To “melty” who has commented on “True or False” blog on NYT by Ms. Tatlow

“All our silences in the face of racist assault are acts of complicity.” –bell hooks

I loved your comments on NYT, and I’ve collected them together and posted on Amazon discussion forum.
If you are reading this, would you mind to join our facebook group?
A collection of posts from “melty”.

1. Feb. 20, 2013 at 3:24 p.m.
West Orange, NJ

These scurrilous accusations of “nationalism” and “paid shills of the Chinese government” are absolutely disgusting. Imagine if they had been directed at some other ethnicity (African Americans?! Hispanics?!! Jews?!!! — what an outcry there would be!). But no-one in the media cares about Chinese Americans.

Chinese Americans and people who genuinely want answers on the glaring inconsistencies between the book and the various PR pieces (talk shows, articles) are the ones being smeared here.

We want the truth — will the NYT spend any serious time on this, or will it simply parrot Ping Fu’s version?

Feb. 20, 2013 at 3:25 p.m.
West Orange, NJ

Ms. Tatlow, in your NYT article you concluded “The fact just aren’t available” [i.e., facts that either support or undermine the credibility of Ping Fu’s memoirs]. However, this should be easy: if anyone can provide any record whatsoever of the infanticide report that Ping Fu says she wrote, we would have a much better idea. So far: nothing.

Also, in that same article you wrote: “By 1983, state news media were reporting on female infanticide. “At present, the phenomena of butchering, drowning and leaving to die female infants and maltreating women who have given birth to female infants have been very serious. It has become a grave social problem,” People’s Daily reported on March 3 of that year, according to a New York Times article dated April 1.”

You also wrote: “If it’s difficult to establish the truth, there’s a reason: 37 years after the Cultural Revolution, it’s still impossible to research, discuss or publish about it freely in China.”

Do you see the irony here? It was the NEW YORK TIMES that reported on The People’s Daily report on the evil of female infanticide in China. Still, an easy sell to a western readership I suppose.

Feb. 22, 2013 at 5:58 p.m.
West Orange, NJ

Dear Ms Tatlow,

Thank you for your reply. I understand why this might have hit a nerve but I think that the criticism is justified (see my first mail: there is a strong whiff of prejudice surrounding the media’s treatment of this story).

Since you speak Mandarin, why is it so difficult for you to follow up on this story by asking people of that generation what they think of Ping Fu’s claims? Also, why not request Suzhou U. to find the research paper, or any other relevant records?

I do not understand why this should be so difficult. Why should amateurs have to do the sleuthing? I maintain that it is an abdication of your duty as a journalist to fail to make best efforts to illuminate these issues.



Feb. 23, 2013 at 1:45 p.m
West Orange, NJ

Hi Didi,

Thank you again for your response. You have completely missed the point. The “important era” we should be concerned about is not the Cultural Revolution: it is today, right now. What happened during the CR is well documented both in China and elsewhere by Chinese and other authors — it is about the attitude on display in the US media towards people of Chinese descent.

The issue is not whether Ping Fu was economical with the truth in her book and/or interviews. The question is whether this will episode will go unremarked, shoved under the carpet, subjected to false journalistic balance, and/or typed up as yet another he said-she-said story. In the most tactful terms I can muster, will this be treated as just too terribly trivial to use technological or other techniques to even tentatively determine the truth — and to offer even a tidbit of tolerance towards and rectitude for people who are clearly far from inscrutable. You, dear journalist, are what stands between us and atrocities such as the internment visited terribly and unjustly on the heads of American orientals not so very long ago in time. Dig?

The seething prejudice towards all things Chinese that is seeping into Western culture via the MSM — disguised as patriotism — is insidious and has no place in American discourse. Thus, to remain silent in the face of such insipid slackness would be an unspeakable oversight.



p.s. If your mother says she loves you…. well, you know the rest.

Feb. 23, 2013 at 1:49 p.m.
West Orange, NJ

Hey Reformer, I’m not even Asian, never mind Chinese. However, I have strong family ties and I have visited many times*. Might I suggest that the comments here and elsewhere are similar because we are addressing the same issues? This really _isn’t coordinated: it’s a bunch of people who are justifiably outraged — and by the behavior of the media as much as by that of Ping Fu, Meimei Fox, Professor Erica Brindey, Evan Yares, et al. The NYT lost my respect big-time after Judy Miller’s coverage of the lead-up to the Iraq War: where was the skepticism? It was obvious what was happening — and yet not a peep. Then we have the “Science” pages — please don’t get me started.


