This blog may be taken as a second part my Collective Defamation article (with possible further blogs in the future involving other kinds of anti-sinitic defamation). It is inspired by recent events blogged by Charles Liu. Another vicious slander that is common in the west is that the Chinese are a cruel people. The image is made visceral, rage inducing, when a cute animal is shown being killed or tortured. These kinds of images are often made focusing on Chinese people as the perpetrators. This is an effective image that serves to single out and dehumanize the Chinese as a group and it is very effective.
A google search exposed the commonality of this meme. Comments from stories of abuse of animals in China include outright calls to commit genocide against Chinese or to target Chinese people for violent hate crimes. Just from the recent example of the fabricated Dailymail story of polar bear hunting by wealthy Chinese, comments from western “animal activists” include
SHOOT ALL THESE WICKED CRUEL PEOPLE.. THE WORLD DOES NOT NEED THEIR GREED & DISPICABLE WAYS
WHAT A DISGRACE TO THE WORLD THESE KILLER CHINESE SCUM ARE.
i’d be interested in spending $80k on a trip to hunt chinese businessmen?
I would like to chase people down in a car all the while dodging my bullets. Teach them a lesson! Stop this!
someone should create a company offering animal rights activists (or any animal lover) the unique chance to hunt the ignorant and greedy elites who enjoy trophy hunting (preferably of the Chinese variety since they are overpopulating the earth anyways) and feed them to endangered and exotic animals.
it just beggars belief the depth of inhumanity to the worlds endangered animals this country will sink to for useless medicines and now sport they should hang their heads in shame and so should we for letting them get away with it…..
I could go on and on. These are not unusual comments and are actually very common not only in the comments section of this story but in the public reactions of almost all other similar stories.
It’s a common stereotype among whites that is created by their media that Chinese people are a cruel race especially towards animals. Some people have even argued that it is because of Chinese culture that the Chinese are so “cruel”. However, these people usually make no specific references to elements within Chinese society that induces this “cruelty.” This shouldn’t be surprising as the people alleging that are likely completely ignorant of China, its people and its culture. Some Chinese people inside China may also buy into this nonsense. Some prominent white animal rights activists have argued that the Chinese are an inherently cruel people.
But the reality is that western nations are far more cruel to animals than China (see a good example this in recent news). Hunting, including hunting of all kinds of bears, is very popular in the west. In the US south, dog fighting and chicken fighting (despite being illegal in most states) are widely practiced. Most hunters, even far more than their overall representation in the US population, are indeed, whites.
See this image search.
Sport fishing is popular among the whole country, especially among whites (one of the most common pastimes in fact). The western countries kill and eat far more meat, poultry and fish per capita than China does. Animals suffer many years in CAFOS (concentrated feeding operations) before being slaughtered for their meat. Most of the most productive fur and leather producing companies in the world are western companies (e.g. Nike). Milk and egg production, a major cause of animal suffering is done far more in the west. Most of the animal testing is also done in the west. Animal experimentation and vivisection is common in bio-medical companies and institutions of higher learning (and high schools as well) in the west. Much of all this is occurring without racially directed attacks (or sometimes even any criticisms at all) at the perpetrators of those actions.
You will never see people ascribing cruelty to animals in the west to either western culture or the supposed innate cruelty of westerners. This kind of rampant racism against the Chinese people is so common and accepted that mainstream media often make these kinds of slanderous accusations at the whole Chinese nation, defaming its culture and people and no one bats an eye.
No connection to western culture is made from these examples of cruelty despite the fact that the Judeo-Christian culture (from Biblical pronouncements) see animals, and in fact all of nature, as created by god for Man’s use. Despite the long history of vegetarianism in China that is not mirrored in the history of the west, the media often draws a link to the supposed more ethical treatment of animals in the west to its culture. The west is portrayed as humane, kind to animals when that is far from the truth. As Jeremy Rifkin pointed out in many of his books, the Christian and pagan rituals of sacrificing, torturing and eating animals has a long history in western culture that continues in the practices today (think about the thanksgiving meal).
Taiwan has some of the strictest vegetarian labeling and food processing laws in the world and one of the largest vegetarian populations as a percentage of total population. Mainland China is also instituting a more vegetarian society with prime minister Wen Jiabao in 2010 proposing a nation wide campaign advocating at least one day of vegetarianism a week. Vegetarian only restaurants are common in much of Asia including the Chinese countries (PRC, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, etc). One can only imagine the vitriol spewed by the US public (not to mention the meat industry) if American politicians dare advocate a similar limiting of meat consumption for the US population.
