Denounce Rick Santorum: Unite Against the Skyrim-Hating Imperialist Reactionaries

I would argue with almost 100% certainty that Mr. Rick Santorum would probably hate Skyrim for it’s pro-gay stance and endorsement of paganism (not to mention its grey and gray morality and violence). But I’m not here to talk about his homophobia or how he embarrasses Christians who believe in the separation of Church and State. Those are issues I find a bit more touchy.

However, what has irked me was Santorum’s delusions concerning history. Or perhaps he’s just a liar. Maybe both, who knows. Ultimately, he follows a long line of American nationalists (or, if you prefer, “patriots”) who fling around outdated ideas of Western superiority and why the ideals of white folks are awesomer than the ideals of everyone else. While I do agree that French Fries taste better than Tempura and that Hollywood is better than Bollywood (actually, scrap that, they’re both equally bad), the mere existence of Santorum’s Eurocentric rhetoric shows the fact that many people still do not have respect for diverse peoples and cultures.

There have been two chief instances where Santorum advocated Eurocentric delusions. In one case, he argued that the Crusades weren’t that bad. In another, he argued that the British Empire collapsed because they didn’t do enough to spread their virtues via imperialism.

Crusades

Even for those of us with a basic knowledge of history, the Crusades were anything but pretty. Last year, however, Mr. Santorum begged to differ:

“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical. And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom. They hate Western civilization at the core. That’s the problem.”

Ultimately, Mr. Santorum’s claim boils down to “the Crusades weren’t bad, the Crusaders weren’t mean, they were justified.” Right. BS. In the First Crusade, for instance, a bunch of Europeans went to the Levant and basically massacred the inhabitants of Jerusalem, regardless of whether they were Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. In the Fourth Crusade, as another example, a group of Crusaders basically got bored and decided to sack Constantinople and kill Orthodox Christians instead of Muslims. In short, the Crusaders sh*tted over one of the most prosperous and cosmopolitan Christian states in Europe. Most of the Western knights started killing, raping, and burning, and only the Italian knights were smart enough to hoard all the good loot, like priceless works of art, instead of smashing and setting them on fire. Love thy neighbor, anyone?

Additionally, many of the Crusades occurred not necessarily because of evil Muslims killing everyone (most Muslim states, actually, didn’t give a damn about your religion as long as you paid your taxes*). It was politics, pure and simple. The First Crusade, for instance, was partly a Byzantine ploy. Long story short, the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I inherited the empire in the 1080s when Turkish hordes of doom were knocking on his doorstep and about to annihilate the empire. Alexios, being a Machiavellian genius, decided to use the backwater states of Europe against the Muslims. Making up some bullsh*t about how evil the Muslims were, he promised the Europeans lots of rewards (like plunder and etc.) if they helped him fight against the Turks. The Crusaders thought this was an awesome idea; however, the Crusaders decided to screw over the Byzantines and go solo and Alexios’ plan turned into a fail.

That’s not to mention other Crusades, such as those against Orthodox Christians and pagans in Eastern Europe, led by the Teutonic Knights, who wore funny helmets. The Teutonic Knights were anything but pleasant; they even fought against their fellow Christians.

So much for your pure, virtuous Crusaders, Mr. Santorum. Heck, even conservatives disagree with you. Anyhow, it is a pity that the word “Crusade” still carries with it romantic connotations of a noble struggle, while the Islamic equivalent, “Jihad,” gets all the negative connotations thrown at it.

Britain is an octopus... sort of like the kind in Japanese tentacle porn or something.

British Imperialism

So said Rick Santorum, the brilliant historian:

If you look at every European country that has had world domination, a world presence, from the French to the British – 100 years ago, the sun didn’t set on the British Empire. If you look at that empire today – why? Because they lost heart and faith in their heart in themselves and in their mission, who they were and what values they wanted to spread around the world. Not just for the betterment of the world, but safety and security and the benefit of their country.

A translation of his rant: white people, in particularly the British, were just and noble bringers of civilization to the barbaric savages of the rest of the world.

