I’ve been involved on the Internet skirmish lines for many years now. Over time you come to anticipate the contours of a debate almost as it begins to form. Most identity groups even have their own telltale sophistries. Tell me which squatter genus I’m talking to and I can promptly articulate their stock position more persuasively than they can. Though these alien elements could just as easily say the same, as the argument between Submit to my race, you racists and no thanks tends to dig deep ruts after many laps. As a result, one grows quickly inured to the monotonous bleating of brown people demanding the keys to my home.
Obviously white Western liberals are the duplicitous brokers in this ongoing civilizational real estate transaction. Thus encroaching populations uniformly shower the left with both votes and praise. A creature who licks your feet while crawling out the door is certainly preferable than one who stands his ground.
That’s why I found this piece to be one of the most unusual and refreshing I have seen in quite some time. It was written by a Chenchen Zhang, who is a Western-educated Chinese national and presumptive Pokémon character. Ms. Zhang describes a blossoming phenomenon on Chinese social media that views the white Western left as contemptible popinjays who have even midwifed their own novel Asian insult: baizuo.
If you look at any thread about Trump, Islam or immigration on a Chinese social media platform these days, it’s impossible to avoid encountering the term baizuo (白左), or literally, the ‘white left’. It first emerged about two years ago, and yet has quickly become one of the most popular derogatory descriptions for Chinese netizens to discredit their opponents in online debates.
Given their test-inflated IQs, it’s not entirely surprising that Chinese would be one of the first foreigners to bristle with contempt for our domestic cancer cells. The more astute of their observers understand that the left’s affections are an entirely fickle force that could just as easily be turned against the Chinese should an opportunity for more conspicuous moral preening present itself–such as African and Muslim migration to China, for instance.
Although the emphasis varies, baizuo is used generally to describe those who “only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.
And even though there could be a component of preemptive self-defense in demeaning a white left movement that demands a globe of undifferentiated brown mustard humanity, that’s not what I found so gratifying about the baizuo insult. Instead, the Chinese are largely denouncing the Western left on its own malign merits, rather than on whether or not it accrues to their benefit. Given that is it good for us? constitutes the entire moral calculus of most of the world’s six billion+ minorities, this ecumenical disdain for the left’s “hypocritical humanitarians” is one of the most uplifting statements of our shared humanity I have ever read.
Heated discussions about baizuo on Chinese social media websites rarely make reference to domestic issues, except for occasionally and unsurprisingly insulting Chinese Muslims for being “unintegrated” or “complicit in the spread of Islam extremism”. The stigmatization of the ‘white left’ is driven first and foremost by Chinese netizens’ understanding of ‘western’ problems. It is a symptom and weakness of the Other.
It certainly is. Western liberalism is better described as the zeal to occupy museum exhibits. And I can think of no more certain means of destroying a formidable opponent than by elevating the doctrine within their society. I sometimes wonder if man will one day conquer other solar systems by seeding alien civilizations with pods from Vermont.
The term first became influential amidst the European refugee crisis, and Angela Merkel was the first western politician to be labelled as a baizuo for her open-door refugee policy. Hungary, on the other hand, was praised by Chinese netizens for its hard line on refugees, if not for its authoritarian leader. Around the same time another derogatory name that was often used alongside baizuo was shengmu (圣母) – literally the ‘holy mother’ – which according to its users refers to those who are ‘overemotional’, ‘hypocritical’ and ‘have too much empathy’. The criticisms of baizuo and shengmu soon became an online smear campaign targeted at not only public figures such as J. K. Rowling and Emma Watson, but also volunteers, social workers and all other ordinary citizens, whether in Europe or China, who express any sympathy with international refugees.
Haha shengmu indeed. The overwrought white liberal “holy mother” has become iconic over the past generation, from Sally Struthers’ weepy appeals to feed the third world to Angela Merkel’s yearning to import it. The Holy Mother eschews her own children for the pretense of raising a billion others. Though instead of a houseful of grandchildren in her old age, she has only a chorus of meows to validate her youthful virtue.
But not all Chinese are dismissive of the baizuo.
Not all in Chinese cyberspace talk about the ‘white left’ in a derogatory way, just as not all appreciate the views and style of Trump. Rao Yi, a renowned neurobiologist and public intellectual, was one of the few to publically criticize the demonization of baizuo and Chinese netizens’ support for Trump on television. His statement stirred up a great deal of controversy online. An overwhelming majority of Zhihu users thought that Rao had only proved that he was typical of the ‘white left’: biased, elitist, ignorant of social reality and constantly applying double standards.
Obviously there is no such thing as unanimity of opinion among different personalities–including those that occupy the minds of barren Holy Mothers like Ashley Judd. But that last sentence is as accurate a description of the white left as any you’ll find on an English-language blog: “biased, elitist, ignorant of social reality, and constantly applying double standards.”
Interestingly, the author is not at all in favor of the baizuo insult. Yet unlike her western peers she is able to summon enough honesty to describe it without references to the Third Reich. She goes on to slightly less honestly speculate on the insult’s origin with the following theories:
* Pragmatism: different peoples are different, and do not produce identical standards of living nor comfort in living cheek to jowl. This is as obvious as it is mandatory to deny, and so the author distances herself with terms such as “brutal,” “demoralized,” and “Darwinist” to describe it.
* Chinese self-interest: I touched on this earlier and the author mentions it as well. She senses a strong Chinese undercurrent to avoid the West’s frantic self-destruction. From the article: According to Baidu Trends, one of the most related keywords to baizuo was huimie: “to destroy”. Articles with titles such as ‘the white left are destroying Europe’ were widely circulated.
* Chinese supremacy: It goes without saying (i.e. It is never said) that nations should feel a benign supremacy. They should be proud of their unique civilization and its accomplishments above all others. Parents may or may not think their children are objectively superior to others, but they certainly make no attempts to hide who they think are special. In this sense, the author believes Chinese are citing the degenerate left as proof of their own superiority in contrast: The grassroots campaign against the ‘white left’ thus echoes the officially-sanctioned campaign against ‘universal values’, providing a negative evidence for the superiority of the Chinese self. Superior civilizations are those that endure for the use of their posterity. By that metric, I can’t say the Chinese supremacy viewpoint is entirely off base.
There are likely some of all these considerations in the baizuo bombardment. Though honestly, it doesn’t require elaborate hypotheses to comprehend why one man would mock the preening self-immolation of another. Watching someone try to prove their moral superiority by committing suicide has only one rational response: Nice job, you’re a better dead man than me.