Monday, December 18, 2006

Blogging - What Hullaballoo

Well, talk about a scandal. My previous post, Poriticarry Collect, generated quite an emotional response, so much so that I've decided to forego my intended post today and dedicate more attention to this.

It's amazing how easy it is to get a little attention in the Blogosphere. I haven't had this much fun since my Defamation of Character suit against the Anti-Defamation League . True story, but that's an anecdote to share some other time.

On the advice of an adept blogger, I posted a link to my opinions on a few other blogs and news forums, which generated over 300 hits over the weekend. Not a lot, by blogging standards for sure, but quite surprising to me.

There were many anonymous comments which threatened violence and ill-will upon me and/or my children. And, curiously, a large portion of those wannabe violent ne'er-do-wells linked to my site from Model Minority, a self-described Asian American Empowerment zone. Naturally, I tried to register and log in just to see what was being said, but my email and IP address have been banned. I petitioned a few friends to try as well, but they are also banned. So apparently membership to this site is exclusive and their discussions are highly secretive. And judging by the commentators to my blog, their discussions must be somewhat volatile.

The commentators at one very nice looking blog, Kimchi Mamas, have also taken quite a bit of umbrage at my "white privileged status" and ignorant volubility, so much so that I felt the need to express regret at any ill-feelings I may have stirred up.

This is one of the reasons that I have emigrated from my home country, the U.S., where race is just far too much of an issue for my tastes. It reminds me of an experience I had here in Barcelona a few years ago in a pub: I had come across a couple of merchant marines and found out that they were also from Virginia. We chatted pleasantly for awhile until one of them turned to his friend and said, "How you like that? We come halfway 'round the world, meet a guy from Virginia, and he's white!"

I took no offense. It just seemed a pity to me that it was a fact even worth mentioning. I actually felt sorry for the old guy that this was something to which he gave importance, like a throwback to another era. Yet it was refreshing to see that his younger colleague grimaced in a way that expressed that he, like me, believed it was time to move beyond that mode of thinking. And the young guy and I continued to chat, ignoring the dinosaur who --rightfully or not-- operated under a different paradigm than us.

And in the end, I had a much more pleasant experience than if I'd engaged the old guy on my definition of "right" thinking. There are times when it just seems best to teach by example, not debate. I wonder if I'll ever figure out how to do that in the blogosphere, a realm whose cellulose seems to comprise strictly of debate.


ayac said...

I added a comment at Kimchi Mamas, but I wanted to add, yes in America, race is the biggest elephant in the living room.

Now are we looking for the peanuts to lead it outside, have it sit down, or overfeed it so we can all walk on top of it's skin rug?

Personally, it is an elephant that will always be welcome as culturally, we were forced to wear blindfolds to ignore it.

EddieTsg said...

Hey matt, just incase you haven't checked out Kimchi Mamas yet.
The personal profile of matt shows him next an asian woman and when someone posted a comment stating if that was his gf then should would leave him..matt responded with
"Not my girlfriend, just some chick who gave me a handjob at The Temple of The Golden Sun."
well i'm gonna take a shot in the dark here but i reckon think we have some kind of insight of matt's perceptions, heavily cliched or not, about asians
or rather asian woman....kind of links with his ignorance about the "ching chong" fact matt, why don't you give us another one of your brilliant insights into this other area of asian american racism?
My friend, i think its best if you leave the asian social commentry to someone ummmm.....more clued up...or at least somebody less smug

Nina said...

I write over at Kimchi Mamas, and I appreciate the discussion your post has generated. I just wanted to say that the idea that race is something to be ignored because it is no longer an "issue" is actually a rather outdated idea as well. In my grandparents era, race still was one of the defining issue of the nation and nobody tried to deny that. In my parents era, they decided that worrying about race was just counterproductive and that, really, it no longer mattered and everyone was equal and we all saw each other as equal.

My generation has seen a renewal of interest in race, I think because we found that our parents way of thinking didn't equip us to deal with the racism that still does exist in America. It didn't equip us to deal with the fact that there are still inequities and injustices that need to be dealt with, and that we ourselves have experienced.

And while I agree that race is more of an issue in the US than perhaps anywhere else, I think that our unique history both having to do with slavery and the fact that we are nation of immigrants makes that the undeniable reality in which we live. And it's just not true that it isn't an issue in other countries. In Korea, for instance, while it is a homogeneous and intensely insular society, mixed-race children experience horrible racism and hatred. In Spain (where you are living, I assume) Arabs and Africans undergo the same kind of hatred that stems from fear and ignorance. To say that it isn't an "issue" elsewhere in the world is only saying that people of minorities are not yet empowered to confront it in a powerful way.

I understand that it must be disconcerting to be told that your opinion is invalid only because of your "white privileged status", but I think what people are trying to say is that, while you are of course entitled to your own opinion, your comments reveal how little you know of the experience of being a minority in the United States. You know it from the perspective of a white man, and to make assumptions about the perspecives and experiences of people that do not enjoy the same privledges and status as yourself will be seen as offensive and presumptuous by many people.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to think about these topics and I hope you have a happy holiday season!

Matt Elmore said...

I appreciate your insights, Nina. And I do understand that race is an issue everywhere in the world. And we both agree that it is moreso in the U.S. than many other places.

I've lived abroad for many, many years now, and I do know what it's like to be a minority. That's not to say my experience is in any way comparable to that of some unfortunate people. Indeed, my U.S. passport and whitey-ness has been a notable equalizer in some situations, as well as a catalyst for having my face turned inside out. But I never felt victimized because -for good or for bad, be it fair or unfair- I had strong backing.

And my point was, in the article, that I've always seen Chinese Americans as falling back on a similar source of strength. I've admired them greatly for that vision I've held. And I still believe they are strong in comparison to other minorities.

I mean, it's not the same as, say a black American who dodges a Budweiser thrown at him from a pickup truck, then crosses the avenue to practically get shot at by a neighbor who doesn't like his cousin. The Chinese are doing great for themselves, in my opinion. I can't help but wonder why they should care about silly, unenlightened comments.

But, then again, I've got a limited perspective. The descriptions that I read at Kimchi Mamas threw a little light on that for me. So, really, what the hell do I know?

I also wish you all the happiness you can handle during these holidays, and I hope that someday we coincide in a pub and can talk about everything in the world but race. Regards to you and your loved ones.