Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 08-22-2003, 05:53 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 120
Since when is the term Oriental offensive?

With a nod to the thread "since when is the word queer not offensive" I pose the question "since when is the term Oriental demeaning to SE Asians?" I ask because I've been corrected by members of these various ethnicities and asked to use the word "Asian" instead (as an apparently more politically correct alternative). Doesn't the term "Asian" imply such a broad range of ethnicities (ie. Slavic, Middle Eastern, etc) as to be inherently meaningless? And while we're at it, was the term Oriental originally coined as an ethnic slur, and if not why is it all of a sudden offensive? Enquiring minds want to know.
#2
Old 08-22-2003, 06:16 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 311
The term "oriental" is now associated with racial, and perhaps racist stereotypes. Edward Said coined the term "orientalism" which describes this pervasive attitude of the West toward the East:

"The Orient signifies a system of representations framed by political forces that brought the Orient into Western learning, Western consciousness, and Western empire. The Orient exists for the West, and is constructed by and in relation to the West. It is a mirror image of what is inferior and alien ("Other") to the West.

Orientalism is "a manner of regularized (or Orientalized) writing, vision, and study, dominated by imperatives, perspectives, and ideological biases ostensibly suited to the Orient." It is the image of the 'Orient' expressed as an entire system of thought and scholarship.

The Oriental is the person represented by such thinking. The man is depicted as feminine, weak, yet strangely dangerous because poses a threat to white, Western women. The woman is both eager to
be dominated and strikingly exotic. The Oriental is a single image, a sweeping generalization, a stereotype that crosses countless cultural and national boundaries."

http://emory.edu/ENGLISH/Bahri/Orientalism.html

I live in Hawaii, a very multi-ethnic place with lots of Asians, and I hear people, even Asians, use the term 'oriental' with no racist intent. It makes me flinch, but I think you have to have a postmodern sensibility to understand, or even care about, the controversy. You know, decolonize your mind and that sort of thing.
#3
Old 08-22-2003, 06:37 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Yes
Posts: 20,327
There've been several threads that address this very subject. Here's a good one from GQ, with links to more: Oriental Asians. If I recall correctly, the phenomenon started on the west coast, back in the 80's. Many of us in the center of the country missed it at the time, and are only encountering it now.
#4
Old 08-22-2003, 08:29 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 120
Quote:
Originally posted by Squink
There've been several threads that address this very subject. Here's a good one from GQ, with links to more: Oriental Asians. If I recall correctly, the phenomenon started on the west coast, back in the 80's. Many of us in the center of the country missed it at the time, and are only encountering it now.

Excellent. Thanks for the feedback and link to previous thread. I figured it must be something that started on the coast and worked it's way inwards. I don't have a problem with disfurthering (is that a word? - is now) use of the term "Oriental" but find "Asian" to be an annoyingly vague substitute. And isn't that what's really so damn cloying about political correctness in the first place? Not the ideology behind most of the ideas so much as the school marmish "hand slap" mentality behind it: they're really just looking for something to bitch about, are they not? Anyway, not to digress further, but if "Oriental" is increasingly considered off limits, it seems just as racist to use "Asian" as exclusively denominating those of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc. heritage for the simple reason that Russians and Indians have done just as much to advance civilization as the "orientals", so why short change them?
#5
Old 08-23-2003, 05:56 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 6,975
Quote:
Originally posted by SAustinTx
Excellent. Thanks for the feedback and link to previous thread. I figured it must be something that started on the coast and worked it's way inwards. I don't have a problem with disfurthering (is that a word? - is now) use of the term "Oriental" but find "Asian" to be an annoyingly vague substitute.
It's supposed to be vague. So was "Oriental", for that matter. If you want to be specific, use "Japanese", "Chinese", "Korean", "Thai", etc. I don't see the significance of getting hung up on what "Asian" used to mean; it has now supplanted Oriental as the word of choice. Simply use it as you would have used Oriental 30 years ago.
Quote:
And isn't that what's really so damn cloying about political correctness in the first place? Not the ideology behind most of the ideas so much as the school marmish "hand slap" mentality behind it: they're really just looking for something to bitch about, are they not?
Personally, I think you're the one who's looking for something to bitch about. "Asian" has been in use in the U.S. for at least 20 years; sorry you missed it. If you are so resistant to change, perhaps you would be more comfortable calling them "Mongols".
Quote:
Anyway, not to digress further, but if "Oriental" is increasingly considered off limits, it seems just as racist to use "Asian" as exclusively denominating those of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc. heritage for the simple reason that Russians and Indians have done just as much to advance civilization as the "orientals", so why short change them?
Why would that be racist? You are inventing ambiguity when there is none. I believe it was pointed out in a previous thread that the usage in the U.K. is different, but in the U.S., Russians and Indians are never referred to as "Asians". How exactly does that constitute "short changing" them? You are hung up on what you want to call them, when the considerate thing to do would be to go by what they want to be called.
#6
Old 08-23-2003, 06:08 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: That toddlin' town
Posts: 654
If I'm not mistaken, "Oriental" was at one time a term used to describe anyone from east of the "Western World", from Japanese to Ukrainians.
#7
Old 08-24-2003, 02:04 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Washington DC/San Antonio
Posts: 1,415
What we used to call "Oriental," I now call "East Asian."
#8
Old 08-24-2003, 03:59 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 3,917
Orient just means East, no? Ergo, Oriental means people of the east. Why did someone decide to start getting angry about this?
#9
Old 08-24-2003, 04:19 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 6,975
Quote:
Originally posted by I Love Me, Vol. I
Orient just means East, no? Ergo, Oriental means people of the east. Why did someone decide to start getting angry about this?
For that matter, there's nothing implicitly evil in the etymology of "nigger", either, but the term is obviously a slur. So what exactly is your point?
#10
Old 08-24-2003, 05:39 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 785
"Personally, I think you're the one who's looking for something to bitch about. "Asian" has been in use in the U.S. for at least 20 years; sorry you missed it. If you are so resistant to change, perhaps you would be more comfortable calling them "Mongols"."

Apparently, a lot of people "missed it".

The first formal change occured only last year, when Washington State passed a bill banning the use of the term "Oriental" in govt docs - limited to that state. And even within that state, many constituents (Asian Americans included) were unaware of the pejorative connotations. Cite:
Quote:
Many Asian Americans are unaware that the term Oriental is offensive because the term is often used in their home countries to refer to its citizens, the Philippines included, especially because the Philippines is also known as the "Pearl of the Orient".

"Many people didnít realize the term had negative connotations", Shin legislative aide Scott Passey told PNews how constituents responded to consultations about the issue. "But once they understood, they were very agreeable. A few simply refused to believe the word was negative despite the historical evidence and dictionary references".

The Websterís Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language in its updated revised deluxe edition defines the term as "pertaining to or characteristic of the Orient or the East, belonging to a geographical division comprising Asia and the Malay archipelago or a native or inhabitant of the orient". Printed in 1996, the entry does not indicate the term as offensive.

Originally meant "from the direction of the rising sun", according to Shin, the term "has absorbed the connotations of centuries of colonialism and oppression".
The point is, it wasn't obviously perceived as a "slur" in the same way as "nigger" was.
#11
Old 08-24-2003, 06:02 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: ZŁrich, Switzerland
Posts: 107
And negro only means black, right?
#12
Old 08-24-2003, 06:32 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Gymea
Posts: 316
Oriental simply derives from the Latin "oriens", meaning to rise, referring to the sun. The Oriental Region was originally restricted by 19th century scholars, most of whom knew some Latin, to that part of Southern Asia and its islands from the Persian Gulf to Wallace's Line.

Similarly, occidental is from the Latin word "occidens" which simply means to fall, or subside. Again referring to the setting sun.

