Throwback Thursday: A Cold War Vocabulary Lesson

I was scanning around for a topic to write about this Thursday and wondering if I was going to do something historical like “how to make daggers” or “the first fanfic G ever wrote” when the most Evil of Space Princesses posted this on her blog.

Really? Seriously? This level of ignorance is the product of an advanced educational system?

Suddenly, I knew what today’s entry had to be about. So, let’s all hop in our time machines — be they TARDISes, telephone booths, funky-looking steampunk chairs, or DeLoreans — and set the dial for August 27, 1980. We’ll avoid my neck of the woods since this trip puts me in my own time-line (I’ll be 24 hours old) and instead go hang out someplace cool. I’ll supply the chameleon circuits so we can waltz into the HQ of USPACOM without being noticed. Just remember — don’t muck about.

Things seem kinda tense, don’t they? Hear that chatter from EUCOM over in Stuttgart, Germany? And the calls from RDJTF — which will soon become CENTCOM — about the problems in Iran?

Oh, man, if only the poor bastards knew…

Notice how all the focus is on Europe and the Pacific, though? Now, guys, I know it’s been a while. Keep listening. Yep. There it is. I notice some of you look a little confused. West Germany? East Germany? What the hell?

Back during the 1980s, I often wondered where North and South Germany were. My excuse was that I was under the age of ten. I’m uncertain what someone who was born in 1969 would have to offer as a similar excuse for such breath-taking ignorance.

It’s 1980. The Cold War is still on, guys. There’s still a USSR in this time with missiles pointed at the US. There are tanks all over the Eastern Bloc nations. We have our own bases and our own forces in Europe to keep the Warsaw Pact from invading. NATO is a big deal instead of the joke we all know it will become. Article V of the NATO Charter is the life-line that Western Europe has clung to and the reason our boys are still there even though the Nazis were defeated well-nigh on forty years ago. It’s also the reason we have bases in Japan and the Japanese are praying we’ll keep the Chicoms from invading them and the Taiwanese (the Republic of China) is counting on us to help them keep the Chicoms from crossing the Strait and subjecting them to the good Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward that left millions dead.

Chicom? I see some of you looking confused again. Chinese Communist. It means “a person who is loyal to the People’s Republic of China — a communist government that uses repressive means including (but not limited to) censorship, state control of the media, re-education camps, imprisonment, torture, secret police, internal and interior-focused spy organizations, centralized control of the food supply, and centralized control of the economy in order to completely dominate the people it governs.” The PRC at this time does not allow people to practice religion, the press to report anything unfavorable to the government or to the Communist ideology, or the people to communicate freely with citizens of other countries. Chicoms are, by and large, ethnically Chinese but may also be Caucasian, Russian, Serbian, Arabian, Persian, Iberian, Hispanic, Chicano, Latino, African, Korean, Japanese, Amerindian, Indian, Vietnamese, or any other ethnic group or sub-group. Their primary identity is their loyalty to a political body — the PRC.

And, like these guys, they’ll kneel to whoever orders them. Unfortunately, there are no real-world Captain Americas, Thors, and Tony Starks to save them and those who wind up as collateral damage from their own raging stupidity.

They were not good guys. They were not sweet, cuddly kittens. They were brutal, murderous, power-hungry asshats who enriched themselves at the expense of their people. They gorged themselves on power and wealth while the average Chinese citizen went hungry. Their so-called noble ideology (which doesn’t scale at all beyond devoted communities such as monasteries where there are methods of population control and a larger community that isn’t bound by that ideology to support them — just look at places like Mount Atheos) led to the deaths of tens of millions of people.

Calling them “Chicoms” isn’t an insult. It isn’t a racial or ethnic slur. Anyone who thinks that is either 1) too young to have lived through the Cold War at all, 2) too stupid to use Google and therefore too stupid to be referenced as an expert on anything, 3) looking for a reason to be offended, or 4) some combo of the above.

Brought to you by…someone educated by hard-working teachers in the Poorest State in the Union™.

