin colour. Don't presume that I don't like it. Don't presume that being light or dark-skinned is a bad thing. It isn't, no more than having slitty eyes.
And why can't people refrain from speaking on behalf of other people? Most of the outrage came from people who know neither the Chinese nor the Spanish.
I've lived in Madrid for a bit. I think they're probably the most friendly people in the European continent, though I admit, I haven't been to every single country in Europe. Yet. :)
But seriously. I've been on the Metro, sat in their buses, gone into their stores, driven on their roads, filled up fuel at their stations - and not been discriminated against, even once.
The fuel station story is an interesting one. I figured theirs would be self-service like Malaysian ones, but I didn't know what the procedure might be like. So I asked my colleague, Emilio, what the word for 'full tank' was.
"Lleno," he told me. It just means 'full'. I also discovered they didn't have swipe counters at the kiosk like we do here, and I didn't want to leave my credit card with the guy manning the store inside.
"Would he be worried about serving a foreigner?" I asked Emilio.
Emilio looked bemused. He obviously hadn't considered that situation. "Just tell him you're a foreigner and leave your pasaporte as exchange, if he asks," Emilio finally suggested doubtfully.
I wasn't too comfortable with that idea, but I had no choice.
At the petrol station, I stated my request to the store clerk. He smiled, nodded and waved me on. I didn't have to leave my credit card, a cash deposit or even my passport.
He just trusted me - a foreigner - completely. Heck, I could have driven off without paying. There's no one in Malaysia who would trust me so explicitly and yet, I'm a citizen of this goddamn country.
This woman has lived in Spain for two years and she agrees with me that whatever they may be, the Spaniards aren't racist.
My friend Tim, has a very apt saying, which could be used to describe the Spanish Olympic basketball team.
'Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity'.