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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

“Big noses” and “filthy rich tourists”

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In times of growing (anti)racist hysteria in most of the Western World, it’s very important to remember that racism or at least quite condescending behavior towards people that look different isn’t restricted to Whites.

I have heard that the Indonesian island of Bali means to Australians as much as the Spanish island of Mallorca means to Germans. In any case, both places have been pretty much spoiled by mass tourism. Besides the financial benefits that it brought to the locals, the overall impact on them can only be described as disastrous to different extents.

I remember how angry, bad and helpless I felt when on Bali, which in contrast to the rest of Muslim Indonesia is predominantly Hindu, almost everybody tried to rip me off during my five days there in 2011.

Due to my skin color I was supposed to be filthy rich. How did they know that I didn’t have to work very hard to be able to afford such an exotic experience? Did they have an innate right to cheat me?

In part this rather disappointing trip was my fault, too. Stubborn as I am, I booked everything separately, including the accommodation after arrival, instead of buying a nice package as my Taiwanese friends did, who had a wonderful time enjoying a luxury holiday.

The bus stop from where to travel into the city from Denpasar airport was so well hidden that I didn’t find it and I had to take an overpriced taxi, whose driver of course tried to talk me into a discovery tour. By the way:

Although I asked in advance and was told that it’s not the case, you have to pay the airport tax twice: when you arrive and when you leave. That surely guarantees double pleasure!

A ten year (!) old girl, working as a cashier at a supermarket, told me that she didn’t have change… When I went to exchange money after carefully comparing rates, I was told that those applied only in the morning. During the break of the traditional Balinese dance show I went to see for about 30 US dollars, I had to find out that the toilet wasn’t working…

The tour guide didn’t drive me to the sites I wanted to, but to those where he could get a commission from. I would have loved to enjoy a simple, typical meal and ended up with tons of other tourists at a pricy restaurant with a mostly Western buffet. At least it had a spectacular view!

It also took me some time to convince him that I wasn’t interested in any very beautiful hookers he insisted in introducing to me. At the same time, I wasted a chance to have sex for free with a female fellow traveler. Well, as I had a faithful girlfriend waiting for me in Taipei, I don’t’ regret that.

Back in Taiwan, children again reminded me periodically of the fact that I was a “foreigner” and not once their parents said anything. However, this already represented some progress, as no longer I was automatically an “American”. Nor an “extraterrestrial”, as a little boy called me once and his mother didn’t bother to explain him the difference.

After I moved to Tamsui on the northern coast, where many inhabitants communicate in Minnanese, the Southern Chinese language spoken on the island besides Mandarin, I was regularly and openly addressed as an adoga or “big nose”.

When I mentioned it and those who had used this pejorative term realized that I speak Mandarin fluently, there were surprised and friendly, as most Taiwanese are. I never took it as a serious offense, but other Westerners did and keep doing so.

For a moment I wondered if this unreflecting rudeness would be called a “microaggression” by all those progressives who see and smell and hear racial abuse everywhere. Of course not, as this Orwellian expression can’t be used when the victim is too pale.

Xenophobia and the rejection of other races are worldwide phenomena which unfortunately sometimes erupt violently and it’s each government’s reasonability to prevent their deadly consequences as best as they can.

Unfortunately, thanks to the multiple blessings of multiculturalism over the last decades, even in Europe that’s getting harder and harder, while imported conflicts have aggravated the situation.

An insult or a demeaning attitude obviously don’t kill you. Nevertheless, it’s the mindset behind them, using allegedly funny names or treating somebody simply as a cash cow that reminds us of the universal nature of character flaws.

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