As practically no one who attends university today, as a student or lecturer, particularly in the Arts or Humanities faculties, would be aware of the origin of the words, it makes it easy for some Political Science Cabal, as part of a power play, to declare a word taboo for any reason they choose to conjure up. Whether those reasons are true or false doesn't really matter if the ploy is successful.

The only people who take these silly mind games seriously are those who think attaining a Mickey Mouse BA degree majoring in Political Science (or Anthrop, or whatever) is a really big deal.

Personally, I choose not to use the terms "oriental" or "occidental" simply because four syllables are too cumbersome to use as compared to the shorter alternatives.
#13
Old 08-24-2003, 09:57 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
Posts: 21,464
annaplurabelle,

Before something becomes law, it has to have been in the public conciousness for quite awhile. So I would say that Washington state passing such a law is NOT a good example of people missing it, but a good example of how common it is for people to find Oriental offensive.

Now, not all Asians find Oriental offensive. A few use the word themselves. Personally (I'm not Asian myself, but have a Korean son) I find it "quaint" and "old fashioned" - similar to my grandmother using the word Negro.

BTW, I have a lot of friends with Korean kids - in Minnesota - some of the kids are young adults. Adoptive parents forming interracial families tend to be very aware (perhaps hyperaware) f these things. Asian has been the perferred term for at least twenty years even here in the Midwest.
#14
Old 08-24-2003, 10:13 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 3,775
old guy defense

I will try to always use "Asian" when that is appropriate. If I can determine a nationality I will use that.

If I slip up and use "Oriental" just think of me as a stupid old guy who uses "Negro" because he never shifted gears forward into the present.

I can't keep up. May I still use "black"?
#15
Old 08-24-2003, 10:31 AM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Dayton, OH
Posts: 1,783
Wha .. ? I still say negroid, mongoloid, and caucasoid. I like -oid.
#16
Old 08-24-2003, 10:41 AM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 121
A Vietnamese friend once told me people are Asian, rugs are Oriental.
#17
Old 08-24-2003, 11:30 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 785
"Before something becomes law, it has to have been in the public conciousness for quite awhile. So I would say that Washington state passing such a law is NOT a good example of people missing it, but a good example of how common it is for people to find Oriental offensive."

To be honest, Dangerosa, I saw it as an example of a politician attempting to curry favour with his Asian-American constituents (read voters). It's just a gesture - not something that's likely to have any tangible benefit (except for the pols who supported it). But I might be more cynical than you are about the motives of pols....

"Now, not all Asians find Oriental offensive. A few use the word themselves. Personally (I'm not Asian myself, but have a Korean son) I find it "quaint" and "old fashioned" - similar to my grandmother using the word Negro."

I agree. FTR, I'm not Asian either, but I've lived on the border of Little Italy/Chinatown in NYC for many years. I've heard a lot of deliberate slurs against Asians (and everyone else!), but "Oriental" was never one of them. My main point for posting previously was that it's counter-productive and unfair to malign someone for being unaware that it's an "old-fashioned" term.

"BTW, I have a lot of friends with Korean kids - in Minnesota - some of the kids are young adults. Adoptive parents forming interracial families tend to be very aware (perhaps hyperaware) f these things. Asian has been the perferred term for at least twenty years even here in the Midwest."

AFAIK, the terminology change started in the aftermath of the post-Vietnam disillusionment (???). But again, I'm not sure there is any tangible benefit to the substitution of terms.

As an example, look at the progression from the obviously malicious "N" word, to the somewhat offensive "Negro" (only offensive because it was applied by the white majority), to the self-identification of "Black" (as in "Black Power" and "Black is Beautiful"), and most recently to "African-American". It gives the impression that we/they have come a long way, right? Meanwhile:
Quote:
Nationwide, one in every 20 black men over the age of 18 is in prison. In five states, between one in 13 and one in 14 black men is in prison.

The ten states with the greatest racial disparities are: Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, New Jersey, North Carolina, and West Virginia. In these states, black men are sent to prison on drug charges at 27 to 57 times the rate of white men.

"Most drug offenders are white. Five times as many whites use drugs as blacks," said Jamie Fellner, Human Rights Watch associate counsel and author of the report. "But blacks comprise the great majority of drug offenders sent to prison.
Would it be helpful to substitute "African-American" for "black" in those statistics? I just think it's a little premature to break out the champagne in our supposed "celebration of diversity".

And in spite of being endlessly fascinated by Roger_Mexico's cites, telling someone post-boomer generation to "decolonize their mind" has little real significance, especially when history is being increasingly re-written in politically correct terminology:
Quote:
The p.c. schools are so touchingly devoted to teaching/preaching their students not to be racist, sexist and so on that they have disastrously failed to convey to them the history behind the word "nigger," and, ultimately, the history of race relations in America without snippy moral admonishments. For many young whites, racism is a fact they concede for public appearances, but ultimately don't understand intellectually or emotionally.
#18
Old 08-25-2003, 12:10 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Pacific Grove, CA
Posts: 127
I'm an Occidental American. Don't refer to me as white, as my true skin color is.... wait. Dammit, I am just a bedsheet-white cracker.

Carry on!
#19
Old 08-25-2003, 03:59 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 3,917
Quote:
Originally posted by blowero
For that matter, there's nothing implicitly evil in the etymology of "nigger", either, but the term is obviously a slur. So what exactly is your point?
I was quite sure when I posted that someone would bring that up.

My point is really a question. I know that the word "nigger" came from the word "negro" which means black. I also know that, while it might not have been meant that way at first, there came a time (sooner rather than later, probably) when it wasn't just a mispronunciation, but an obvious slur of derision and hatred.

My question is just a expansion on the OP, really: when and how did 'oriental' get to be such a disparaging term? And why?

I know that the "n-word" is a deep insult because I have personally heard it used as such. I have never heard anyone using the "o-word" as an insult.
#20
Old 08-25-2003, 01:36 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 6,975
Quote:
Originally posted by annaplurabelle
"Personally, I think you're the one who's looking for something to bitch about. "Asian" has been in use in the U.S. for at least 20 years; sorry you missed it. If you are so resistant to change, perhaps you would be more comfortable calling them "Mongols"."

Apparently, a lot of people "missed it".
A lot of people don't know the name of the Vice President, and others are unable to pinpoint the location of the United States on a map of the world. I'm not sure what it proves, exactly.
Quote:
The first formal change occured only last year, when Washington State passed a bill banning the use of the term "Oriental" in govt docs - limited to that state. And even within that state, many constituents (Asian Americans included) were unaware of the pejorative connotations.
So what's the argument here? A few of them use it, so it's o.k. for everyone, and to hell with the majority of Asians who prefer the term "Asian"?
Quote:
Cite:The point is, it wasn't obviously perceived as a "slur" in the same way as "nigger" was.
I never thought it was. I would say it's more comparable to "Negro". There are certainly more hateful pejoratives than "Oriental", but I'm not seeing as how that's an argument for it being o.k. to use it. That's like saying it's o.k. for me to punch you in the face because it's not as bad as stabbing you.
#21
Old 08-25-2003, 01:54 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 9,257
I figure I'll call people what they ask me to call them. ALL of my Asian friends prefer and use "Asian," not "Oriental," so that's what I use.

What's so hard to understand about that?