Sadly, the British, like all empires – regardless of whether they were European, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, or whatever – wanted money. Resources. Power. They were not colonizers“for the betterment of the world.” They were directly competing with their fellow Europeans, such as the French, Germans, and Russians, for – again – money, resources, and power. Millions of non-Europeans (not to mention lower-class Europeans!) labored and toiled to produce the resources that led to the prosperity of the European middle and upper class. The European leadership justified imperialism and colonialism because it was supposed to make the world better (c.f. White Man’s Burden). It was, of course, just propaganda used to subjugate previously-independent peoples and states under European rule.  That is not to say all European colonials were evil resource-hoarders. I’m pretty sure a good number earnestly (albeit deludedly) believed that they were helping the poor, savage folk of the non-European world. Some probably thought it was business as usual. But that doesn’t ignore the fact that a whole wollop of non-white people (and poorer white folks, too) were essentially enslaved for “the betterment of the world”.

You know, Mr. Santorum, I’m not sure why the Indians and half of Africa wanted independence, then. Maybe Gandhi was too barbaric to understand the splendor and virtues of the superior British race? Or, you know, I’m also wondering, why then did your god-heroes like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson declare independence from Britain if it was so great, huh?**

Everyone is Evil, Including Europeans, Mr. Santorum

My point here is, people like Mr. Santorum are going off blabbering outdated notions of Western superiority. We’ve gotten much better today at scoffing at such nonsense, but the Crusade (*snicker*) against Eurocentrism won’t be over under buffoons like Mr. Santorum learn that the Westerners weren’t – and aren’t – angelic messengers and warriors of god. Europeans and Americans are just as good and bad as everyone else. There were Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, African, and Native American madmen just as greedy and violent as European imperialists or Crusaders.

Being a complete douchebag isn’t just limited to a single ethnicity or racial group or religion. Being ignorant and delusion also isn’t just limited to a single ethnicity or racial group or religion, either. In fact, I suppose Mr. Santorum is a good example of the latter, at the very least.

History is never black and white. Even people we see as great and heroic can have darker sides. People we think of as villains can be heroes to others (case in point: see how Mongolians love Genghis Khan, not to mention the PRC). Heck, even Skyrim does a decent job at proving this point about history (albeit not as deeply as I hoped).***

All in all, we have a presidential candidate whose grasp on history is flawed at best, delusional at worst, and he has a whole mass of supporters who share his vision. Because of his insults to the glorious subject of history, as well as his offenses to diverse peoples and cultures, there is only one option for us: to denounce him and his imperialist, reactionary thoughts, and ensure they these thoughts not spread amongst the masses.

(As a side note, Mr. Santorum probably hates the new SimCity**** too, because it is pro-Environmental or something. Frankly, I don’t care – I just want to relive my childhood again. Long live SimCity! And that was a very long time since my last post…)

Disclaimer: I like the Imperials more than the Stormcloaks.

*The special tax, specifically, is called the jizya. In short, if you aren’t Muslim, you have to pay an extra tax, but otherwise you’re left alone; in the early years of Islam, Muslim leaders even stopped people from converting to Islam just so they could get more tax money. So much for your murdering-everyone-by-the-sword terrorist stereotype. Of course, some would then say that means the Islamic bureaucracies discriminated against non-Muslims anyways. In actuality, the Muslim leaders pretty much taxed the Muslims the same, by claiming the Muslims also had to pay an extra tax to fund charities (called Zakat). So, to summarize, Muslim rulers were just greedy tax hoarders Republicans would hate, and a lot of people originally converted to Islam for tax evasion… only to find out they pretty much had to pay the same amount as before.
**In reality the American revolutionaries weren’t exactly a bunch of nice folks, either, but I’ll rant about that another time.
*** For those of you who have no idea of what I’m talking about, basically, in Skyrim, you can join one of two equally flawed sides in the civil war. On one side you have the freedom-fighting but racist and overly idealistic Stormcloaks, on the other you have the cosmopolitan but bureaucratic and inefficient Empire.
****The new game was announced March 6. Apparently pollution from my city can drift over to my friends’ cities, which is good trolling material.
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Christmas Miracles Happen in Trench Warfare and the Byzantine Empire

Christmas in USA #1 is arguably bipolar, sort of like the occasional female lead in anime. On one hand, there is consumerism and the excesses of capitalism; on the other, there is the warm sentimentality of gift-giving and family-celebrating. The bipolar nature of the holiday has taken on its own spirit throughout the world in places as far and weird as Japan – all in all very far removed from its quaint and ancient origins in the world of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

