Friday, July 23, 2004

Ignorance is a bliss

Via PrestoPundit, I found this post at The Indepundit which I found troublesome. Not the obvious part, that spectators spat at and gave Lance Armstrong the finger, because you probably need to be drunk to see anything good in that. Being a cycling afficionado, I really think that this sort of behavior don't belong along the road.

What troubles me this time is that Greg at PrestoPundit and many of the commenters at The Indepundit blames the French people. The Reuters-article that the post links to mentions one nationality, the Germans. Other than that, it's just the neutral "fans". The picture were a spectator gives Lance the finger shows that it's not a French, but a Basque*. But still, France gets all the blame. I'm not saying that no French said stupid things or spat at him, but just blaming the French is equally stupid as I see it.

I'm not very fond of the "explanation" the Indepundit gives either, "[b]ecause, you know, Armstrong is an American, and Bush is Hitler." One of Lance's main competitor, Jan Ullrich, comes from Germany and some other from Spain, one of them the Basque Iban Mayo, who were far behind Armstrong at this stage. Cycling is huge in the Basque country and in Germany, so if their favourite gets crushed by Armstrong, they will get angry**. The "Armstrong is an American" is one explanation, but not the only one and not the most likely.

You may dislike France and the French people if you like, but don't be ignorant while you're at it.

* The reason why I know it's a Basque is because (a) he's wearing an orange t-shirt, shorts and bandana, orange is the "Basque" color, (b) just behind the man there's another man, holding a Basque flag and (c) the picture is most likely taken in the Pyrenees, just north of the Basque country. It's likely because the rider just behind Lance is the Italian Ivan Basso, and there's just those two riders. There were two stages in the Pyrenees this year, both of them ended in a similar fashion with Armstrong and Basso riding alone in the end. The picture couldn't have been taken at Alpe d'Huez since the fans couldn't get so close, there were fences in the way, when Armstrong catched and passed Basso in the time trial.
 
** That's an explanation, not an excuse.