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Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Linsanity on SNL



Pseudo-Chinese gibberish -- didn't Shaq do the same to Yao Ming when he first came in the league? I think Yao Ming played it off: "Chinese is hard!" or something like that.

Wikipedia: ... Lin has regularly heard bigoted jeers at games such as "Wonton soup", "Sweet and sour pork", "Open your eyes!", "Go back to China", "Orchestra is on the other side of campus", or pseudo-Chinese gibberish.[7][155][157] Lin says this occurred at most if not all Ivy League gyms. He does not react to it. "I expect it, I'm used to it, it is what it is," says Lin.[155] The heckling came mostly from opposing fans and not as much from players.[160] According to Harvard teammate Oliver McNally, a fellow Ivy League player once called Lin the ethnic slur chink.

35 comments:

Yan Shen said...

I pointed this out a while ago, when you first blogged about Lin while he was still at Harvard. See my comment in this post here.

http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2010/09/they-got-some-game.html

Race relations in the United States quite frankly isn't good for East Asian Americans. They're routinely mocked by black, white and Hispanic Americans, while most of them take the Yao Ming/Jeremy Lin high road approach towards dealing with this kind of bigotry. The SNL spoof was right on the mark, especially in terms of how it highlighted the hypocrisy of East Asian bashing being perfectly acceptable and in fact even par for the course in contemporary American society, while saying anything negative about blacks engenders a huge degree of controversy and condemnation.

If we're going to have a serious discussion about race in this country, it would have to include calling out the African American and Hispanic communities for their history of racial bigotry towards East Asian Americans. Remember how the media tried to ignore the story of those kids at that South Philadelphia high school physically assaulting their Asian American counterparts? But we also need to call out white Americans for their hypocritical treatment of East Asian Americans. Why is it that saying anything construed as remotely negative about the black and Hispanic communities considered a cardinal sin in this country, but East Asian bashing is considered perfectly acceptable?

Let me pose the following question to the readers of this blog, what is the East Asian equivalent of immature and bigoted blacks, Hispanics, and whites mocking the Chinese language with as Steve terms it, pseudo-Chinese gibberish? Why are there such enormous differences in the way that different races behave?

botti said...

***Why are there such enormous differences in the way that different races behave? ***

I guess it depends where you look?

http://abagond.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/lou-jing/

***Why is it that saying anything construed as remotely negative about the black and Hispanic communities considered a cardinal sin in this country, but East Asian bashing is considered perfectly acceptable?***

Is it perfecty acceptable? The editor at ESPN got fired. That said you're right there are double standards. Here in NZ I remember a liberal writer defending different standards in terms of treatment of offensive language against the majority pakeha (Maori term for european NZ'ers) and Maori, on the basis that Pakeha were a "dominant" group who were big enough to take it.

To the extent there are different standards in what can be said about East Asians, maybe it reflects similar thinking. That they are not seen as a "protected" or "disadvantaged" group so are seen as fair game? Another example would be the way pundits seem free to mock Christians in a way they wouldn't dare to do with other religious groups.

Yan Shen said...

 I think you miss the point with your link. I'd say that East Asians are the least likely to engage in this kind of racist behavior, not that every East Asian is a saint. I posed this question above.

"What is the East Asian equivalent of immature and bigoted blacks,
Hispanics, and whites mocking the Chinese language with as Steve terms
it, pseudo-Chinese gibberish?"

If you can come up with something concrete I'd love to hear it.

brown_slacker said...

"... would have to include calling out the African American and Hispanic communities for their history of racial bigotry towards East Asian Americans. Remember how the media tried to ignore the story of those kids at that South Philadelphia high school physically assaulting their Asian American counterparts?"

It makes sense to pick one's battles. Protesting against pseudo-Chinese gibberish is not worth it. About the south Philly events, OTOH,  Asians (and other fair-minded liberals) should shout from the rooftops and initiate legal proceedings against the school. What transpired there was some black administrators protecting some black students though the transgressions were really serious. This actually fits the definition of institutional racism.    

Ken Condon said...

"According to Harvard teammate Oliver McNally, a fellow Ivy League player once called Lin the ethnic slur chink.”
The ESPN guy wrote a headline to a recent article saying “Is there a chink in the armor?” when Lin had a recent game with 7 turnovers. The article was quickly pulled and the author was summarily fired. 
But not only was some of the SNL dialogue “pseudo Chinese gibberish” the guy on the left said “thank you very much” in Japanese- followed by the gibberish. 

If one is to attempt ethnic “humor” it helps to get the ethnicities correct methinks. 

brown_slacker said...