We should appreciate it all the while, regardless of whether we prefer to burn ourselves in the flames of consumerist greed or drown ourselves in the ocean of sappy family get-togethers and egg nog (I hate egg nog, actually). Either way, we’re still better off than those unfortunate men trapped in the battle hell of the Franco-German border 97 years ago, who had the luck of celebrating Christmas in arguably one of the stupidest and sh*ttiest wars in history. Yet every time I hear their story – the story of the Christmas truce – I almost cry a bit, literally, and am convinced that, somehow, humans are actually capable of being nice to each other for once.

The Christmas truce was, otherwise, very much like a Christmas miracle in every sense of the word, for 97 years ago – in 1914 – several months into World War I, things – for lack of better wording – sucked. Imagine this:

You have been sitting in (literally) a sh*t and mud filled trench for days, weeks, months even. And when you have been let out, it was only so that you could run at a blizzard of machine-gun fire, artillery shells, grenade shrapnel, and poisonous gas. And as winter dawns, as snow begins to fall, nothing has changed: you still sit in your trench, perhaps fresh from another run over the trench that killed or wounded half your buddies. Yet it’s Christmas, and you sorely miss your mother, father, lover, siblings, and everyone back home, and you miss celebrating the holiday with them. But perhaps you’ve been at war for too long that you don’t even know it’s already Christmas.

Suddenly, you hear laughter and singing in the far distance. You and your surviving trench buddies poke your heads slightly above the trench (but not too much, in case – as you’ve learned the hard way – there are snipers). And there, not too far away, you see candlelights, makeshift Christmas decorations, wine, cigarettes, warm food… and British, French, and Germans arm in arm, singing carols to each other.

An impossible sight. You’ve been shooting at these inhuman enemy imbeciles for months – and to make merry with them? Isn’t that treason? And yet. They – your friends and enemies over there – beckon you over. Come, join the fun, there is no war, no battle here, for now.

You still miss your mother, father, lover, siblings, and everyone back home. And chances are you will never see them again (it’s a miracle you lived this long). Your new family, in actuality, is here, on the battlefield, of all places. And so, putting behind your suspicions, nationalist bigotry, and raging war spirit, you decide to jump over your trench and cross over to the other side.

And very soon, instead of firing guns and throwing grenades, you are laughing and singing with your friends and enemies on Christmas. It sure beats killing each other.

AND so, The Christmas truce, as it was called, lasted for several days on some parts of the war front, and I suspect it would have lasted longer had not the commanders forced their troops to return to fighting. During the few days of the Christmas truce (or even just one day at some parts of the war front), soldiers trained to kill or be killed engaged in what to us would have been mundane Christmas activities: singing carols, giving little gifts to each other, even playing football (the normal kind, not the American kind). But to these men, it certainly beat blasting each other’s brains out. And amazingly, despite discouragement and condemnation from the higher-ups, Christmas truces occurred again – several times – on both the Western and Eastern fronts of World War I in succeeding years.

And so, this Christmas, we always hear about Christmas miracles or the true meaning of Christmas: perhaps we’ve heard of some douchey old bourgeoisie capitalist learning how to be nice, or how you shouldn’t commit suicide because people care about you, or how it’s okay to be different and special, or that Santa Claus is real. All nice and all, but nothing special, in my opinion. If we can be nice and friendly to each other on just one day, I’m pretty sure we can be nice and friendly to each other most days of the year anyways.

But the Christmas Truce was a true Christmas miracle. Men decided to be nice and friendly to each other even though they were supposed to kill each other and even though they probably had already killed each other’s friends and relatives. It takes a miracle to turn the other cheek. It’s hard, certainly, but possible.

And so, the Imperial Senate wishes everyone a Merry Christmas/Hanukhah/Kwanzaa, a Joyous Secular Holidays, and a Happy (Gregorian) New Year.

And actually, Santa Claus was real. Saint Nicholas lived in the Byzantine Empire.  How awesome is that?

Further reading: http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/christmastruce.htm

I don’t know if they actually bothered to build snowmen.

US Congress, Even Genghis Khan is better at Totalitarianism: You’re Not There… Yet.