Esprix
__________________
Lessons My Father Taught Me
George N. "Bud" Lutton, Jr.
May 11, 1927 - December 11, 2003
Thanks for everything, Dad.
#22
Old 08-25-2003, 01:59 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 6,975
Quote:
Originally posted by annaplurabelle
To be honest, Dangerosa, I saw it as an example of a politician attempting to curry favour with his Asian-American constituents (read voters). It's just a gesture - not something that's likely to have any tangible benefit (except for the pols who supported it). But I might be more cynical than you are about the motives of pols....
Personally, I don't find this to be a very compelling argument. For the sake of the argument, let's say he was motivated by purely political reasons. That would mean that a significant majority of Asian-Americans are aware of the issue to the extent that it would influence how they vote. So I don't see how one could simultaneously argue that being called "Oriental" is not an issue for Asian-Americans, and that anyone could use the issue to curry political favor. If the former is true, then the latter would be false.
Quote:
My main point for posting previously was that it's counter-productive and unfair to malign someone for being unaware that it's an "old-fashioned" term.
I agree that it's counter-productive to beat someone up for an honest mistake. But what chaps my hide is people who still insist that there's nothing wrong with saying "Oriental" even after they've been informed of the issue. This is not simply being "unaware"; it's deliberate obstinacy.

I Love Me:
Quote:
I know that the "n-word" is a deep insult because I have personally heard it used as such. I have never heard anyone using the "o-word" as an insult.
As I said before, it's more comparable to "Negro"; not really a slur per-se, but an outdated term that carries a lot of negative connotations. "Oriental" conjures up stereotypical images of subservient people wearing cone-shaped hats and either cooking, doing laundry, or working on railroads.
#23
Old 08-25-2003, 04:08 PM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Cloud Cuckoo Land
Posts: 28,043
As a gentleman of some years, I possess a full pallette of racial and ethnic slurs that would make "oriental" pale to purest innocence. Some folks want so badly to be offended and victimized that they take a word that has NEVER been intended to be offensive and go out of their way to be offended by it? Fine; I'll make it easy for them. I believe I shall start using all of those other words.

#24
Old 08-25-2003, 04:59 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 311
Anna Livia Plurabelle, I am pleased that you are fascinated by my sights/cites. Perhaps you would enjoy the Pomo Generator. It generates random text that is indistinguishable from actual Pomo discourse. For example:

"Consciousness is fundamentally elitist," says Sontag. However, Wilson[1] suggests that we have to choose between Lacanist obscurity and material subsemanticist theory. Constructive socialism states that the collective is capable of intention.

Therefore, the subject is interpolated into a dialectic theory that includes art as a whole. Many materialisms concerning constructive socialism may be found.

However, Foucault suggests the use of dialectic theory to modify and challenge society. The subject is contextualised into a Lyotardist narrative that includes consciousness as a paradox."

http://elsewhere.org/cgi-bin/postmodern/

My favorite Pomo film is "Marginalized Subject Devoid of a Meta-Narrative," aka "Rebel without a Cause."
#25
Old 08-25-2003, 05:20 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 6,975
Quote:
Originally posted by Roger_Mexico
"Consciousness is fundamentally elitist," says Sontag. However, Wilson[1] suggests that we have to choose between Lacanist obscurity and material subsemanticist theory. Constructive socialism states that the collective is capable of intention.

Therefore, the subject is interpolated into a dialectic theory that includes art as a whole. Many materialisms concerning constructive socialism may be found.

However, Foucault suggests the use of dialectic theory to modify and challenge society. The subject is contextualised into a Lyotardist narrative that includes consciousness as a paradox."
Wow! It's like you're channeling Libertarian.
#26
Old 08-26-2003, 01:15 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 785
Quote:
Originally posted by Blowero:
"The point is, it wasn't obviously perceived as a "slur" in the same way as "nigger" was." (annapurabelle)

I never thought it was. I would say it's more comparable to "Negro".
Then why did you use "nigger" as an example in the first place? You were the one that brought it up as a comparison....

"There are certainly more hateful pejoratives than "Oriental", but I'm not seeing as how that's an argument for it being o.k. to use it."

Where do you see me arguing that people should use it?

I (as per the OP) was questioning how, when and why it came to be considered a pejorative term. The Washington bill wasn't an argument that it was okay to use it - it was simply an example of the fact that even many Asians were unaware that it was offensive.

"That's like saying it's o.k. for me to punch you in the face because it's not as bad as stabbing you."

Comparing words with physical violence? If you want to do that, then should I take your vehement need to "inform" people as an "assault"?

"A lot of people don't know the name of the Vice President, and others are unable to pinpoint the location of the United States on a map of the world. I'm not sure what it proves, exactly."

I'm not sure what your analogy proves in this case either. Maybe it proves that there are many things people need to be informed about? You didn't address my point about tangible benefits, or the continuing institutionalised racism that goes on in this country, in spite of the terminology changes, did you?

"'Oriental' conjures up stereotypical images of subservient people wearing cone-shaped hats and either cooking, doing laundry, or working on railroads."

In what century? I'm sure there are some people who are only able to "conjure up" outdated stereotypes as a substitute for the observable present-day world, but I'm not convinced that catering to that perceptual problem is fighting ignorance - or effectively eradicating racism.

"But what chaps my hide is people who still insist that there's nothing wrong with saying "Oriental" even after they've been informed of the issue. This is not simply being "unaware"; it's deliberate obstinacy."

FTR: I'm not advocating addressing people as anything other than what they prefer. But I'm curious about how, when, and why they came to their preferences. It's a discussion based on a valid question asked by the OP - I'm not sure why you see any of that as hide chapping.
#27
Old 08-26-2003, 01:26 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 785
Quote:
Originally posted by Roger_Mexico:
Anna Livia Plurabelle, I am pleased that you are fascinated by my sights/cites.
The pleasure is all mine, but thanks/you're welcome. Although I didn't say anything about your "sights", I'm sure they are fascinating as well (being in Honolulu and all).

I was really referring more to your conspiracy/covert govt sites (signifying my own paranoid/nihilistic meta-narrative). But the pomo stuff is fun too. Here's my fave:

L'Isle de Gilligan

The "island'' of the title is a pastoral dystopia, but a dystopia with a difference-or, rather, a dystopia with a differance (in, of course, the Derridean sense), for this is a dystopia characterized by the free play of signifier and signified.

The key figure of "Gilligan'' enacts a dialect of absence and presence. In his relations with the Skipper, the Millionaire, and the Professor, Gilligan is the repressed, the excluded, the Other: He is the id to the Skipper's ego, the proletariat to the Millionaire's bourgeoisie, Caliban to the Professor's Prospero.

But the binarism of this duality is deconstructed by Gilligan's relations with Ginger the movie star. Here Gilligan himself is the oppressor: under the male gaze of Gilligan, Ginger becomes the Feminine-as-Other, the interiorization of a "self'' that is wholly constituted by the linguistic conventions of phallocratic desire (keeping in mind, of course, Saussure's langue/parole distinction).

That Ginger is identified as a "movie star'' even in the technologically barren confines of the desert island foreshadows Debord's concept of the ''society of the "spectacle'', wherein events and "individuals'' are reduced to simulacra.

Indeed, we find a stunningly prescient example of what Baudrillard has called the "depthlessness'' of America in the apparent "stupidity'' of Gilligan and, indeed, of the entire series.

(apologies for continuing the hijack)
#28
Old 08-26-2003, 03:52 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 6,975
Quote:
Originally posted by annaplurabelle
Then why did you use "nigger" as an example in the first place? You were the one that brought it up as a comparison....
In order to demonstrate that etymology is not the standard by which we judge the offensiveness of a word. The N-word is a good example of that because despite its relatively benign etymology, it is still a highly-offensive word. Clear now?
Quote:
Where do you see me arguing that people should use it?
Hmmm...you certainly seemed to be making the argument that it's not an offensive word. If you're not trying to say it's o.k. to say "Oriental", then I'm baffled as to exactly what your point is.
Quote:
"That's like saying it's o.k. for me to punch you in the face because it's not as bad as stabbing you."

