Saturday, 5 June 2010

No Dogs Or Chinese: it's a sign

No dogs or Chinese sign in Shanghai park
To the charming visitor to this blog who is demanding that we Chinese should refrain from discussing aspects of our own history (comment here) because he, "As a Jew who is well aware of REAL victimization" says "get over it." And I say "Phooey!" In fact I say, "Hong Kong Phooey with brass nobs on." (Yes, I am well aware of my spelling but nobs is what I mean in this instance.) Thank goodness that my very good Jewish friends do not share your competitiveness in the suffering stakes.

Our "real victim" friend angrily denies there was any such thing as a sign saying, "No Dogs Or Chinese/Chinamen", relegating it to a Bruce Lee movie invention. He might be interested to know that Huangpu Park in Shanghai was closed to Chinese until 1928. The sign as oft quoted is a poetic compression of the actual sign which stipulated it was for the Foreign Community only, and that dogs were forbidden. You see? Essentially, "No dogs or Chinese." Shorthand foregrounding the salient bits. Easy to understand. Hope that helps.


Marion said...

Actually MM - I think you're troll has a point here. This is a pretty mildly worded 100 year old sign that, yes, meant the English wanted an area for themselves but, God Lord, cannot surely be compared to some sort of genocidal holocaust or even apartheid. To do so shows a real insensitivity actually. the fact you have to parlay it up into stronger terms speaks volumes and were there not such class divisions among the Chinese themselves? (Still?)

Very few societies do not have this sort of history (see title of John Lydon's autobiog) and even the UK working class were subject to this in their own land. (And still survives in the form of No soiled or working clothes signs in some pubs).

So yes its a point to be made but I think to try and compare it to other cultures mass suffering is ill advised.

Colin said...

No, of course there's no comparison between the sign and the attempted extermination of Jews but someone else - not Madam Miaow - chose to bring up that comparison. And I think a sign that prevents the Chinese from setting foot in a part of their own country shows the denigration and humiliation that they suffered.
If you want genocidal holocaust, you can look towards China's past as well as that of Jewish people. Millions of Chinese died in the Sino-Japanese War and the Japanese also performed experiments on them.

Marion said...

Sure. But MM produced this sign in rebuttal to the ides that the Chinese hadn't suffered holocaust type circumstances. It simply doesn't do that. . This sign also says "No person allowed within bandstand enclosure". So, non-musician apartheid then?

To link this to the totally unrelated Sino-Chinese atrocities does you no favours actually.

Marion said...

Sino-Japanese of course before you score silly points.

Gregor said...

Awful sign. Makes me embarrassed to be a Brit.

Anyway, I thought I was sad, but I’m sort-of-pleased to see that some people think their Saturday evenings are well-spent telling Chinese people they didn’t suffer REAL discrimination and that it’s ridiculous to compare the sign to instances of suffering that no-one compared it to. Listening to Nana Mouskouri vinyl and drinking mint tea is pretty cool by comparison.

Having read Richard’s comment, I wonder if he’s familiar with the term ‘the narcissism of small differences’. ‘Drunk on the notion of victimhood and self-martyrdom’ seems to apply quite well to someone who starts an irrelevant rant about REAL discrimination under a post about industrial action in modern China.

David Hillman said...

Yes I remember reading in the 60's an ironic article by Lu Hsun on the "No dogs or Chinese " signs.At the time I thought it was very clever and hard hitting.
I say why should anyone "get over it".
The poison tree of resentment breeds Hitler's brooding over Versailles, Dunblane murders, Israeli settlers beating Palestinian women .. - yes the political is personal.
Cut down that tree and water healthy contempt for those who fucked us up. Remember that those who are slaves by nature were first made slaves against their nature, but be gentle with yourself.
Blimy, I must be tireder than I thought with too much to say I am in solidarity with your phooey and ramble no more.

Madam Miaow said...

I agree that it was silly to bring in the suffering of he Jews and I don't know why he chose to break Godwin's Law in this way. It's not a competition.

No, Marion, I didn't produce the sign in rebuttal to the holocaust. I'd mentioned it in my post about Chinese and workers' rights, and he denied it ever existed and brought in the victimisation of the Jews.

As I say in the above blogpost, "Shorthand foregrounding the salient bits.". "Salient" being the operative word.

The point that Colin is making is that, if you are going to bring up the holocaust as some sort of trump card in a perverse league table of suffering (which is what the other poster did), there are certain parallels.

Cheers, Gregor and David. Glad you get it.

Richard said...

Repeat, there was no sign ever that said "No dogs or Chinamen." It's a myth the perpetually victimized love to trot out. That's it, that's all. Not trolling at all, simply telling the truth. Shall I say it again? There was never a sign that said "No dogs or Chinamen." Never.

This blog's publisher wrote, "Never again do I want to see signs saying, 'No Dogs or Chinamen' in its own land." Dem's fightin' words! Well, she can relax now, because she never saw such a sign and never will. Were Chinese people, like the Jews under Hitler, prohibited from entering certain public places? Yes. But let's be intellectually honest. When we put things in quote marks we are being literal. This is the perpetuation of a long-ago disproved myth, and is clung to by lonely fenqing desperate to prove their validity. Kind of sad.

Madam Miaow said...

It is interesting to note that small literal minds often seem to come wrapped up in a whacking big parcel of aggression. It's that "narcissism of small differences obliterating everything else.

I could have gone for the longer explanation, Richard. But I chose to use the commonly known shorthand version of the sign that existed (as above).