In case you didn't notice, they're both Republicans and Democrats in here. Yay for bi-partisan opposition.

Give these guys a pat on the back. They figured it wasn’t cool to be part of an Authoritarian government.

The New Age-y hype about the 2012 Mayan prophecy might not be so far-fetched after all.

I have recently begun worrying about recent legislation by the US Congress which, to put it bluntly, are atrocious in nature and intention. In other words, I am denouncing the US Congress for their attempts to destroy vegetables (yes!), the internet, and, most alarmingly, the so-called “freedoms” America was (supposedly) founded on. There’s a reason they’re even less popular than Paris Hilton.

Originally I thought about discussing the Pizza thing and the SOPA/Protect IP Act, but people have been ranting about that enough online, and you can look at the links at the bottom of this post for more. There’s something even more serious here, something more sinister, and something a lot of people haven’t really heard about, compliments of the media.

The US is at War

“The United States has struggled to craft laws and procedures to prosecute the unprecedented kind of war that came to our shores on Sept. 11, 2001.”

Senators Levin and McCain

I didn’t know America was waging an “unprecedented kind of war”. Well, yes, America is at war with “Terror,” a vaguely defined military concept (like “War on Near-Sub-Machinegun Speed Crossbows,” “War on Trench Warfare,” “War on Tanks,” “War on Ancient Chinese Strategems,” or “War on Bombs”). But I digress.

The so-called National Defense Authorization Act has already been passed by both houses of Congress. It has bipartisan support. And bipartisan opposition – from people and groups ranging from Democrats and Republicans to Tea Partyers, the FBI, the secretary of Defense, the directors of national intelligence, and Obama himself (who threatens to veto it should it pass).

The Christian Science Monitor nicely summarizes one of the most controversial parts of the bill which

“require[s] military custody of a terror suspect believed to be a member of Al Qaeda or its affiliates and involved in attacks on the United States.  […]the bill would deny US citizens suspected of being terrorists the right to trial, subjecting them to indefinite detention […]”

Furthermore, as a Republic Senator (Lindsey Graham) says, the bill will

“say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield.”

So, to put it simply for those of us who don’t comprehend authoritarian rule of the likes of Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great, basically, if you are even suspected of being a terrorist, you’re locked up indefinitely. The “war” (what war?) is coming back home.

For those of us too young to remember, similar things happened before, most notoriously during World War II. Several times. And it wasn’t pretty. And this isn’t even a WWII situation we have here currently, and America already needs more or less de facto internment of “suspected terrorists”? I thought America was already doing a “good enough job” dealing with “terrorists” already? Guess pulling out of Iraq doesn’t mean much, then.

When the people against this range across the political spectrum, including Glenn Beck, Rand Paul, Al Franken, the ACLU, General Petraeus, Ron Paul, you know that something is definitely wrong. The President threatened to veto the bill earlier… then decided not to veto it after all. Too bad, too bad. Fortunately I never had high hopes for him nor McCain. History rolls on, folks!

Thankfully I couldn't vote for either Obama or McCain in the previous election.

Conclusion

Welcome to the future, folks. For years, I thought sci-fi dystopia was a bit wacky and fantastical, the ideas of having mega-corporations and/or corrupt police states lording over everyone a tad bit far-fetched. I was wrong: dystopia is on our doorstep, very close, just like it always was. That being said, the bill might not be so dangerous as it may seem, and things will roll along as they always had since there’s no one to detain anyways. Then again, I don’t think that gamble is worth taking.

And so, history rolls on, and I will have to worry about my schoolwork for the next quarter. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about a huge war threatening the lives of every single one of us. Right? Now I just need some good war music to soothe the soul and bring peace and prosperity to the illustrious and hope-filled future of mankind, a place where we can go beyond the mere barbarity, cynicism, oppression, and Byzantine-haters of the past.

Of course, all that said, Genghis Khan would laugh at what weaklings Americans are.

 

Further Reading

Pizza

Internet

War

 

If Theodore Roosevelt was considered un-American, the world would explode through his rage.

Dear America: Great Shame Comes to the Asian Race when We and our Foods are Confused

Not two hours ago, embarrassed was I when I read this article. Great anger and shame overwhelmed me as the journalist suggests that all Asians are alike. Great rage enveloped me: could these white devils really think that glorious People’s Republic is the same as wanton Japan?