" I'd say that East Asians are the least likely to engage in this kind of racist behavior, not that every East Asian is a saint. "

Don't know about that. There are no hard numbers or studies that directly study this phenomenon, so I'll just rely on a personal anecdote. I've been refused entry into a Chinese-owned Chinese restaurant in the Fort Lauderdale area while a Chinese friend of mine who turned up < 5  minutes later was allowed inside. 

I think a non-trivial subset of East Asians think all Indians/S.Asians are "dirty". Not that Indians/S.Asians aren't extremely bigoted in their own way. It's kind of karmic at a group level :)   

East Asian Americans and South Asian Americans on the other hand are typically liberal, which probably has to do both with their being minorities as well as the fact that they wind up living in large, fairly liberal cities.   

Yan Shen said...

 Speaking from my personal experience, I recall my mom and dad telling me that Indian Americans were extremely smart. And of course they're right! As far as I can tell, Indian Americans and East Asian Americans for the most part get along fairly well with one another and each has a fairly good opinion of the other group.

brown_slacker said...

" As far as I can tell, Indian Americans and East Asian Americans for the most part get along fairly well with one another and each has a fairly good opinion of the other group."

True! Indian-American parents that I know want to buy houses that have a demographic profile that is essentially Indian-American + East-Asian American. Good school districts, low crime, and all of that. 

FOB Indian-Americans and E.Asian Americans, anecdotally, don't get along all that well, and choose to be in ethnic ghettos, till America strips them of their limited worldview.

botti said...

***I think you miss the point with your link. I'd say that East Asians are the least likely to engage in this kind of racist behavior, not that every East Asian is a saint. ***

My point was that if you look at countries where East Asians are the majority it's not hard to find forums complaining about racism (particularly towards black people).

In terms of actual mocking of the English language, I'm not sure. From a quick search I found this example of an english accent being mocked.

http://www.japanforum.com/forum/general-discussion/38129-nihongo-pera%5Epera%5E.html

Ken Condon said...

This is a question posed to no one in general nor do I think there is an answer for. But now with the world getting especially compressed, and with various ethnicities running in to and acting in association with each other on a daily basis-- face to face- what does that portend?

One of Prof. Hsu’s main ideas on this board is that Asians (especially East Asians) should be judged solely on merit if they are to be admitted into top tier universities. That seems logical even if determining the parameters of the metrics could prove problematic.

Humans are tribal beings and after family identify primarily with their “tribe”. This extends beyond the obvious ethnicities. It involves the following of, or the participation in; sports teams, religion, professions, economic levels, language and or scientific abilities, the neighborhood one lives in and even the make of the car they drive. Ad infinitum.

At almost all levels humans divide themselves into tribes and then they mainly associate with whatever tribe that my be. It’s comfortable there. “Us” vs. “Them.” Can that ever be transcended?

Yan Shen said...

 "At almost all levels humans divide themselves into tribes and then they
mainly associate with whatever tribe that my be. It’s comfortable there.
“Us” vs. “Them.” Can that ever be transcended?"

When you see East Asian Americans supporting white Americans in the affirmative action battle against blacks and Hispanics, it gives you some hope that at least some of us can rise above ethnic self interest in the pursuit of higher and more universal principles. I find it extremely hard to envision East Asians ever clamoring for affirmative action were they on the losing end of some academic metric, given East Asian culture. My guess is that most East Asians would react by working even harder.

David Coughlin said...

 You have bashed Koreans and Japanese as inferior 'them' groups.

Yan Shen said...

 Care to link to the comment? IIRC, I pointed out that Chinese Americans distinctly out-performed Japanese and Korean Americans academically and asked whether or not that was due to more selective immigration or HBD. That's a far stretch from saying that I bashed Japanese and Koreans as inferior them groups. Nice try though David.

Bobdisqus said...

Yan Shen, I don’t know about the ABC community but I sure have heard laowai from fellow pedestrians on the streets of China.
I seem to remember Han posting some non-flattering remarks in Mandarin previously here in this forum.
As Kahneman might say your “availability bias” might be letting you overestimate racial animosity to East Asians.

Bobdisqus said...

I notice you left out the foreign-devil part of Han's statement.

Yan Shen said...

 Did I? No one's perfect. Maybe Han briefly lost his cool because he was sick and tired of every thread on affirmative action on this blog being infested by the white nationalist/neo-Nazi crowd.

botti said...

***what does that portend?***

I think Amy Chua (of Tiger Mom fame) wrote a book on that issue called 'World on Fire'. I haven't read it but there is a review here.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2004/feb/21/highereducation.news

Miley Cyrax said...

I've always found it amusing that the same people who would shriek "RACIST" at any statement that is short of praising or exculpating blacks and/or latinos are more than fine with shrugging off or hand-waving away overt anti-East Asian racism.

