Saturday, July 26, 2008

Americanized Mongolia (Mongolia amerikanizzata)

I recently had the displeasure of reading an article titled "Mongolia amerikanizzata" by a certain Marco Silvestri, translated from Italian and published in sonin.mn. Knowing that certain subtleties get lost in translation, I decided to find the original article published in effedieffe.com, an Italian online journal, on the 23 April 2008. Best I could do was have Google translate the article for me and I have to say that the Mongolian version was, unfortunately, very accurate.

While it does contain certain observations of Ulaanbaatar that ring true, the author's underlying prejudices against Mongolia and his admiration of China are evident.

The author, a pro-Chinese Italian who lives in China, has little or no knowledge of history and goes so far as to suggest that Mongolia should "rejoin" China. He notes that while there are many western music, korean and mongolian music playing on the radio, there is NO chinese music. He wonders that Mongolians do NOT speak Chinese and are insulted when you greet them in chinese, and complains that all the Windows OS in internet cafes are in English and none in Chinese. He notes, erroneously, that chopsticks are banned in Mongolian restaurants. Huh? He notes that Mongolian girls dress like hookers (!!) with heavy make-up.

He lays down heavy criticism on the americanization of Mongolia, then he goes on to complain how he wasn't able to use his Mastercard at a mall. That while we have "low-class" western designer goods, one should forget about Prada and other "high-class" fashion items. The editors have removed some of his more extreme comments from the online article after many complaints from Mongolians and foreigners alike. Some of them included his opinion that Mongolia should "rejoin" China, tourists should not come to Mongolia and so on. Throughout the article, he constantly compares Mongolia to China.

All in all, a confused and a mess of an article with the writer's only goal to criticize Ulaanbaatar even if his points contradict each other at every turn. Most of his observations of Mongolia are done at a surface level and dismissed in one way or another as a product of Sovietization / Americanization.

What I am worried about is that this article is published in a journal that obviously has a fair flow of readership. Silvestri is entitled to his opinion, but a hateful, anti-Mongolian propaganda-like articles of this sort must be vetted carefully before they decide to insult the people of a sovereign nation. Seeing as it's been done, I am linking to various version, as well as their official website, if anyone wants to write to their editor's team.