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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

There's Not Much Racism in Spain
Monday, May 1, 2023 @ 9:12 PM

It always seems to me rather a waste of time being a racist when you live in somebody else's country than your own. If you don't like foreigners (for reasons which you no doubt hold dear but which I find repugnant) then the first thing to do is not go and live somewhere abroad. You may find that your own country is overrun by people who look or speak 'funny' and you should feel free to write letters to your favourite newspaper or join your local equivalent of the KKK and make a fool of yourself every other Friday. But you should definitely re-consider moving to another country.

See, as even Leapy Lee could tell you (from his home in Mallorca), it'll be full of foreigners.

I once asked a British friend over a beer if there were many foreigners living in his street on the playa - 'Oh no', he answered, 'they're all English'. He's lived here about twenty five years and doesn't speak a word of Spanish. He nevertheless has quite a high opinion of his hosts, as long as they leave him alone. 'It's their country', he concedes.

Just not their street.

There's no reason to be a second-class citizen here, which many Britons tend towards, with their 'I'm just a guest here' and so on; but it is equally absurd to get ah, uppity, about being somehow superior. Waste of time when you're living in Spain. Innit?

Of course it's hard to blend in. I'm tall, blond, red-faced and however good my Spanish might be, I'm obviously a foreigner who must, it follows, only speak foreign. Not that it matters much, I suppose. It could be worse. So anyway, a girl who is staying with my daughter in Madrid goes out for a coffee and comes across some troll who has a swastika tattooed on his neck and 'orgullo blanco' - white pride - thumped in on his bald head.

Oh dear, a lunatic. Now, the girl is Spanish, but she's black. So this idiot starts in on her with insults. She is soon surrounded by a passing gang of South Americans who take her side. Some more Nazis drift into the bar...

Followed by the police.

My mum's cousin - he was also my godfather - was a leading member of the British National Front: our version of the Frente Nacional - and he once told my dad that the extreme right prefers its members to come from the poor and the uneducated. While there must no doubt be intelligent racists here and there, it appears that they are not welcome in the party. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French version, says the same thing: 'bring me les petits Français', she says, 'the ones whose jobs are under threat from the immigrants'.

Spain has its Nazis like anywhere else, now congealed into the Vox Party and running around 15%, which includes those who remember the good old days with the Generalísimo - Francisco Franco. In October 2019, and much to their indignant rage, the Government finally removed his remains from that dreadful site outside Madrid known as the Valley of the Fallen.

Spain today, where there are well over four million 'inmigrantes', plus a large number of foreign residents (me and my pals there on the costa) is surprisingly affable towards its foreigners - at least the red-faced blond ones. There may be a sort of institutional racism regarding the guiris, who are rarely employed in any white-collar capacity; but we manage, we manage.

Just don't try and homologar your papers here, the Spanish will move mountains to fuck you. It's the breaks.

I think, if anything, they ignore us. We are not tourists (here for the two weeks and some industrial strength alka-seltzer), but we do practice 'turismo residencial', the Spanish name for what we call the expats. If we were all wiped out by a selective virus, I doubt there would be any sign of our passage here a year later.

The Spanish generally reserve their dislike for the Jews (for some odd reason), the Freemasons and the Gypsies. While Gypsies have been in Spain since the sixteenth century, they are still thought badly of, and beside producing Flamenco and working with horses, they certainly aren't featured much in the snootier magazines.

It's odd though, since you shouldn't really be a racist, it seems to me, if you live in another country; and if you only got to know your new neighbours then you would perhaps be pleasantly surprised, but we Britons haven't quite caught the message yet. There's the language of course, and the culture. Maybe the giblets as well.

I sometimes ask people who have just returned from a visit to England as to how it's getting on over there. The first or second criticism will always be something to do with the asylum seekers, the Muslims, the Poles, the foreigners... Which, I imagine, explains Brexit, and indeed my embarrassing godfather.

So, if you are thinking of living here, do come. The Spanish will treat you well, although they will probably never come to your bar or your shop, or hire you to work for them. That's the breaks.

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