Yale culture wars make HK look simple

Fans of the utterly bewildering will enjoy the campus controversy at Yale. It’s got outrage and indignation, it’s got Halloween costumes, it’s got censorship, it’s got ‘elite and FSMsophisticated students as cry babies’ and it’s got ‘cultural appropriation’ and ‘safe spaces’. Given the Ivy/East Coast milieu, is there some slight possibility that the root cause is just some plain old racism/snottiness going on? But no – we’re trying to make everything as incomprehensible as possible here.

Cultural appropriation is old-hat – a problem from way back with the late stone age Beaker copyright rip-offs right up to Paul Simon’s thieving neo-imperialist Graceland album, and it still won’t go away. This handy guide will leave you even more perplexed and anxious. The ‘safe spaces’ thing is intriguing. On the face of it, it looks like an elite and sophisticated version of putting your hands over your ears and shouting in order to insulate oneself from disagreeable vibes or (assuming there’s a distinction) the media. There must be something more nuanced and profound struggling to get out.

Hong Kong is also hypersensitive to political correctness – but in its own, very different way. In order to avoid causing any offense to minorities with a victim-complex, we have to spout inanities about the wonders of ‘One Belt One Road’, and nod eagerly at China’s every daily/weekly/monthly major step forward in internationalizing its currency and reforming its economy. Our trendy self-righteous progressives are the ones who call for ‘cooperation’, ‘integration’, moderation and harmony, and urge us to look forward and accept our historic destiny as part of the glorious loving Communist-dictatorship motherland. Our hurtful reactionaries, hate-filled fuddy-duddies and oppressive ‘middle-class white males’ fighting a losing battle to defend their outdated social supremacy are the ones bleating for democracy, alien Western ideas and traitor Johannes Chan.

But at least it’s clear-cut and easy to understand.

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9 Responses to Yale culture wars make HK look simple

  1. Sojourner says:

    Hemmers, unless I’m being downright foolish and have missed the sarcasm, those taking the lead in the Occupy Central/Umbrella Movement were, in fact, our local “trendy self-righteous progressives”. … It was, after all, student-led, backed by the same academic types who bleat about feminism, gay rights, the evils of globalised capitalism, et cetera. …

    I have a right-wing expat academic friend who frothed at his mouth at the Umbrella Movement, claiming it was inspired by crazed leftists who hate China’s “capitalist turn” and “betrayal of socialism”. …. Nah, the most vocal critics of the CCP and CY that I know (and I know many) are exactly the local equivalent of lefty/trendy Guardian/New Yorker readers.

    Where are these “progressives” lining up to back Xi? Surely not the DAB. … Most of them can’t even spell and are about as “progressive” as the KKK.

    Why do you think 689 has recently declared war on the universities?

    And sorry to say, it’s exactly the “hurtful reactionaries, hate-filled fuddy-duddies and oppressive ‘middle-class white males’ ” of my acquaintance who are the apologists for the CCP and oppose universal suffrage (on the deluded grounds they’d have to pay higher taxes as real democracy would bring Scandinavian-style social democracy to the Big Lychee).

    A lapse in your usual prescience, old bean.

  2. adam says:

    Sojourner – you hit the nail on head. In my experience, it is indeed right wing types and conservatives who tend to support/admire the CCP and liberals of various shades who are pro-democracy in HK. Ignoring for a moment the BJ-loyalist trade union movement and old time true communist believers.

    I think Hemlock was being ironic. In the US ‘political correctness’ is enforced by the campus authorities and involves not saying racist things, or wearing Halloween costumes that might offend. Of course this political correctness offends certain fuddy duddy’s and middle class whites who feel their freedom of expression is curtailed. In contrast, in HK ‘political correctness’, as enforced by HKU Council and newspaper editors etc, has a different meaning. It means welcoming integration with China, praising the wisdom of the CCP and not saying things that might ‘offend the feelings of the Chinese people’. Or as Hemlock characterizes it, not offending minorities with a victim complex. He leaves us interpret who this minority is – possibly recent mainland immigrants in HK (who do unfortunately face discrimination), or Leticia Lee’s brigade, or…

    If you define conservatives as fighting to maintain traditional core values of a territory, and progressives as embracing change and fighting for new values which they see as more ‘enlightened’; then there is a case for arguing that the pro-BJ crowd are the progressives and the democrats the conservatives, odd as it seems.

  3. Knownot says:

    Everything (meaning nothing) is “clear-cut and easy to understand”.

    Gorbachev’s opponents, who claimed to defend true Communism, were said to be conservatives.

