By Jae-Ha Kim
February 1, 2013
Wow. You’ve probably heard about this column by Joel Brinkley, which is just all kinds of wrong. On the surface, it seems like the author would have something of value to say. He’s a Pulitzer Prize winner and a professor at Stanford. Impressive. This column? Not so much. Where’s the research? How about the reporting? It’s good on the xenophobia, though. His rebuttal is even better (or worse, depending on how you look at it):
“On the issue of meat and aggressiveness, perhaps that was not as well phrased as it should have been. But eating a diet rich in protein will make you more robust than others, in Laos, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian states who eat rice and very little else. After all, half of Laotian children grow up stunted, even today. In Cambodia the rate is 40 percent. That means they grow up short and not so smart. Would it also follow that they would be less aggressive than Vietnamese? I think so.”
Even better, he submitted a photo of a Vietnamese woman cleaning rats to sell at the market. I’m not a big lover of rats, but it was clear she was cleaning them. Just like frogs would be cleaned before being sold to a restaurant. Or cows, pigs or lambs, for that matter. But this is how it came across: “See! I have proof that the Vietnamese are weirdos. They eat RATS, for Pete’s sake!”
In an interview with the Mercury News, he said, “Vietnamese seem to be particularly sensitive to criticism, like a lot of people around the world. Some of them have told me in emails that this makes them sound barbaric, which was not my intention.”
Which begs the question, what exactly was his intention?
Full disclosure: Brinkley writes for the same news syndicate that I do. I’d just like to know: Where the hell is my Pulitzer?
© 2013 JAE-HA KIM