No one bothers to ask why white people act so despicably towards animals, why they are so abominably cruel despite the long, well-established history that continues to this day of systematic animal cruelty in western cultures. No one bothers to ask if it is an inherent character flaw in white people to behave in this way. (The very long history of genocide, war, slavery, imperialism, etc perpetrated by whites against others are also not raised as evidence for their inherent cruelty)
One factor behind the virulent hatred against the Chinese in these types of cases is a kind of animal specieism. Some non-human animal species are seen by the west as non edible (cats, dogs, some birds, etc), engendering gustatory disgust when images of people eating them is displayed. It is seen as taboo to eat certain kinds of animals. This disgust is then mutated into hatred and self-righteous indignation directed at those who dare to eat them. Other animals (pigs, cows, chickens, fish, etc) are fit for slaughter. But since the Chinese don’t share that cultural bias they are subject to the selective targeting of that indignation.
Also, the west is a master at image manipulation and self-denial with much of its cruelty towards animals hidden behind the walls of slaughter houses and fur farms away from the eyes of the public many of whom will gladly indulge in a burger or a fur coat after spewing racist epithets at Chinese for “cruelty.” Animal abuse from the Chinese is more often, not so hidden because meat is often not purchased from slaughter houses but individual butchers. A kind of systematic hypocrisy underlies this voluntary shielding from the conscience in the west. Cruelty is acceptable once it is out of the mind’s eye. People in the west know their meat comes from animals slaughtered but so long as you don’t see it, people are absolved of any guilt or shame. But because other people may not be such hypocrites or at least come from a society where it is not feasible to systematically hide all the cruelty, it becomes something visible in the mind’s eye and where it exists there, it becomes unacceptable to hypocrites because it forces them to reflect on their own cruelty.
Examples in recent memory of videos (also see here, here, here, here, here, here, e.g.) and images (here, here, here, here, e.g.) of whites, torturing, mutilating and killing animals are individualized to the person, not his or her race.
The popular Canadian pastime of clubbing baby seals to death and the Norwegian pastime of killing whales and dolphins are seen as cultural quarks, barbaric, maybe, but isolated to smaller groups or individuals, not to the respective national groups or to all western peoples. The long tradition of the British of chasing foxes with dogs for days and killing said foxes by letting the dogs rip the animals to pieces (similar to the American pastime of hunting hogs) are often seen as a gentile “sport,” a little violent maybe but definitely not cruel, many of the same people that direct their vitriol at the Chinese may think. English animal rights activist do not see themselves as a “subspecies” for these barbaric practices like they do when Chinese people are found to have abused animals. The long history in Spain of slowly torturing and killing bulls in bullfights or their barbaric slaughtering of sheep and geese in public festivals are not put into question as an expression of inherent cruelty of the Spanish people. The trapping, torturing and slaughter of American alligators is made into popular entertainment in the US but genocidal vitriol is not then stoked towards Americans or white people in general.
Even many other minority groups are treated with far more consideration and leniency when members of those groups are caught mistreating animals. Consider the situation with the NFL quarterback Michael Vick who was caught breeding fighting dogs and forcing them to fight each other. Or the practice of hunting for “bushmeat” by some Africans. Or this auction in a predominantly black African country for the rights to hunt a rhino (the story said that the principle buyers of the rhino hunting license are American and “wealthy white men”). There are plenty of racist criticism directed at blacks for these incidents and practices but that racist criticism is rarely so casually accepted by the general mainstream society like it is when directed against Chinese people. One can hardly imagine an article in the mainstream media with the title “Are blacks the cruelest race on earth?” (or any other group name substituted in place of “Chinese”)
Chinese people are seen as so despicable and subhuman by the western public that even other minorities, the victims of centuries of discrimination, are treated with far more humanity and empathy. Members of those groups are more individualized. Acts of cruelty are isolated rather than endemic to the whole group.
Still, one wonders if the animals rights activists or their on-and-off supporters (on when it comes to racist denunciations, off when it comes to the dinner table) are not so much interested in the welfare of animals in these situations but have ulterior motives behind their “activism.” Perhaps the motive is more of a festering racism that is only waiting for the closest opportunity, a pretext, to surface its angry, ugly head. Many of these so called animal rights activists hide behind a veneer of liberalism which protects them from any criticism of racism. But self-described liberals are some of the most racist people because they do not see racism as “their” problem. So they have no problems with dehumanizing or even advocating for hate crimes against Chinese people at the slightest provocation.