*p.s. Elvis Costello sang that “They say that travel broadens the mind, till you can’t get your head out of doors.” — maybe this applies to me but I maintain that you ought to spend some time outside your own county. I think it was Eric Blair who pointed out that you cannot truly appreciate your native culture until you have seen it from the perspective of a foreigner.

——–Reformer’s comment attached here as reference. melty was replying to him——-

I’ve only read the first page of comments but many of them are very similar to the comments on Amazon. A certain community of people is very vigilant and are surprisingly coordinated in their attacks on the author and her book. Interesting.
Feb. 22, 2013 at 1:37 a.m


Feb. 24, 2013 at 10:36 p.m
West Orange, NJ

Dear Ms. Tatlow,

I stand by the tone of my earlier comments. There have now been more than a handful of media reports on this story and I am sorry to have to say that only the Guardian has come close to an investigation of adequate depth. At the same time, Ms. Fu continues her despicable tarring of honest US citizens, now even daring to call them “internet terrorists”. If you want to discuss civility, why not start right there?

When a culture has decided that it is ok to downplay the concerns of its citizens; and when journalists engage in false balance that allows prejudice, hatred, and misunderstanding to flourish, then you will hear passionate appeals for decency — and perhaps even expressions of anger. Perhaps when the civil rights movement was gaining momentum, those people should have been told to “tone it down” as well?

I hope you understand that as a journalist you have a special responsibility to discover and tell people the truth (“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”).

Wrt Wang Long’s 7:53 pm comment, above: I would like to point out that I am not part of any “Chinese community”: I am British. So: not Chinese — most Chinese are better behaved than me — but still angry at the failure of the US media to really get to grips with this.


Feb. 24, 2013 at 4:56 p.m.
West Orange, NJ

Ms Tatlow wrote: “The fallibility of memory may partly explain the fracas surrounding “Bend, Not Break…”.

No. A thousand times no. You can easily find not four different dates but FOUR DIFFERENT YEARS given for her departure from China.

In her book Ping Fu writes: “On January 14, 1984, my parents, aunts and uncles, and siblings gathered at the Shanghai International Airport to send me off for my flight to San Francisco. I’ll never forget the cold, wet afternoon”.

Well, apparently she did forget it because she told CNN it happened in 1980 Source:

In the 2005 article in Inc. magazine entitled “Entrepreneur of the Year: Ping Fu”, indicates that — according to her — in February 1981 she was locked up for three days and then 2 weeks later boarded a United Airlines flight from Shanghai to San Francisco.

Finally, a US CIS article says: “Ms. Fu arrived in the United States in 1983 as a 23-year-old student with virtually no money or English language skills.”
Source: US CIS

I can see how a faulty memory might result in the citation of one wrong year — but FOUR? — and in 1980/1/3/4, she was “terrified” to come… to the USA?


Feb. 25, 2013 at 8:18 p.m.
West Orange, NJ

There has been some praise for Ms Tatlow’s articles here but I beg to differ. Her narrative conforms to the popular line: “China bad”. The evidence is right here in “Ensnared in the Trap of Memory”:

“If it’s difficult to establish the truth, there’s a reason: 37 years after the Cultural Revolution, it’s still impossible to research, discuss or publish about it freely in China. … “Proof” is often merely recollection, Ms. McCarthy’s unreliable friend.

Is Ms. Fu telling the truth, but people just don’t know it? Or are “nightingales” singing in a self-dramatizing narrative? Until China opens its archives and permits open debate, we won’t know. Not for sure. Because even “experts” on China are often wrong. The facts just aren’t available.”

Clearly, Ms Tatlow’s article offers us this choice: either Ping Fu is telling the truth, or she has a poor memory — but what about the obvious third possibility: that she is a pathological liar and her “memoir” is full of absurdities? It is an astonishing omission. Is Ping Fu a member of some kind of aristocracy, such that journalists should not dare question her integrity? The China bad/America good narrative offered is almost certainly a very sweet dish to a certain bigoted, parochial, xenophobic, and racist tranche of American society. This narrative breeds nothing but hatred and misunderstanding — so why feed it?

“All our silences in the face of racist assault are acts of complicity.” –Bell Hooks