The proper and honorable reaction to reading this article, the demonstration by honorable Jackie Chan.

Dear readers, the dishonor of this article is great. Necessary is it to withhold ire when reading this article. Necessary is it to withhold ignominy when reading this article. Normal Americans were lied to, told that the progeny of the exalted Obama-san will eat Japanese food on the day of Pearl Harbor. These are deceptions of the greatest shame!

Do the white devils have no honor? Do they have no understanding? Do they have no culture? Time will be wasted if we argue with the ignorant, but we must counter their ignorance. Let us confer the facts and reveal the deceptions.

The article says that the progeny of Obama-san eat “Japanese food” on this day, the 7th of December. The article says that Obama-san’s progeny eat such Japanese food at their school cafeteria. This is deception!

Perhaps the erudite reader can inspect the menu itself and inform him or herself of the Japanese nature of this Asian menu featured in the cafeteria of Obama-san’s progeny:

Asian Mushroom Soup
Oriental Noodle Salad
Classic Spinach Salad
Teriyaki Marinated Chicken Strips
Szechuan Tofu & Veggies
Garlic Roasted Edamame
Vegetable Fried Rice
Fortune Cookies

Ground yourself in the manners of critical reasoning! Only “Teriyaki Marinated Chicken Strips” are vaguely Japanese! Placed on the menu are also many “Chinese” foods: “Szechuan Tofu & Veggies” and “Fortune Cookies”!

Perhaps Americans imagine Chinese and Japanese to be the same? Perhaps Americans forget that China fought much the cruelty of Japan in WWII? Perhaps Americans forget that the squint of the eyes of Asians differs in each of us? Should Kung Pao Chicken be Japanese? Should Pho be Japanese? Should Kimchi be Japanese? Such deceptions are most shameful.

Most shameful is it that America continues to misunderstand the Asian race. Is Japan the same as China? Is Korea the same as Vietnam? Shall Mongolia and Thailand be the same? I call to honorable and intelligent Americans: letting not your devil countrymen confuse the Asian peoples must now be your great quest.

How terrible! Upon reading this article, the questions that must grapple the mind: shall the delicacies of Asian food be considered unpatriotic on December 7th? Shall I refuse rice and soybean on this day to appear “patriotic”? Shall I refuse afternoon tea when comes the day of the War of 1812’s anniversary?

I am greatly dishonored today, but fret not. There is an even greater deception here.

How can there exist a delicious-sounding and nutritious school lunch at all?

I like Homestyle tofu, actually. Once I ate like 3 entrees of this or something when I was 8.

I wish I had that in high school.

Denounce Bicyclists: Bicyclists are Imperialists of the Road

The people’s roads are a marvel of modern, socialist thought and engineering, a wonder for all noble workers to share. Yet there are those who seek to destroy the peace of the masses’ pavement. These are the imperialistic cyclists.

Cyclists are the scourge of our noble, socialist roads where reside and travel our noble, socialist automobiles. I do not mean to say that all cyclists are ignoble, capitalist bourgeoisie. Some of them, however, are certainly so. The following scenario is one I encounter often, and one I am sure you too, comrades, have experienced:

I am sitting in my red car, driving peacefully on our glorious people’s roads, singing praises to the people’s democracy. As I am driving on my lane – as dictated by the most worthy people’s collective law – and only my lane – no further to the right, no further to the left – I see a cyclist, sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes a hundredfold that, riding their bicycle(s) down the road. Here is a danger! The problem is I do not want to run over the cyclist; yet he is riding directly on the road where I drive, and he rides his bicycle so dangerously close to my lane. Thus, I have to swerve around him – sometimes gently like the sweet songs of socialist utopia, sometimes violently like the raging war cries of the people’s revolution – to avoid catastrophe for both the cyclist and I. Yet even so because of the bicyclist’s dangerous proximity to me, I am made unnecessarily anxious and fearful, like as if the imperialists were coming to destroy the workers’ factories.

The cyclists, through their imperialist desire to steal the pavement, puts all – be they drivers, pedestrians, or the cyclists themselves – in danger. By placing themselves too close to other cars, they increase the chance of automobile incidents. I have wondered why they have never bothered to use the sidewalk instead of the actual road. In many places, our people’s roads have sidewalks large enough that a cyclist can easily go around fellow pedestrians and cars.