So, there go you. A new vocabulary word for you! Now, let’s go back to 2015. I need to see a man about a flying car…

— G.K.

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7 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: A Cold War Vocabulary Lesson

  1. One nit: Spain joined NATO later, on 5-30-1982.

    While the term “ChiCom” isn’t racist, the term does at least suggest that the speaker preferred allowing Taiwan to continue to hold China’s seat (and Security Council veto) in the United Nations. as it did until 1971. It is that, more than the end of the Cold War, that makes “ChiCom” a somewhat outdated term.

    • Outdated, perhaps. But still, someone born in 1969 should either 1) know the term themselves just from growing up in that era or 2) have enough intelligence to use Google. The fact that she didn’t and that she swooned so badly over her own ignorance that her white knight, Arthur Chu, had to run to her defense tells me that she’s not only ignorant — she’s stupid. Ignorance can be fixed with knowledge. Stupid, on the other hand… it’s a bit like herpes. With treatment, you can control the outbreaks but you can never cure it.

      — G.K.

    • Same here. Back when I worked for an employer who will not be named, the PRC used to give us headaches over the stupidest things. One was the flags we used on our websites for the language/region menus. We used the French flag for EU French, the UK flag for EU English, the German flag for German, the US flag for North America English (we didn’t have Canadian French or Canada as a seperate region — Australia was also in the NA region since the servers back then were part of the US Pacific region). We’d had a simplified Chinese website and a team in Taiwan well before we expanded into mainland China so we were using the Taiwanese flag to indicate that region since it was distinct from the Korean region and website. Well, when we expanded into mainland China, the PRC censors threw a fit over the flag until we finally had to remove *all* the flags from *all* the sites.

      Add in all of the graphical changes the art and development department had to make to the games to get PRC censor approval and there are times I wonder if it ever made financial sense to expand into mainland China. But then, I wasn’t privy to a lot of the business stuff. I was just one of the EU web monkeys. 🙂 Still, that factored in with the Great Firewall of China, the fact that we still had plenty of leaks out of that office, and the way that the PRC would ignore our trademarks and copyrights whenever it suited them left a definite negative impression. Add in their invasion of Tibet, the oppression of religious groups, and the whole “killing millions of people through forced starvation in the name of Communist progress” and I’m not a big fan of the PRC. I have no problem with the Chinese people but I’m not real fond of the organization running the mainland government.

      — G.K.

  2. I went through Army basic training in 1976. At that time, they were called Chicoms. My husband was an artillery officer during the Cold War. He spent a lot of time at the West German/Czechoslovakian border. At that time, the Chinese Communists were called CHICOMS.
    My husband is retired from the Army, but still does stuff for them.

    The Chinese Communists continue to be called the CHICOMS.

    They were called that during the Korean War, and they are still called that.

    What the heck is wrong with people who are so darned ignorant that they ignore any and all facts that are ever so easy to discover?

    Chicom is not an ethnic slur.

    Chink is an ethnic slur.

    • I know, right? I was born in 1980 and I know that Chicom means “someone loyal to the PRC” and has fuckall to do with race. There are Chicoms who are Scottish, for crying out loud. Saying Chicom is an ethnic slur is like saying that Jacobite is an ethnic slur. It makes no sense whatsoever and just shows that MaryK and ArthurC really deserve the money they paid for those fancy degrees back because they got shortchanged pretty damned badly if someone from the one of the most poverty-stricken regions in the United States (the Mississippi Delta) got a better education from Mississippi schools than they got from where ever they went.

      Of course, I’m being kind here. It could also indicate traumatic brain injury from blunt force trauma to the head, a long-term infection that’s eaten away at the frontal, parietal, and/or temporal lobes, brain cancer, other cancer with paraneoplastic syndrome causing problems in the aforementioned lobes, brain damage due to drug use (legal or illegal), or something else. I don’t know — not a doctor; I just watch House on Netflix when I’m bored.

      — G.K.

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