Comparing words with physical violence? If you want to do that, then should I take your vehement need to "inform" people as an "assault"?
What is with all the analogy-impaired people in this forum? Do you understand that an analogy can illustrate a point without being exactly the same in every way? The point is that if A is "not as bad" as B, it does not necessarily mean that A is acceptable. I can illustrate the point using anything I want for A and B, and it's still a valid point. Geez, I feel like I'm having to re-invent the wheel here just to get you to comprehend what an analogy is.
Quote:
"A lot of people don't know the name of the Vice President, and others are unable to pinpoint the location of the United States on a map of the world. I'm not sure what it proves, exactly."

I'm not sure what your analogy proves in this case either.
No, by this point I'm figuring that you are unable to comprehend analogies at all.
Quote:
Maybe it proves that there are many things people need to be informed about? You didn't address my point about tangible benefits, or the continuing institutionalised racism that goes on in this country, in spite of the terminology changes, did you?
Doesn't helping a group not to feel oppressed constitute a "tangible benefit"?
Quote:
"'Oriental' conjures up stereotypical images of subservient people wearing cone-shaped hats and either cooking, doing laundry, or working on railroads."

In what century?
19th and 20th. It wasn't as long ago as you think. And actually, your consternation at how long ago the word "Oriental" was used only serves to point out how outdated it is.
Quote:
I'm sure there are some people who are only able to "conjure up" outdated stereotypes as a substitute for the observable present-day world, but I'm not convinced that catering to that perceptual problem is fighting ignorance - or effectively eradicating racism.
With all due respect, I don't imagine that Asian-Americans really give a rat's ass whether YOU think it's helpful or not.
Quote:
"But what chaps my hide is people who still insist that there's nothing wrong with saying "Oriental" even after they've been informed of the issue. This is not simply being "unaware"; it's deliberate obstinacy."

FTR: I'm not advocating addressing people as anything other than what they prefer. But I'm curious about how, when, and why they came to their preferences. It's a discussion based on a valid question asked by the OP - I'm not sure why you see any of that as hide chapping.
I don't see why you think the quote above refers to you specifically; it doesn't.
#29
Old 08-26-2003, 05:52 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 785
"Hmmm...you certainly seemed to be making the argument that it's not an offensive word. If you're not trying to say it's o.k. to say "Oriental", then I'm baffled as to exactly what your point is."

Gee, I'm sorry you "missed it":
Quote:
I (as per the OP) was questioning how, when and why it came to be considered a pejorative term. The Washington bill wasn't an argument that it was okay to use it - it was simply an example of the fact that even many Asians were unaware that it was offensive.

My main point for posting previously was that it's counter-productive and unfair to malign someone for being unaware that it's an "old-fashioned" term.

But I'm curious about how, when, and why they came to their preferences. It's a discussion based on a valid question asked by the OP - I'm not sure why you see any of that as hide chapping.
Clear now?

"What is with all the analogy-impaired people in this forum? Do you understand that an analogy can illustrate a point without being exactly the same in every way? The point is that if A is "not as bad" as B, it does not necessarily mean that A is acceptable. I can illustrate the point using anything I want for A and B, and it's still a valid point. Geez, I feel like I'm having to re-invent the wheel here just to get you to comprehend what an analogy is."

I know what an analogy is. I also know what an illogical fallacy is, and why people resort to using them in lieu of responding to what's actually being said.

"Doesn't helping a group not to feel oppressed constitute a "tangible benefit"?"

I'm sure all the African-American men in prison appreciate your linguistic efforts on their behalf... How's that for an "analogy"?

Actually, I think the only way to "help" a group not to feel oppressed is to not oppress them. I can't control how people "feel", or what images they "conjure up". I would certainly "feel" better if you would stop posting sarky comments, responding to out of context quotes, and using strawman analogy - in place of dialogue - but that's not your problem, is it?

"With all due respect, I don't imagine that Asian-Americans really give a rat's ass whether YOU think it's helpful or not."

Well, there's a good point. They shouldn't give a rat's ass what someone else thinks... or what words they choose to use. Nor should anyone. When free speech is pre-empted, everyone is oppressed.

I don't need to stress the point that, by your own logic, what YOU think is also not worth a rat's ass - or do I?
#30
Old 08-26-2003, 08:01 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 16,823
1) If people have to be told something is offensive before they know, perhaps it wasn't offensive.

2) There is major difference between the European and American words Oriental, apparently. In America, it refers only to the east-Asian cultures, usually those east of the Himalayas, and not all of them.

3) Personally, I think Said was full of it. I see no similarity, nor do I draw a connection between any of the major people of the Asian continent. His evidence was more or less old and decrepit when he first looked at it, and thats not even counting the fact that he already was rather liberal, and is prone to looking for racism against "his" Palestinians.
#31
Old 08-26-2003, 08:57 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Vermont
Posts: 9,848
Quote:
Originally posted by threeorange
If I'm not mistaken, "Oriental" was at one time a term used to describe anyone from east of the "Western World", from Japanese to Ukrainians.
I forget who said it (possibly Asimov), but the Magi ("We Three Kings of Orient Are") were not shoguns...
#32
Old 08-26-2003, 09:10 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Cloud Cuckoo Land
Posts: 28,043
But, as Bandit said, American usage has moved the Orient eastward from where it was when that song was written.
#33
Old 08-26-2003, 09:41 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
Posts: 21,464
Quote:
"Doesn't helping a group not to feel oppressed constitute a "tangible benefit"?"

I'm sure all the African-American men in prison appreciate your linguistic efforts on their behalf... How's that for an "analogy"?
Huh?

Quote:
Actually, I think the only way to "help" a group not to feel oppressed is to not oppress them. I can't control how people "feel", or what images they "conjure up". I would certainly "feel" better if you would stop posting sarky comments, responding to out of context quotes, and using strawman analogy - in place of dialogue - but that's not your problem, is it?
I have discovered that I can work for a man who pays me well, thinks I do a great job, but if he insists on referring to me as "Babe" after I let him know I don't appreciate being referred to in unprofessional terms, he is not chosing to respect me and therefore, I'm not interested in working for him. He may not be oppressing me by calling me "babe" but he isn't showing respect either.

As I have discovered as well that I "catch more flies with honey" I choose to talk to people in a manner which makes them believe I like and respect them (and generally speaking, I really try to like and respect them as well - it isn't an insincere effort). Thus, when talking to people, I don't use nicknames unless I know that the person enjoys being "Dave" instead of "David."

Using "Asian" rather than "Oriental" is an extention of this.
#34
Old 08-26-2003, 12:40 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 120
Quote:
FTR: I'm not advocating addressing people as anything other than what they prefer. But I'm curious about how, when, and why they came to their preferences. It's a discussion based on a valid question asked by the OP - I'm not sure why you see any of that as hide chapping.
Sorry to have started a thread and run off without contributing, but my employers have unfortunately decided I should earn my bread the last couple of days. The quote above essentially summarizes my puzzlement with the whole "Oriental" issue. It's not enough to say that SE Asians have decided they'd rather not be called Oriental. What is the reasoning behind it? Did they all get together and decide to stick it to the white man by introducing confusion into his verbiage? Of course not. My point in starting this thread wasn't to encourage the use of the term Oriental but to understand why the hell it's considered a racial slur in the first place. The only people I've ever encountered who've given me looks when the word Oriental has been used are Asian-Americans. But if the term is offensive why haven't I ever once heard any of the so-called oppressors use it in a disparaging manner?

So far, from what I've read I agree with those who say the uproar must come from a false need for empowerment over oppression that doesn't exist. An inflammatory statement, I'm sure, but hopefully it'll light a fire under somebody's ass to state a genuine reason why I should feel guilty for using the term Oriental when referring to a person I'm pretty sure is not Russian or Afghani, but then again I'm not sure what area of SE Asia they originated from. Is this the main gist? That I'm an evil white American because I can't differentiate between a Cambodian and a Vietnamese by sight alone? Inquiring minds...