I do not say that all cyclists are filthy capitalists or imperialists who always steal roads from drivers and pedestrians. Many have no choice in their actions; some need it to go to work for the betterment of the workers of the world, for instance. Here, however, I denounce those cyclists who merely do so for entertainment (bourgeoisie recreation!), for instance, and those who continuously have no regard for the drivers they may encounter. The driver is going 200 miles an hour, the cyclist 10 mph: only the latter has more time to think and stop or pull his vehicle to the side! And yet cyclists rarely do, almost ignoring that drivers, too, exist on the roads. Do the cyclists imply that the road is theirs for the taking? Imperialists! They have no regard for drivers and pedestrians with whom they share the roads with. Mao Zedong thought stresses: “If we are to respect diverse peoples and cultures, we must do so by equally sharing the sadness and the happiness of the worker’s paradise.”

Thus, if you are a loving, Marx-fearing, people’s hall-going cyclist, I applaud you for continuing to be wary of drivers and pedestrians. But otherwise, it is imperative that the masses awake and denounce the capitalist, imperialist, bourgeoisie threat on our roads.

Denounce the corrupt, imperialist bicyclists! Denounce them and free our pavement!

P.S. The only imperialist who deserves to use his bicycle in an imperialist manner is Theodore Roosevelt.

P.S.S. Further reading, for no reason at all:

The People's Soviet Bear demonstrating how to fight the cyclist-imperialists.

This Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful for being neither a Dirty Capitalist/Communist nor an Eunuch

Thanksgiving, like Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day, is an arbitrary day given special meaning for the purposes of brainwashing propaganda and/or mass consumerism. For instance, why does one have to eat turkey on the 4th Thursday of every November (since none of us really know whether the pilgrims ate turkey at the first Thanksgiving)?

However, thankfully, most of us don’t really care anyways. I don’t care, because:

  1. it’s a holiday, so instead of doing work, there’s more time to be spent on sleeping, playing computer games, writing, and procrastinating
  2. I like eating cranberries. I like cranberries.
  3. I can arrogantly scoff at another mass propagandizing of history through mutual celebrations – bread and circuses, bread and circuses, bread and circuses
  4. it’s fun – despite the propaganda – getting to spend time with family and friends and something sappy sappy
  5. I actually like tofurkey, unlike most non-vegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans. Also, you just have to know which type of tofurkey to get, since there are several brands.

That being said, I figured I would compile a list of 25 random things I am currently thankful for. It would be a proper ritual and offering to my glorious ancestors whose lineage stretches back to the most noble and erudite scholar-gentry of Vietnam and China. Unfortunately I don’t know about any of my ancestors beyond my great-grandparents, so they’d probably be pissed as hell.

Anyhow, below in no particular, are 25 random things I am currently thankful for.

  1. I am thankful that I know how to use chopsticks. Otherwise, I would bring great dishonor to the nations of Vietnam, China, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea.
  2. I am thankful for music without lyrics, as it seriously assists my imagination.
  3. I am thankful that the Liberal Arts still exist so that slacker, lazy, disgraceful, parasitic-to-society, science-and-math-hating Asians like me still have opportunities to shame our ancestors.
  4. I am thankful for anti-American propaganda, which provides an interesting – and sometimes even more far-fetched – counterbalance to American propaganda.
  5. I am thankful that I can watch anime for the economics.
  6. I am thankful for my brain, as well as the other useful organs such as… of my body.
  7. I am thankful that Japan didn’t take over the world, contrary to what everybody in America thought in the 1980s.
  8. I am thankful for the most honorable US Congress, which continues to insist that tomato sauce on crappy, cheese-and-grease-and-oil-messy school pizzas counts as a serving of vegetable.
  9. I am thankful that I only had to buy a lunch entrée from the cafeteria once during High School (thereafter I had a throbbing throat and stomachache for several days).
  10. I am thankful for my mom and grandma, who often made me nutritious (albeit blander) lunches while I was in Elementary, Middle, and High School, so that I wouldn’t have to eat crappy school lunches.
  11. I am thankful that double-headed eagles exist.
  12. I am thankful for my friends, at least those who understand the complexities of running a Senate.
  13. I am thankful that I know that Europe isn’t the only place where civilization and history happened.
  14. I am thankful for French fries. The non-overly-greasy, delicious kind.
  15. I am thankful that I am not in the trenches of World War I nor will I ever be.
  16. I am thankful for my gods of fiction, namely, The Catcher in the Rye, Azumanga Daioh, The Lord of the Rings, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Grave of the Fireflies for inspiring me in my younger years.
  17. I am thankful that I don’t cry anymore when I watch sappy movies or TV series (well… except with once during Clannad… twice… thrice… no, that was it, three times… well, no, one time it was my nose that cried)
  18. I am thankful for being able to pronounce velar nasals at the beginning of words, unlike the average non-Vietnamese.
  19. I am thankful that I love rain.
  20. I am thankful for being tall, but not too tall.
  21. I am thankful that I tower over most girls.
  22. I am thankful for my family, since they are reasonably intelligent, relatively sane, and respectfully good people.
  23. I am thankful that I have food, shelter, water, clothing, and other clichéd necessities. For now.
  24. I am thankful for knowing how to read. Literacy is good. For instance, I could not have written all of this without knowing how to read. It increases my erudite machismo pride.
  25. I am thankful that I can feel anger. Feeling anger helps notify me that I am feeling upset, or frustrated, or disgusted. I am not an android, by the way.

