That was the nicest way I could think to put it.
Forget self-censorship and beating around the bush. Let’s get right down to brass tax: Why is it that I always feel pressured by my Chinese friends, colleagues, and random acquaintances to believe in the “Glory of China”?
Hey, China! I’m here. I’ve lived in disparate cities all over your territory. I’ve traveled thousands of miles from home. I’ve spent thousands of dollars keeping my parents at bay by traveling a collective twenty-eight hours between China and my home country and back again, twice every year. I’m still here almost two years later. I get that China has its good points. This is not lost on me. Please do not tell me to go home.
What I’m talking about is far more than national pride. I’m proud of my home country, too. But this? This is freakin’ zealotry. Wait, scratch that. It’s vapid robotic propagandism. And I don’t get it.
It’s in human nature to question things, to be curious. I see that twinkle. You’ve probably seen it, too. In the eyes of those scientific researchers and NGO supporters and tycoons of business and wide-eyed teenagers – they know there’s something more out there than the bullshit they’re fed. Which they then double dip and shove in our mouths.
And yet, not one of them will utter a single word. Not a single defiant, non government-approved word. The twinkle fades. With the ongoing push for decentralization of the Chinese government, you would think progress would be quicker in coming.
But instead, while editing examples in a Chinese grammar textbook for foreigners, I am privileged with being forced-fed obviously unbiased, completely unprompted thoughts like these:
“Upon coming to China, many foreign correspondents were impressed with the stature of Mao.”
“There has been such magnificent change and progress in China during the last twenty years that visiting foreigners were all greatly impressed.”
“Recently, the increase of the United States’ B-2 presence around China’s borders has posed a serious threat to Chinese security.”
Okay. Being an American these days, there are sometimes when even I don’t like me. But seriously?
And yet – somehow – I still find myself buying into it. My friends and family bring up stereotypes of China (which do not find themselves completely lacking basis in truth), and I still swoop in on the defensive! Nay! I tell them. How dare thee affront the dignity of this righteous and determined nation!
Then I trudge 7,000 miles over some ocean and a couple of insignificant island nations only to find myself churning out treatises like this to fill that hollow pit. You know, the one that the Chinese idealogues have carved where my logical reasoning skills used to be. And let me say this: cleaning up the mess of brain matter left scattered about from the lobotomy of my sensibilities ain’t no picnic.
Looks like you got a bit of it on you, too. Sorry about that. Right…there. Nope, that’s not it. A little lower. A bit to the left. No, that’s too far left. Geez. People can never find brain matter on their faces without a mirror, can they?