Jeremy Ulrey
#35
Old 08-26-2003, 01:17 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 9,257
Quote:
Originally posted by SAustinTx

... state a genuine reason why I should feel guilty for using the term Oriental when referring to a person I'm pretty sure is not Russian or Afghani, but then again I'm not sure what area of SE Asia they originated from. Is this the main gist? That I'm an evil white American because I can't differentiate between a Cambodian and a Vietnamese by sight alone?
The gist, if you've been reading, is that if a small person who spins straw into gold asks you to refer to him as "Dave," you don't ask him when "Rumplestiltskin" became offensive, and, not getting a satisfactory answer, continue to call him "Rumplestiltskin" out of some kind of principle. That's rude. Call people what they ask you to call them - how hard is that, and how much of a reason or explanation do you need before you'll accommodate that civil and simple reqest?

As I've said many, many times, I consider "PC" to mean "Plain Courtesy."

Esprix
#36
Old 08-26-2003, 02:00 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2003
Location: First door on the left
Posts: 678
Quote:
to understand why the hell it's considered a racial slur in the first place.
It's not considered a racial slur, as posters above have already spelled out at some length. It is considered an outdated term for Asians that is at least mildly offensive, mainly due to the obvious Eurocentric assumptions that underlay its coining and its use. All of this was also admirably elucidated in an earlier post.

Quote:
. . .but hopefully it'll light a fire under somebody's ass to state a genuine reason why I should feel guilty for using the term Oriental when referring to a person I'm pretty sure is not Russian or Afghani, but then again I'm not sure what area of SE Asia they originated from.
If you insist on using the term Oriental to refer to Asian people, you will not be mistaken for an oppressor or oppressor-wannabe. You will be correctly identified as a disrespectful and/or pathetically clueless boob. The correct response to this state of affairs is not to feel guilt. It is to feel crass and stupid.
__________________
Lo, this is that Aholibah/Whose name was blown among strange seas/Grown old with soft adulteries.
-- Algernon Swinburne
#37
Old 08-26-2003, 02:01 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 6,975
Quote:
Originally posted by annaplurabelle
Gee, I'm sorry you "missed it":
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I (as per the OP) was questioning how, when and why it came to be considered a pejorative term. The Washington bill wasn't an argument that it was okay to use it - it was simply an example of the fact that even many Asians were unaware that it was offensive.

My main point for posting previously was that it's counter-productive and unfair to malign someone for being unaware that it's an "old-fashioned" term.

But I'm curious about how, when, and why they came to their preferences. It's a discussion based on a valid question asked by the OP - I'm not sure why you see any of that as hide chapping.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Clear now?
Not in the least. As to your first point, you claim you are only questioning how it became a pejorative term, yet you continue to throw out arguments about how the Washington bill was just a political stunt, how some people don't consider it an insult, and how it doesn't change anything to use "Asian", because people are still oppressed. These are not arguments as to etymology, buy rather are arguments against using "Asian" in place of "Oriental". You're all over the map on this.

As to your second point, I already addressed it in an extremely clear and concise manner. I have not maligned anyone for being ignorant of the issue - only for continuing to demonstrate a lack of respect for the Asian community after they have been educated.
Quote:
"What is with all the analogy-impaired people in this forum? Do you understand that an analogy can illustrate a point without being exactly the same in every way? The point is that if A is "not as bad" as B, it does not necessarily mean that A is acceptable. I can illustrate the point using anything I want for A and B, and it's still a valid point. Geez, I feel like I'm having to re-invent the wheel here just to get you to comprehend what an analogy is."
I know what an analogy is. I also know what an illogical fallacy is, and why people resort to using them in lieu of responding to what's actually being said.
First of all, it's called a LOGICAL fallacy, not an illogical fallacy. Second, please tell me what logical fallacy I have committed. (This ought to be entertaining.)
Quote:
"Doesn't helping a group not to feel oppressed constitute a "tangible benefit"?"

I'm sure all the African-American men in prison appreciate your linguistic efforts on their behalf... How's that for an "analogy"?
How's that for an analogy? In a word - terrible. My previous analogy showed how B being "worse" than A does not mean that B is acceptable. Applying the idea to the present argument, you appear to be arguing thus:

1. Helping Asian-Americans to not feel oppressed by respecting their wishes is beneficial.

2. Large numbers of African-American men being incarcerated is worse than the problem being addressed in (1).

Therefore, (1) is not beneficial <- DOES NOT FOLLOW.
Quote:
Actually, I think the only way to "help" a group not to feel oppressed is to not oppress them. I can't control how people "feel", or what images they "conjure up".
Nobody is asking you to do so; only to stop using the word that conjures up those images. I can't control what people think of when I call them "Negro", but I can refrain from doing so. It's hardly rocket science.
Quote:
I would certainly "feel" better if you would stop posting sarky comments
You are just as guilty of that as I.
Quote:
, responding to out of context quotes, and using strawman analogy - in place of dialogue - but that's not your problem, is it?
Nope, because I haven't done any of those things.
Quote:
"With all due respect, I don't imagine that Asian-Americans really give a rat's ass whether YOU think it's helpful or not."

Well, there's a good point. They shouldn't give a rat's ass what someone else thinks... or what words they choose to use. Nor should anyone. When free speech is pre-empted, everyone is oppressed.
And here you make yet another argument against opting for "Asian" in place of "Oriental", while continuing your false protest of "Gosh, I'm only asking an innocent question about how it came about". You continue to contradict yourself.
Quote:
I don't need to stress the point that, by your own logic, what YOU think is also not worth a rat's ass - or do I?
Once again, you fail to comprehend what I have said. I said that Asians probably are not interested in YOUR assessment of the benefits of using the word "Asian"; they are in fact motivated by how it affects THEM. I never said they "don't care what you think".

If you call people "Orientals", the relevant question is not whether YOU think it's a slur, it's whether THEY think it is. I'm loathe to use another analogy, given your track record of totally missing the point, but let's say I happen to think that "Kraut" is a perfectly acceptable way to address a person of German descent, and go around addressing German people that way. Should MY opinion on the matter really be the deciding factor? I say no - I should respect the wishes of the German people who are affected by my actions.
#38
Old 08-26-2003, 03:33 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 3,917
I still think there is something a little odd about all of this. However, I know that labels and descriptions do change over time, and if there are Asians who prefer to be called Asians rather than Orientals, then I certainly have no problem calling them Asians. In fact, that's what I already call them.

What is the analog term for white people? Is our "outdated" term Caucasian? If so, it certainly carries no negative baggage for me at all.
#39
Old 08-26-2003, 03:46 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
Posts: 21,464
Quote:
If you insist on using the term Oriental to refer to Asian people, you will not be mistaken for an oppressor or oppressor-wannabe. You will be correctly identified as a disrespectful and/or pathetically clueless boob. The correct response to this state of affairs is not to feel guilt. It is to feel crass and stupid.
Well, maybe not pathetically clueless. If you are older (and I'm looking at you - which I can't do over the phone or on a message board), quaint and old fashioned. If you are younger than 50 and older than 30, slightly clueless and out of touch. Anyone under 30, hopefully out of touch - unless context in any of these cases paints you as disrespectful in which case I hesitate to use the loaded term racist - but it crosses the mind.

But the point is well founded - calling someone Oriental does not reflect poorly on them - it reflects poorly on you.
#40
Old 08-26-2003, 04:26 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 1999
Posts: 351
What's with the holier than thou attitude? Is this subject too taboo to discuss without being shouted down for asking about it? Obviously no one here is going to walk around calling people Oriental after this thread. I've been using Asian since about 1990 when someone mentioned that Oriental was no good anymore.