Finally, and completely independently of the 25 thankful-nesses above (since I am OCD), I want to thank the Senate. You guys and your atrociously inefficient, massive, bloated, broken, useless, corrupt, disorderly, fraudulent, cumbersome bureaucracy absolutely rock.

Also, I suppose I should be thankful that you, dear reader, have reached this far in my rant. So, this Thanksgiving, be thankful for a whole bunch of random things, honestly. Also, be thankful that that that turkey unwittingly (unwillingly?) sacrificed its life for you.

Because the Byzantines did. They sacrificed their lives for freedom, democracy, liberty, and 21st century notions of civil and political rights. Turkey seized Constantinople from the Byzantines, and it wasn’t a nice thing to do.

Pic unrelated

U mad? I mad. Eurocentrists MAKE ME MAD.

Not to mention that the Dark Ages are an outdated, Eurocentric idea.

I MAD. Eurocentrists make me MAD. Irate. Enraged. Furious. Angry. They are the great scourge in the most noble and magnificent academic discipline of history. They are like the ultra-capitalists and imperialists of history, reserving its richness only for the West – and only the West! – at the expense of all other cultures. They have no respect for diverse peoples and cultures.

The idea that Westerners (i.e., Europeans, Americans, Australians, etc.) are better than others is outdated, to an extent. Only racists would claim that white people are inherently better. Righht?

Yet the idea that Western civilization was somehow inherently better than other civilizations still remains in the academic disciplines of history and the social sciences, to some degree. It also remains in pop culture as well (see 300 with the democracy and freedom loving Spartans (not)). Sad as it is, some scholars – misguidedly, in my opinion – still try to find proof that something in the West allowed it to dominate the world, something that made them inherently better. Justifications range from the more plausible geographical reasons, to the less plausible but still (somewhat) reasonable economic reasons, to the more ridiculous “cultural” and “ethical” reasons.

An opinion piece on CNN recently attempted to justify the West’s rise to power using these very methods (see the article here). In this article, historian Niall Ferguson argues that the West had several so-called “killer apps” starting around 1500 that allowed it to beat the rest and dominate the world. Some of these “killer apps”, in my opinion, are reasonable (though I don’t fully agree with them). Unfortunately, others display – in my opinion – blatant Eurocentrism and ignorance about World history in general.

This disrespect for diverse peoples and cultures cannot be ignored. His blatantly Eurocentric arguments concerning history are easily countered with historical examples.

Ferguson’s firstly listed argument states:

Competition. Europe was politically fragmented into multiple monarchies and republics, which were in turn internally divided into competing corporate entities, among them the ancestors of modern business corporations.”

He maintains that Europe was 1) politically fragmented and 2) financially fragmented. This is true. Europeans fought each other. Nothing new. But here is the problem: he implies that everywhere outside of Europe was not fragmented, and that all non-European states and societies were somehow monolithic blobs that didn’t compete with each other. And because of this, Europe obviously could more easily take over the world.