Whatever pre-affirmative action (accounting for AA, being black is a huge benefit) "racism" blacks experience in school and/or the workplace via "bigotry of low expectations," or whatever is the liberal excuse of the month, is bps compared to the racism East Asians experience in a perceived black-dominated arena, such as basketball. 

botti said...

***but I sure have heard laowai from fellow pedestrians on the streets of China.***

I'll have to check the exact passage in the book, but NZ sports reporter Brendan Telfer recounts being taunted when walking around Beijing during the 2008 Olympics with his Chinese/european daughter. Telfer is in his late 50's and presumably the young men taunting them thought he was dating a much younger Chinese women.

han said...

你不懂中文就不要瞎翻译。自己翻错了,活该。一群弱智。

Ken Condon said...

Ya well-I call bullshit on you “Han.” Nice try but your Mandarin needs work. How do you say “Trojan Hourse” in Mandarin?

Bobdisqus said...

http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?page=worddict&wdrst=1&wdqb=%E4%BD%A0%E4%B8%8D%E6%87%82%E4%B8%AD%E6%96%87%E5%B0%B1%E4%B8%8D%E8%A6%81%E7%9E%8E%E7%BF%BB%E8%AF%91%E3%80%82%E8%87%AA%E5%B7%B1%E7%BF%BB%E9%94%99%E4%BA%86%EF%BC%8C%E6%B4%BB%E8%AF%A5%E3%80%82%E4%B8%80%E7%BE%A4%E5%BC%B1%E6%99%BA%E3%80%82

Zhengzheng Zhou said...

Chinese may be as racist as anyone else, but "laowai" is not derogatory! Chinese call themselves "laozhong"; "zhong" and "wai" are neutral terms meaning domestic and foreign. If you take offense at that, you have been over reacting big time -- an unfortunate faux pas.

Even "guizi" (often misleadingly translated as "foreign devil(s)") is now only weakly derogatory. The "zi" means "little", and it weakens the term, except maybe when used in conjunction with "Riben".

Guy_Brodude said...

Or maybe he's just a jerk?

RKU1 said...

Well, I don't know any Chinese, but I do think this sort of cultural-confusion is quite possible...

My impression is that Chinese tend to be much more physically explicit in their descriptions, without necesarily intending to be rude.  For example, a friend or acquaintance might be called regularly the equivalent of "Fat Sally" or "Short Joe" without any intentional insult.  And calling someone "Old John" is generally quite complementary.  I've also heard that the official Chinese term for the Japanese used to be "Dwarf Pirate" people and aren't Europeans generally known as the "Big Nosed Foreigners" (or perhaps that's only the Japanese term).

Anyway, whether or not my impressions are correct, I do think cultural context is pretty important in these sorts of language issues.

Ken Condon said...

Sounds intriguing botti-factual and truthful. In Hawaii Chinese were the first laborers “imported” to work in the pineapple fields. They lasted there but for one generation then moved out into society as businessmen, store owners, formed their own banks (huis) to purchase property, got educated and otherwise rose in economic power.
A friend of mine worked in Malaysia for a year in the tech field and mentioned to me-as Chua says in her book-that the the Chinese immigrants there controlled virtually all of the business activity even with their tiny total percentage. And that served to irritate many of the “local” Malaysians. Same is true in the Philippines and elsewhere. Rather than get pissed people should should wonder why that is. There is a reason.

Kevin Rose said...

I suppose the equivalent would be East Asians calling whites Big Nose - ironic because many Asian women idolize and aspire to just such a nose ;) - and Hairy, and blacks monkeys and subhumans. 

Mimicking the sound of the Chinese language in jest seems a bit milder to me. 

tractal said...

"
When you see East Asian Americans supporting white Americans in the affirmative action battle against blacks and Hispanics, it gives you some hope that at least some of us can rise above ethnic self interest in the pursuit of higher and more universal principles. " 

Yan, I find it almost incredible that you do not see why this argument is silly. Asian Americans stand to be big winners in an end of affirmative action policies. You can try to say your anti-AA policy recommendations are 'principled universalism', but to say that your recommendation itself is evidence of racial impartiality is ridiculous. In your case it is overwhelmingly obvious that you are an ethnic nationalist. 

I don't care, a lot of people identify with their group. A lot of Asians are happy about Jeremy Lin, its fine, its probably even natural. But don't twist yourself into a knot trying to justify ethnic egoist conclusions as the impartial edicts of reason. When an individual takes robustly similar positions in many different domains, in many different epistemic circumstances (as you do with respect to E. Asians, be it in AA, Sineruse arguments, intelligence profiles, and now the relative racism of groups) it is a very good sign they are biased. Just own it, because right now its coming off as petty. 

