Chapter 8 Political Correctness
2013 first revision of the 2010 final first draft of this book which is currently being prepared for hardcopy publishing.
As I wrote in chapter 7, unless you have learned to live as the common Chinese live, how can it be said that you have 'experienced' the cultures and customs of China? When I first provided a copy of Chapter 7 to friends, they suggested that it contained 'too much information'. This was the polite way of saying that it was too graphic. What you read in that chapter is the revised version. What is important to remember is that the story of my life in China is 'non-fiction' and in relation to what is contained in Chapter 7, recounts a very normal and 'day to day' experience for millions of Chinese.
Years ago on a tourist information site I read something like: "Public hygiene in China is somewhat less than that to which we are accustomed in the West". That statement hardly prepares a person for what they might encounter. My personal belief is that the truth no matter how unpleasant is more likely to prepare you for reality than nice sounding but useless words. Even in the nicest restaurants it is possible for you to encounter filthy, disgusting, smelly toilets - on the floor of which might be found evidence of human waste. One can find public toilets that would turn your stomach and send you packing without first attending to the bodily function you planned. The truth prepares you for reality! Bullshit does not!
It has been my observation that whilst people claim to be interested in 'the truth', what they really appear to want is something glossy, entertaining, enjoyable, palatable or politically correct. Real life truth is not always so kind. In 2004 I wrote a two part article entitled: Western Socialization Versus Life in China which resulted in receiving some nasty emails accusing me of racism. What appears to have escaped the attention of those who wrote me, is that everyone has a right to their culture and that inherently means that there may be things in another person's culture which we dislike and don't want in our own homes.
How can it be said to be racist not to want objectionable parts of another culture manifested in my home, or forced upon my society, when our own governments legislate to prevent what they consider to be unacceptable aspects of foreign culture from being manifested in our countries; female circumcision, polygamy, honor killing, repression of women and intolerance of homosexuals being a few such issues. This very type of legislation highlights for me the inherently hypocritical nature of the militant political correctness and multiculturalism 'thought police'.
If you the reader were offended or disgusted by what you read in Chapter Seven, I can only think of three reasons why that might be so. The first is that some might think that Chinese culture is disgusting. That would hardly be very 'multicultural' and probably indicates that the reader is viewing Chinese culture through the lens of western culture. In China, the bathhouse is a place to bathe whilst from a western perspective perhaps, a bathhouse is where gay men go and spread AIDS. (Not a very politically correct concept). Perhaps one might consider that Chinese culture is OK for the Chinese but not for "us". Not only would this smack of superiority and be politically incorrect to verbalize, but it would I think indicate that the reader thinks that 'we' are far more 'civilized'. Not quite in line with multiculturalism's pride in our western acceptance of other cultures.
The second reason I can see is that perhaps one might infer some homosexual undertone to the story, for as implied in one person's words, it is suspicious for a foreigner to go to a Chinese bathhouse. (All those naked men running around together?) It seemed to be implied that I and other foreigners who use a public bathhouse are homosexuals, which given these politically correct times indicates 'politically incorrect prejudice' on the part of the speaker. As for the Chinese bathhouses, I must point out that they are not just for men but they are gender segregated. I should also point out that not only are Chinese people's minds 'not constantly focused' on sexual matters, but that homosexuality, for all that it has been delisted as a crime, is still not generally acceptable.
The third reason I can think of for being offended by Chapter 7 is that we as a society have become too refined to want to face the more common realities of life. In short, we don't want to know about such things let alone read graphic descriptions of them. And that is fine but it takes me back to the point about not understanding cultures and customs unless you have experienced them. It also goes to the point I made about 'truth' needing to be glossed and colored to be palatable. Edward R. Murrow played by David Strathairn in the movie "Good Night and Good Luck", said that "Historians will find .... Evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have an inbuilt allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this...
Anyone reading this cannot escape noticing that I have a bias against political correctness. Actually I personally believe that fundamentally, political correctness is little more than the Biblical injunction to 'Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you', but that it probably does not include the biblical injunction to 'turn the other cheek'. My beef is not with the basic philosophy of political correctness but with the loud-mouthed, angry, arrogant, interfering, abusive and intolerant 'thought police' who roam through our western societies just waiting for someone to step out of line. Perhaps I am just paranoid, but then again, there is a Jewish proverb which says 'Just because you are paranoid, does not mean that they are not out to get you!'
