Boys will be boys. And tourists will be tourists.
Not long ago, a graffito was spotted on an ancient Egyptian wall — a stone relief, with pictographs and representations and the whole gamut of ancient Egyptian art — photographed and then posted to the Internet, where it got more than 100, 000 comments.
It was soon discovered to have been scratched into the wall by a 15-year-old lad from Nanjing: his mark read “Ding Jinhao was here.” And then came the firestorm. Though the BBC tells us that Egypt’s ministry of antiquities has dubbed the scratchmarks “superficial,” the “controversy comes days after Wang Yang, one of China’s four vice-premiers, said . . . that the ‘uncivilised behaviour’ of some Chinese tourists was harming the country’s image.”
Previously, the world had been blessed with the Ugly American, the Annoying European, and the Over-Photographing Japanese — tourists from wealthy or up-and-coming countries not uniformly presenting their respective nations in the best possible light as they tramped abroad.
In this case, though, it’s worth noting that most of the scandal is confined to China itself. The bloggers’ ire was primarily an in-group thing, and even the government (especially the government?) has gotten in on the shame game bandwagon, trying to needle tourists to behave themselves. (So much so that the desecrating teen’s father pleaded for the critics to let up — “too much pressure,” he said.)
As an I-try-not-to-be-ugly American, I appreciate the Chinese concern for manners and image — honor, really. And hope that all their graffiti remains easy to repair, and that the concern for national honor doesn’t go too far in over-reaction.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.