[KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy / "Suspected of Nationalism"

David Kosofsky kayaksky at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 19 22:39:37 EDT 2008

Young-Key Kim-Renaud wrote:
>That the Korean media should be interested in her nationality or national origin 
>(I am not sure whether she is a Korean or Canadian citizen.) does not come as
> a surprise, because their readers and viewers are, but in a ?scholarly? LIST 
>such as ours, it always bothers me that when people of Korean origin speak, 
>too often they are subject to this kind of scrutiny and immediately suspected
> of ?nationalism.?
Speaking only for this reader, the perception of a nationalistic tendency in the posting under discussion had nothing to do with any observation about the `nationality or national origin' of the person who posted it. I don't believe I had even noted the poster's name before I encountered the sentence in the posting where that tendency was most clearly manifested: 
 > we were shocked to learn that the U.S. Library of
> Congress had arbitrarily planned to officially change the
> existing  subject heading of "Tok Island (Korea)" to the 
>new heading of "Liancourt  Rocks."
Two words in that sentence stood out as nationalistically informed: `shocked' and `arbitrarily'.  Had the perspective been other than nationalistic, the concerned librarian-scholar might have expressed herself as `surprised' or even `concerned'.  But `we were shocked' has a different ring, albeit it is a quite familiar formula to readers of `opinion' columns in Korea's English-language newspapers.
Similarly, the use of the adverb `arbitrarily' indicates (at least to this reader) that a judgment has already been made regarding the legitimacy of the change in subject heading.  Had the perspective been other than nationalistic, the poster might have expressed an inability to see any reason for the planned change and expressed a desire for an explanation and justification, but would not, I suspect, have treated readers to an apodictic statement of its arbitrariness. 
I find nothing objectionable in the posting about the Library of Congress Korean Controversy, nor do I consider it inappropriate for this list.  In pointing out those features of the text itself that, at least for this reader, marked it as nationalistic, I am merely registering a mild objection to the claim that the perception of that nationalism requires any special `scrutiny' occasioned by awareness of the poster's nationality.  Neither prejudice nor special scrutiny is required; the posting speaks for itself. 
David Kosofsky
New Orleans, LA

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