My personal belief is that political correctness as spun by political activists and the thought police is a lie that conceals itself within a truth ("Political Correctness: Corrupting Democracy" ) I believe that political correctness is an overt attempt to manipulate and control the thoughts, words, actions and beliefs of society, and in its application to multiculturalism, seeks to forcibly destroy our historical cultural norms. Note that I said 'forcibly'! Society changing over time is called natural progression. Forcible destruction of history and culture generally leads to catastrophe as has been experienced by the peoples of China over the last century or two and particularly during the Cultural Revolution.
Since living in China I have learned four particular things. The first is that the Chinese know full well what political correctness is. It is pernicious! Although it originally manifested itself for only ten years (1966-1976) its ongoing effects are still felt today. Generally speaking Chinese people are no longer afraid to speak their minds on an issue but in the past they feared greatly what consequences would befall those who did not say, think and do what was 'expected' of them as 'model citizens'.
The second thing I have learned is that the Chinese are tremendously proud of their nation and their culture; even if at times there were questionable people, periods and events that don't foster national pride. The bottom line for Chinese people is - 'We are Chinese'. No matter the foreign customs and technology that has found a place in Chinese Society - they are Chinese! They are not Westerners! The Chinese recognize the difference between outward appearance and what is found in the heart. Political correctness pretends that they are the same.
The third thing I have learned in China is that if you don't stand up for yourself and set boundaries for others, people will walk all over you. This is most certainly the case when referring to the Chinese custom of offering 'baijiu' to their honored guests. I met a Nigerian Christian who despite his beliefs to the contrary, succumbed to the pressure to 'have a little try of the white wine'. To have a 'little' try is impossible in China for once you have 'a little try' you have demonstrated that you can be manipulated and controlled and you most certainly will end up dead drunk.
The fourth thing I have learned is to recognize those situation and people you can't change and get on with life. Injustice is not a theory for the Chinese, it is a reality and there is no sense weeping and wailing over it or running off to a lawyer. You cut your losses, accept that there is nothing to be done and then get on with life.
These lessons have been very important in my life, for they form part of the process of change in my life. They are an integral part of 'Finding myself in China'.
In the early 90's in my second year of studying psychology and counseling, our teacher Doug Taylor made us do many different types of psychological assessments including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. He asked each student to stand and read their personal result, and when I announced that I was an INFP (introversion, intuition, feeling, perception), everyone burst out laughing, for as anyone who knows me would realize, I am an extrovert. But of course they would be wrong. The lecturer pointed out that to him it was obvious that I was an INFP, but that most people didn't recognize that fact because I usually manifested the 'nurtured' self rather than the 'natural' self. In other words, I had learned to act as someone that I was emotionally not. In short, I am an emotionally sensitive and perceptive person. I am also 'passive aggressive'. A passive-aggressive person is one who appears to be 'passive' (easy to be controlled, led and manipulated), but in fact is not. When pushed to unbearable limits of passivity, the passive-aggressive becomes utterly aggressive.
For most of my adult life I have been abused by people who failed to understand that my ready acceptance of, compliance with and choosing other people's wants over my own wishes, actually arose out of courtesy, good manners, respect and love, combined with an innate ability to assert myself and a distaste of confrontation and argument. Unfortunately being or appearing to be 'passive' makes a person a target for manipulative, controlling and abusive people. Also unfortunately for everyone, there is a limit to what a passive-aggressive will tolerate and once they finally say 'Enough!' all hell breaks loose as the controller and manipulator tries but fails to regain control. When the passive-aggressive finally explodes of course, the abuser then weeps and wails to one and all about how they are the 'victim' of an abusive person. That has been the story of my life.
During the first semester of my first year studying psychology and counseling, some friends pointed out to me that before and after class and during the breaks, I was my normal self but during the actual lessons, I demonstrated a great deal of animosity and angst. It took time to understand why this was so but eventually I came to understand it. Since counseling is basically skilful manipulation, (of a conversation designed to lead people into real self-reflection and understanding), it was my sensitivity to 'manipulation' to which I was reacting.
