Sunday, June 18, 2006

95 versus 44

A couple months ago, I was introduced (re-introduced?) to The Fighting 44's through AsiaPages' take on the group. I did not participate in the AsiaPages forum, I agreed with some of what Jodi wrote and disagreed with other parts. I checked out the Fighting 44's post, and the blog in general, and while I should say there is no love lost between me and the people who were banned, I don't necessarily agree with them being banned (but, of course, it's not my blog).

Anyhoo, a few days ago I noticed a spike in the number of hits to my Corea-versus-Korea post, all coming from Fighting 44's. Apparently, my post had become the subject of one of their posts.

All fine; a couple dozen different sites link to the post, and I get a couple hundred hits a week to it. But what took me by surprise was the response my post got from the Fighting 44's moderator:
Hm, interesting. This blog looks vaguely familiar. I believe he's either someone who was banned or associated with someone who was banned from this site.
"Whiskey, Tango, Fuck!" I thought. This person doesn't know me from Adam, but right off the bat, my credibility is being attacked and I'm being disparaged by some deliberately laid suggestion that I had probably been banned from their site.

The moderator has since backed off that claim, but she and some others on the site are still sticking to their guns on the idea that "Corea" is still a matter of pride.

Really, now? The whole "Corea" argument hinges on the idea that it's a return to the pre-colonial days, but the whole thing is a ruse: not only did the Japanese not engineer the name switch (Koreans did), but the Japanese authorities continued to use Corea and Chōsen. It is an utterly empty claim, and rejecting it certainly doesn't make me a "Japanese collaborator," as one person hinted:
Personally, I spell "Corea" with a "C" because of all the connotations attached with Japan's "historical revisionism." Even today, at prestigious East-Asian Studies programs in America, you'll learn how ancient Corea was a colony of Japan, because Japanese hegemony holds sway in the West. The spelling of Corea with a "C" is an act of defiance against Japanese hegemony and a show of solidarity with others who bring up these historical issues.

However, I am not on a campaign to convert everyone to my way of thinking. If you wanna spell it with a "K," go ahead. I am not gonna call you a mindless Japanese collaborator if you do. At the same time, I don't want to be called an ignorant nationalist simply because I use the "C."

Lastly, I have to call into question the need for some "open-minded" Coreans to debunk this whole issue. I have seen a lot of internet posts about this issue geared towards Westerners. The basic jist is "look at these stupid, intolerant, and racist Coreans. They are so brainwashed. But I am different than the stupid gooks, so please don't include me with them when you are making your own racist and narrow-minded assertions about them. Please exclude me from the rest of the Coreans at your exhibit for them at the World's Fair." I have hear this same kind of tone come through when discussing the Dokdo issue to the "East Sea" issue, and personally, it sounds like a lot of pandering to Westerners.

Kushibo, I do not read your blog and I don't know who your audience is, but is your post different? Also, do you really feel that the use of the "C" really threatens the legitimacy of other historical issues, such as the comfort woman issue? Personally, I see the use of the "C" as a single point (and hardly the most significant point) in a litany of historical greviences Coreans have towards the Japanese.
Yes, here are several people who are so ossified in their viewpoint that they cannot change it in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. That's not pride; that's plain, old foolishness. And it's the difference between staying mired in the single-minded activism of Asian-American issues of college to the point that it warps your values, and moving on into the real world where pragmatism wins the battles that need winning (yeah, I was there; some friends and relatives were casualties).

1 comment:

  1. Mastah Kim at Fighting 44 has got quite an imagination, er, memory:

    an excerpt:

    "The first time I remember being discriminated against was in kindergarten. I lived in a basically 99% white town and one fine day I was greeted by some white-trash, redneck asshole with "You gook motherfucker. Go back to China." and a cowboy boot to my stomach. I at the time wasn't exactly aware of who I was or what I was..and was eventually told by my family that he did that because I'm Asian and he's a racist prick. I wasn't mad...but sad and wondered why people were like that. He saw me a couple days later and called me a "yellow bastard". No kick to the stomach this time, but I was pained regardless.

    There was an adopted Chinese girl that went to my school, and I guess the prick decided to give her shit as well.

    "You Chinese whore."

    I teach kindergarteners at a racially diverse elementary school with a large foreign population. There are occasional racial tensions and conflicts, but real kindergarteners don't speak like the white kid in Mastah Kim's story. A really foul-mouthed kid who's picked up curse words at home might say "ho" or "fucker" but not "Chinese whore" or "yellow bastard." In fact, among young children, only African-Americans use "ho." White and other races don't use "whore" or "ho," and I've never heard any kid in our school use the word "bastard." I'm willing to believe most stories about racism in the US, but this one doesn't jibe with my real-life daily experiences with children.


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