Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The End of the White Man?

This bumbling, ridiculous New York Times op-ed made little sense. It's all about a white man looking at himself in a narcissistic fashion, at his world, and then back at his own belly button. It's about his pissing fears that it's the end of the era of the white man, just because America is currently going through an economic downturn that most people feel like is a recession, and because China and India are growing and hold the teeming masses.

The whole op-ed meanders on like it's very own third paragraph:

"The jumble makes no sense. It just goes on, like the mindless clacking of an ice-dispenser."

Of course, this would be cute and not merely trite if well, "the white man" was the only person who lives in America. Oh, I'm sorry, he addresses that: "It’s the end of the era of the white man; and, before it even began in earnest, of the white woman, too."

Gee golly whiskers, it's nice that white women had a brief moment in the sun, but now I guess they are going to be taken over by Asian women. Who will probably either just bow and scrape demurely, or deceitfully ravish and plunge their jeweled hairpin into your back, depending on whether they are playing the role of geisha or dragon lady in the theatre of the Western mind today. (See, I can match Cohen overused Asian stereotype for stereotype, and all wrapped in a pretty bow too.)

And what of Europe, where the Euro and pound are faring quite well against the dollar? What about Canada, that great white expanse to our north where their loonie holding its own against our Illuminati eye dollar bill?

This kind of solipsistic tripe angers me, because caught in between the flowery words and extended metaphors that claw their way to nowhere is the very real and unimaginative spectre of the yellow peril. It's the same thing that happens everytime that the US economy is down - we find someone to blame, someone to point fingers at. Someone to scapegoat for our current situation. We point at someone else who seems to be doing better or unreasonably well, maybe by magical powers of persuasion, maybe even effortlessly as if the whole race were somehow magically smarter and more gifted.

He even interviews a mysterious, "effortless" "Oriental".
I went to see Frederick Ma, Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce. He’s suave in that effortless Hong Kong way, the shrewdness wrapped in a soothing patter of bonhomie. How is it that this is the only place on earth where people think of what you want before you’ve thought of it yourself?
. . .

“I am very worried about the U.S. economy right now,” he said. “When I was visiting last November, I asked a banker friend what’s going on, and she told me that a Wall Street problem was soon going to be a Main Street problem.”

Wow! A Magical mystical mandarin who knows what you are thinking before you do! It almost sounds like a butler or a servant! Wait, since Hong Kong is a whole city and province, it's legions of servants! And does he also have an expressionless face like a mask, hiding his deep and darkest desires to betray you?!? Whose dagger-like shrewdness is all wrapped up in a silk blanket of "bonhomie." Perhaps he's a Manchurian candidate!

(And yes, he's concerned about our economy - we're the world's leading superpower. I'm concerned about our economy, and so is everyone else in America! not to mention other countries who will see their economies go down because of globalization. It seems the only people who haven't seemed to recognize that the economy sucks is President Bush's administration!)

Really? Effortless? I mean that's not similar at all to the model minority stereotype is it? Because all Asians are good at math and science, it must come effortlessly to us, right? Like it's hardwired into our genes?!?

Because it's effortless until it's not.
Come to Asia and fear drains away. It’s replaced by confidence and a burning desire to succeed. Asian business leaders are rock stars. The culture of education and achievement is fierce. China is bent on beating the U.S.A.
No doubt this is because of the effortless Asians. Oh wait, somehow you can't reconcile effortless with "burning desire to succeed or the culture of education and achievement" So now we have the really hardworking stereotype of the model minority at play here - the Asians who are determined to overcome. Maybe the culture of education and achievement just somehow rubs off on Asians like a good luck genie (to use another tired Orientalist image.)
What you feel in Asia, said Claude Smadja, a prominent global strategist, is “a burst of energy, of new dreams, and the end of the era of Western domination and the white man.”
(This man who is quoted is on the board of IIT. Which is really a prominent university in . . . their imagination.)

Yes, please cast Asia in the role of paper tiger. Because really, all of Asia is doing so well. Last I checked a major source of the Philippines' revenue was remittances (money sent home by immigrants abroad.) That's how robust their economy is - they export their best people, and then their entire economic system slows when remittances drop. But of course China, which is holding the Olympics, is representative of all of Asia, which actually contains more than 60 countries.

(Yeah, some of these are not typically considered "Asian" countries but they are all georgaphically in Asia the continent. And the point stands - the diversity of Asia is far greater than China. Or China + India. It'd be like saying Latin America is Brazil.)

So here we have a reporter who conflates the white man with America, and China with all of Asia. And he is the former foreign affairs editor for the New York Times and an NYT columnist!

And when fear of the enigmatic Asian doesn't work, club them over the head with how many of these effortlessly hard-working Asians there might be.
Asian statistics can be numbing. With one third of humanity, the numbers get big. There are now 450 million cell phones in China.
Damn, maybe that one third of humanity will figure out how to turn on their cell phones and use them all at the same time, thus sending a powerful wave of electromagnetism surging across the globe and somehow revitalizing the Asian economy while electrocuting all the white men at the same time. Or, they could just simultaneously just chuck them all at the white men, thus bruising their heads.

I just think that really, the NYT should be more responsible and screen better for higher quality reporting and opinion. He's like a male version of Maureen Dowd. He's a ditz. OR at least he writes like one, and NYT readers deserve better. If this is the perspective on global affairs that the NYT can afford to hire to educate their readers on our world, then well, maybe it's better not to put it out there. No wonder Americans are so little informed about other nations if our perspective on them is via these kinds of biased perceptions. And shoe shines.

Update: today he has a similarly nuanced article on whether shoe shine countries or non-shoe shine countries are better. I am not sure how or why the paper of record prints such dribble. What happened to standards and sophistication versus subpar stupidity?



  • At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello? There is no yellow peril - it's the end of the white European peril, before the rise of the peoples of all colour, be it Obama in USA (if he makes it); Chavez in Venezuela, Lula in Brazil, Lugo in Paraguay, Correa in Ecuador... and these are just a few recent changes; white domination in Africa ended not too long ago; Australia finally apologized to it's aboriginal peoples; we are witnessing the magnificent rise to power of East, South and West Asia... and as the world population grows, take a look at the numbers and figure out how much longer before the president of the USA is a citizen of Asian descent... and what about the so called "Native Americans"? Will they ever get a chance to rule their own land?

    Comment from a guy with "white skin" who believes he has a "yellow heart" and a "black soul"

    Pepe :))


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