My family had a date to walk the mile to the local Sunday Farmer’s Market, which up until today has always been a pleasant experience.
However, at the Farmer’s Market, I came face to face with the ignorance and hate that surveys say about 40% of Americans have concerning China.
It started out as a conversation with a young man giving away free samples of a local newspaper as part of a program to grow subscriptions.
The feature story on the front page said, Walmart sex-discrimination case headed to the Supreme Court. This led to a conversation about Wal-Mart being anti union. The newspaper vendor said that in Europe Wal-Mart had no choice about unions then I mentioned that Wal-Mart had stores in China where all the workers belong to unions.
The conversation then turned to China. Eventually the newspaper vendor asked why I knew so much about China, and I told him that I write a Blog about China.
Since spending a decade researching Robert Hart for my first two historical fiction novels, it has become my goal to explain why China is the way it is since it was during that decade that I discovered how biased and ignorant many in the West are of China.
That’s when the fair skinned WASP with the ruddy winter blush on his cheeks stepped in. He was standing several feet away with his trained dog sitting on its box. He’s there almost every Sunday demonstrating what a great animal trainer he is. Since I have no interest in training animals, I’ve never had a conversation with him.
Without being asked, he said China was guilty of killing twenty million women. (I don’t remember the exact words but that’s close enough.) Within minutes, he would boost the number to forty million.
I attempted explaining that China’s central government cannot be blamed for centuries of cultural behavior and that there were laws against female infanticide in China today. I started to explain that even the one-child policy is misunderstood but he cut me off.
The WASP with the ruddy face waved his arms above his head and shouted I should get two Communist flags and wave them in the air so everyone at the market would know I was a China lover.
I don’t love China. I also don’t hate it. Instead, I want to understand.
America, with all of its flaws and there are many, is my country but I do not blindly love the US either. I wore the uniform of a US Marine and fought in Vietnam out of youthful patriotism decades before I discovered that in Vietnam then in Iraq, US presidents launched wars based on lies and deceit.
Standing there at the Sunday Farmer’s market, the adrenalin started fizzing through my body as my PTSD was triggered and I moved into combat mode thinking of all the China facts I could teach this ignorant, biased WASP, while realizing that he didn’t want to learn.
The Marine Corps taught me not to get into a fight that I couldn’t win and winning meant killing before being killed.
I decided to walk away but before leaving, I jabbed an index finger in his direction and said, “Your biased opinions are based on ignorance. There is a lot you should learn of China.”
That’s when the WASP doubled the figure of female deaths in China from 20 to 40 million.
If surveys are correct, about 120 million Americans hold the same ignorant, biased opinions of China that this WASP believed.
Most Sinophobes know nothing of The Opium Wars; Sun Yat-sen in the early 20th century seeking help from the British Empire and the US to build a democracy in China and being rejected; or the facts behind China’s Civil War and all the other history that led to China being as it is today.
It’s true that female infanticide has been a cultural practice in China for centuries. It’s also true that the CCP passed laws to end that practice and sends teams into rural China to teach the people that it is wrong. That doesn’t mean that all the Chinese will change.
In fact, The Society for the Prevention of Infanticide (SPI) says, “Infanticide has been practiced on every continent and by people on every level of cultural complexity, from hunters and gatherers to high civilization, including our own ancestors. Rather than being an exception, then, it has been the rule.”
SPI says, “One way to control the lethal effects of starvation was to restrict the number of children allowed to survive to adulthood.”
Even “Darwin believed that infanticide, ‘especially of female infants,’ was the most important restraint on the proliferation of early man.”
“Today,” SPI says, “At least 60 million females in Asia are missing and feared dead, victims of nothing more than their sex. Worldwide, research suggests, the number of missing females may top 100 million.
“Estimates indicate that 30.5 million females are ‘missing’ from China, 22.8 million in India, 3.1 million in Pakistan, 1.6 million in Bangladesh, 1.7 million in West Asia, 600,000 in Egypt, and 200,000 in Nepal.”
However, the ignorant WASP at the Sunday Farmers Market was “foaming” at the mouth about the evils of China when in fact, SPI says, “The colonists brought infanticide to America from England while at the same time finding that the Indians practiced it as well.”
In addition, “In 1646 the General Court of Massachusetts Bay had enacted a law where ‘a stubborn or rebellious son, of sufficient years and understanding, would be brought before the Magistrates in court and such a son shall be put to death.’
“Stubborn child laws were also enacted in Connecticut in 1650, Rhode Island in 1668, and New Hampshire in 1679.”
In Modern American “In 1966, the United States had 10,920 murders, and one out of every twenty-two was a child killed by a parent.”
“Statistically, the United States ranks high on the list of countries whose inhabitants kill their children. For infants under the age of one year, the American homicide rate is 11th in the world, while for ages one through four it is ‘first’ and for ages five through fourteen it is ‘fourth’.
“From 1968 to 1975, infanticide of all ages accounted for almost 3.2% of all reported homicides in the United States.”
I learned something new today. I learned that it is easier to deal with ignorance at a distance on Blogs and Internet forums where there are others reading what I write than it is talking to ignorance face to face.
It took more than an hour for my burst of combat adrenalin to work its way out of my system and it wasn’t until I finished writing this post that I was calm again. I wanted so much to attempt smacking down that WASP and discover if I had remembered what the Marine Corps drilled into me of hand-to-hand combat. After all, that training kept me alive in Vietnam, and I’ve broken bones learning martial arts.
However, I’m glad I walked away. Violence is not a solution to ignorance and it won’t open closed minds. After Vietnam and the Marines, I was a teacher in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005) where I learned how difficult it is to open minds.
You cannot teach someone that doesn’t want to learn.
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