'White Left' Becomes Popular New Insult In China For Mocking Naive LeftistsChris Menahan
May. 15, 2017
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Much like "cuck" became the new buzzword of the right over the last two years, the "most popular derogatory slur" online in China is "Baizuo," which literally means the "white left."
From Open Democracy, "The curious rise of the 'white left' as a Chinese internet insult":
If you look at any thread about Trump, Islam or immigration on a Chinese social media platform these days, it's impossible to avoid encountering the term baizuo, or literally, the 'white left'. It first emerged about two years ago, and yet has quickly become one of the most popular derogatory descriptions for Chinese netizens to discredit their opponents in online debates.Some of the highest IQ people in the world, folks.
However, Chinese netizens' fierce attacks against the 'white left' seem curiously devoid of experiential motivation, since all these problems that conservatives in the west are concerned about -- immigration, multiculturalism, minority rights, and affirmative actions -- are largely unknown to Chinese society. This is not to say that discrimination against women and ethnic, religious and sexual minorities do not exist in China. They are no less serious or structural here than in any other societies. But cultural and identity politics has never gained much salience as political issues under an authoritarian regime, although feminist activists have received increased attention recently. Overall, there has been 'too little', rather than 'too much' political correctness as perceived by conservatives in the west.They have plenty of experience. The difference is their media hasn't brainwashed them into denying their own eyes.
The small Muslim population they have has caused tremendous problems. In 2012, some Chinese jihadis tried to hijack a plane after posing as cripples to smuggle in weapons and explosives.
They ended up failing because they couldn't get access to the cockpit and passengers rose up and beat multiple of them to death.
The term first became influential amidst the European refugee crisis, and Angela Merkel was the first western politician to be labelled as a baizuo for her open-door refugee policy. Hungary, on the other hand, was praised by Chinese netizens for its hard line on refugees, if not for its authoritarian leader. Around the same time another derogatory name that was often used alongside baizuo was shengmu -- literally the 'holy mother' -- which according to its users refers to those who are 'overemotional', 'hypocritical' and 'have too much empathy'. The criticisms of baizuo and shengmu soon became an online smear campaign targeted at not only public figures such as J. K. Rowling and Emma Watson, but also volunteers, social workers and all other ordinary citizens, whether in Europe or China, who express any sympathy with international refugees.They're /our guys/. We should be allying with these folks rather than trying to drag them down with wars in North Korea.
In May 2016, Amnesty International published their survey results indicating that the most welcoming country for refugees was China. Leaving the reliability of its sample and methodology aside, this finding was not at all taken as a compliment in the Chinese media. Global Times conducted their own online survey in response to Amnesty's claim, and the results were quite the opposite: 90.3% said 'no' to the question 'would you accept refugees in your own household?' and 79.6% said 'no' to the question 'would you accept refugees in your city, or would you like to be neighbours with refugees?'. Ironically, Amnesty's portrayal of China as a welcoming country for displaced people was even read by some netizens as part of a foreign conspiracy, intended to pressure the Chinese government to accept more refugees. A senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences commented that this survey was "weird" and seemed to "incite citizens against the government".They're smart cookies.
The anti-baizuo discourse in Chinese social media gained stronger momentum during the US presidential election campaign. If criticisms of the 'white left' in the context of the refugee crisis were mainly about disapproval of 'moralist humanitarianism' mixed with Islamophobia, they became politically more elaborate as Chinese critics of the 'white left' discovered Donald J. Trump, whom they both identify with and take inspirations from. Following the debates in the US, a number of other issues such as welfare reforms, affirmative action and minority rights were introduced into online discussions on the 'white left'. Baizuo critics now began to identify Obama and Clinton as the new epitome of the 'white left', despite the fact that they were neither particularly humanitarian nor particularly kind to migrants. Trump was taken as the champion of everything the 'white left' were against, and baizuo critics naturally became his enthusiastic supporters.That's why their economy is growing.
It doesn't take much convincing.
Pragmatism with an emphasis on self-responsibility seems to be the ideology of our post-ideological times. It is, in UK prime minister Theresa May's words, 'living within our means'. This is combined with a general indifference towards race issues, or even worth, with certain social Darwinist beliefs that some races are superior to others, leading many mainland Chinese netizens to dismiss struggles against structural discriminations as naive, pretentious or demanding undeserved privileges.Their beliefs are common sense. The only reason Americans stopped thinking the same way was because of Hollywood brainwashing.
Finally, it should to be noted that the internet in China is subject to strict censorship. The Chinese government has been known to hire a large number of 'internet commentators' to fabricate social media posts. According to recent research conducted by scholars at Harvard University, 29% of such posts they investigated fell into the category of 'taunting of foreign countries'. It is nonetheless impossible to know whether these accused posts are indeed written by government employees. Similarly, it is hard to tell whether some of the criticisms of baizuo are coming from fabricated commentators-for-hire. However, given the strict censorship regime, criticizing democratic values such as pluralism, tolerance, and solidarity is certainly one of the safest 'critical' opinions ordinary citizens can express online.In tolerant Sweden and Germany, the "white left" is imprisoning people for Facebook posts critical of migrants.
It sounds like the average Chinese person has a better idea what's going on in America and Europe than the average American and European.
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