'Finding Myself in China', I have literally escaped from a life time of manipulation and abuse and have been given the much needed time to find my emotional balance again. Funnily enough, these years of living in China has also removed me the general emotional negativity that seems to pervade Western media. When I go home to Australia I sense that I have entered a negative and abusive atmosphere, and have at times in different locations felt real physical fear given the angst manifested around me.
In China I never fear for my safety. The amount of negativity in the media is controlled in China, so even in English News programs, the message is predominantly positive, and since my Chinese is not good enough to follow the Chinese news or people around me bitching about this and that, I really do live in the absence of social negativity.
Another thing that 'Finding Myself in China' has done for me is that it has given me the strength and determination to never again allow people to emotionally manipulate and control me. In China, I have had to learn to 'assert' myself and set boundaries whilst balancing this against the reality that some situations cannot be changed. Not all injustice can be rectified.
I have also learned to honestly evaluate myself and take pride in who I am as a person and for what I do and have accomplished, even if there were times in my life that do not cause me to take pride. I have left my past in my past and I have divested myself of the fear of the consequences that befall those who do not say, think and do what manipulative and abusive people demand. I feel wonderfully and blessedly 'free' in this allegedly totalitarian society called 'The People's Republic of China'.
Western Media often states or implies that Communist China is a land of 'totalitarian social control' and yet as a westerner who has not really lived in his own country for over 10 years, it seems to me that there is more social control at home. We might like to complain about the Chinese Government's control of the internet in China, but back in the free west, the United Nation's goal is to put the Internet under global government control. As for Political Activists who allegedly love non-discrimination and tolerance, they appear (not just to me) to be highly discriminatory and intolerant of people who don't 'toe the line' and are constantly calling for someone's blood. Political activists are the instigators of all manner of legislation to control both citizens and immigrants and usually under the banner of political correctness. If the silent majority would become actively involved in the political process, then perhaps politicians would pay more attention to the concepts of democracy - the voice of the majority. For the voice of the majority to be heard, each single individual must contact their local political representatives and voice their support or otherwise, prior to a 'vote' being taken in the political assembly that will pass a particular issue into law.
Today in many public places, Christian signs, symbols, Nativity scenes, and prayers are not only inappropriate but illegal because they allegedly give offense to non Christians. That is not only tantamount to discrimination but also not true.
Just prior to my first draft of this chapter in 2010, I read in the Australian press that religious pastoral care workers were no longer allowed to pray, quote scripture or mention God during their hospital visits, even to those who wish them to do so. Yet whilst all things Christian are being banned, all things Islamic seem to be more and more promoted, all in the name of political correctness and multiculturalism. Sher Zieve, in "Only Christians Subject to Separation of Church and State", wrote: "Christianity, which essentially preaches peace, is being barred from American life while Islam - that preaches war and death to all non-Muslims - is being deified".
I am constantly in trouble for being 'anti-Muslim' in my social commentaries, and yet time and time again I have tried to make it clear that the people who cause all the trouble are the 'white political correctness activists'. Those who so often claim to be politically correct, far too often have double standards, and it is only our stupidity or fear which prevents us from seeing it and rejecting such people. For any of the obtuse PC thought police reading this let me reiterate that 'I live in China' and I believe that one billion Muslims and one billion Chinese cannot be wrong. Like me they believe that if Westerners and other foreigners want to live in 'MY' country and completely change 'MY' society to suit 'their own' religious and political ideologies - then they can get lost. Despite the occasional nutcase, most people wanting to live in our western democracies do so because they want our freedoms and our lifestyles.
The Chinese government is often accused of human rights abuses, but you only have to look at PC attempts in the west to introduce 'Hate Speech Laws' to realize that we have people in our midst trying to enact draconian laws designed to 'keep the masses' in line. I have twice read articles in which it was pointed out that 'truth is no defense in a 'hate speech' trial'.
For a totalitarian state that political activists love to hate, Communist China has for years been doing everything to make its people prosperous and provide them with a harmonious society. Can the same be said of the West, where there is deliberate and constant political, and dare I say it, treasonous anarchy promoted by those whose first 'catch-cry' is 'Freedom'? Like all newcomers to China, I was at first afraid of 'Big Brother', but after years of living here, that fear rarely enters my mind. It may seem strange to read it, but I do sometimes fear for my safety when I am in Australia. In China I only fear being run down by crazy drivers who care nothing for road rules. I suffer no fear in China and if by now the Government of China has not considered me a person of 'interest', or has yet to find anything I have done or written to be drastic enough to warrant arrest or expulsion, it is unlikely to ever do so.
