Friday, October 21, 2011

Yue Yue

Yue Yue's last moments 

Disney's It's a Small World After All
Yue Yue. Yue Yue.

I don't know her real name. On the internet, they are calling her "Yue Yue."

I just watched the video. I won't post a link because youtube keeps locking access to the video. If I post a link, youtube may block it and you won't be able to see it, anyway.

Here's what you see, if you watch the video: a market. A two year old girl wandering aimlessly. An oncoming truck.

The truck runs over the little girl. First his front wheels, then, with effort, his back wheels.

She lies there, bleeding, no doubt screaming.

Passersby approach. And – do nothing.

Another truck runs over the little girl again.

More passersby.

They say the person who finally took notice of the mangled, bleeding, dying child was a poor, old, scavenger – a nice word for someone who goes through trash and perhaps gets a few cents on recycled cans, or gets to eat someone's unfinished sandwich. A dumpster diver. Full disclosure: I've done that. Not a lot, but I've done it.

The scavenger is called a "Good Samaritan." News coverage says that China may pass "Good Samaritan" laws. I don't know if "Good Samaritan" is really the phrase used in China. Cause, of course, the teacher who gave us that phrase was a first century Jew. I don't know if the story is known in China.

TheBieganski, Brute Polak stereotype rests on a very provincial view of the world, a view I've never had. My mother was born in Czechoslovakia, a hard country to spell. In school, I was assessed as a kid with a funny name (by kids with names like "Palatucci" and "Gramegna"!)

I've always known that I am in the world, not just in NJ or the USA -- the world. My favorite thing, as a kid, was, "It's a Small World After All." It still is one of my favorite things.

I've always known that the provincialism that makes Bieganski make sense is without intellectual merit or truth, and that the only way to understand, say, the Polish szmalcownicy who betrayed Jews to Nazis, or those citizens of Warsaw – however many there were – who responded callously to the Nazi destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto – the only way to understand alleged Polish indifference in the face of the Holocaust – was also to understand Kitty Genovese and Milgrim and Zimbardo and Tuol Sleng and the Interahamwe and Polish Jews – however many there were – who greeted invading Soviets with bread, salt, and flowers.

These unspeakable things – these are things WE do. And we won't understand them as long as we insist, "Well, Polish culture … " or "Urban culture…" or "Jewish culture … " We have to understand human beings. We can't be satisfied with demonizing one ethnic group, any ethnic group, not even the Germans.
Psychology Today published an article that talks about those who passed by Yue Yue as she was bleeding to death. It tries to explain their behavior in light of Chinese culture. Maybe that's right. But even if the indifferent find justification for their indifference in Chinese ideas, we have seen this kind of indifference elsewhere. Yes, even among members of our own ethnic groups.

The best thing I read about Yue Yue was an internet poster who wrote, after news broke of her death, "Yue Yue, you are now in a better place. Where people care."


  1. Thanks for the perspective Danusha. Its a great way to try to understand this seemingly unreal case with the Chinese todler.

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting. I tell my students that my neighbors in Nepal, very nice people I genuinely liked and would trust with my life, on both sides, were systematically starving their youngest daughters to death.

    And then I talk about Bronislaw Malinowski's idea of myth as a charter for belief ...

    This is a perfect example of that.


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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