I am a social liberal and an educated agnostic, which means, I don’t get offended personally by too many things. I will occasionally cry out against unfairness, but I don’t make crusades out of them. I rarely participate in any political causes, because I have seen too many causes subverted by the Rich and the Powerful for their own purposes.
But there is one small every day insult against me, that I have allowed to chaff me too often. Thus, I speak of it now.
That insult is the often abuse of the Chinese word “Kowtow” in Western languages by the Western media.
Let’s face it, headlines are often using that word in negative connotations, and often against China, where the word came from:
But I say, this word (and its cultural link to China) is being exploited by Western media, in a stereotypical racial manner. And I find it extremely insulting.
I grew up in what I considered as the Modern China, where I was never forced to practice “kowtow” to anyone. The ONLY time I felt it necessary to kowtow were when I paid my respects to the tombs of my deceased grandparents.
As a child, I have always felt that the practice is a deeply personal one and culturally symbolic of my Chinese heritage.
At the same time, I have also felt that the old practice of kowtow in feudal China was a symbol of Western prejudice and racism against China and the East. (Even in Imperial China, when kowtowing was more often practice than today, the practice was only used for ceremonies as signs of deep respect).
Today, the Western media continue to abuse the word “kowtow”. Why? It is merely another in the long series of racial stereotypes used against China, the Chinese people and the Chinese culture.
Because it is yet another strange thing that the Chinese people do that baffles the Western media.
And instead of respecting the word Kowtow and its cultural meaning of “respect”, the Western media use it to continue to mock China. Kowtow means to submit like a loser, e.g. “we” in the West cannot kowtow like the Chinese did, if “we” submit, “we” might end up like the Chinese.
*In contrast, the Hollywood glamorized Tibetan religious practice of laying face down on the ground, is given a benign word, “Prostration”, because even Christians practice prostration. Even though technically, Prostration shows an even deeper level of self-debasement and submission.
Can you imagine the above title changed to “We-cannot-afford-to-allow-some-countries-to-PROSTRATE-to-China“?? Sound much nicer, doesn’t it?
As I said, I don’t go for causes. I merely cry out against injustices.
This one, is merely another one that’s on my personal list.
All that I have left to say is, the Western media need some deep level introspection to understand how it has cheapened too much of some important things, and at the same time, elevated others beyond reasoning.
Far from the market of truth and understanding, it is a market of tasteless jokes and controversies.
Hands off my Chinese culture. You don’t know what kowtow is, your Chinese sux!