A post on the Facebook page ‘Wageningen Student Plaza’ sparked off a row between Dutch and Asian students.
Wageningen Student Plaza (WSP) is a group with more than 8000 members which is mainly used to sell stuff and make requests within the Wageningen student community. Student Dan Xu posted a message complaining that a package of his had been opened by someone at the Bornsesteeg. There were several responses in Chinese, after which a Dutch student posted a South Park clip about incomprehensible Chinese people. The word ‘racism’ was soon being bandied about and there were 350 comments.
Nonalaki Kudomo from Japan, who has been in Wageningen for six months, felt deeply offended by the film and the whole tone of the discussion. ‘When I see the comments mocking the Chinese accent, I think it is very disrespectful behaviour’, she emails. ‘In our culture, we never use jokes about a group of people and the comments had nothing to do about the topic in the first place.’ She responded with a few films about the Dutch (1 en 2).
Dutch student Hugo Hegeman does not take it all so seriously. He feels the discussion got totally out of hand. WSP is a group with members of many nationalities, so he feels it is a bit odd to start posting in Chinese. ‘Someone posted a funny South Park film to drop the hint that “I don’t understand a word” and this was seen as extremely racist by a tiny group of people. You have to take sarcasm with a pinch of salt, and certainly must not take it personally, which is what happened here.’
Nonolaki does not agree at all. ‘I feel a strong intention of this "sarcasm”, which is discriminating. Well, I am not the only one. I received messages from some Dutch students to apologize about this and tell me to ignore what happened. I find it offensive they keep saying they are innocent and using Dutch humour as an excuse.’
Dan Xu, the student who posted the original message, does not understand how such a discussion could have blown up. ‘I felt very sad, upset, ungracious, and ashamed.’ He only wanted to warn others to be on the alert about their mail.
He is cross about the first video and he thought the tone of many comments was aggressive and sometimes even racist towards the Japanese, but then Nonolaki said a few nasty things about the Dutch too. Above all, he cannot understand why not a single Dutch student objected to the negative and insulting tone.
The message is still on Facebook but the row has blown over. Dan Xu only wants to remove his message when all those involved have offered an apology.