But there is a legitimate linguistic/cultural question here. Why the change?

Are there any records to track when the backlash against this word began? I imagine the word gave Asians a bad taste just because it was used for many years while they were discriminated against. Is that it (was just a guess)? If so, who suggested Asian? Was it a collective decision, did the decision against Oriental start with one guy speaking out in Fisherman's Wharf in San Fran, or was there some sort of group consciousness happening?

If the answers to these questions are lost in time, so be it, but there's no need to belittle people for asking them. I've often wondered how these PC name changes come about. The extremely diverse group of people in NY that I know certainly don't care enough to change this stuff, but it must be coming from somewhere.

As an aside, what do you think if a group decides it would prefer to be called Brains or Rulers or something like that? "He's Puerto Rican" - "shhh, they prefer to be called Sun Lords now". Is there a limit to the amount of change you're willing to make regarding categorization?

PeeQueue
#41
Old 08-26-2003, 05:03 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2003
Location: First door on the left
Posts: 678
I actually think it is an interesting linguistic/cultural question, and came into this thread in the hopes that it would be answered.

Any shrillness in my post is due to the fact that the OP, who originally posed the question in such a way as to make it seem like a legitimate inquiry, later turned it into a nasty gripe about those oversensitive Orientals and their manipulative attempts at engendering white guilt in an innocent red-blooded American who just wanted to get to keep using a perfectly good word with not a thing wrong with it. It was that attitude that I found fault with, not the original question as it was asked. If anybody has the facts in response to the historical/linguistic/cultural question, I hope they'll post them. But I don't expect them to shed any additional light on the, "why aren't I allowed to use this term now, dammit" question, which, to me (as to Esprix and others, is settled by the simple fact that the people to whom you wish to refer prefer not to be called that.

(And by the way, Dangerosa, I agree about the quaintness allowance to be made for older people.)
#42
Old 08-26-2003, 05:13 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 120
OK, OK. There seems to be a large misunderstanding going on here. Apparently that are a substantial group of PC soap-boxers who smell an insurgent pro-Oriental, anti-Asian uprising. Not so. Speaking for myself I've tried to make it clear that I have no problem with referring to the folks in question as Asian (other than the vagueness of the term), but am intensely curious as to why the term is "outdated". How did it get to be "outdated" if it was never considered derisive or offensive in the first place? "Groovy" is an outdated term; no one is going around slapping clueless hippies on the hands for continuing to use it.

The soap-boxers have made numerous analogies to slang terms for other races, but seem to have missed the point altogether that, although Oriental is to Asians as Kraut is to Germans or Nigger is to Africans, ALL of the other slang terms have definite and clear negative connotations, whereas to the best of my knowledge Oriental has never been considered either offensive or condescending. As the person who began this thread, as far as I'm concerned that is the sole question remaining unanswered
#43
Old 08-26-2003, 09:07 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 785
Quote:
Originally posted by Aholibah
Any shrillness in my post is due to the fact that the OP, who originally posed the question in such a way as to make it seem like a legitimate inquiry, later turned it into a nasty gripe about those oversensitive Orientals and their manipulative attempts at engendering white guilt in an innocent red-blooded American who just wanted to get to keep using a perfectly good word with not a thing wrong with it. It was that attitude that I found fault with, not the original question as it was asked.
Is it possible that you have read that "attitude" problem based on your own pre-conceived ideas about this issue, or PC in general? Because I didn't read it that way - certainly it wasn't at all worded the way you describe it above. Here is the original:
Quote:
And isn't that what's really so damn cloying about political correctness in the first place? Not the ideology behind most of the ideas so much as the school marmish "hand slap" mentality behind it: they're really just looking for something to bitch about, are they not?
Note that the "hand slapping" in this thread is coming from a self-appointed third party, who feels the need to inform people, and "help" people, while at the same time asserting that what the OP thinks or wants is irrelevant.

The "they" looking for something to bitch about isn't necessarily the group in question, it's usually some self-appointed "spokesperson for correct speech". Speaking for myself, this is the part of PC I have a problem with.

If that doesn't merit a distinction in your mind, so be it. I don't agree. I don't see how it's stupid, clueless, crass, or racist to question why I am doing - or not doing - anything I am asked to do by anyone else. Especially a third party.

But as the same might be true for my reading an "attitude" in Blowero's posts - even the one prior to my posting at all - this was probably reflected in my subsequent responses on this thread. I apologise for any undue "shrillness" on my part to anyone reading along here.

In review, it's obvious that Blowero (in particular) had no interest in why, how, or when in the first place:

"I don't see the significance of getting hung up on what "Asian" used to mean; it has now supplanted Oriental as the word of choice. Simply use it as you would have used Oriental 30 years ago."

"'Asian' has been in use in the U.S. for at least 20 years; sorry you missed it. If you are so resistant to change, perhaps you would be more comfortable calling them "Mongols"."

"You are inventing ambiguity when there is none."

"You are hung up on what you want to call them, when the considerate thing to do would be to go by what they want to be called."

For some reason, this lack of interest must be shared by everyone, or it's a problem for... Blowero??? The "So, what's your point/problem?" attitude quotes are on display in this thread. I say, what's the point of someone contributing to this thread if the question posed by the OP (and a few others) is of no significance to him/her. If anyone sees racist or hate speech in this thread I can only suggest they report the post in question. Otherwise, why isn't this a valid topic for debate?

<hijack>
Blowero I have no interest in "entertaining" you. If you want to get your rocks off ridiculing someone for disagreeing with you, that is your problem. Thanks for correcting my illogical/logical error, but the rest of it (your last post) is continuing the crap, IMO. If you don't think responding to a cite snipped in mid-sentence (disregarding the explanatory text that precedes or follows) is quoting out of context, there's no point arguing/deconstructing the rest. The bottom line is: You're not interested in understanding what I'm saying. I accept that now, okay? I'm sorry I replied to you in the first place.
<back to the OP>

Originally, I didn't cite the Washington state bill as a reflection of the Senator's motives - as I said before, it was to cite the fact that "many Asians", among other constituents, were unaware it was offensive.
But I'd like to note something else now, regarding my question about tangible benefits: Asian-Americans are not currently being oppressed or institutionally discriminated against. Yes or no? The point here is, what tangible benefit did they receive by the passage of this bill, which really only changes the wording of certain govt docs that might apply? I still say, it was a gesture, and nothing more. If a gesture like this - in the time when they were facing discrimination - would have been beneficial is another question.

In general, what I'm asking is: Do these terminology substitutions effect change, or reflect change, or...??? Did the substitution of Negro to Black to African-American make any measurable difference in institutionalised racism?

Again, I'm not arguing against courtesy, and frankly, this subject never comes up in my life, other than on the internet. I'm asking the people who are "advocating courtesy" here to try to see the distinction being made in the questions.

I don't refer to "my Asian friends" or "my Black friends", etc. I certainly don't address them that way either - I call them by name. One of my oldest friends is Chinese-American (but in NYC we don't tend to use the hyphen American informally). We're the same age (39), and we know each other since the fourth grade. This question has never come up. I don't really have a reason to use "Oriental" or any generalised term for people beyond country specific, or even region specific (I don't speak Chinese, but I can hear the difference between Cantonese and Mandarin). I still hear "Oriental" being used, either by older people, or in reference to objects.

I said I agree that it's out-dated (for people), but it honestly never occured to me that it was also offensive. Why would we still be using it for objects if it was? Does an out-dated term automatically become offensive after a certain time, even if it was never used as a slur?

