What was supposed to be a witty swipe at the Mexican World Cup team on Twitter by Dutch flag carrier Royal Ducth Airlines (KLM) became the subject of an online indignation campaign that forced the airline to delete the tweet. Mexico had lost to the Dutch earlier and is out of the match. Noted social media beat editor @dannysullivan managed to screencap the “offending” KLM tweet before it was deleted and captioned it with a wry gloat “It’s Adios Amigo to @KLM’s Adios Amigos tweet. The company has now deleted it”…
As can be seen in the above image, it seems that it is the image of the stereotypical moustachioed Mexican in a sombrero that may have offended today’s politically-correct sensibilities.
Reactions have been mixed, but cries of bloody racism echoed the loudest,as expected. Tech blog Mashable chimed in describing the tweet as “racially insensitive”.
But is all this really being racially-insensitive?
Twitter user @StellaJansen captured the essence behind a more sober response to this question in a response to Sullivan’s gloat: “@dannysullivan @RobLamberts come on, the Dutch are always painted with tulips and wooden shoes, Germans with beer and Mexicans with sombrero”
Indeed, ethnic jokes seem to be ok when the subject of the punchline are northern Europeans. But when such swipes involve other ethnicities and cultures, “racism” is more likely to be perceived. In a 2010 episode of the hit comedy series Ugly Betty, for example, Wilhelmina (played by African-American actor Vanessa Willimas) remarked after Scottish character Christina (played by Ashley Jensen) made a complimentary remark about piece of clothing, “Well, then you wear it. I’m sure you’ll be a big hit at the next bagpipe convention.”
Funny? Or racist?
If “racist”, where was the indignation? Goes to show that it all depends, doesn’t it?
Perhaps people should, instead, have left it up to the Mexicans to come up with an equally witty comeback. That, after all, are the sorts of real sporting conversation that goes on in pubs far from earshot of self-proclaimed guardians of “proper behaviour”.
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