Pride and Xenophobia: Hitting the Wall

Another James, an American Philosophy grad with a jones for football and a twinkly-eyed swagger, learned who his friends aren’t this week. He lives in the foreign teachers’ residence at our university, along with other Yanks, Aussies, Canucks and, not incidentally, several Japanese professors and students. Jim was rather indignant to find that women in the main-floor administrative office were posting patriotic – that is to say, anti-Japanese – stickers on the office door and in the lobby of the residence. (I wrote about the growing Chinese resentment over the Diaoyu Islands here.) He’s no newbie in China, our jock Socrates, and he saw no point in ‘opening a dialogue’. He took direct and impolitic action, indignantly removing posters that he found distasteful and presumably hurtful to visiting Japanese at our allegedly international university.


By the time I met raging James, he was hurt by the lies apparently told to his Chinese colleagues by the office girls he’d always been friendly with, sputtering darkly about threats of dismissal, and incredulous at how quickly he’d been offered the fond  f— you :  This is China. If you don’t like it, leave. Everywhere on our campus float the balloons, the proud red and yellow banners, and the insistent welcome of ubiquitous volun-told student smilers honouring big anniversaries for our school and our college. I don’t believe Jim went for the faculty photo (“an important historical document”) and the following festival of executive self-congratulation. I didn’t, either.

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