Asians are Stupid Like Everyone Else

Nooders

On the other hand, the guy who invented instant noodles is a genius.

Maybe we’re just better at hiding it.

Asians are stupid, too. In fact, I would love for people to think Asians are stupid. That way, people will underestimate us instead of overestimate us, so they won’t be so surprised at our success. I mean, come on, the only minority in America that’s actually really smart are Jews, right?

Racisism aside, the model minority myth is unfortunately very popular among the masses. It is also, just as unfortunately, very popular among the Asian masses, which makes things worse. Sure, we have the glorious Confucius, odd family customs and rituals that incite higher suicide rates among students in East Asia, kung fu skills, and eyes that need eyeglasses – an important indicator of intelligence, I am told – but sometimes I’ve wonder if people haven’t seen a dumb Asian. I have. Or at least I’ve seen Asians that aren’t smart. Fine, “not smart” and “dumb” are not the same things.

Nevertheless, I have an unscientific, untested theory as to why there seem to be so many smart Asians – merely a matter of statistics, I believe.

Basically, the whole model minority myth is the result of circumstantial racial categories. In America, there are officially four major racial categories: white, black, Hispanic, and Asian. Now, well-educated immigrants, that is, immigrants who have high levels of education come from all over the world. We have, for instance, Iranians, many of whom fled from the current regime following the Revolution; we also have Africans (from Africa), who prefer to lend their talents away from their unstable homelands; we also have well-educated Europeans from Europe, well-educated people from Latin America and the Carribean, and so on. However, out of all these groups, only Asians constitute a separate racial category. Iranians and other Middle Easterners are often classified as white; Africans from Africa as black; and so on. So in the non-Asian categories, the well-educated immigrants are lumped together with other folks (some well-educated, some not-so-well-educated) already living in America, while in the Asian category, since there weren’t that many Asians to begin with, well-educated immigrants are overrepresented.

In short, my theory is that Asians only seem smarter because well-educated folks are overrepresented in the Asian category even though well-educated immigrants come from all over the world. Of course there are other reasons and issues too (such as the decent performances of Asians school in Asia), but I’ll just pretend they don’t exist for argument’s sake – I just want to point out one factor here.

Maybe all this makes no sense at all. If you are really skeptical, and wish to see a real example of a stupid Asian, look no further: he’s right here. I got barely passable grades in Calculus and Physics, and it’s a family thing too; probably explains why my parents weren’t so angry at me, since they figured they didn’t want me saying something like “Well, at least I passed Physics unlike you.” That’s a stupid Asian for you.

Look, I want Asians to be treated like stupid, normal people. That way, colleges won’t overestimate us and not want to take too many of us in, and we’ll be able to get into the best correges unrike those sirry American kids!

Asians are funny on my money.

Pic slighly unrelated.

(Ah, it feels good writing up something after a long absence. I am also a very lazy, unmotivated Asian.)

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Skyrim vs. Anime – An Objective Comparison

Pic unrelated.

Despite being products of two drastically different psychoses, Skyrim and Anime (that is, Animeland, the magical land of magical schoolgirls, explosions, and skittles) are remarkably similar. Both are extremely inhospitable lands that contain some of the most dangerous environments ever known to man. They also may qualify as drugs.

That being said, in respect for the glorious Chairman Mao’s sponsorship of the ideals of “respect for diverse cultures and peoples,” it is pertinent that we compare and contrast these two generally unusual, occasionally creepy, and even fantastically insane realms.

1. Literary Achievements
Animeland: It seems the inhabitants, in a few cases, have a reoccurring penchant to live their lives like some mind screwing, post-modernist, insane incomprehensibility akin to that of Alice in Wonderland or 20th century Russian literature.
Skyrim: Scripture made by a living god that secretly shows, using Biblical style prose and poetry, that the world of Tamriel is actually that of a video game. Oh, and the Lusty Argonian Maid.
Winner: Skyrim.

2. Progressive Roles of Women in the Military
Animeland: Military women are sex objects
Skyrim: Military women are sex objects
Winner: Skyrim. At least they (probably) are wearing their panties or the pseudo-medieval equivalent.

3. Landscape
Animeland: Varies.
Skyrim: Varies.
Winner: Draw. Just kidding, Skyrim.

4. Safety and Security
Animeland: Statistics reveal Animeland to be an extremely dangerous to traverse, physically and mentally
Skyrim: Somewhat dangerous to traverse, despite the arrival of time-eating dragons
Winner: Draw. Bureaucratic regulations mandate that there needs to be at least one draw to ensure fairness.

5. Language
Animeland: High-pitched Japanese seems to be the default dialect among women. Its linguistic relationship with more standard dialects of Japanese is otherwise hard to discern.
Skyrim: Shouting at the sky can change weather or summon dragons.
Winner: Skyrim.

That's not the Dragon Language, it's ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform.

6. Musical Traditions
Animeland: Occasionally there exist decent ballads, but otherwise it’s the same thing.
Skyrim: Songs have the power to make universes explode.
Winner: Skyrim. Is there any comparison?

