Sunday, April 27, 2008

"The Chinese were believed to spread disease by spitting on the street (hence a spate of anti-expectoration bylaws). In some towns, efforts were made to prevent Chinese laundries from employing white women, the fear being that they might be dragged into opium and iniquity. In an editorial that was typical of the times, the Toronto News of 1885 slammed "the lowest class of Chinese" as "filthy and leprous ... degraded barbarians." Interestingly, the sinister Oriental didn't always have to be Chinese. Depending upon which countries were in the West's good graces, his nationality could change. During World War II, Japanese troops became the new Mongols of Western imagination, while the Chinese – like helpful Chop-chop in the Blackhawk comic books – were portrayed as loyal helpers. But with the end of that conflict and the beginning of the Cold War, stereotypes went back to normal. In the Sgt. Rock comic books of the early '60s, hordes of Chinese Communists replaced the Banzai-shouting Japanese as the yellow peril of choice." (thanks Najib)