March 16, 2016

Privilege watch: Check your "tourist privilege."

I've got a long-time anti-travel theme going on this blog, so my heart leaped at the prospect of a newly hyped up political version of my critique. I mean, I deplore the overdone political correctness of the left as much as... well, as much as I do... which is only up to a point, which is the point at which it seems overdone to me, which is a complex matter, interswirled with my taste and my sense of humor.

So here's Katherine Timpf at The National Review, looking askance at the students at Clare College in Cambridge who are critiquing an "Orient Express" themed party on the ground of tourist privilege.

One student — with the delightful name Ploy Kingchatchaval — said:

The vibe they are going for with the Orient Express is white people traveling in first class on a train, visiting "exotic" places with the inherent sense of privilege that comes from being a rich tourist . . . it’s going to be a white presentation of these places they’re trying to represent, full of stereotypes, which is erasing and gross.
The school had touted an atmosphere of "romance and adventure," where "the sights, sounds, and smells of this love letter to luxury travel will blend seamlessly." Total bullshit, of course, the sort of thing students have always — as far as I've known — mocked (except for the students who organize dances and do decorations). So why not mock it in the language of social justice, which is a rich source of verbiage, and it really upsets the authorities, just like sex and drugs used to upset the authorities in the old days. You've got to use the tools you have.
But Kingchatchaval doesn’t buy [the school's message]. In fact, he insists that the school was “clearly” trying to be offensive on purpose:

“They clearly didn’t intend for it to be about travel because Orient is such a loaded term,” he said.
He? Why is Timpf assuming Ploy Kingchatchaval is a man? Ploy Kingchatchaval is a woman — a very beautiful woman, actually. Did you just become more or less willing to hear what Kingchatchaval has to say?
I tend to find that whenever you’re having a bad time at Cambridge, you’re always told to maintain perspective, to look at the bigger picture. It’s just one week in eight! One term in three! You’re at Cambridge, for fuck’s sake! Gaze upon the glorious, looming presence of King’s Chapel and remember how insignificant your problems are, puny undergraduate! Observe the perpetual cycle of formal halls with their candlelit magnificence and the great black flapping gowns, of the myriad of hands exchanging tomes of knowledge in the hallowed corridors of the UL: how can your essay crisis compare when it’s but a mere blip in the consciousness of this eternal, ever-magnificent institution?
That's Kingchatchaval, writing at the link that I put on "a very beautiful woman," supra. She's studying English, interested in writing, putting words together, a young person, looking for a place in the world. But let's get back to Timpf, who's got her place, however secure, at The National Review, and her choice/assignment is to go after the young woman — a young woman who's being serious and funny — and to mock her, wreck her, connect her to whatever other annoying things have been bugging The National Review people lately.

Oh, Timpf really doesn't have much to say. She mostly just puts "Cleaaaarly!" after Kingchatchaval's "They clearly didn’t intend...." Oh, sarcasm, that's the best critique ever.

By the way, Timpf is the Fox News commentator who said this last fall about the new "Star Wars" movie:
"I have never had any interest in watching space nerds poke each other with their little space nerd sticks, and I’m not going to start now. You people are crazy. You Star Wars people are crazy. Yesterday I tweeted something, and all I said was that I wasn’t familiar with Star Wars because I’ve been too busy liking cool things and being attractive — people threatened my life."
Busy liking cool things and being attractive... If that's not cool, then don't like it.

In the end, my taste and my sense of reason humor gives this round to Ploy Kingchatchaval. As Timpf put it "Yes, 'tourist privilege' is a thing." It is!

CORRECTION: On proofread, I saw that I'd written "In the end, my taste and my sense of reason...." I'm not sure how "reason" popped in. I'd always meant to write humor (as in paragraph 1 of this post). Makes you wonder how the mind works, no? Surely, not by that wacky force humans call "reason," but that's the subject of the previous post.

63 comments:

AJ Lynch said...