7. Courtship Customs
Animeland: This is better left unmentioned.
Skyrim: Marriage simply requires an inconsequential, petty trinket.
Winner: Animeland. Skyrim, unfortunately, encourages risky choices as it provides a small timeslot between engagement and marriage, and thus prevents serious contemplation on how one will now ruin one’s life forever.

8. Infant Mortality Rate
Animeland: Monstrously Low. For unexplained reasons the infant mortality rate for females is ridiculously low, hence why there are so many schoolgirls running around.
Skyrim: Absurdly High. There’s probably about 10 kids total running around the entire region.
Winner: Animeland.

9. Military Capabilities
Animeland: Giant mecha.
Skyrim: Manly shouts that rip through the fabric of time and space.
Winner: Skyrim

10. Byzantines
Animeland: …
Skyrim: Imperials are Romans. Romans are Byzantines.
Winner: Skyrim. No explaination needed.

Winner:

Skyrim 7-2

Sorry, anime fans, as much as I like a couple things here and there… but I saw this coming.

Pic also unrelated. Did you know this vaguely resembles Indic and Southeast Asian bas reliefs?

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.

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.

Asians are Good at Bowing

As an Asian, I find many aspects of Asian culture, like pandas, kung pao chicken, ninjas, karate fu, samurai, K-pop, and octopus tentacles to be kind of uninteresting. Not to mention that those things don’t really represent Asian culture that well anyways. However, one thing I do think Asians got right is bowing.

In most East and South Asian cultures, bowing is not just a greeting. A bow can also show respect, an apology, self-deprecation, thanks, gratitude, marriage, condolences, humility, remorse, deference, and expressing to the other person how much you yourself suck.

While the overt displays of respect and even submissiveness might turn off some of us who have been raised in “Western” society, I actually like it. I find the supposedly humiliating gesture much more genuine and straightforward than a simple “I am sorry” statement, for instance. It also ensures that you know that the other person knows that you are sorry.

Teddy Roosevelt: the only person who bows to no one.

At least that’s how I see it. I hate having to guess someone else’s intentions or feelings, or having to guess whether someone else understands mine.

As a final note, about two years ago people were freaking out when Obama bowed to Asian heads of state and government, particularly the Japanese Emperor. Some Americans got pissed off that Obama was being “submissive” and “weak” towards world leaders. Others, trying to keep respect for diverse peoples and cultures in mind, however, said that Obama did do something very wrong. But it wasn’t that he bowed.

The problem was that he did the wrong type of bow. Supposedly.

Types of Japanese bows.

In Asia, but most particularly Japan, bows can be differentiated by the angle the body makes, the angle your head is at respect to the rest of the body, where your eyes are looking at, whether you’re also doing a handshake or not, and so forth. But I won’t comment much further, as tons of people ranted about this two years ago. Actually I don’t know if the Japanese themselves cared. They probably thought Americans are funny at worst. Obama might not have done the wrong type of bow, actually. People here in America don’t really know the actual protocols behind bowing in Japan and Asia, so for all we know Obama might have just done the right thing. If anything, all the media attention given to the bow two years ago just shows the lack of knowledge about diverse peoples and cultures around these days.

Respect for diverse peoples and cultures is difficult. But it is also very important. Anyhow, I think bowing should be used more often since it’s so blatantly obvious and hard to miss. Because in Japan, if you fail to show such respect or remorse, you might have to do seppuku.

Shame

I’d Vote for Rick Perry if Teddy Roosevelt was his Vice-President and if He Learned Respect for Diverse Peoples and Cultures Like China

Teddy Roosevelt: Awesomest American ever.

I find Rick Perry problematic, much like how I find soggy French fries, inefficient bureaucracy, and Asian chicks who dye their hair ridiculous colors and act cutesy problematic. But that aside, I want to praise glorious People’s Republic of China at Perry’s expense.

In a recent interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, Perry made the following side comment about China:

You know, China disregarded the world for a millennium… and they lived in their own little world. [America] can’t afford to do that.

I don’t know if the average Chinese person would be offended, but I would be if I were Chinese. This attitude about historical China – that it was a reactionary, isolationist civilization that refused to change – is one that even some historians believe.

Even a quick glance at Chinese history within the last “millennium,” as Perry puts it, would easily undermine any such claim that China “disregarded” everyone else and “lived in their own little world.” Some examples:

  • China was one of the if not the largest economies in the world up until the 1700s and 1800s. Chinese products such as silk, ceramics, coins, and so forth, have been found as far as places like Italy, Arabia, Persia, India, Indonesia, Russia, Kenya, Mozambique, and maybe even Zimbabwe. Why the heck do you think all those crazy white dudes like Columbus wanted to sail to China? To be brainwashed by Chinese propaganda?
  • The Imperial Chinese government allowed for various ethnic, religious, and political groups to settle in China, not counting those that were already in China. During the past millennium, people such as Muslims, Nestorian Christians, Central Asians, Southeast Asians, Persians, and other white people all moved to China, particularly because of the lucrative economic opportunities.
  • China was very much involved in the political affairs of everyone around them. Up until the 1800s or so, nearby countries were forced/persuaded to pay tribute. These included states in modern-day countries such as Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, and all those Stans in Central Asia. You don’t go around asking for tribute if you, well, “disregard the world.” Additionally, China did get involved in international affairs in other states. For instance, China assisted Korea in defending against a Japanese invasion in the late 1500s, of which had important historical ramifications for the three countries and even Mongolia. China also invaded Vietnam a few times, but they all failed because Vietnamese housewives beat their husbands.

