Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Who painted it?"

[Edited for clarity so that no one would understand me to be saying that all of the image has been painted on the cloth]

Oops.

In fairness: no one denies that some of the things seen on the relic in the basilica have been painted. But instances such as this lead me to reflect on two things: 1) that one person's "common knowledge" is not necessarily another's; and/but 2) one's religion or lack thereof aside, the centrality of the Virgin of Guadalupe to Mexican history and culture--and, by extension, hispanic American history and culture--is such that the briefing book of any diplomat visiting Mexico should contain at least a cursory mention of her. Especially if a visit to the basilica is on said diplomat's itinerary. There's also 3) that, surely, my nation's diplomats are not the only ones who occasionally blunder in such ways

Ah, well. It's also useful (if embarrassing) to be reminded that diplomatic faux pas will occur no matter whose administration is in power.

EDIT: Speaking of weird moments in diplomacy . . . Miss Universe blogs about her visit to Guantánamo. On second thought, "surreal" may be more appropriate than "weird." (Hat-tip: Talking Points Memo)

2 comments:

R. Sherman said...

I was wondering when/if you'd comment on this story. Initially, when I read it, I thought it was a spoof, because no Secretary of State would/could/be allowed to make such a mistake.

Of course, I remembered the "re-set" button incident.

Cheers.

John B. said...

Hey, Randall.

Yeah. As I have thought about it more, I've tried to come up with reasonable explanations for how such an oversight regarding something as basic and as central to Mexico as this could have occurred, and none of them reflect well on Mrs. Clinton or her staff. Nor does it do anything to help dispel the sense in Latin America generally that the U.S. shows little if any pro-active concern for its interests . . . except when it has some land we'd like to have or is hosting business interests we want to protect by fomenting revolutions. We complain about Russia's asserting itself in what it deems to be its sphere of influence, all the time forgetting that little thing called the Monroe Doctrine and how that has shaped our policy in the region well into the 20th century.