Last Reviewed on February 13, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1142
Chapter 4: Everybody Loves Joe Bing
Ruth Joyti, whose mother is Cambodian and whose father is white, edits and publishes the Setkya Daily Herald, and she has been invited to address the American press corps. During her trip to the United States, she is taken aback to learn that the conditions at airports there are not equal to conditions afforded to travelers within Southeast Asia. After she arrives in San Francisco, she is surprised, too, to learn that one of the most important meetings of seven Asian countries in Setkya is not being covered by the American press.
When she meets her State Department escort, Joseph Rivers, he asks her if she knows the most well-known State Department representative in Setkya, Joe Bing. Joyti doesn’t recognize the name until Rivers describes his dress and mannerisms and insists that everyone knows and likes Joe Bing. Joyti responds by calling Bing a “bastard” who doesn’t know anything about Asian customs and abuses his position by associating with only high-level “westernized” people. He gives lavish parties every month rather than using his resources to help the working class. Rivers suspects that Joyti might not be a “friend of America.”
As an example of Bing’s diligence, Rivers mentions that Father Finian requested some supplies from the American commissary in Setkya, including ballpoint pens as prizes for the distribution of The Communist Farmer. The request, however, was refused by Bing, because Finian is not a representative of the US government.
When Joyti gives a speech to the American press at a dinner in her honor, she tells her audience that Americans are generally ineffective in Southeast Asia; they insulate themselves from natives and therefore fail to understand most Asians they encounter. Americans, she says, make “one mistake after another.” Joyti provides an example of an effective American working for the United States Information Service: Bob Maile. Unlike most American representatives, Maile engages with members of the working class rather than the upper class, learns the language, helps the press operators and cameramen of the Daily Herald with technical issues, and sends his children to native schools. Joyti characterizes Maile as “humble about everything.”
When a story breaks that an American soldier has raped a native woman in a temple, Maile does not try to cover up the story. Instead, Maile politely asks local authorities to carefully look into the circumstances, which they do, after which they discover that the story of the rape is incorrect. Joyti concludes her speech by noting that Bob Maile’s “good deeds are published all over by the bamboo telegraph,” noting that if all Americans were like Bob Maile, Communists would not thrive in Asia.
Chapter 5: Confidential and Personal
Ambassador Sears writes to Dexter Peterson at the State Department to tell Peterson to ignore the negative reports in the Sarkhanese press about Sears and John Colvin. Sears mentions Father Finian, accusing him of starting a revolution in Burma. Sears assures Peterson that, based on Sears’s understanding of the Sarkhanese (gleaned by attending dinners and social functions), the threat of Communism is overstated. Sears then complains about his assistant, Maggie Johnson, who “agrees with the native press too much,” and requests that Petersen send several “good looking girls as secretaries.” Lastly, Sears praises Joe Bing, whose spirit and intellect he admires, and requests that Bing be assigned to Sarkhan.
Chapter 6: Employment Opportunities Abroad
The State Department is aggressively seeking candidates for foreign service. Among those who attend an informational meeting hosted by Hamilton Bridge Upton and Joe Bing is Marie MacIntosh. Upton’s address is very formal and emphasizes the need...
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