Yan Shen said...

 "In your case it is overwhelmingly obvious that you are an ethnic nationalist."

Nope. I've been defending whites in the AA battle against blacks and Hispanics for years. And I've never clamored for AA for Asian Americans in any respect in this country.

Yan Shen said...

 "(as you do with respect to E. Asians, be it in AA, Sineruse arguments,
intelligence profiles, and now the relative racism of groups) it is a
very good sign they are biased.)

It's also possible for one racial group to be better at M and S relative to all of the other racial groups, to be the least racist, and to be the most well-behaved. It's interesting how human evolution might have created different races with differing cognitive and behavioral profiles.

tractal said...

Its definitely possible that Asians have higher M, higher M creates more value than other cognitive skills because the economy is set up in such a way that it does, verbal only transfers value, that the historical preeminence of Western civilization in virtually every area of intellectual affairs is a kind of coincidence or solely due to sociological factors, Asians are the least racist of anyone, and Asian work ethic is a solely genetic, and not a cultural fact. 

But there is not an overwhelming reason to believe any of those propositions. Some of them are really dubious. The probability of all of them  being true seems really low, given what we know right now. Epistemically speaking, they have nothing in common with each other except they are all China pride propositions. They aren't all likely propositions, they aren't all propositions which follow from a single hypothesis, they are a basically arbitrary set of pro-Asian  beliefs. The fact that you believe all of them, irrespective of how weak or strong they are, suggests that you are biased. 

Ken Condon said...

Yan-you keep referring to your clan and yourself as “the least racist”. That may be- but answer me this. What if you were to show up at your parents home with a white woman and tell your parents “This is to be my wife.” OK--possibly that could fly assuming she had the “correct" background. But let’s take it a step further.
Let’s say you arrived at the door with a Hispanic, or a woman black as night. Would your family be pleased? Would they say: Thank you my son you have done our family proud. We are most assured your marriage will be a good one and your children will be blessed.
Unlikely-- as you well know. In fact your father (assuming he is still alive) would attempt to castrate you on the spot. That is-if he didn’t kill you first.

Matthew Carnegie said...

"whites mocking the Chinese language with as Steve terms it, pseudo-Chinese gibberish"

Young Chinese lads in China people walking around going "Ah herro!" and so forth to Western tourists and the like (not particularly uncommon, though maybe there's a frequency difference since Chinese are supposedly pretty timid, so they'd probably just be rude amongst their friends and scared in public). 

It would be strange to compare language mockery to anything else other than language mockery.

I was interested in what English sounded like to Chinese people a few years ago and came across a few examples of linguists noting local schoolchildren making fun of the way English sounds (I think the weirdest one if I remember rightly was some kids using loads of s's and hissing like snakes). If you search the net for similar material I think you can find some, but to be honest it's not like there's a subculture that regards it as interesting or a big deal or many Western people living in China who are sensitive about how their language sounds to others.

I can't imagine that there would be any other equivalent to be honest. Pretty much every nation thinks every other nation's language sounds funny and will imitate it (e.g. Team America's "Durka durka" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VHs9m5IUDE or the "Hurdy gurdy" of the Muppets' Swedish Chef - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT_n__vsguk). 

Although I think it's kind of interesting that Chinese seems to be seen as a funnier language than say, Japanese or Korean (tones?). I think it might be that the syllabic and morphological structure is very simple easy to grasp and we throw away the tonal bits. To be honest, based pretty much only on Korean, Japanese and Chinese films "ching chong" with random sliding tones pretty much does seem a lot more accurate a version of Chinese than any imitation of Japanese and Korean that I've heard.

Asian Americans wouldn't have too much of an opportunity to do this to non-immigrant Blacks and Whites and would probably be self conscious about doing it to other groups with a recent immigration history like Hispanics or Africans or Arabs.

Matthew Carnegie said...

Don't East Asian countries tend towards high levels of nepotism and corruption? I don't think they're really known for open institutions basically at all and have described tendencies to respect pretty much any form of authority - I don't think that's going to push you in the direction of "meritocracy" in the long term.

I don't quite know why you wouldn't credit this in a deep fashion to East Asian culture while you would with "meritocracy" (which if properly constructed should mean "The best public servant gets chosen to serve the public" not "People have a duty to fund random strangers exams and generally give them money because they're good at exams to a degree proportionate how good they are at exams").

Kevin Rose said...

Jesus, can you stop applying common sense and sanity to this? Where is the fun in that? It is much more fun to interpret the commonplace and nearly universal phenomenon of people finding a foreign language funny as evidence of the terrible oppression of virtuous and timid Asians in contemporary America. We are trying to accomplish something here. Get with the program! 

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