This thread springs from Do the French deserve their reputation as weak-kneed?

When a person makes a joke about a black person based on the general grouping of black people, it is definitely racist. But, what about jokes targeting nationalities? Are those jokes racist, and are they to be taken less offensively, or should they even be taken offensively?

The only time I have ever experienced being the target of racist comments in (a sneering put down sense) as being part of a minority was when I traveled to Guam alone and stayed there for 2 weeks camping on the beaches. I made a Guam friend and he took me around his family and I hung out with him and some of his friends. That was when I heard of the word "Howley" which they use to derogatively refer to white people. Have to admit, I didn`t like the tone it was spoken with.

But I have no feeling of being apalled when people make snide comments on nationalities. But, perhaps many people can`t seperate their national identity from their race identity and therefore come equeally insulted by either kind of comment or humor.

For example, is a joke about Poles considered a racist joke or ethnic joke? Are both equally wrong? Are nationalistic jokes/snide comments less wrong or offensive when the target country is multi-ethnic such as the U.S.?

Personally, I have never cared for jokes based on races or handicaps because those are things a person cannot affect to change. Though, I quite enjoy jokes based on nationalities, religions, political associations or causes. Perhaps I do not think jokes made on nationalities or those others are bad because as for America, the retention of our nationality is a choice. Any U.S. citizen can reject their citizenship by making a statement of rejection in front of any embassy official. Our skin color or physical handicaps, however, is something we are stuck with.

I guess the factor of "choice" is what to me makes something acceptable to joke about. If no "choice" is involved, then I find it insulting and the worse of all humor -- if indeed it could be catagorized as humor [though I guess it could be deemed as humor subjective to the taste of the audience and whether or not laughter is elicited].