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

Eugene Y. Park eugene.y.park at uci.edu
Sun Jul 20 03:37:59 EDT 2008

Dear all,

My comments on David Kosofsky's explanation of his use of the word,

On Sat, July 19, 2008 19:39, David Kosofsky wrote:
> 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:
He is right. I admire his dispassionate objectivity.

> 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.
So to David who does not judge others based on their names or national
perceived national origins, expressions such as "shocked" and "arbitrary"
on the part of the user marks him/her as a "nationalist"--especially
because "'opnion' columns in Korea's English-language newspapers" like to
use such words? I guess if anyone I perceive as an "American" uses certain
words often used in the Washington Post's opinion columns, then there's a
good chance that (s)he shares the WP's weltanschauung....

> 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'm afraid that one could find other's action "arbitrary" without being a

> 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.
Please correct me if I got this wrong, but this must be it:
1) there's a controversial issue;
2) person A expresses his/her position;
3) based on person A's choice of words, we assume that (s)he must be a
"nationalist" as those words happen to be those used by a particular
nation's newspaper opinion column; and
4) the above justifies a "special 'scrutiny,'" that is to take person A's
"nationality" into consideration in concluding that (s)he is a

I just wish Bedrich Smetana could have composed his Ma Vlast in a world so
full of nationalists.

Gene Park

Eugene Y. Park
Associate Professor
Department of History
Krieger Hall 200
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697
Tel. (949) 824-5275
Fax. (949) 824-2865

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