From time to time I receive emails decrying 'religious suppression' in China. My initial reaction is always the same: 'What about religious suppression in the west?' So what about persecution of Christians in China? To quote myself in the article ' Christianity and Martyrdom in China': Putting the 'Anti-Christian' tag onto the actions does not come anywhere near close to understanding the dynamics of life in China. Christianity and religion in general, is the norm, not the exception. Tolerance at the very least is respectfully given by the common Chinese person to religious people. I was amazed that government officials were encouraging these underground Christians to join up with an official church. Such kindness I think is extraordinary. What befell them afterward of course was probably a failure to follow the Chinese custom of 'making suggestions'. In Chinese custom, making a suggestion is not the same as the western 'offering an opinion'. Maybe they should have followed the official suggestion.
If political dissidence or more precisely, if there is a situation wherein people are promoting something that looks and smells like political anarchy that could lead to disintegration of Chinese society and civil war, then one could hardly blame the Government for wanting to put a stop to it. Who in their right mind would want to see China go back into civil war and anarchy? Perhaps the Chinese Government is far more aware than American and Australian politicians of how the tides of history can turn quickly and with extreme violence. Individual 'human rights' might be all well and good, but unless the overall rights of a society are protected, all will be in vain.
Remembering that I am a person whose life has undergone a dramatic and wonderful change since living in China, it is hard for me now, to be truly objective, but China for me is a wonderful Country! As for its faults, I think I have mentioned enough to indicate that perhaps we need to take the mote out of our own eyes before taking the splinters out of China's.
As I mentioned earlier, years of living away from my own country has opened my eyes to the negativity there and to constant accusations made against individuals, groups and political parties. Sometimes when I return home I can't help but feel that there are a lot of people there suffering from a psychological condition known as 'Reaction Formation' - a situation in which people point the finger at others because they can't deal with the fact that that very problem exists in their own hearts.
If one would like to accuse me of being 'out of touch with reality', and that the general negativity and angst I observe and feel when I return home is 'normal', then I would have to say: 'I don't want that kind of normalcy! Give me China anytime!'
Writers Journal Kingscalendar
2013 Social Commentary Articles
Giving the Finger to Comrade GOOGLE's brand of Communism
By Comrade R.P. BenDedek
August 26, 2013
I have come to the decision that the only thing I can do is take a page out of Comrade Google's 'Little Red Book' and say: 'Screw You!' Comrade Google didn't like the way the Communist Government of China kept changing the rules. Comrade Google would not submit to a 'totalitarian authority'. Comrade Google decided to pull up stakes and leave. Is there a lesson to be learned in that?
Learning to Hate The U.S.A.
by R.P. BenDedek
August 11, 2013
American Education is actively turning young Americans into terrorists. The speaker is Brigitte Gabriel (pseudonym), a Lebanese American journalist, author, and activist. Within the video she produces documents which purport that despite so called separation of State and Church, Islam is being introduced to school children at school, and via injection of big dollars into universities all over the USA, Students are being taught to hate the USA.
Political Islam is full of hypocrisy and lies
by R.P. BenDedek
August 11, 2013
Politicians care only for themselves and nothing for the truth unless it suits their purposes. What they do call truth is usually nothing but lies! The general population - never seem to notice when radicals of all nationalities, religions and persuasions turn to 'ad hominems' rather than to logical debate when someone disagrees with them. The honest man will argue his point honestly. The perverted man ignores the argument and attacks the man (ad hominem) as though truth is not found in discovering and weighing the evidence and facts but in the character and 'Politically Correct Nature' of the person speaking them.
R.P.BenDedek (pseudonym) is the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' (http://www.kingscalendar.com ), and is a guest columnist and stand-in Editor at Magic City Morning Star News. He is also the Editor of the 'Writers Journal' at Kingscalendar.com. An Australian, he has been teaching Conversational English in China since 2003.
Writers Journal Kingscalendar
"The King's Calendar" is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls