These highlights were saved with the Kindle version of The Bigot: or How I Learned to Love Donald Trump by Troy Parfitt.
Folding my arms, I appraised my brother, who glanced around oblivious to my disapproval and much else. With his Team Canada toque hiding most of his hair, and his puffy cheeks russet from the cold, Karl took out his phone to research the latest in NHL player-trades. Imbecile. Yokel. Misogynist. Sexist. Conservative. Doorknob. Bigot.
After the bell rang, I walked to the cafeteria, which had Saudi and Canadian flags, a Persian rug for the students to sit on, a Korean television showing pro-US, pro-capitalist propaganda (CNN)
This place is like the seventeenth century, only with satellite dishes and SUVs.
Here I was, a democratic socialist.
“I haven’t been here long enough to understand Saudis, but I understand Canadians. The most corrupt people I’ve ever met have been Canadian.”
Abdullah Isa demanded to know why Western women’s faces were exposed. When I asked him why they shouldn’t be, he conveyed through an online translator that concealing women’s faces helped prevent rape. If you couldn’t see a woman, he explained through Mohammad Alajam, you’d be less inclined to rape her. A classroom survey suggested this view was unanimous.
The Quran says that music is haram, because it’s imbecilic and sinfully shameless.
Saudi males are chauvinists. They can’t do anything, they have zero skills, zero capabilities, but they want to control you.
I brood more than Hamlet. In this “novel,” I’ve been burying my feelings by engaging in documentation.
Curly haired kids ran about with Styrofoam airplanes and cotton candy as their parents snapped pictures of the executed.
I made plans to return to Sri Lanka after finishing my contract in order to complete my “novel,” which I originally called Teach English Abroad. However, Omar’s welcoming remark seemed more fitting, so I changed the name to Welcome Teach English Saudi Arabia. This choice was shot down by my publishers, whose lawyers suggested it could lead to protests from the Saudi government or death threats from jihadists.
I yawned and turned to channel 294, Martyr TV. See Palestinian Mohammad firing his rifle from behind a stone wall at a band of Israeli soldiers. Hear the crackling retort of the Israelis returning fire. See Mohammad unsteady now, clutching at his throat. Here he is dead and wrapped in a Palestinian flag, crowd-surfing among mourners who chant and pump their fists in the air. He was a hero, Mohammad. He died for the cause. Who among you will take his place? Please dial the toll-free number at the bottom of your screen. Peace be upon you brothers, and remember, Allah is the greatest.
I changed the channel to 294, Martyr TV. On a call-in show with French subtitles, a gathering of the faithful was recruiting suicide bombers. In the background, thobe-wearing men were answering phones and noting down caller details. In the foreground, the host was explaining how, for those considering martyrdom, suicide bombing was “l’option la plus excellent.” Not only was death painless, one could bypass Judgment Day and head straight to Paradise where God had set aside 70 virgins for each and every hero. Don’t consider it your funeral, brothers. Think of it as your wedding day. Just dial the toll-free number at the bottom of your screen to receive your complimentary suicide-vest. Explosives not included.
I continued imbibing and peered out the window at legions of beetling casino workers being bathed in rays of warm phosphorescence.
No sooner had the seatbelt light gone off than the Chinese Communist Party started in with the mind control. People’s Daily told me, without any trace of a smirk, that China was good and gaining strength whereas the West was bad and in sharp decline. There were no stories about internal politics, but several about decadent foreigners. One report involved a waiguoren from the Netherlands who’d got drunk and vomited on the Beijing subway. Another waiguoren, an American, had been caught selling happy pills in a Shanghai disco. These acts were more than crimes. They were affronts to five millennia of glorious history and resplendent culture. The Dutchman was deported, the Yank jailed, and national harmony was restored.
In Dabian City, the Ministry of Truth had been working overtime. You could take a leisurely stroll along Democracy Boulevard or enjoy an American beer at an upscale pub on Civil Rights Street. Everywhere, signs reminded you to be wenming or civilized.
Vehicles ripped and drifted across lanes and came to red-light rests on crosswalks. This required pedestrians to arc around them while dodging a honking phalanx of other vehicles. In lanes marked with the characters for “BUSES ONLY!” I saw bicycles, stray dogs, and a horse-drawn cart. Fire trucks and ambulances got stuck in traffic and nobody moved for them. Nobody cared. When one woman saw a fire truck approaching, she sprinted toward it so it would stop and she could cross the road. You couldn’t do that with a car, because it might hit you, but a fire truck had to stop. Did I mention the woman was pushing a stroller?
Think yer too good fer that kind o’ thing?” “Not too good, Karl. Too smart. Or at least smart enough to know that I have absolutely no desire to spend my life overseeing the mass production of legalized liver rot while tolerating the fish-and-chips wisdom of the vulgar working class.”
You hear the word zhihui, or wisdom, a lot here, but people in China haven’t fathomed that you can’t claim to be wise when a cultural meme is discarding rubbish by dropping it out your window. You cannot declare yours a developed nation when the architectural hallmark of cities like Dabian is prongs of uncut rebar protruding from the side of every third building. You don’t get to say you are modern when your alleys crawl with unwanted pets and your labourers weld sans safety visors mais avec flip-flops and Inadequate Panda cigarettes dangling from their lips.
The Chinese can’t do any better, can’t be any better—because they don’t know any better. You keep expecting them to realize that their society doesn’t function properly, that it’s not working, that it doesn’t add up. You keep waiting for that eureka moment, the one in which they begin to critically examine their surroundings and conclude that the civilization they’ve constructed is primitive, authoritarian, no place for children, and barely fit for human habitation, but they’ll never have such an awakening, because that would require thinking, and the entire sociocultural-historical continuum has been designed to prevent thinking. Calculation they can handle. Contemplation they cannot.
Just another pedestrian generalization! declaims the skeptic, but the skeptic has never lived here.
All 86 students told me the landscape painting was “not modern” whereas the cityscape painting was “modern.” Put another way, they equate modernity with stores, not with ways of thinking, doing, or being.
Once, in a lesson on colleges and universities, when I asked my charges why Harvard was one of the best universities in the world, they came up with three answers: it was famous, many people went there, and it was expensive. When I asked why it was famous, they said, because many people went there. When I asked why many people went there, they said, because it was famous. When I asked why it was expensive, they said, because it cost a lot of money. It’s not so much their grammar I have to deal with, but their logic. They don’t have any.
In China, university students are only expected to attend class. They’re not expected to pay attention, take notes, ask questions, or learn. Independent thinking is unofficially forbidden. Napping, eating, littering, and shouting to your classmate about what you’d like to eat or buy this weekend while the instructor drones on are all perfectly acceptable—at least when the instructor is Chinese.
Being around waiguoren seems to make her skin crawl. As she sees it, contemporary Chinese are erudite and refined descendants of the Celestial Empire whereas Westerners are cultureless barbarians who lumber about with repulsively hairy limbs reeking of sour milk. She told me one day that white people are white due to a genetic disease. She learned that from CCTV.
I channeled my fervour—my religiosity—into intellectualism. To learn was divine. The library was my temple; the university my cathedral, but now I’m a scholastic atheist on his way to becoming a common nihilist. Intellectualism is a waste of bloody time.
It can get you a lot of leverage, marriage, especially if you have kids. People who are tied down with mouths to feed are comparatively compliant and exploitable, better suited to the labour market.
By contrast, if you’re 40 and single, people question your sexuality. If you’re 40 and single plus a brooding intellectual, people suspect you of being a radical. Workplaces may claim to want dynamism, but what they really want is convention.
What country would you most associate with the celebration of Thanksgiving: Indonesia or the United States? Which nation springs to mind when you hear the phrase honour-killing: Finland or Pakistan? How about voodoo: Germany or Haiti? A woman is gang-raped on a public bus and a male politician says she deserved it because she was showing too much skin. Is this more likely to happen in Switzerland or India? BREAKING NEWS: a shopping mall in Belgium has just been bombed. Who do you think is responsible? Or better yet, who don’t you think is responsible? You don’t think of a band of religiously motivated Mormons, do you? Nor do you consider an Australian rugby team gone berserk, or a depraved gang of Danish heavy-metal fans. In short, you don’t think of someone who’s white, and that’s because white is right, my friend. White is right. And white societies are absolutely the best.
President Trump’s doomsday message to Pyongyang was on the money (why maintain a nuclear arsenal if you’re not prepared to use it?) and his attempts at health-care reform have been honourable (why should people who’ve worked hard and made healthy choices all their lives have to pay for those who haven’t?). A pity his efforts were wrecked by conservatives corrupted by socialism. Such turncoats would do well to acquaint themselves with the teachings of Margaret Thatcher, who famously said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” With regard to the commander-in-chief’s position on the environment, it’s an exercise in prudence (what’s to be gained by giving a competitive advantage to Communist China?).