"...although Oriental is to Asians as Kraut is to Germans or Nigger is to Africans, ALL of the other slang terms have definite and clear negative connotations, whereas to the best of my knowledge Oriental has never been considered either offensive or condescending. As the person who began this thread, as far as I'm concerned that is the sole question remaining unanswered."

Do you think "Negro" is in the same category as "Oriental" or not? I don't remember the change-over firsthand - by the time I was old enough to think about it, "Black" was a done deal. Was "Negro" used as a slur before, or did it only become one at some point afterwards?
#44
Old 08-26-2003, 09:33 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2003
Location: First door on the left
Posts: 678
Quote:
Apparently that are a substantial group of PC soap-boxers who smell an insurgent pro-Oriental, anti-Asian uprising. Not so. Speaking for myself I've tried to make it clear that I have no problem with referring to the folks in question as Asian (other than the vagueness of the term), but am intensely curious as to why the term is "outdated".
OK, obviously I did not get that message from your later posts. Although you threw in some declaimers along those lines, phrases like:

Quote:
the uproar must come from a false need for empowerment over oppression that doesn't exist
and

Quote:
so-called oppressors
and

Quote:
I'm an evil white American because I can't differentiate between a Cambodian and a Vietnamese by sight alone
sort of tended to obscure your point for me. I confess to having made a hasty reading of the post that contained those phrases and to have mischaracterized your attitude as a result in my subsequent post. I apologize.

I would like to point out to annaplurabelle that the post from which the above excerpts were pulled is the one that I mischaracterized, not the one she excerpted with the bit about the handslapping and the needing something to bitch about and whatnot.

Now for the source of my continuing frustration . . .

Quote:
The soap-boxers have made numerous analogies to slang terms for other races, but seem to have missed the point altogether that, although Oriental is to Asians as Kraut is to Germans or Nigger is to Africans, ALL of the other slang terms have definite and clear negative connotations,
In fact, some of us at least have been trying to make the point that Oriental is NOT to Asians "as Nigger is to Africans." It is completely true that no one is likely to attempt to insult or degrade an Asian person by shouting, "You Oriental!" Partly no doubt because it's unwieldly and partly perhaps because it is an adjective that doesn't make a particularly compelling substantive. You'd have to go to Chink or Jap or slope or something to get closer to the N-word if that's the effect aimed at. This is the difference between a racial slur and an outdated, but somewhat offensive, term.

Quote:
whereas to the best of my knowledge Oriental has never been considered either offensive or condescending. As the person who began this thread, as far as I'm concerned that is the sole question remaining unanswered.
That is beyond disengenuous. From the very second post in this thread, you have received your answer as to why Oriental is considered offensive and condescending. It is a Eurocentric term that is freighted with the concept of the exotic but inferior other. As Roger_Mexico pointed out, complete with cites, the term Oriental derives from the Latin word for the East. To whom is Asia "the East"?? To Europeans. It is "Westerners" who originally christened (so to speak) Asia the Orient, and then built up around it a whole fantasy of otherness, that is about as damaging as such fantasies usually are.

I'm having trouble understanding what additional answer you require.
#45
Old 08-26-2003, 10:08 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2003
Location: First door on the left
Posts: 678
Quote:
Here is the original:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
And isn't that what's really so damn cloying about political correctness in the first place? Not the ideology behind most of the ideas so much as the school marmish "hand slap" mentality behind it: they're really just looking for something to bitch about, are they not?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note that the "hand slapping" in this thread is coming from a self-appointed third party . . .
I'm not sure who your self-appointed third-party is here (blowero?), but I would ask you to note that the quote you excerpt predated any conceivable "hand-slapping" within this thread. The OP himself in this, the fourth post to the thread, introduces the notion of political correctness into the thread and here, without foundation, seems to imply that anybody who suggests replacing the term Oriental with the term Asian is motivated solely by their need to have something to bitch about. Thus, the OP begins the hijacking of his own thread.

Quote:
The "they" looking for something to bitch about isn't necessarily the group in question, it's usually some self-appointed "spokesperson for correct speech". Speaking for myself, this is the part of PC I have a problem with.
As for that, I can only refer you back to SAustin's own words:

Quote:
The only people I've ever encountered who've given me looks when the word Oriental has been used are Asian-Americans.
I'm assuming you'd acknowledge that in this particular case, your third-party argument doesn't hold up.

Quote:
I don't agree. I don't see how it's stupid, clueless, crass, or racist to question why I am doing - or not doing - anything I am asked to do by anyone else. Especially a third party.
Having dealt already with the third-party issue, let me just clarify the rest. At no point did I suggest that questioning is a stupid, clueless, crass or racist activity. I merely pointed out that using a term that a large number of people have identified as at least mildly offensive will cause these people to think you either clueless or insensitive. I have no problem either with your asking why such a term is considered offensive or with your continuing to use the term once you've been told. I was just pointing out that the law of cause and effect has not yet been suspended as far as I know.

Upon preview, I find that the entire previous paragraph is misleading, because it gives the mistaken impression that I specifically meant to address annaplurabelle with my earlier comments. So I'd like to here add the disclaimer that the "you" in that last paragraph doesn't really mean anyone in particular.
#46
Old 08-26-2003, 11:07 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Lair
Posts: 20,890
Following Esprix's contention that PC is Plain Courtesy, and involves calling people what they wish to be called, I must now inform you all that the correct way to identify my ethnic group is not Caucasian, which we hate because many of us have never been NEAR the Caucasus mountains, but

Sex-God, King of the Universe

Please refer to me by this term. You might say, "Evil Captor is a Sex God, King of the Universe," and apparently quite proud of it."

Any use of any other terms to identify my ethnic origins constitutes OPPRESSION, and anybody who doesn't use my preferred term is a RACIST BLOWHARD!

For the record.
#47
Old 08-27-2003, 12:21 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 785
"I'm assuming you'd acknowledge that in this particular case, your third-party argument doesn't hold up."

Well, you left out this part of my argument:
Quote:
Speaking for myself, this is the part of PC I have a problem with.
I didn't want to speak for the OP, and I'd rather not comment further right now on the OP's personal experience. I was attempting to explain my perception of what was meant (by the OP's initial remarks and other replies before I posted). Also, if you go back and read my posts, you'll see my own personal experience (with the term) differs. Is my writing really that unclear? Maybe I'm addressing too many different questions at once - I'll try for more clarity (and less "heat").

"I merely pointed out that using a term that a large number of people have identified as at least mildly offensive will cause these people to think you either clueless or insensitive. I have no problem either with your asking why such a term is considered offensive or with your continuing to use the term once you've been told."

Yes, I realise this wasn't directed at me in particular. But I never considered this to be part of the debate, or in question by the majority here so far (did I miss someone who advocated using it against the wishes of an addressee?). The "continuing to use it" part seems uncalled for considering no one who has posted has even suggested that. May we dispense with the need for disclaimers about personal courtesy? (I'm posting this one last time so I can refer to it if it comes up yet again).

"That is beyond disengenuous. From the very second post in this thread, you have received your answer as to why Oriental is considered offensive and condescending. It is a Eurocentric term that is freighted with the concept of the exotic but inferior other. As Roger_Mexico pointed out, complete with cites, the term Oriental derives from the Latin word for the East. To whom is Asia "the East"?? To Europeans. It is "Westerners" who originally christened (so to speak) Asia the Orient, and then built up around it a whole fantasy of otherness, that is about as damaging as such fantasies usually are.

I'm having trouble understanding what additional answer you require."


Are you seriously claiming that a cite about Orientalism by Said is an undebatable proof that the term "Oriental" is (in either personal or public discourse) offensive? I'm not pretending to be some great intellect here, but Said is one academic literary critic, and his thesis has been criticised and questioned by some of his peers, on many levels. Would I have to be an "expert" to question it myself? Well, if I'm going to be labelled a clueless boob, I may as well give the punters their pound of flesh....

