Sunday, May 07, 2006

The real barbarians

"It was eleven a.m. and she was still at home, still in her Chinese blue silk pajamas imprinted with humorous drawings of small dogs. Which might in itself be some kind of insider Chinese joke, she thought, because there was nothing the Chinese loved more than eating man's best friend."

I came across this passage in Candace Bushnell's latest novel, Lipstick Jungle. I reread the last line in disbelief, feeling severely slighted on behalf of millions of my fellow Chinese. Where the hell does Bushnell get off painting Chinese as savages who like chowing down on canines? Just because she was the brains behind pop-culture phenomenon Sex and the City doesn't give her the right to turn her snooty nose up at what she perceives to be less civilized cultures. I can't believe her editors and publisher let that blatantly racist line go into print.

Bushnell's offending words reminded me of the case of poor
Luc Cagadoc, the Filipino child in Montreal who was reprimanded by school officials for eating with a fork and a spoon, instead of "the Canadian way", using a fork and a knife. The principal even told Luc's parents that their son eats "like a pig", and that intelligent people eat with a fork and a knife. When I saw this story in the news, I was aghast at the cruelty and racism of people who are supposedly forming young minds and instilling values in them. I fully sympathize with Luc's parents, who have already filed a complaint against the school, and I whole-heartedly support all efforts of the Filipino community in Montreal who are demanding an apology from the school's ignorant and insensitive principal. It riles me further that the Canadian embassy here in Manila has issued a statement saying the Montreal case is "an isolated incident", without so much an attempt at an apology on behalf of their callous compatriots.

The trouble with people from first-world countries is that they tend to be very egocentric, and taken collectively, it is always in danger of leading to ethnocentricity. Anything alien or foreign to their cultural practices and traditions are deemed strange, unnatural, and even barbaric. Their way is the best way; their way is the only way. Once someone deviates from that way, then they are condemned, just like Luc (who is now too traumatized to go back to school). When will these arrogant bastards realize that just because they have a stronger economy or better social services or greater military might doesn't mean they're always right? Just because they rule the world doesn't mean they ARE the world. Millions and millions of Asians eat with chopsticks, does that make all of us less intelligent? Filipinos eat with a fork and a spoon, which actually leaves us with cleaner plates and less wasted food, is that so "disgusting"? And so what if some of us do eat dog meat? The French eat cow's brains and snails all the time, how are dogs worse?

If you ask me, picking on a 7-year-old who uses a different utensil-- THAT's disgusting. And assuming that all Chinese love nothing better than feasting on Fido? That's just plain stupid.


At Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Anonymous ange said...

A case of ignorance and insecurity.

Some people still think we live in trees. Got that info from a foreign acquaintance.

At Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

And even if we did live in trees, the point is, just because other people live in houses or huts or caves, it doesn't make us any less human, and and we shouldn't be disparaged for it.

At Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Anonymous jac said...

Rah rah! Yeah! Heard about that! Xenophobia! Don't look at Canada in general though..that's just in Montreal..the snotty French. Ok, i'm stereotyping bad. Here in Toronto, nobody reprimands me when i eat with a spoon at work. I bring my own lunch kasi e.

A question to ponder about: What's right and what's wrong? What's culutrally right and what's culturally wrong? Everywhere you go, it's a different thing.

At Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Wherever you go, what's right, be it morally, culturally, spiritually, politically, etc., is not always the same. There hardly is a universal truth-one no one else can contest against.

But the world is evolving (or devolving in some instances). Things change, and in some space in time, discrimination (or whatever you want to call it) won't be as grave as how it is now.

At Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Precisely, there is no right and wrong when it comes to cultural differences. It's all relative. And it's a matter of whether people choose to respect those differences, or antagonize those who seem like tree-dwelling brutes in their eyes.

At Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's both sad and fortunate that everything's relative. :)

Educate those who need it badly. Not that simple.

At Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

"Things change, and in some space in time, discrimination (or whatever you want to call it) won't be as grave as how it is now." -Here's hoping.

Who is this, by the way? :)

At Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I said that, I meant some space, possibly in the very very far future, but it's not bad to hope. :)

This, by the way, is an anonymous person you might or might not know. :)

**adding a little humor to a very serious topic of discussion ;P

At Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

You sound Atenean. Haha.

And you're right, though we may never be able to eradicate racism, it never hurts to hope. In the meantime, we fight and kick and scream like hell against it every time it rears its ugly head.

At Saturday, May 13, 2006, Blogger Crayzta Infernity said...

I read about that in my friend Marie's journal. She lives in Canada and she was commenting about how racist people are over there. I agree.

There is nothing wrong with eating with a spoon and fork, right? You eat the way you are used to, and isn't being a pig either. What is one additional utensil anyway. :)



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