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As in the cases of the Nazi Gold and the bank secret, Switzerland again sees itself exposed to a barrage of international accusations, and the gut reaction is to circle the wagons–a posture that is common when small states see themselves exposed to massive criticism and pressure from abroad.
And Oprah delivered all the arguments for this defensive posture.
Switzerland still lacks any authoritative mainstream voices–like Oprah–who can talk about race from a minority viewpoint.
As the clumsy and insensitive commentaries in the Swiss press indicate, the Swiss have a long way to go to develop an understanding of the subtle ways of racism in our globalized world.
Furthermore, the rabid denials of racism by so many Swiss commentators imply that race indeed is a major underlying issue.
Switzerland just in recent years has been forced to deal with a multi-racial society.
It is evident that Switzerland Tourism and other commercial interests would like the world to see Switzerland through Tina Turner’s eyes rather than Oprah Winfrey’s.
Switzerland is full of hard working educated individuals, as well, it is a very rich country.
Swiss women are very well respected, however they have a patriarchal mind set. Also, the Swiss almost always stay within their own race.
It has allowed commentators in Switzerland to focus on the hissy fit by a narcissistic international entertainer–as a commentary entitled “Die verletzte Narzisstin” (the injured narcissist) in the respected Zurich daily Tages-Anzeiger did.
This line of argumentation enables commentators to deny that there is any racism at issue in this scandal that now is referred to as “Täschligate” (handbag-gate) in Switzerland.
But Oprah is right that this incident would not have happened if the sales clerk had recognized her as a celebrity. Trudie Götz, the owner of the boutique, in an interview with the Swiss tabloid Blick framed this as a “misunderstanding” due to the imperfect command of English of her employee and claimed that her employee meant well, acted correctly and in no way displayed racial prejudices.
She further stated that she sees no reason to fire her sales person. Götz was an invited guest at the Turner wedding as well.