Timpf was being CLEARLY sarcastic in her Star Wars putdown. But the Star Wars nerds could not grasp any criticism of their beloved film series. Sorta like Obama nerds can't grasp any criticism of their god.

Michael K said...

This is all bullshit. It's a party for crissakes !

Students get all excited about crazy things. When I was in college in the 50s, there was a big thing about imitating the McCarthy hearings. There were "subversive" student parties and everything.

Michael K said...

I liked the first three Star Wars movies but they were the product of Lucas' first wife.

After that, they were repetitive and weak. I have no interest in seeing the latest,.

Marcia is unknown because, presumably, her fortune from the divorce settlement required her silence which she has kept.

David in another form said...

Then there is the poor fool just setenced by North Korea to 15 years hard labor for stealing a poster. A UVA student. A miseducated UVA student fool who now has a Phd. in how totalitariasim works.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

She is a student at Cambridge which means she is among the most privileged people on the planet.

Therefore, I find her whining about other peoples privilege to be triggering and a micro-aggression.

To put it in the Queen's English, she is an annoying prig.

Bob Boyd said...

Tourist privilege includes the unapologetic wearing of shorts.

traditionalguy said...

Reason three times removed has to be digested before she can arrive at being offended by silly games of the Leisure Class being played in a place for education in class distinctions, created by class distinction Rulers.

The Colonies are getting uppity again.

damikesc said...

Colleges humoring these twits deserve what they get.

Timpf was being CLEARLY sarcastic in her Star Wars putdown. But the Star Wars nerds could not grasp any criticism of their beloved film series

No joke. I even know one of the main guys who went after and tried to tell him that he completely missed the point. It failed.

David in another form said...

Timpf is somewhat fetching herself. It's a form of privilege, being good looking. Often powerful or even deciisive. But good looks don't do much for fact checking, eh?

dbp said...

First and most importantly it is National Review not The National Review.

Second, Ploy is a very attractive woman and Timph was lazy and stupid not to do a modicum of research and avoid this sort of mistake.

Third, I was trying to find the source for the Quote:

“They clearly didn’t intend for it to be about travel because Orient is such a loaded term,”

It does not appear in the piece from The Telegraph, though her language is exactly the same as that found in Conservative Underground

I think Timph just lifted the piece completely and did no research whatsoever.

CWJ said...

"The vibe they are going for with the Orient Express is white people traveling in first class on a train, visiting "exotic" places with the inherent sense of privilege that comes from being a rich tourist . . . it’s going to be a white presentation of these places..."

White huh. Hmm? Interesting thing about the Orient Express, even in its heyday, it never left Europe.

John Tuffnell said...

Time to send Karl Pilkington of Idiot Abroad to the Orient to find out what is authentic and "non-erasing." He gets to the nitty gritty of the culture of the places he visits.

buwaya puti said...

She's Thai.
Sell that message in Thailand and you'll break a lot of rice bowls.
For that matter it would ruin the British tourist industry, which lives by selling the exoticism of ancient British culture, mainly these days to Asians.
And these students are thereby using their British privelege of dissing the perspective of Asian tourists. Don't they get to have fun with exoticism too?

AprilApple said...

Sounds like a ploy.

dbp said...

Actually I too did no research: The Conservative Underground piece is lifted from National Review!

D'Oh!

buwaya puti said...

I am, as an engineer, triggered and feel erased by all the Asian tourists in Britain that don't bother to learn the importance of machine tools and precision manufacturing, in its birthplace.

Big Mike said...

I mean, I deplore the overdone political correctness of the left as much as... well, as much as I do... which is only up to a point, which is the point at which it seems overdone to me, which is a complex matter, interswirled with my taste and my sense of humor.

@Althouse, any political correctness is bullshit, and all political correctness is overdone.

And now you know why it's going to be President Trump in late January of next year.

buwaya puti said...