    * * * *

    In England in the 1840s, someone called John Bronterre O’Brien stood for Parliament, describing himself as a “Conservative Radical Reformer in the just and obvious meaning of the words”.

  4. Qian Jin says:

    @adam: ” If you define conservatives as fighting to maintain traditional core values of a territory, and progressives as embracing change and fighting for new values which they see as more ‘enlightened’; then there is a case for arguing that the pro-BJ crowd are the progressives and the democrats the conservatives”

    Exactly. And ‘captam’ takes this argument even further. It is China’s Confucian influenced and reformist CCP who now make up the world’s true “progressives” , leaving those nations stumbling around under their “universal suffrage” producing powerless non-governments which watch helplessly as their nations sink into stagnation, crime, corruption and decadence with their top elite grabbing the lion’s share of the ever-diminishing real wealth.
    Which Western elected leader has come to power on a ticket announcing he is going to clean up very serious corruption and then actually set about doing exactly that and on a scale unprecedented since the wiping out of China’s landlords in the early 1950s.

  5. Posolutely Clueless says:

    Are you losing the plot Hems? Your write-up is sufficiently muddled that within 2 comments attempting to extrapolate meaning from it you have one comment praising the glorious CCP and another inferring defenders of the 1st Amendment are “fuddy duddies.” LMFAO. Oh what hilarity. Congratulations though. Wu mao find you sufficiently relevant to make sure that for 50-cents-a-pop the glorious CCP’s confusedian values are amply represented.

    At least over at Hong Kong Sucks we have no-holds barred good-old-fashioned copious wog bashing. Plenty of little hurts feelings and owies all around. Good old fashioned real free speech. Yes, the 1st Amendment recognizes the right to hurt everyone’s precious little feelings Adam. Especially aggrieved minorities. Can’t wait till the Yalies get a whiff of good-old-fashioned Dutch blackface. Yes, in the Netherlands the Dutch are mounting increasingly vociferous campaigns to defend their right to be as culturally insensitive as humanly conceivable. Bravo! and huzzah! to the Dutch. F*ck Yale.


    Can’t wait for the 50-centers to descend over at Hong Kong Sucks. Oh my what fun.

  6. Red Dragon says:

    Qian Jin

    I’m not in the least surprised to see you chipping in your two pennyworth on one of Hemlock’s more confusing (perhaps the most confusing ever) posts. After all, you are yourself the very incarnation of muddled thinking.

    I can quite see why you quoted (entirely out of context, in my opinion) adam’s comment on progressives versus conservatives in the Hong Kong context; taken in isolation, such sentiments are doubtless very much grist to your mill.

    You then go on, however, to refer to someone or something called “captam’ of whom/which I can find no trace. What tickles me about this is that you either supply yourself or filch from the mysterious ‘captam’ the words, “… powerless non-governments which watch helplessly as their nations sink into stagnation, crime, corruption and decadence with their top elite grabbing the lion’s share of the ever-diminishing real wealth”, a phrase which seems to me to describe communist rule in China to a T.

    Anyway, as ever, you seem to have got entirely the wrong end of the stick, and, again as ever, you leave me wondering whether you are a rabid old commie Celestial or one of those “hurtful reactionaries, hate-filled fuddy-duddies and oppressive ‘middle-class white males’ ” described by Hemlock. If the former, I’ll dislike you, but give you the time of day; if the latter, I’ll dance on your grave as you and your fellow travellers get your just desserts.

  7. Nimby says:

    The funny thing about PC is how poorly it really speaks to power. It’s all about the show.

  8. Cassowary says:

    Chinese authoritarianism is the wave of the future! A massive hierarchical technocratic bureaucracy presided over by a tiny meritocratic elite with no need for any of that time-wasting electioneering nonsense, none of this pandering to uneducated peasant rubes, just a well-oiled machine where everyone knows their place. Why, the only thing that would improve it is for Xi Jinping to make the office of the president hereditary because such an able leader as he obviously comes from a family line with divine blessing. Then China will lead the globe into a brave new world.

    Oh, wait.

  9. @Qian Jin – good of you to take time out from writing People’s Daily editorials to enlighten us poor middle-class white males here on the glories of Xi’s battle against corruption. A pity that most independent observers have concluded that it is essentially a convenient cover for an internal power struggle within the Party, but then nothing’s perfect. You are quite right however that in most western countries the top elite grabs a disproportionate share of the wealth – just like in China. By the way one of the (small) landlords “wiped out” by your beloved Party was my father-in-law’s father, murdered without trial by Red Guards. There’s progressive for you!

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