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CONNECTIONS AND THE WEST | 2002-02-16

I would guess that about every Whitaker Online reader has seen every episode of the television series "Connections." It is the sort of thing we would enjoy.

Last week, I talked about how everybody always has to tell you, again and again and again, that the Chinese invented paper, gunpowder, and printing before it appeared in the West. I also pointed out that the population of China has consistently, for millennia, been equal to or greater than the total white population of the earth, so the idea that at one time or another they came up with things does not shock me out of my seat.

In other words, this constant parroting of a very limited list of Chinese inventions, which is considered the height of anti-racism here, could not be more patronizing to what anti-racists clearly consider to be the poor little yellow people.

But I believe that "Connections" had the most patronizing moment for the poor little yellow people that I have ever seen -- and that's saying a LOT.

James Burke had just breathlessly informed us, for the hundredth time I'd heard it that year, that the Chinese invented printing before the West did.

He then got that constipated look on his face, the look of Sincerity and Seriousness all Brits get when they are about to intone something from the Gospel of Political Correctness.

Burke then went into the fact that, while China came up with a lot of stuff, what happened next was the very opposite of "Connections." In the East, things got invented and then died out. In China, printing was invented and forgotten. In the West it made revolution after revolution. In China, gunpowder was, so to speak, a flash in the pan, but again it uprooted the old order in Europe. The mechanical clock was invented in China long before it appeared in the West, but it disappeared, too.

I was astonished he brought this up, as it is the basis of the assumption, by both racists and anti-racists in the West, of Oriental inferiority.

So Burke, the expert on "Connections" which makes the West so revolutionary, got that Politically Correct constipated look on his face and explained the entire history of the Far East from a PC point of view.

Burke took an old Chinese stamp, which represented -- guess what? -- the invention of printing by the Chinese before the West had it. By the way, did you know the Chinese had printing before we did?

Anyway, Burke took this stamp which showed the Chinese invention of printing, and stamped a single word, "Tao."

He explained that the only reason the entire Orient had stagnated, including Korea, Japan, Mongolia and all the rest, was because one Chinese philosopher had written one book. This book, Burke announced with that constipated frown, told Chinese that they must forever follow Nature. Tao means "the way," Burke explained, and that one book totally got rid of the whole idea of connections in the East and caused the stagnation of everybody who has epicanthric eyefolds and lives in Asia.

As far as I can tell, I am the only person who was completely shocked by the fact that a grown man would say that.