Oh my god, here comes Godwin's Law, again.

This blog is not a facility for trolls to vent, Richard. Please read my moderation policy.

Czarny Kot said...

Is there really a competition to see which race / nationality has suffered the most?

If any Poles see this we'll be here forever... ;-)

Seriously though, the UK's colonial connections with China / HK were not our finest hour.

I recommend 'Tintin and the Blue Lotus' for those interested in further reading.

Madam Miaow said...

Funnily enough, Czarny Kot, I've been trying to get hold of a copy of that. I think it's been reissued.

Thanks, Gregor, for that very useful and apt phrase.

Jerry's said...

I'm relatively new to blogging but I can't get my mind around this idea of troll. It appears from your posts it is when someone presents an opposite point of view to yours. In other words if you disagree with sometime its troll. Am I reading this right?

Madam Miaow said...

No, Jerry. It's when someone posts with the sole intention of having a ruck. An opposing view in a friendly discussion is always welcome. Vulgar abuse is not.

Jerry's said...

Thank you for answering my enquiry. I have reread Richard's comments and although I disagree with them it seems to me as though he really believes what he is saying and there doesn't seem to be any vulgar insults involved. And even Mr. Divine appeared to putting forward a valid argument without insults. What am I missing here?

Obviously you have more experience in these matters than me. Could you please elaborate on how you can tell when someone is commenting because they want to stir things up (thus a troll) or because they truly believe in what they are saying.

Madam Miaow said...

This isn't a science, Jerry, but it is my call. There's history with Mr Divine and I've deleted the straight up insulting ones.

Richard's demands that we shut up (how many UK Chinese blogs dealing with these issues do you know?) and remain mute and invisible will obviously not go down well on this blog. You may not think that his insulting attitude to the mere mention of some of the horrors visited upon the Chinese earns him troll status, but I do.

H said...

Our Jewish "friend" doesn't really get it... discrimination, dehumanization - whatever - is unacceptable however extreme it gets. Why should group A "get over" not being allowed anywhere in our own country, being called all manner of racial insults, denigrated and treated as subhuman (sound familiar) in society and the whole social ladder, simply because there was a greater form of racism halfway round the world that involved massacres, concentration camps and mass graves? IT IS ALL WRONG AND UNJUSTIFIED.

And to suggest we, the Chinese people, shut up about the racism we face, especially coming from a Jew (there are several media "watch" outlets set up to counter the "anti-Israel" sentiment there, google "Megaphone desktop tool" for an example), is quite ironic. Freedom of speech Mr.

Madam Miaow said...

As H writes, cruelty and inhumanity is wrong, whoever is on the receiving end and whoever is doling it out. I grew up in the East End where around 20 per cent of the girls in my school were Jewish and at a time when everyone was sharply aware of the nightmare of WWII. I'm saddened that one poster feels the need to tell us to shut up (this is an aberration in my experience as my Jewish friends have never reacted like this). We should be feeling empathy for each other concerning these events.

Francis said...

H: you wrote 'And to suggest we, the Chinese people, shut up about the racism we face, especially coming from a Jew'

Are you suggesting that Jewish people are more racist than other people? That somehow they control media outlets to promote their racism more widely than other people's racism?

Madam Miaow: I strongly believe in free speech and it seems to me that Richard firmly believes what he is saying. And part of his last comment was a linguistic question. He said the sign didn't say, ' No Chinese or Dogs'. He's right the sign actually says, "These Gardens are reserved for the foreign community' later on it, 'Dogs and Bicycles are not admitted'. These are the actual words. Yes it does mean that all 'non-foreign' Chinese and dogs are not allowed. But the way you wrote it puts the idea that foreigners treated the Chinese like dogs. And this sign is proof of that. You're misrepresenting to make out that the Chinese have been mistreated like dogs. And that is inaccurate. The Chinese were treated like human being by the British, and in many ways the British contributed greatly to the wealth of present day China .. one has only to look at Hong Kong.

Actually it is possible that a Malay Chinese person could enter the grounds.

Madam Miaow said...

Francis, Richard gratuitously brought up Jews as having some sort of privileged ranking when it comes to pain. He did this aggressively and not in a spirit of common humanity. "Just another example of Chinese embracing victimization and feeling sorry for themselves" etc, is clearly an insult and the poster will be treated accordingly.

I've answered his pedantry over "No Dogs Or Chinese" already.

I have a clearly-stated moderation policy. Please read it — and abide by it if you wish to participate at this blog.

ASP said...

My dear Madam Miaow, just a heads up: Jerry is Mr Divine (he revealed that on another person's blog). And this Francis person might also be him. On his blog, Francis claims to live in south-east England, yet the computer from which he posted a comment on my blog recently is located in Sydney, Australia - the same location from which Mr Divine also posted comments on my blog. So, just to let you know that you are probably talking to one person when you think you're talking to two or more different people.

Madam Miaow said...

Many thanks, ASP. Three cheers for the Masked Avenger.

john said...

see Norman Finkelstein's "Holocaust Industry" for an examination of ranking one people's suffering over another - or just take a look at Palestine.

in the USA, of course, "no dogs or Irish' was common signage. I guess I'll see a challenge to that - I'd better start my google images search.

famously, too, the Cotton Club in Harlem, where Ellington crafted his unique show-band style, did not admit 'Negroes' except as performers - always a useful exception, although sometimes made unnecessary by minstrelsy.