how not to help

March 7th, 2009

Unfortunately racism is a problem everywhere around the world, and even more unfortunately New Zealand does have a history of specifically anti-Chinese and more generally anti-Asian (Asian usually meaning East Asian or more specifically Chinese) prejudice. I would like to think that is very much history, but it does rear its ugly head in modern New Zealand with frustrating regularity. But when an incident of racially-charged violence happens in your town, this is not how to help improve your town’s image:

“Two of them [Asians] were in school uniform and an adult was with them. One had two baseball bats, [and was] flinging them around like bloody chopsticks,” a witness said.

He said as soon as the youth with the baseball bats appeared everything escalated. “It was just like a rat’s nest being disturbed by a fox terrier, they were going everywhere.”

CHOPSTICKS?!?!?!?!?!

First of all, you don’t fling chopsticks around. And I find it hard to imagine a context in which it would be appropriate to fling baseball bats around- in a fight, wouldn’t it be better to hold on to your baseball bat? That way you have something to continue beating your opponent with, whereas if you fling it around, your opponent can pick it up and use it against you.

Secondly, chopsticks are considerably smaller than baseball bats.

Thirdly, why? I mean, why use this word “chopsticks” in your seriously warped simile? Could it be the Asian-ness of those doing the flinging around? Some bizarre stereotype of kung fu movies?

And to then follow that up with rats? Wow, you really are trying to reinforce the image of Timaru as a racist, redneck hole, aren’t you?

And perhaps I’m being a little oversensitive, but it seems to me that this article focusses more on the actions of the Asians than the Europeans, despite one girl claiming she was with White Power. There is talk of a fight and offensive racial remarks and gestures, but that’s it. Flinging chopsticks around like baseball bats, smashing a car window, and climbing on to a car are rather extreme reactions to offensive remarks and gestures, aren’t they? Am I wrong to suggest that the real story goes deeper than this?

10 Responses to “how not to help”

  1. Arctosia Says:

    chopsticks!OMG.Maybe they really watched too many kung fu movies, 四两拨千斤,you know. I don’t know any kung fu or tai chi but anyway, I’m more than happy to fling a pair of chopsticks (metal ones, not the usual wood made ones) to that witness and see how it feels like.

    And I agree, this bizarre metaphor is kind of racism. No surprise on media bias there though, they are very good at blaming others.

  2. wangbo Says:

    Yeah, some of those good steel chopsticks they use in Korea ought to do the trick.

    And speaking of outbreaks of racist nonsense in NZ, any updates on that teacher at Avondale College?

    Oh, and thanks for teaching me a new phrase.

  3. Arctosia Says:

    My knowledge on the Avondale case is that Korean student was the type of student teacher “had given up hope on”, wags a lot, and one day before the stabbing happened, he was sleeping in the class.

    What that teacher said to that Korean student was something like:

    “wake up, or North Korea will attack South Korea tomorrow!”

    Not quite sure whether this was the catalyst, but moment before the stabbing, that student said something like:

    “if you fun with me, I fun with you.”

    This is unconfirmed so I didn’t put it on my blog, but my sources are usually quite reliable.

  4. wangbo Says:

    Such a strange case. I would’ve thought that on the teacher’s part, a simple “Wake up!” would suffice, but the student’s reaction seems a little unbalanced as well, even if the teacher does have a history of being a dick. Then again, unless that unwelcoming atmosphere you described has changed, perhaps they should expect unbalanced reactions?

  5. Arctosia Says:

    Maybe it is a very sensitive issue for Korean People? We are not Korean so we don’t know.

    Problem about Avondale, and in fact almost all large schools is that, because it is so large, individuals’ needs and complaints tend to get ignored. Whether there’s racism in it, you be the judge: I suffer from severe stuttering for all my life, in my teenager years I can hardly get a word out, so what the enrolment officer did were:

    *wanted me to supply documents to prove that my mother is … in fact my mother so we were not faking anything.

    *questioned whether I was intellectually disabled and one point even trying to refer me to a special education school.

    *put me in ESOL class.

    And I never received a detention from school in my life, until my first day there. I accidentally bumped a chair on the desk down, and that’s a detention straight away.

    Sure I don’t endorse violence against anything, but in my opinion Avondale deserves the current bad press, and with little bit of guilty feeling, I’m quite happy about it.

  6. wangbo Says:

    Understood.

  7. 四处乱飞的筷子 » Bear's Blog Chinese Says:

    […] bezdomny ex patria 那里有一条,在我看来十分诡异的本地新闻。在Timaru发生了一起和种族歧视有关的冲突,一群白人和亚洲人在街上打架。有一个当时的目击者在接受The Timaru Herald采访时,是这样说的: “Two of them [Asians] were in school uniform and an adult was with them. One had two baseball bats, [and was] flinging them around like bloody chopsticks,” a witness said. He said as soon as the youth with the baseball bats appeared everything escalated. “It was just like a rat’s nest being disturbed by a fox terrier, they were going everywhere. […]

  8. flinging chopsticks » Bear's Blog New Zealand (Beta) Says:

    […] bezdomny ex patria’s comment focused on the racial motivation of this witness recall: …  why? I mean, why use this word “chopsticks” in your seriously warped simile? Could it be the Asian-ness of those doing the flinging around? Some bizarre stereotype of kung fu movies? And to then follow that up with rats? Wow, you really are trying to reinforce the image of Timaru as a racist, redneck hole, aren’t you? […]

  9. Paul Spence Says:

    Well, I suppose we should be grateful that at least Avondale High students do not have ready access to firearms.

  10. wangbo Says:

    Yep. Flinging chopsticks around like they were firearms could potentially be far more disastrous.