The Orient express ended at Istanbul, which wasn't quite Europe other than geographically. But that was about it.
I am also triggered by the general invisibility of coal mining in the interests of the tourists. And of chavs. It's like people get to pick and choose what bits of culture matter, and pretend to sophistication from a position of superiority.
The British should run that lot of tourists and tourism mongers out, out of plain self respect.

dbp said...

I finally found the source: Varsity, though, who knows if even it is the original.

“They clearly didn’t just intend for it to be about ‘travel’, because ‘orient’ is such a loaded term. They’ve gone with ‘The Orient Express’ in order to associate their ball with ideas of luxury and exoticism – which is just a prime example of the fact that the words ‘the Orient’ still hold these kinds of toxic connotations, of commodification and enjoyment of white people at the expense of others. The vibe they are going for with ‘The Orient Express’ is white people travelling in first class on a train, visiting ‘exotic’ places with the inherent sense of privilege that comes from being a rich tourist.”

Is reporting nowadays just cutting and pasting from other articles with spotty attribution? Yes, I guess it is.

Michael K said...

The Great Wall of China could not be reached for coment on "white tourism."

Ron Winkleheimer said...

prig
[priɡ]
NOUN
a self-righteously moralistic person who behaves as if superior to others.
synonyms: prude · puritan · killjoy · goody-goody · goody two-shoes

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

It never occurred to me that the song "Marrakesh Express" might be about drugs.

buwaya puti said...

And what's all this about Asian kids going to Cambridge to pick through Dylan Thomas and Virginia Woolf?
That is much worse than just wandering through the Tower of London, gawping.
Don't they realize that they are contaminating the essentials of British culture with their alien and irrelevant perspective? They are guilty of cultural appropriation on a massive, massive scale, the scoundrels.

CWJ said...

buwaya puti,

Fair enough, but that's the only stop that might qualify for her complaint. But I was riffing off her "white" racial emphasis. Even Instanbul was/is populated by white people. Islamified "exotic" white people, but white people nonetheless.

rhhardin said...

Attractive woman is tits- and assism.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

The Great wall of China was for ending Mongol Tourism Horse Tours. The Kamikazi Winds that Japanese love were sent to sink Mongol Tourism Cruise Ships.

This ethnic hatred of Mongol Tourists has to stop. They were welcomed to Persia and to Russia where the birth rates soared for 400 years.

She does have a point that the essence of Class is looking a silly look at the people who do not count, smiling amusedly, and moving on like good tourists do.

Char Char Binks said...

Ploy seemingly doesn't know anything about the Orient Express, or what the word "orient" means. And what's wrong with white people having fun visiting exotic places? Does she know what "exotic" means? Everything that's not from your culture is exotic to you. I'm sure that westerners were very delighted and charmed to visit the Balkans and Turkey, but what that has to do with the Siamese is beyond me.

Orientals should stop appropriating white cultural things like planes, trains, automobiles, electronics, computers, going to Cambridge, speaking Engrish, etc. I actually like what they've done with those things, but they didn't come from the orient.

Oh, and Ploy is not beautiful. She's definitely a cutie, but only a man with an advanced case of yellow fever would call her beautiful.

Michael K said...

"They are guilty of cultural appropriation on a massive, massive scale, the scoundrels."

I have noticed that most of the disturbances in English (as opposed to British) universities is from these "Asian" kids who are trashing the culture they are supposed to be studying.

They are as bad as the Black Lives Matter thugs over here. Maybe not quite as violent but just as obnoxious.

Why comes to these western universities, then complain about what you see there ? I'm sure Zimbabwe University has "African Studies" majors. Probably lacking a bit in the amenities.

Bill Peschel said...

The real joke is that the Orient Express was not designed for rich tourists, not in the way we think.

Agatha Christie rode the Express in 1928, a year or so after publishing The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and separated from her husband. She was certainly not rich. And the journey itself was not luxurious, unless you count uncomfortable coaches and the possibility of a sneak thief entering your compartment through the window and making off with whatever he could grab (as I just learned while trying to find the fare. This happened a lot in the 1920s).

