In my last post, I regrettably linked to the following article written by Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail. I then called him a “wanker” in the footnotes. You may want to read the article itself first to form your own impression…
…before proceeding to the highlighted and annotated version I include below to explain why he is a “wanker”:
If you haven’t connected the dots yet, I highlighted with three main colors to emphasize three different things:
- Red: Negative language to color your thinking.
- Yellow: Alarmist language to color your thinking.
- Green: Self-referential language to color your thinking.
The overall tone of the article can be summed up with: We should be afraid of this inhuman evil.
- Yes, I’m simplifying things.
- Yes, I totally nitpicked (and semantically so) his article to hell.
- Yes, he can be said to be exercising artistic license.
- Yes, I do the same thing. All the time.
- Yes, I can be a wanker too.
The thing is, this is actually a very real problem in China. Peter isn’t entirely wrong. He’s just mostly a self-righteous snooty dick about it. And that breeds more self-righteous snooty dick-ness amongst his people1.
Yes, a traditional (not “prehistoric” nor “ancient”) prejudice persists in China favoring sons over daughters. Yes, this leads to sex-selective abortions of female babies. Yes, child abductions are a problem in certain parts of China. Yes, some of it has to do with the desire for sons or procuring “child brides” for “spoiled” sons. But Peter, here, already lost the plot and conflated two appreciably different phenomenon in mainland China into one genuinely obnoxious narrative of why the Chinese are evil and the rest of us should not just be appalled but oh so afraid.
In fact, Peter did such a good job early on convincing us that China actively hates and “massacres” baby girls in the “tens of millions, using all the latest technology” that by the time you actually get to the human interest part of his piece, we don’t even realize that the Chinese fathers Li Fa Ming and Yuan Ying Shu were both “miserable and demoralized” over their abducted daughters.
Am I supposed to suddenly feel sorry for these fathers or continue hating the whole lot of them for being part of a “disturbing” society that perpetuates “brutal” sexism and “mass slaughter” against baby girls? Am I supposed to pity the ignorant savages or fear the ensuing rise of such unenlightened savages? Am I supposed to hate the Chinese government for its one child policy and suppressing dissent or applaud them for trying to combat that “ancient” traditional prejudice against girl babies? Which is it?
And that underscores — highlights — this entire article’s overriding adherence and ultimate dependence upon popular but tired Western narratives concerning China. This piece is less about reporting what’s going on in China as it is about stringing together as many common and cliched prejudices and fears Westerners have towards China:
- China is becoming economically powerful. Check.
- This may be China’s “century”. Check.
- Chinese people and society are still backward. Check.
- There’s a one child policy in China. It’s evil. Check.
- Chinese people like sons, abort daughters. That’s evil. Check.
- Little emperors. The spoiled brats suck. Check.
- There is propaganda in China. Check.
- It is sometimes charming. Check.
- A lot of terrible shit happens in China. It’s evil shit too. Check.
- Chinese leaders are worried about the truth getting out. Check.
- They practice censorship in China. That one’s really evil. Check.
Should I go on?
“Look how horrible they are! Oh, but what can we do? They’re going to be the next superpower.”
Yes, what can we do about it?
- If only I had such power… [↩]