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September 23, 2017

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Cultures lay claim to 'Linsanity'

All human races are ethnocentric. Ethnocentrism is belief in the superiority of one's own ethnic group, or overriding concern with race. Americans are often narrowly ethnocentric, albeit they claim their country is the Melting Pot.

Many African-Americans are still privately called (the N-word) and the Japanese "Japs." Jeremy, who has suffered discrimination, doesn't mind being called "chink," but many exclusively ethnocentric Americans who dislike or look down on "chinks" are now claiming him a blue-blood born member of their group.

The Chinese are a very ethnocentric people. But their ethnocentrism is a tendency to look at the world from the perspective of their culture. They believe their group is the center of almost everything, culture in particular, against which all other groups are judged. That's why China calls itself Chungguo (中國), which means the country that is the center of the universe. As a matter of fact, China's ethnocentrism is a cultural one. There's no English word for it, but cultura-centrism may fit. The Chinese are cultura-centric enough — just like President Ma who told the Honorable Faleomavaega — as to share an ethnically Chinese Jeremy Lin with all those culturally American people who now claim him as their own.

As the London Olympics are drawing near, Jeremy is likely to feel pressure from the United States, Taiwan and the People's Republic of China to join their national teams. His father hails from Taiwan, but his mother is from mainland China whose parents were born in Zhejiang, a province of the People's Republic. Jeremy also played on a Chinese basketball team. Each of the three countries will try what they can to get him on their national teams that will go to London this summer. For that reason, Faleomavaega told President Ma "This poor kid (Jeremy Lin) doesn't know what he's gonna do." One thing all three countries can and should do is to let Jeremy decide on which side he will play in London. That's the best thing all the people who love to watch Jeremy play basketball wish to happen out of the current phenomenal Linsanity.

Incidentally, Linsanity is translated into Chinese as Lin-lai-feng (林來瘋) which literally means (Jeremy) Lin comes to make people excited. It's the best translation done in Taiwan's history of translation. Lin-lai-feng is a pun of Ren-lai-feng (人來瘋), a Mandarin idiom which means "someone comes to make people excited," whereas that Ren in Mandarin is pronounced Lin(人)in classic Amoy or Hoklo, the Chinese dialect spoken by seven out of every 10 people in Taiwan, including Jeremy's father. Jeremy's mother is Mandarin-speaking and mainland born. Someone who comes to get people excited is (Jeremy) Lin, and the newly coined Chinese idiom is an excellent Amoy-Mandarin combination to describe Linsanity in the Chinese language.

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