Wilbur said...

Wilbur is currently in south Brazil, accompanying Mrs. Wilbur in her bi-annual visit to her homeland. South Brazil is very European-like, where I can exercise my white privilege without fear of repercussion.

It is the end of summer here, and everyone wears shorts. Wilbur is in his element.

People here are curious about our elections, so I dutifully fill them in on the wickedness of Hillary! and Sanders. They're not too taken with their leaders here, either.

Obrigado and ciao, ciao until later.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Not giving tourists special privileges is not good for the human rights of people who are NOT tourists. There is some trickle down effect. It can only be bad for native civil liberties is the tourists really don't care.

The Godfather said...

Going to an Orient Express PARTY isn't an exercise in "tourist privilege". It's more likely something you'd be interested in if you could not afford the fare on the real train (London to Venice £2,200). Gosh almighty is it really so hard to find something real to be offended by that you have to make up outrage about a party theme?

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

"...myriad of..." Grrr... She's studying English?

Is this standard usage now? Have the guardians of our language waved the white flag on "myriad?"

I give up.

(I'll probably find out that the "myriad of" usage has been around since the 4th century B.C. and that the usage I favor has only been common since 1912.)

Ann Althouse said...

"Timpf was being CLEARLY sarcastic in her Star Wars putdown. But the Star Wars nerds could not grasp any criticism of their beloved film series."

I don't understand this sequence of statements. I didn't follow the outrage of the Star Wars fans, but are you saying they didn't understand that she intended to be funny and mean or that they didn't like that she was being funny and mean to them? You second sentence suggests the latter, which seems implausible.

Wilbur said...

Ploy Kingchatchaval. Sounds like one of the delightful denizens of the LPGA Tour, of which Wilbur is a faithful viewer.

Michael K said...

A well known former (present?) leftist does not agree with you about cultural "privilege" and "rape cute" especially.

By coincidence, the very same night as the Mexican party, Bowdoin College hosted its annual administration-sanctioned ‘Cold War’ party where students were encouraged to turn up dressed in fur hats and coats. Some came as Josef Stalin, who authorised the slaughter of at least 50 million people.
So cultural appropriation is absolutely fine apparently, so long as you’re careful to choose the right culture.
This PC disease is not just a U.S. problem.


The article is about a story that Prince Harry might go to Yale.


rhhardin said...

You can cook spaghetti in a rice cooker.

It's done when the last of the water is gone.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I saw a video on youtube where a guy ranted on for 10-15 minutes (I did not watch the whole thing) about how awful she was to not realize that Star Wars was now a mainstream part of the culture, etc, etc.

Watching it, I thought, "yeah, she pretty much nailed it."

Seriously, who gives a crap what she says about the movie, or if you are a fan, about you? She doesn't know you. Chances are you will never actually be within a mile of her. What she does and says has no effect on your life whatsoever. But your self-esteem is so fragile you make a 10-15 minute rebuttal of a quip?

Somebody needs some therapy.

rhhardin said...

The Orient Express was not a good train movie, as I remember as a kid.

I always liked the "The Mysterious East" squibs in the New Yorker, though.

rhhardin said...

I think I've stopped looking for decent Romantic Comedy DVDs. I've hit the bottom the the barrell on what's out there. There are too many early bail-outs for stupid plot developments in the latest batches.

It's not that hard to make decent ones. Hostile opposites are discovered to fit.

Just start hostile, keep the players together with the plot mechanism, and they find they like each other.

Char Char Binks said...

"... white people traveling in first class on a train, visiting "exotic" places with the inherent sense of privilege that comes from being a rich tourist . . . it’s going to be a white presentation of these places they’re trying to represent, full of stereotypes, which is erasing and gross."

The first half of that excerpt is a stereotype of white people, or at least the kind of white people who go to Cambridge, and by extension, Orientals who go to Cambridge; erasing and gross!

Hagar said...