First of all, I'm not sure I see a connection between the term as it had been used in US, and Said's focus:

"The book completely neglects China, Japan, and South East Asia, and it has very little to say about India. Although purporting to be a study of how the West treats all of the East, the book focuses almost entirely upon the Middle East. Its generalizations about "the Orient" therefore repeat the very Orientalism it attacks in other texts!"

Biased? Hypocritical? Flawed?

"Orientalism is an orientalist text several times over, and in two ways commits the major errors involved with the idea of the Other: First, it assumes that such projection and its harmful political consequences are something that only the West does to the East rather than something all societies do to one another. (I am surely not the only teacher who has had heard Asian-American students returning from their parent's country of origin exclaim, "Everything Said says the West does to the East, the East does to the West!")"

"For many scholars, one of Orientalism's most offensive claims was its dramatic assertion that no European or American scholar could "know" the Orient and that, moreover, all scholarly attempts to do so (except Said's own) always constituted acts of oppression. In a single dramatic move, which had great appeal for many, Said committed the greatest single scholarly sin: he silenced others by preventing them from taking part in the debate."

Want more on Said? click
"It is not difficult to show that each of his three main claims about Orientalism is seriously flawed."

"In fact, Saidís whole attempt to identify Oriental Studies as a cause of imperialism does not deserve to be taken seriously."

"The final component of Saidís thesis, the allegedly false essentialism of Orientalism, not only contradicts his own methodological assumptions, but is a curious argument in itself. Going back to the origins of a culture to examine its founding principles is hardly something to be condemned."

"In other words, rather than being necessarily ethnocentric and racist, Oriental Studies was one of the first fields within European scholarship to overcome such prejudices and to open the Western mind to the whole of humanity."

Sorry Roger.

I don't know if anyone is interested in continuing with pomo discourse. I'm more curious about the mechanics/politics of terminology changes into the vernacular of the teeming masses.
#48
Old 08-27-2003, 12:27 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 12,320
Reminder: Not all Asians are Orientals. The latter term is more specific.
#49
Old 08-27-2003, 03:06 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 6,975
Quote:
Originally posted by JThunder
Reminder: Not all Asians are Orientals. The latter term is more specific.
This is a trivial distinction at best. The word "Asian" is a perfectly acceptable substitute for any usage for which "Oriental" may have been used in the past. In modern usage, it means the same thing, only minus the negative connotations. The ambiguity you imply is not an issue at all in the U.S. - people from the Middle East are called "Middle Easterners", and people from India are called "Indians". "Asian" is not overbroad because it simply is not commonly used to refer to people of Middle Eastern descent. The historical usage is irrelevant, because it does not match modern usage in the United States.
#50
Old 08-27-2003, 03:55 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 6,975
Quote:
Originally posted by annaplurabelle
In review, it's obvious that Blowero (in particular) had no interest in why, how, or when in the first place:

For some reason, this lack of interest must be shared by everyone, or it's a problem for... Blowero???
Utter nonsense. I said nothing of the sort. You don't seem very interested in my point (only your strawman characterization), but I will repeat it anyway: It's not that I wish to forbid discussion of the etymology; I am merely pointing out that the etymology should not be used as a JUSTIFICATION for continuing to use the word "Oriental" in spite of people's wishes to the contrary.
Quote:
The "So, what's your point/problem?" attitude quotes are on display in this thread. I say, what's the point of someone contributing to this thread if the question posed by the OP (and a few others) is of no significance to him/her. If anyone sees racist or hate speech in this thread I can only suggest they report the post in question. Otherwise, why isn't this a valid topic for debate?
What the hell are you talking about now? Who accused you of hate speech?

I believe Aholibah has already pointed out how the OP got the ball rolling as far as this debate exceeding the boundaries of a purely etymological discussion. It quickly turned into a diatribe against those awful "PC" people; your false protests to the contrary notwithstanding.

In spite of your continued disclaimers that you are only interested in discussing the origin of the term, you have, and continue to, post commentary that exceeds those bounds:

Quote:
[snip statistics on black incarceration]...

Would it be helpful to substitute "African-American" for "black" in those statistics? I just think it's a little premature to break out the champagne in our supposed "celebration of diversity".
How exactly does that comment answer why, how, or when "Asian" came into use?
Quote:
You didn't address my point about tangible benefits, or the continuing institutionalised racism that goes on in this country, in spite of the terminology changes, did you?
How do any of those points address why, how, or when "Asian" came into use?
Quote:
In what century? I'm sure there are some people who are only able to "conjure up" outdated stereotypes as a substitute for the observable present-day world, but I'm not convinced that catering to that perceptual problem is fighting ignorance - or effectively eradicating racism.
Again, simply an argument that you believe the change from "Oriental" to "Asian" is ineffective; it has nothing to do with the narrow topic of how it came about that you keep shrilly insisting everyone stick to.
Quote:
"Doesn't helping a group not to feel oppressed constitute a "tangible benefit"?"

I'm sure all the African-American men in prison appreciate your linguistic efforts on their behalf... How's that for an "analogy"?

Actually, I think the only way to "help" a group not to feel oppressed is to not oppress them. I can't control how people "feel", or what images they "conjure up".
Yet another argument as to your perceived ineffectiveness of the change, rather than its origin.
Quote:
Well, there's a good point. They shouldn't give a rat's ass what someone else thinks... or what words they choose to use. Nor should anyone. When free speech is pre-empted, everyone is oppressed.
Here you appear to be arguing that discouraging the use of "Oriental" is somehow an affront to free-speech, although I am somewhat perplexed as to how you could come to such a conclusion. At any rate, it's most certainly not sticking to your self-proclaimed boundaries of discussion.

Shall I go on, or is that enough?
Quote:
<hijack>
[ranting snipped]
If you don't think responding to a cite snipped in mid-sentence (disregarding the explanatory text that precedes or follows) is quoting out of context, there's no point arguing/deconstructing the rest.
Don't know what you're talking about; please reference the quote in question, or withdraw your accusation.
Quote:
The bottom line is: You're not interested in understanding what I'm saying. I accept that now, okay? I'm sorry I replied to you in the first place.
I'm not sure you understand what you're saying.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:46 PM.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: octopus kills man government powdered eggs nunchucks real nava pilates quiescently frozen irs clearance catherines size chart submarines depth 18th century penmanship the vapors meaning bacon number 6 peppermint soft candy quarter to seven modern chamber pots broasted potato recipes coconut rum and popcorn button cracker jacker fucking ay benzocaine high elo bruce incredimail virus disappoint antonym stretching nose night camouflage bible belt buckle escort message boards discount sewing patterns 2x4 dimension arsenic buy lost souls movie are spain white how to eat a sunflower seed condom dispensers in bathrooms do other countries sing national anthem before sporting events blood sugar spikes non diabetics good places to get a haircut near me connecting dishwasher drain to garbage disposal i hate my sister in law you need to start extraction from a previous volume to unpack clear casting resin hobby lobby dialing 9 for outside line will gorilla glue work on rubber fire stick jailbroken reviews best way to pack cigarettes my ears are ringing and clogged why can't i smile how much does enterprise charge per mile can i call the cops on my roommate for smoking pot chigger bite on scrotum claiming exempt on w4 for one pay period cooking ribs in plastic wrap how to chat on match.com for free how to make poison for pigeons virgin white russian recipe linus and his blanket can you register a car for someone else how long does it take to get replacement ss card walmart jersey knit sheets shave and a haircut two bits how long should dress shoes last is my brother in laws wife my sister in law how does a cassette adapter work what are live and active cultures