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Expats, tourists, and Western superiority
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1st Sgt Welsh



Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 564
Location: Salalah, Oman

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:45 am    Post subject: Expats, tourists, and Western superiority Reply with quote

Just came across the below article and, whilst I can't say I agree with it (too many sweeping overgeneralizations), I thought it might generate some interesting comments:

http://www.thanhniennews.com/commentaries/expats-tourists-and-western-superiority-24817.html
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mk87



Joined: 01 Apr 2013
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think its basically written by a token lefty who has come to vietnam and has noticed elements of what colonialism actually did historically.

I just think its a very naive and theoretically poor piece of writing despite having quite a lot of sympathy with it. I mean I think there's huge issues with treating the "other" as something detached from us. It's a moralistic attempt at a political argument from someone who doesn't really grasp the implications of the politics they "believe" in. IMHO of course. People like that are often why us lefties get a bad name.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 793

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I noticed it did not even touch the issue of "relationships", the writer seemed unprepared to add that important topic to the "analysis".

While there is some small truth in there about some of the westerners displaying feelings of superiority, the writer did not explore some of the more important questions, nor did he/she seem to understand "why".

1 - is it perhaps true that this culture is changing significantly, and so the feelings we often have are not based on our feelings of superiority, but instead are a lamentation of what is happening to this country and people?

2 - is it also possible that the negative or positive features of an organization attract a certain kind of person and repel another kind, and so the writer should look at this issue from a different perspective? If you run your organization a certain way, you attract a certain kind.

Sounds like the writer is one of those people who wish he/she was the only foreigner here, and is not able to consider these issues with a lot of insight beyond the biases he/she learned in college or somewhere and now brings to the table.
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mk87



Joined: 01 Apr 2013
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mark_in_saigon wrote:
I noticed it did not even touch the issue of "relationships", the writer seemed unprepared to add that important topic to the "analysis".

While there is some small truth in there about some of the westerners displaying feelings of superiority, the writer did not explore some of the more important questions, nor did he/she seem to understand "why".

1 - is it perhaps true that this culture is changing significantly, and so the feelings we often have are not based on our feelings of superiority, but instead are a lamentation of what is happening to this country and people?


The question I would have is why lament? I mean to some extent lamenting the fact that someone can have access to Mcdonalds (for example) is a hugely parochial attitude.

Where I think he really misses a trick is in emphasising that veitnamese people and westerners are both still human beings, workers, families who are situated in pre existing social relationships. Getting moralistic about that is only going to get peoples backs up because most people don't even recognise most of the said social relationships. It also creates an us vs them (or in this case them vs us) which betrays the whole point of the article in the first place. It's just juvenile commentry (which I would hesitate to call leftist to be totally honest)
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 327

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheap hack journalism - so many cents a word stuff.

There are real issues around this topic that would be worth a critical look - but that article is not it.
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Tigerstyleone



Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 181

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, TLDR.
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 408
Location: Off the beaten path

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Joe, I'm no longer constipated.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 793

PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go back to the original story online, it has generated a lot of response over there, which is pretty unusual. It is almost all negative, maybe one or two people have some small agreement with the writer, but even those feel that the writer is way off base on his main points.

You know, it really is interesting how so many of the foreigners who come over here really seem to dislike each other. You have the tourists and the short time guys who come over and may teach for brief stint, they are a whole different world. The folks who are here for a long time (outside of the tourist areas) are the ones who most often exhibit this feature. Like the writer, maybe he does not really recognize it, but he seems to be lashing out at his fellow westerners generally. I see it all the time when I am away from the center but do see the random westerner, you can see that the majority of the time they want to pretend they did not notice you. Everyone wants to be making the big discovery of the new world, and they are disappointed to think they are not the first, or to think that some crass carpetbagger is corrupting the previously innocent natives.
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montblanc20



Joined: 21 Jul 2013
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess I could put myself in the shoes of a Viet Kieu and imagine things. Like what if you fought for the wrong side and some of your relatives were killed and put into reeducation camps. And the relatives who were left had their land taken and redistributed.

Then the regime is betrayed by its ally to the north when it invades the Paracel Islands and again when it invades the north after Vietnam goes into Cambodia to stop the Khmer Rouge. Then the regime basically mismanages the country for a couple of decades, though not helped by the US embargo.

And after all of this the regime realizes that it has to turn capitalist in order to raise living standards. So basically it turns its back on its own principles.

And after all of this Vietnam just becomes another vacation destination for foreigners. All in a relatively short period of time. But most foreigners don't have a clue. They don't see things as being the result of land grabs and power struggles. And it makes you wonder what it was all about. Just another place to party.


