French people are arrogant, the British are snob, Catalonian people are tight-fisted and Americans are fat, patriotic and aggressive. We are unavoidably surrounded by stereotypes. These widely accepted thoughts condition our judgement over other civilisations, we have the tendency to take preconceived fixed-ideas on trust. Stereotypes may seem hilarious and worth joking about, but the reality is actually that some of them irritate and give rise to misleading information.
When it comes to the situation in the Basque Country, my birthplace, there are also numerous stereotypes deserving of mention. Basque people are imagined as exaggerated in terms of food, strength and capacities. As a matter of fact, I must admit that these statements are quite accurate, since we have a really high self-image. Moreover, another cliché is that we are primitive or rural, owning a lifestyle typical of Neanderthals consisting in lifting up stones and chopping trunks. These sayings are hitherto rather funny and not harmful at all.
However, owing to the existence of a terrorist gang called ETA , Basque people have been regarded as inexorable members of that group. This band advocated for the independence by carrying out subversive actions, such as planned murders or attacks. From then on, many Spaniards have been fearful of the whole Basque society, up to the point of disdain and rejection. What I mean by this is that being capable of drawing the line between comical and damaging stereotypes is essential.
In view of the above, the vast majority of clichés are unrealistic, certainly inflated and aimed at humour. Then, there is no point in taking offence at it, unless they are repetitive. Others are pretty precise, as they describe reality as it is ; for instance, the laziness to study English from Spanish people. Finally, harmful stereotypes are to disappear, because they share a devastating and false image of that society.