Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Home OP-ED Columns & Articles US 'othering' of Chinese could be prelude to Taiwan conflict

US ‘othering’ of Chinese could be prelude to Taiwan conflict

By Franz Gayl

Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word “othering” as an act wherein a race or culture is made to appear as “a large, uniform mass, rather than a diverse group of individuals… treating people from another group as less human than one’s own group.” Historically, “othering” has served as a conditioning mechanism to dehumanize US adversaries, preparing normally empathetic men and women to act with less discrimination and greater brutality in war.
During WWII, US othering of the Japanese involved weaponizing disinformation and propagating racist stereotypes. It was considered as effective at setting the necessary psychological conditions for the controversial internment of Japanese Americans, firebombing of Tokyo, and dropping of atomic bombs on Japanese cities merely to deter the Soviet Union. Conceivably, left unmodified, a soldier’s empathy for non-combatant human beings otherwise could have placed those ruthless American operations and their objectives at risk.
Othering of the Chinese people is evident in recent US news media in the form of a mix of unverified rumors, disinformation, and selective exclusion of contradictory facts. It has been reported that China-averse special interests have even paid US journalists to publish stories biased against China’s policies, to include encouraging a US-China confrontation. Meanwhile, the island of Taiwan’s secession champions in the US Congress have nurtured the absurd public perception that the US-emulating people aboard the island of Taiwan are “non-Chinese” in ethnic identity.
The apparent sophistication and coordination of Chinese othering are indications that some in the US are working to desensitize Americans to the certain horrors of a war with China over Taiwan. Its effects are already being witnessed in American society. Despite a presidential-level denouncement, racially motivated assaults on Chinese and Asians generally are sharply increasing. The dehumanization of our future foe is in full swing to the delight of China-averse special interests.
Some argue that a US war with China over Taiwan would be a just war, claiming the “non-Chinese” island citizenry deserves our protection, not just ideological support. Others will go further and assert that the US nuclear umbrella needs to be extended to encompass the island. They try to make the desperate case that the island of Taiwan is the last bastion of American values in Southeast Asia, and the final barricade that contains China.
The nuclear weapons theme deserves a closer look. Senior US military leaders at different times in the 20th century glibly suggested the employment of nuclear weapons to regain initiative in conventional conflicts with non-nuclear Asian nations. In addition to the island of Taiwan, these included conflicts in and with Vietnam, Korea, and China. Similarly, the employment of firebombing and nuclear weapons against a densely populated Japan was rationalized without significant opposition.
This was not so in the European theater. The firebombings of Dresden, Hamburg and elsewhere were emotionally contested even at the time of their planning, although the fanaticism and atrocious behavior of Imperial Japan was on a par with that of Nazi Germany. In fact, Winston Churchill went so far as to write: the destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing. Tokyo, Nagasaki and Hiroshima did not benefit from such a distinguished Western advocate, and evidently neither does China.
Today hawkish members of Congress, most of whom have not served their country in uniform, casually resurrect such options as it pertains to supporting the island of Taiwan’s split from China. It is easy for them to talk tough on the matter as most don’t know the sacrifices of Service, and perhaps because of lacking ethnic identification with Chinese and other Asian races and cultures.
–The Daily Mail-Global Times News Exchange Item

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