I have this habit. Whenever some big news story happens I tend to think about it in terms of : What are they going to think in Madrid? What are they going to say to me now? Because, unfortunately, nothing makes some Spanish people happier than when bad shit goes down in the U.S. (note I said some).
Tops on the list is maniac shootings. I really hate to say it, but that just re-affirms every bad stereotype they have about the U.S. - they love it. The guns, the society out of control, the violent idiot Americans. Of course, NO ONE loves that story more than the European media. You can be sure that all of it, in it's negative glory, will come out.
Here is a gem of a comment on www.20minutos.es :
"En estados unidos hay cuatro tios inteligentes que son los que siempre te enseñan y el resto son una verdadera porqueria. Por lo menos uno habra disfrutado con la matanza y este se llama Busch"
"In the United States there are 4 intelligent guys teaching everyone, the rest are real shit. At least one of them enjoyed the masacre - and his name is Busch (sic)"
Now, I know that there were other comments that were positive - more or less. And I have to try not to be too sensitve, but it is difficult. Besides the stereotypes of ALL Americans being stupid, fat, violent - you know the drill - the one thing that blows every Spaniard's mind is guns.
I think what they don't understand is the historical / cultural aspect of the gun to Americans. We are a people that are taught to take care of ourselves. If you are out in the wilderness, the farm, the prairie, etc. you had to use the tools you had to take care of yourself, to hunt, etc. In many places of the country this is still true. Why? Another thing Spaniards don't understand. The U.S. is a BIG F-ing place. There are no Guardia Civil to help you most of the time, and another thing, we may need protection FROM the Guardia Civil.
Now, I understand that it is possible that this model no longer works in a modern society. Whackos exist who cannot handle the responsiblilty. In the old days, if one guy was a whacko and started shooting the next guy had a gun too - and that was the end of the whacko. Now this is not the case. We may not be able to have the guns around anymore - but that cultural change will take time.
In order to put it in context to the Spanish I sometimes bring up "La Fiesta Nacional" - the bullfight. I'm pretty sure most people in the world agree that this is a pretty screwed up party. But it is a cultural part of the Spanish life - I accept it as uniquely Spanish and I of course don't bother them about it. But if the bullfight were an American pastime - I think I know what the world would say about those violent, murdering, Americans torturing innocent animals. How could they do that! Like the gun in America, in time there probably will be no more bullfight.
Which brings me to the last big theme of this post. The Europeans and the Spanish have an almost pathological need to feel different than Americans. Many times this means better, more educated, more politically aware, etc. But here is the big secret - Western Europeans and Americans are EXACTLY the same! More on that later.