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Jenny Hyun and Asian Pride

February 21, 2012

Here’s Korean pop-music songwriter Jenny Hyun’s pretty spectacular rant on Twitter:

Jenny Hyun's Twitter rant

One thing that interests me is what triggered the episode. Black boxer Floyd Mayweather had tweeted this about Jeremy Lin:

Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.

There are tons of people out there who are proudly talking about cheering for Lin precisely because he’s Asian like them. Whites obviously also like the chance to cheer for an Asian rather than for yet another black star. So Mayweather’s comments are not completely off-base. Even if they were, it’s just one guy’s opinion. Hyun’s reaction is … over-the-top.

She’s now claiming to have mental-health issues, and maybe that’s so. But I’m forming the impression that a lot of Asians are really very prickly. There are Asian blogs out there (for instance Angry Asian Man and Single Asian Male) that seem to exist solely to scream “racism!” over every slight, real or imagined, no matter how trivial or obscure.

In a recent reddit AMA with James Fallows, a commenter asked this:

Why don’t you ever say much about Chinese nationalism?

. . .

I’ve lived in about a dozen countries in my life and I’ve never seen anything like this, before or since. People cheerfully admitted to being spectacularly pleased by the September 11 attacks. Good friends of mine told me in no uncertain terms that China needs to exact revenge upon Japan “when the time is right.” If I casually mentioned China’s relationship with Sudan, the typical response I got from otherwise good people was that “it didn’t matter so long as China gets stronger.”

It’s like walking around in Weimar Germany, with the amount of conspiracy theorizing, wounded resentment, repressed anger and air of grievance. …. Quite frankly, the typical opinions of the Chinese populace terrifies me. Terrifies me.

The country which is poised to be the next global superpower has a chip on its shoulder which is way, way larger than anybody outside China quite comprehends….

There are, in my mind, three forces that could realistically destabilize the world order – global climate change engendering a resource crunch, nuclear or biological terrorism, and Chinese nationalism. The first two are generally well known and taken seriously. People seem to have no idea about the third and that has led to more than a number of sleepless nights.

China can’t stay authoritarian forever. Imagine a country with more size and power than the United States in which the overwhelming majority of the voting public is as angry, bellicose and subject to misinformation as the reddest part of the Republican primary. I can’t see how that doesn’t disturb more people. It disturbs me.

The impression I formed while in China was not so dissimilar. Except that I was also struck by the inroads Christianity is making. In light of Chinese nationalism, thank God for that influence.

Fallows sort of side-steps the question, but then admits that there is in China

a very thin-skinned nationalist level that can be evoked in one particular circumstances, which is the suspicion that anyone from the outside world (especially the white, developed world) is “dissing” China. Then you get hair-trigger nationalism.

Let’s phrase that more clearly: the Chinese are hair-trigger nationalists.
And a lot of Chinese-Americans are hair-trigger ethnic chauvinists.

*     *     *

OneSTDV touches on this a bit at the end of his post on the Hyun incident:

On a related note: are Asians the new white people? Asians sort of act like early 20th century white people – unabashed racial pride and nationalism, aggressive competitive streak, anti-PC (read: true) views on race and cognitive realism, family centered socializing, excited acceptance of the American Dream, manufacturing economy, and even embrace of traditional Western culture such as classical music. One can view this as a sort of finder’s keepers whit large, Asians happy to pick up and run with Western civilization as whites increasingly abandon it in favor of supplication to third-worlders.

Half Sigma also discussed it.

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