The argument that everywhere outside of Europe was not fragmented can be easily countered with numerous counterexamples, of which even schoolchildren can understand. You want to see examples of fragmentation outside of Europe around 1500? Freaking overrated-katana samurai-dwelling Japan. You want more examples? I’ll show you (I’ve highlighted sarcasm in italics, since the internet makes it so easy to detect that, right?):

(end sarcasm in italics)

That’s a lot, don’t you think? And even if you read some of the histories of these supposedly “monolithic” non-European empires such as those in China, India, and the Middle East, you’ll realize how un-monolithic they were. China, for instance, was and still is divided into numerous ethnicities which display great cultural differences with each other – even if they speak the same language. That’s not to mention that China was often in political turmoil (see Dynasty Warriors) anyways throughout its history. India, too, was always divided into numerous groups – and moreso than China, because rarely did an Indian empire actually dominate the entire subcontinent for more than a couple generations. As for the Middle East, well, there were always various groups coming in and out, into and out of power. The point? Everyone is fragmented.

Here’s another of Ferguson’s arguments:

The rule of law and representative government. An optimal system of social and political order emerged in the English-speaking world, based on private-property rights and the representation of property owners in elected legislatures.”

I find it interesting he ignores the supposed developments of freedom and democracy in other parts of Europe. Still, his argument is one that is often applied to Europe: i.e., Europeans developed political systems based on democracy, freedom, and so forth before everyone else did, because Spartans stand for democracy and freedom, right?

Sure. Yeah. Europe was so much freer. They believed in democracy. Yup. Totally true.

(Actually, I feel sorry for Marie Antoinette. I personally believe she was misguided and kind of ignorant, but not cruel per se; popular conception got the better of her. She also never said “Let them eat cake.”)

Finally, there is one Eurocentric claim of Ferguson’s that is equally troubling:

“Beginning in 1500, Europeans and European settlers in North America began to get richer than Asians (and everyone else, too).”

Basically, Ferguson argues that Europeans became awesomer economically (and, by implication, politically, culturally, socially, etc.) once Columbus discovered America. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Did Europe really become better starting in 1500?

Let’s start with statistics. Looking at these this chart from the Economist, one can see that China and India had the largest GDPs in the world up until the mid to late 1800s. Now that’s interesting, isn’t it?

In case you were too lazy to click the link.

Even though China and India were “declining” in the 1800s, their economies still dominated the world up until then. They had not only more people, but more resources as well, including many luxury goods like silk and spices, as well as better trade networks. Why do you think those Europeans wanted to explore the world and colonize the first place? Because it was fun? Did Columbus go looking for China because he wanted to eat instant noodles and try General Tso’s chicken, or because he was looking to make profit where profit was being made? (If you want to read more on a case-study of China as a counterexample to Ferguson’s claims, you can see my previous blog post).

So Ferguson is, ultimately, like a neo-imperialist – and I do not mean that in jest. After doing a bit of research on the guy, I discovered that there’s been a lot of controversy about him, especially considering his Eurocentric claims. Thankfully, there are many historians who are much more cautious, open-minded, well-informed, and, may I dare suggest, respectful of diverse peoples and cultures. Many historians are beginning to challenge the Eurocentric mindset, but it’s only a beginning. Many would scoff at what Ferguson claims in his book Civilization: The West and the Rest: “no civilisation has done a better job finding and educating the geniuses that lurk in the far right-hand tail of the distribution of talent in any human society. […]maybe the real threat is posed not by the rise of China, Islam or CO2 emissions, but by our own loss of faith in the civilisation we inherited from our ancestors.”

Right. As a non-European, I find his claims that non-Europeans are un-innovative and superior insulting. Does this all even matter? After all, he’s just a historian, right? Should you care? Yes. You should. Historians are academics and professionals. Their conclusions may very well shape public policy, the way governments think and act. The more we all can disregard Eurocentrists – and all kind of centrists, nationalists, and fanatics – the more we can respect diverse peoples and cultures.

Don’t make me MAD like these Eurocentrists. I MAD. I was so mad after reading his article, it wasn’t funny. I VERY MAD. VERY VERY MAD.

Further reading:

Art thou enraged? I AM ENRAGED.

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