Should the Chinese State Council go back to wearing the traditional silk gowns and coolie hats from the Empire?

Should Vladimir Putin be told off for his poor imitation of Fats Domino? Would "Stenka Razin" in a fur hat and boots have been more appropriate?

Etc., etc.

Peter said...

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” -- Mencken

Clearly, no one should have privilege. We should all wear sackcloth, eat locally sourced, sustainably grown foods, live in some gadawful slum.

Parties are for privileged people, and if you're having fun it must be at someone's expense.

JAORE said...

I mean, I deplore the overdone political correctness of the left as much as... well, as much as I do... which is only up to a point, which is the point at which it seems overdone to me, which is a complex matter, interswirled with my taste and my sense of humor.

A viewpoint likely shared by many until the "up to a point" became when they, or a position they hold dear, are suddenly branded racist/homophobic [a term our word-persnickety hostess should find abhorrent] or sexist.

Roughcoat said...

So, you do admit that you have a sense of humor.

Clyde said...

She was making PASTA?! That's cultural appropriation! How dare she!

To quote the great Sergeant Hulka, "Lighten up, Francis!"

jr565 said...

"But Kingchatchaval doesn’t buy [the school's message]. In fact, he insists that the school was “clearly” trying to be offensive on purpose:

“They clearly didn’t intend for it to be about travel because Orient is such a loaded term,” he said"

No, ORIENTAL is a loaded term. It shouldn't be, but SJW's who want to argue words make it so. But saying Orient or Oriental to describe regions or things that are not people is still totally acceptable.
The Orient Express is a train that travels through the Orient. Its not an insult to "orientals" or "Asians", however you want to call them.

And I thought the party was going to be a play on Agatha Christie's Murder On the orient Express where people dress up like Hercule Poirot and various upper crust english snobs and pretend to go about solving fake murders.

jr565 said...

"Ploy Kingchatchaval is a woman — a very beautiful woman, actually."
commenting on her looks is very retrograde.

Hagar said...

Hurrah for retrograde!

jr565 said...

"The vibe they are going for with the Orient Express is white people traveling in first class on a train, visiting "exotic" places with the inherent sense of privilege that comes from being a rich tourist . . . it’s going to be a white presentation of these places they’re trying to represent, full of stereotypes, which is erasing and gross. The school had touted an atmosphere of "romance and adventure," where "the sights, sounds, and smells of this love letter to luxury travel will blend seamlessly.

how would this be different than white students booking a trip to "the orient". THey are going to be looking at a place they've never been from their own perspective. Just as people who visit our country bring their own perpsective to their tourism.
or are they acting like snobby white tourists as a sarcastic commentary on the ugly american? you know the stereotype of the American who goes abroad and are boorish and insensitive.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugly_American_(pejorative)

if the former, its kind of arrogant for her to describe that perjorative to people simply because they are white. I happen to be white, and whenever I travel abroad I am completely respectful of other cultures. Never once have I acted like the stereotype. So, for her to assume that would be an example of bigotry on her part.
If the latter, then they'd be aware of the stereotype and in fact mocking it.


Oso Negro said...

A pretty girl of poor means in Thailand could easily be working in the local street of fire. She is CLEARLY well-off and shouldn't be fucking lecturing anyone else about privilege.

Kelly Maenpaa said...

Personally, I'd be happy to have a little 'white privilege' if it meant I could afford a train trip on the Orient Express. Along with the appropriate 'between-the-wars' wardrobe, of course.

buwaya said...

"ORIENTAL is a loaded term"

Not in the actual Orient. This is a western problem, certain people pretending to feeling bad for alleged affronts to other peoples feelings, that they don't bother to ascertain.

This whole line of argument, and assertion, is ridiculous.

The Philippine National Anthem has the line "Perlas ng Silanganan" literally "Pearls of the Orient" in its official English translation and in its Spanish original.

All over Asia you will find Orient/Oriental this and that. Orient Airlines, Oriental Airlines, etc. ad infinitum.

