The night before D-Day was divided between reading my half-baked trade law outline and watching Boston Legal Season 3 Disks 3-4. The daytime hours, to the extent I remember, were split between Benadryl-induced sleep and munching on my favorite Mexican food. The night prior to that was spent on Boston Legal Season 3 Disks 1-2.
To relieve some readers of unnecessary concern over my recent post, I must confess that I am not so much attracted to conservatism as I am pushed away by liberalism. If that means I am a communist so be it. I still get a huge kick out of Boston Legal–likely one of the most flamboyantly left-wing TV series out there–if that’s any consolation. But Alan Shore doesn’t exist in real life (or would have been fired in the first five minutes of Season 1, Disk 1, Episode 1), and the world really isn’t as simple or glorious as the good versus evil that TV shows make it out to be. Those who make it seem like simple and glorious, be them politicians, media, or college students, tend to care more about nurturing their own identity, feeling good about themselves for being on the “right” side of things, making a statement to others, and taking a stand on things; rather than actually caring about and making an effort to understand the nuances of the underlying issue.
I suspect that the same kind of sentiments is behind all the China-bashing lately (well, which started long ago and never really stopped). Westerners don’t hate China, or at least they don’t hate-hate China; they don’t like us because they’ve fallen in love with themselves, in a self-congratulatory way, for all their achievements and enlightenments. They have just fallen victim to a disease called “Orientalism” that was first diagnosed in the 1800s. It is often said that the essence about Orientalism is not so much intentional bias against the orientals as it is for a Westerner to feel good about himself through a comparison between the enlightened and the brainwashed, the advanced and backward, the law and the lawless. See generally, Teemu Ruskola, Legal Orientalism, 101 MICH. L. REV. 179 (2002). Each time they yell “Free Tibet” without even knowing where Tibet is on the map, they are not so much about the plight of the Tibetans or the nuances of the Tibet issue as they are about making the statement that they believe in freedom, they believe they have it, and they think they enjoy it—a statement that makes them feel good about themselves. See, e.g., Patrick French, He May Be a God, but He’s No Politician, N.Y. TIMES, Mar. 22, 2008 (“In fact, the [Congressional Gold Medal] award was a symbolic gesture, arranged mostly to make American lawmakers feel good.”). That’s all good by me, but it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and the Chinese–the brainwashed, the backward, the lawless, the “them”–got hurt.
Liberalism, conservatism, communism, orientialism…enough “ism”s in this post already. To conclude my pre-D-Day rambling, here’s a quote I came across a few weeks ago. Since then it has grown on me. It is in relation to the Duke girl, but has touched me in an unexpected way. The original posting was deleted by the author on mitbbs for whatever reason so I don’t have a link, but here’s a copy that I saved.
i just do not want to see [the Duke girl] anywhere close to a political leadership role in China. China does not need a person with very high ambition in politics, it needs leaders who care more about the people than their own legacy; and that will be the best legacy.
Food for thought.