Last edited by montblanc20 on Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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8balldeluxe



Joined: 03 Jun 2009
Posts: 64
Location: vietnam

PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They have these kinds of articles about three times a year. written by a westerner who seems to take great delight in scolding , shaming, and castigating foreigners and calling them out as racists and using all the most common cliches. If you read them often enough you see there are familiar names , one is called "Josh Tribe", and a few others. Some who come from India are especially good at Westerner baiting, and seem to really enjoy it. You have to keep in mind that this is not a real discussion, and the writers often know this. Because you would be foolish to respond honestly and often the allegations or rhetoric is so inflammatory and accusatory that to really respond and tell the truth would put uyou at some risk. Because the internet is so monitored and a person really can not criticize or point out obvious flaws in there arguments. the writers who create these articles are not being fair because no one can really answer them in this situation. Its very possible that the newspaper or magazine itself hires a person to take that point of view, theres often an onstaff moderator who is a little too quick to play the culturally biased foreigner card. Or the cultural relativism card.
Another aspect to it is how predictable it is that western do-gooders and PC diversity majors and just anyone will fall all over themselves to attack their own fellow westerners, at any chance they get, or undercut the arguments by always saying- "That happens in our countries too." or worse: " You can't apply our standards of right and wrong in another culture, who are YOU to tell people what to do?" But they use this to tell anyone who simply observes or doesn't like something to basically shut up., you have no right to say your opinion. I think locals must think that is funny how much westerners attack themselves on these forums. Another thing to this is how locals absolutely can not accept outsiders saying anything about their country- good or bad. They simply get offended and feel slighted when an outsider or westerner talks about what it's like here. Its of course worse when you say anything negative but I think they feel like only they can say the word Vietnam or describe it. Its like it is a patent issue or a matter of property. Only authentic Vietnamese can discuss the place. It does not matter what the behavior is or the issue, they just want to be in charge of the discussion or else you as an outsider are stepping on their toes or turf. All the moralizing or logical arguments about culture are completely lost on them. Its just a really basic pride issue taken to the extreme. Westerners are foolish to get in a "discussion" online that goes round and round like that.
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Daveric



Joined: 03 Jan 2014
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mark_in_saigon wrote:

You know, it really is interesting how so many of the foreigners who come over here really seem to dislike each other.

I don't know that this long-timer would say that I don't like other Westerners, but I did not travel halfway around the world to meet - other Westerners!
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 793

PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I did not travel halfway around the world to meet - other Westerners!


Or be with them. But if I pass one on the street, I smile and show them common courtesy. We are so few here (outside of the tourist areas), it seems very odd to see one of our own people and to want to pretend you DID NOT. However, over half the time, they pretend they do not see me.
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montblanc20



Joined: 21 Jul 2013
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't smile or acknowledge every Asian that I pass. Why should I acknowledge every white person that I pass?

Is my Vietnamese American friend in Korea supposed to acknowledge the Vietnamese guest workers when she sees them around (yes, it's easy to tell them apart from Koreans)? Because there are so few Vietnamese in Korea.

What if you're mixed race? You should acknowledge and randomly chat with Vietnamese strangers who don't think you're Vietnamese and do the same with white people who don't think that you're white?

With the Russians, I give them no smiling and no courtesy. They don't seem to be into that anyway.
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montblanc20



Joined: 21 Jul 2013
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Somehow I feel that the commentary that is allowed by foreigners on the facebook page of Thanh Nien would not be accepted on a Vietnamese version of the site. Interesting that there aren't many Vietnamese commenters. I wonder if it were Vietnamese saying some of the comments if they would be in trouble. I don't think the Vietnamese version has a facebook page.
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1st Sgt Welsh



Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 564
Location: Salalah, Oman

PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2014 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the responses everyone Smile.

Daveric wrote:
mark_in_saigon wrote:

You know, it really is interesting how so many of the foreigners who come over here really seem to dislike each other.

I don't know that this long-timer would say that I don't like other Westerners, but I did not travel halfway around the world to meet - other Westerners!


I get your point, but I think a lot of us do just hang out with other expats and I see it happening all the time. Indeed, I even include myself in this category.

When I go out to bars/restaurants etc., I regularly see groups of a half dozen expats or so with not a single Vietnamese in the mix and I think it's extremely common. Sure, quite a few expats are married or seeing a Vietnamese [invariably a male expat with a Vietnamese woman], but how many of us here socialize regularly or have close, plutonic relationships with the local people? I'm sure there are quite a few [and maybe I don't see that many of them simply because I usually frequent expat establishments], but I'm not one of them and I know plenty of others who aren't either.

One of my best friends here happens to be a Viet Kieu, but, aside from that, to be honest, I don't have any close friends who are Vietnamese Embarassed. I'm sure many people here see that as something to be criticized, but I don't really see it that way. I never came here with the intention of becoming immersed in Vietnamese culture or to study the language etc. If you are someone who has, or is someone who prefers to hang out with people from a very different culture etc., then fair play to you! However, personally, I usually socialize in order to relax and enjoy myself and, quite simply, I find this easier to do amongst people who I have quite a bit in common with.
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