I tell you, at times I am so inspired by the example of tolerance and international understanding one can find on display throughout modern Europe. Such a contrast to the narrow views one encounters in America these days.

For example, there is an enlightened discussion going on between Greeks and Macedonians right now regarding the legacy of Alexander. It seems there is some small disagreement about which country shall claim the noted humanitarian for its own:
We will come and kill you in your beds, cut your throats, and wipe you from the face of the earth ... if Alexander the Great were alive today he would grind you gypsy dogs into the dust, dig your dead from their graves and silence forever your filthy language that insults his name ..."

If civilized people cannot agree to disagree, then where are we?

Sport is a microcosm of the larger society. Men and women strive to do their best in healthy and friendly competition and in so doing lift up us all. The coach of the Spanish national football, Luis Aragones, the other day had the following to say about his rank racist cracks about Thierry Henry when asked by British hacks:

'I know who is racist. I remember the colonies. There are some who have run after them like wolves after prey,' he said, referring to Britain's past.

We'll overlook, as did Aragones, the fact of several hundred years of brutal Spanish colonialism, rape, pillage, murder and the thoughtful introduction of disease into the Americas because he was, er, making a point.

At the Spain - England match on Wednesday, huge sections of the Spanish crowd engaged in racist taunting of England's black players, making I believe what is known as 'monkey chants' whenever one of them touched the ball. The monkey chanters reportedly included whole families with children and professional men and women in addition to the usual riff-raff you find at matches. The following reasonable explanation for this was offered by a Spanish journalist:

Journalist Guillem Balague writes: "In our country, where multi-culturalism is a new thing, we are in nappies dealing with these things, and have a naivety which makes the English nervous."

That reminds me of how many eastern Europeans explain away the quite open racism in their countries by pointing out that they are unused to the presence of non-white faces in their midst, conveniently ignoring the fact that the iron curtain has been removed from the stage for 15 years now, and that the distinctly non-white faces of the Roma have been in many of their neighborhoods for centuries.

I love excuses for racism. So helpful. Here's another explanation from a Spanish journo:

'Were there racist chants against some players? This hasn't happened in the Spanish league and Spain for many years,' said Spanish Federation press officer Fernando Garrido.

'So you (English reporters) should ask yourselves what you have done to contribute to all this.'

So apparently the whole thing was invented by the British press to deflect attention from the fact that England lost. All is clear now.

Dear Europe, please keep the lessons on your interesting way of tolerating and living with one another coming. America has much to learn.

Steve | 13:37 |