    Chinese ships helping their Korean comrades by blowing up Samurai.

  • Chinese ships helping their Korean comrades. The Samurai don’t stand a chance. Notice the rockets. So much for a backwards military.
  •  Perhaps one of the clearest shows of Chinese power and domination during the Imperial era were the voyages of Zheng He, which lasted from 1405 to 1433. Long story, a Muslim eunuch named Zheng He (he was Muslim, but the Chinese emperor didn’t really care about that, now did he?) was appointed admiral and sailed in this huge fleet to a bunch of places, including but not limited to Southeast Asia, Indonesia, India, Persia, the Middle East, and Africa. The ships sailed by Zheng He were possibly some of the largest ships in the world until the 1800s, reaching hundreds of feet in length and holding hundreds of sailors and other personnel. Regardless, Zheng He made a good point convincing most countries he met why pleasing China was a good idea (or at least that China meant $$$ and a good business opportunities).

    Zheng He, epitome of what Rick Perry considers to be a civilization that "lives in its own little world."

  •  Even after China stopped these voyages and put restrictions on merchants and other travelers on where they could go, that did not mean that China suddenly “lived in their own little world” and turned into a backwards reactionary state in two seconds. During the Ming Dynasty, for instance, when these restrictions were first imposed en masse, the Chinese were still willing to trade with Europe; in particular, China stockpiled on a lot of silver coming from Spanish colonies in the America (the collapse of Spain’s gold and silver markets in the early 1600s might have been one of the causes of the collapse of the Ming Dynasty). Again, this doesn’t show “disregard for the world” if you go stocking up on stuff that is mined half a world away by Amerindian and Black slaves.

So given all these blatant counterexamples to Perry’s claim that China “disregarded the world” and “lived in [it’s] own little world” for the last “millennium”, why do a lot of people like Perry – and even some academics – continue to claim that China was a stagnant, self-interested, reactionary civilization in the previous millennium, and particularly the last few centuries?

It’s quite simple, I think, and it all rests on the fact that the Chinese (and other powerful non-Western civilizations such as India, Persia, Indonesia, Arabia, and West Africa) weren’t (and aren’t) white Europeans. China didn’t go around exploring vast territories, killing most of the natives, colonizing now empty lands, and reaping in the resources. But Europe did. Since Chinese people aren’t like Europeans, the Europeans logically concluded that they must have been inferior. Respect for diverse peoples and cultures at its finest.

Though China didn’t go on mass murdering colonization rampages (that’s not to say they didn’t do very mean things themselves), they did progress in different ways. For instance, China developed a number of innovations during this time, including but not limited to gunpowder, barreled gunpowder weapons, paper currency, movable type printing, archaeology, grenades, land mines, naval mines, forensics, rockets, multi-stage rockets, bureaucratic red tape, and political corruption.

Technically this is a Korean weapon, but it is similar to a number of Chinese rocket weapons during the same era. In short, rockets beat samurai.

Economically speaking, China had no reason to go on crazy adventures like the Europeans. It was not necessarily because they had all the resources they needed back home; rather, it was because places like the Americas and the African coasts were too far away, and merchants were already moving back and forth between other parts of Asia and the Middle East already making good profits, so why bother waste funds sending Chinese men on risky expeditions to the middle of nowhere?

Perry’s claim that China “lived in their own world” is perhaps fueled by a Western misconception of China’s own perception of its place in the world. For a very long time, China considered itself the center of the civilized world, hence its modern name “Zhōngguó,” which means “Middle Kingdom” or “Middle Nation”. It had good reason to be, though, given all its achievements and how big it was compared to most of the states around it. Thus, when Europeans first came to China, the Chinese scoffed at them, particularly when the Europeans refused to pay respects to the Chinese officials in the Chinese way (kowtowing) for instance. So much for respect for diverse peoples and cultures. Europeans and Americans have since misinterpreted this attitude as an arrogant, self-interested one, since, of course, anybody who wasn’t going around colonizing and killing was either stupid and uncivilized or self-interested and backwards.

In fact, the Chinese were just as self-righteous, prejudiced, and conceited as the Europeans were. They just expressed their bastardom in different ways.

And that, I think, is what respect for diverse peoples and cultures boils down to: learning how and why other peoples and cultures are just the same bastards as you are.

I don’t blame Perry for his comments, though; as stated earlier, most people – and even a number of historians – still hold the same, outdated misconceptions of China, and these misconceptions won’t go away for a while. I just hope that everybody learns to respect diverse peoples and cultures. Seriously. It would make international relations a lot easier.

Anyhow, still, when it comes to Republicans, I think I’d rather trust Jon Huntsman over Perry when it comes to China. Actually, just make Teddy Roosevelt the Republican nominee again, seriously. I’d totally willingly vote Obama out of office if that happened.

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