Scapegoat Spain: cucumber-hating Germans, sports-jealous French?

Article published on Feb. 21, 2012
Article published on Feb. 21, 2012
In early February the French puppet show 'Les Guignols de l'info' - rather like the UK's 'Spitting Image' - broadcast three satirical videos poking fun at Spanish sportsmen for doping. The Spanish nation say the French crossed the line. The pan-European journalist collective 'Europa451' released this blunt leading article inviting its neighbours to do some soul-searching

First Germany and now France. Plunged into its biggest crisis since the civil war, Spain is once again looking for foreign scapegoats to vent its feeling of unease. In close to four centuries of almost uninterrupted economic, political and cultural decadence that Spain enjoyed until the beginning of its current democracy, it has never lacked foreign enemies. Imperialist Turks, protestants, English pirates, Napoleon and the Afrancesados, the Americans of 1898, the Soviets, the Judeo-Masonic conspiracy...the list goes on. In fact, it was necessary to establish a feeling of country-wide collective victimisation regarding the foreign and the inability to resolve their problems.

French satire doesn't go down well in  Spain

France has always been an active player, despite having been the nation with which Spain has collaborated most throughout its history, for geographical, dynastic, intellectual or purely strategic reasons. It was the same old story when Spanish media was outraged on 8 February by a satirical programme shown on a French television channel. It used the images of the cyclist and three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and the tennis player Rafael Nadal to cast doubt over the anti-doping controls in Spain. Contador was stripped of his 2010 and 2011 titles after testing positive for clebuterol during the 2010 Tour de France; Nadal is a ten-time Grand Slam champion. Both Hispanic 'heroes' make up part of a generation of Iberian sportsmen that are trying to exorcise the ghosts of eternal defeatism, and the complexes of a country that had recurrently confused its sporting ambitions with its national reputation with repetitive outbursts and bar room boasting, followed time and again by resounding failures.

Once again, during this difficult time, the country with bull blood coursing through its veins prefers to dodge the issue. When it was struggling with the property bubble, it was laughing at the Italians who kept it going. When German chancellor Angela Merkel's government wrongly voiced their suspicions that the deadly E-coli cucumbers of 2011 were imported from Spain, all the fury contained within the humble Spaniard, irritated by all the lessons they had been given about the economic crisis, was unleashed against Germany. As for the doping jokes, the French are jealous because they couldn't conquer the sporting competitions that the Spanish have even in their dreams.

'The French are jealous because not even in their dreams could they conquer the sporting competitions that the Spanish have'

Ultimately, it will be bad for Spain if it intends to hold its nose away from its own bad smell by looking for scapegoats elsewhere. It's arguments are loose. France recently imposed a house arrest on the husband of the most successful French cyclist Jeannie Longo for allegedly trafficking EPO in February. The case show that France treat their own the same as others. Since Spain also has notorious cases of doping in sport, prime minister Mariano Rajoy's government is considering a revision of the legislation with a view to improving controls.

Finally, when the Spanish have looked at themselves in the European mirror at all angles - political, cultural, social, academic and commercial - they must remember that they have gone systematically further. If the mirror tells them that they are not Snow White, let them not waste time poisoning rotten apples.

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Images: main (cc) jesuscm/ flickr