And "Oriental" is a Spanish word - merely meaning "eastern" - the Philippine province of Davao Oriental for instance - Eastern Davao.

This hatred of words is an act of uncultured imbeciles.

Sigivald said...

Oh, Timpf really doesn't have much to say. She mostly just puts "Cleaaaarly!" after Kingchatchaval's "They clearly didn’t intend...." Oh, sarcasm, that's the best critique ever.

It's all that's needed for the statement that something is "clearly" meant to be offensive "because the term is so loaded".

Which it isn't, except for people who think Edward Said is clever; the sort of people offended by all sorts of inoffensive things.

And it ignores that the "Orient Express" never went further east than Istanbul - the gateway to "the Orient", which just means "east of Europe"; Asia, and that the OE was a real train, not "some thing they just decided to put the word Orient on for a party to cause offense to me".

The weirdest part is the idea that this is some sort of deliberate attempt to offend rather than someone just not noticing or caring that the scary word "orient" is somehow magically offensive to super-sensitive Studies people.

(Calling a person "an Oriental" may reasonably be thought offensive, though rarely intended as such, but ... that's not the case here.)

traditionalguy said...

"Going Oriental" was a 1940s USMC expression for a China Marine's reaction to long term posting to China or the Phillipines. It was a different attitude towards life that took on Chinese points of view.

This was not bad thing, Just a different way of thinking. Gunnery Sgt John Basilone was a well known good one and Col. Evans Carlson was a well known strange one.

Sammy Finkelman said...

" 'tourist privilege' is a thing."

Yes, if a North Korean had destroyed a poster, he could have bene executed within a day or two, and his whole family sent to a forced labor camp. Tourist privilege got a University of Virginia student only 15 years hard labor. Look at it that way.

Of course, in most dictatorships, tourist privilege would have gotten him off with maybe sent back home without getting a rfund for his ticket.

SukieTawdry said...

Huh. Orient Express. One of my favorite Hercule Poirot books and a thoroughly enjoyable, star-studded film. What's not to like?

But, I'm a little confused about this travel privilege stuff. Am I supposed to feel guilty because I'm able to indulge a little of my passion for seeing other places, meeting other people, experiencing other cultures, photographing all as I go? Should I not get to see the Great Wall, the terracotta army, the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, the Mona Lisa, David because I'm not Chinese, Italian or French? May I not stand on Normandy Beach or in an eastern European capital before a monument commemorating deliverance from the Nazies by the USSR directly across from a statue of Ronald Reagan commemorating deliverance from the Soviets? (Can I get a small dispensation because I never travel first class?) Well, too bad, because I'm going anyhow. And besides, I'm full up on white privilege guilt. No more room for this one.

By the way, one and all are welcome to visit my country. You should come. See it all. Soak it all in. It's magnificent.

CatherineM said...

I can't stand Katharine Timpf. She is often a panel guest on the show Red Eye where they take a comedic look at the news. She actually does the sexy clothed "nerd" look with these big black square framed glasses and her pose is always a smirk ( google). She makes condescending comments that are only clever to her and she interrupts other panelists with her dumb snotty quips. Thankfulky she is not on much lately.

I think she had to write a column and this is all she could come up with because she is not as smart as she thinks she is.

Paco Wové said...

Kingchatchaval is an opportunistic racist bigot. Why Althouse thinks this is cute is truly beyond me.

Jupiter said...

"Ploy Kingchatchaval is a woman — a very beautiful woman, actually. Did you just become more or less willing to hear what Kingchatchaval has to say?"

Just for the record, she's a dog. And naturally, what she has to say is "Bow-wow!"

Rusty said...

This reminded me of an article I read recently'
It seems That the Japanese that give guided tours of Paris to their countrymen have taken upon themselves to clean the streets of Paris.
Can't speak for Paris, nevfr having been there, but in Nante it want unusual to see someone pop a squat in the gutter.

Rusty said...

wasn't