Ann Allthouse pointed out that the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue is causing trouble again. She linked to this, at the International Herald Tribune:
The "Chinese boatman" picture seems to particularly distress the girls at Jezebel, who write things like “A white person relaxing, a person of color working. Tale as old as time."
Here's a different boatman, with a blonde model:
More from Jezebel:
“This photo cements stereotypes, perpetuates an imbalance in the power dynamic, is reminiscent of centuries of colonialism (and indentured servitude) and serves as a good example of both creating a centrality of whiteness and using “exotic” people as fashion props.”Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Goes to 7 Continents, Finds Exotic People to Use as Props, Dodai Stewart, February 12, 2013
For the benefit of the young people at Jezebel, I'll explain that China, unified since 221 BC, was never actually a colony, and has been free from all taint of colonialism since October 1, 1949, the time of the Chinese Communist Revolution. That was before the Chinese gentleman in the photograph was born.
If, in a literal backwater of China, there are still poor boatmen who look like ethnic stereotypes (because stereotypes are based on reality) then please direct your complaints to the ghost of Chairman Mao.
In Alien Nation, Peter Brimelow wrote that the
California legislature's 1876 report on immigration complained that the Chinesehave never adapted themselves to our habits, mode of dress, or our educational system. . . . Impregnable to all the influences of our Anglo-Saxon life, they remain the same stolid Asiatics that have floated on the rivers and slaved in the fields of China for thirty centuries of time.Now, maybe this argument had a dark, nativistic motive. But on its face it is a highly rational and very specific complaint about the difficulty of assimilating immigrants from what was then a premodern society."
China is now much more modern, but I see that guy still has a job. That's because the reliably nationalist government of China hasn't thought of replacing him with a Mexican.