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Friday, December 30, 2005


My brother has written more or less identical thoughts to mine about the Chow/Klander kerfuffle. Klander's "joke" was stupid and not funny. But racist? It is more appropriate to call it species-ist. I mean, would it be racist to compare Olivia Chow to a German Shepherd, say? Is it "racist" because chows are Chinese? I still don't see the racism. It's just dumb and really not funny. My mom is Norwegian and my dad was Irish. If you compared me (I'm the one with Preston Manning), to a Norwegian Forest Cat (middle picture) or an Irish Wolfhound (top picture), I'd be flattered. They're way better looking than me (though we all share the traits of loyalty and long, blond hair). The cat and the dog, on the other hand, might be offended. And who could blame them? If you were an animal, would you want to be compared to hideous humans? I think not.
Further, Jack Layton has claimed that because there (apparently) used to be "No dogs or Chinese" signs outside certain establishments, Klander's joke was particularly heinous. Well, there also used to be -- without any doubt -- "No dogs or Irish" signs on any number of North American establishments in the middle to late 19th century, as well as "Irish need not apply" caveats on job advertisements (the Irish were thought to be incapable of any stability, the mere thought of a sip of liquor believed to have been enough to take them away from the daily grind). But I still would not be bothered by the wolfhound comparison.
It is difficult, sometimes, not to see the resemblance between humans and critters. John Kerry totally reminds me of a Shar-pei. Ralph Goodale so has a woodchuck quality to him. And so forth. (Personally, though, I see no resemblance between Olivia Chow and a chow chow.)
For more on PC blogging, see Gerry Nicholls' comments here.

Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on December 30, 2005 | Permalink


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Not seeing any pics here. Keep getting error.

Posted by: MikeP | 2005-12-30 11:02:13 AM

never mind. my stupid.

Posted by: MikeP | 2005-12-30 11:08:14 AM

No pictures here either. My not stupid.

Posted by: Chazz | 2005-12-30 11:10:06 AM

Sadly I do see the racisim in his remarks, and I'm disgusted, not surprised just disgusted

Posted by: Catherine | 2005-12-30 2:57:41 PM

The racism (going on a limb, here) is that the features that make Olivia look like the chow-chow are common to a great many Chinese people.

Posted by: pete e | 2005-12-31 1:49:59 AM

It is racist in a couple of ways. Firstly, to compare a Chinese person to a Chinese dog is to focus on her Chinese-ness to make the insulting comparison. If she had been compared to a poodle, it would be offensive but not racist.

Secondly, to compare a person named "Chow" to a dog called a "Chow Chow" is to make fun of her based on her name. Just as saying of someone "he has more chins than a Chinese phonebook" is racist (not to mention insulting to the overweight), so is the photo comparison.

There also is a general tendency when denigrating people of races other than ones own (especially when the other is of a minority race) to compare them to animals. If you call a black person a monkey if you are angry at him, you have said something racist. But interestingly if you call him a jackass, you have only been insulting in a general way. Calling a black person a monkey has a racist history while calling a black person a jackass does not. I'm not sure of the history of using dogs as a comparative insult for the Chinese.

Finally, I am surprised that I have not heard more made of the sexism of the comparison. Calling women "dogs" to indicate unattractiveness is a sexist stereotype. Maybe the focus on the racism of it detracted from this point, but it is worth noting. But regardless of precisely how it was offensive, it surely was.

Posted by: Larry | 2006-01-01 8:11:07 PM

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