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Turn a blind eye? 视而不见

中国日报网 2022-08-12 15:06


Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: Local authorities have long turned a blind eye to illegal workers.

My comments:

Are we talking about illegal immigration in America?

Well, let’s suppose we are. There are a lot of illegal immigrants working without proper documents. Authorities have been looking for them and at least in some states, putting them under arrest or even sending them back to their country of origin.

However, in some places, authorities have ignored this problem, turning a blind eye to it.

They have turned a blind eye to it for many reasons. One reason is economic. Some employers actually prefer illegal workers, especially for farm work, cotton picking, e.g. Illegal workers are willing to work under harsher conditions and for less pay.

There are other reasons. Well, there are other reasons, of course, but I realize we’re here to talk about the expression “turning a blind eye”.

So let’s return to that subject.

I was once walking with a friend along a busy street when my friend was stopped by a stranger. I walked on for a few more steps while my friend was being held up. When he caught up with me again, he explained that the man wanted money and he was drunk. I asked how much he gave. He said: “Nothing. I had the presence of mind to point to my right ear and say: ‘Can’t hear you. Bad ear.’ When the man saw that I was deaf, he walked off immediately.”

In this case, my friend literally “turned a deaf ear”. He pretended he couldn’t hear. And the drunkard was probably pretending to be drunk, too, because he was sober enough to quickly leave my friend instead of wasting more time on him.

Likewise, people can “turn a blind eye”, as in the case of our example, pretending they are blind and therefore can’t see – thereby ignoring the complex issue involving illegal workers.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. When local authorities turn a blind eye, they choose to ignore the problem. It’s not that they’re really blind. They are just pretending to be blind. They are doing it knowingly in order to avoid a difficult problem, an awkward situation or something unpleasant.

And that is that.

Here are media examples of people turning a blind eye to one complex issue or another:

1. While running for president, Donald Trump frequently excoriated his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and his chief political opponent, Hillary Clinton, as naive, even gutless, for preferring “violent extremism” to describe the nature of the global and domestic terrorist threat.

“Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country,” Trump said at one campaign speech in Ohio. During another, in Philadelphia, he drove home the attack: “We now have an administration and a former secretary of state who refuse to say ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’”

It was a strange place to make his point. The only Islamist terror attack in Pennsylvania over the past 15 years was committed by Edward Archer, a mentally ill man who shot and injured a police officer in early 2016, later telling investigators that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Far-right episodes of violent extremism were far more common.

Just two years before Trump’s Pennsylvania speech, anti-government radical Eric Matthew Frein ambushed two police officers in the township of Blooming Grove, killing one and wounding another, then led law-enforcement authorities on a 48-day manhunt in the woods. (He was sentenced to death in April.)

Two months before that, police discovered that Eric Charles Smith, who ran a white-supremacist church out of his home in the borough of Baldwin, had built a stockpile of some 20 homemade bombs.


Daryl Johnson warns that continuing to focus counterterrorism efforts disproportionately on Islamists risks fueling that threat.

“Muslim Americans already feel targeted and alienated,” he said. Reconfiguring the Countering Violent Extremism program around Islamists “pretty much validates their suspicions” and even risks aggravating extremism within the Muslim community.

“When you turn a blind eye to all the uptick in hate or wait a long time before you even address the hate incidents that we’ve been seeing against Muslims and against the Jewish community,” he said. “I think that just emboldens the far right in thinking that they have free rein to do whatever they want.”

- Trump’s White House Is Turning a Blind Eye to White-Supremacist Terrorism, TheNation.com, August 18, 2017.

2. Media attention around QAnon is buzzing as we head into election season. Here’s an interview I conducted for Julia Sachs's article about QAnon for GritDaily:

Have you noticed specific traits in people that become QAnon believers?

First of all, about half the population believes in at least one conspiracy theory, so conspiracy theory beliefs are “normal.” That said, psychology research has shown greater degrees of certain cognitive quirks among those who believe in conspiracy theories – like need for uniqueness; needs for certainty, closure, and control; and lack of analytical thinking. But the best predictor of conspiracy theory belief may be mistrust, and more specifically, mistrust of authoritative sources of information. Which means that those most likely to become QAnon believers mistrust mainstream sources of information, spend a lot of time on the internet and social media looking for alternative answers, and are devotees of President Trump.

QAnon also includes other facets that are appealing to some that can serve as “hooks” that lure people into the world of QAnon. There’s obviously a central pro-Trump/anti-liberal component, but there's also considerable overlap with evangelical Christianity and its looming apocalyptic battle between good and evil. And now there’s overlap with people who are concerned about child sex trafficking, with QAnon hijacking #SaveTheChildren. Curiously, however, those who are “hooked” from this angle are able to turn a blind eye to President Trump’s own friendship with Jeffrey Epstein or the several charges made against him about sexual assault of minors, which amounts to a classic case of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias.

In what ways does this conspiracy theory impact relationships?

In order to maintain fringe beliefs, it’s often necessary to turn away from the mainstream, including any family and friends who disagree with you. In “falling down the rabbit hole,” QAnon followers have often found a new world, and to some extent a new “family” of like-minded believers that make previous relationships less rewarding and more fraught. Similar to differences in political beliefs, arguments about QAnon can definitely break up marriages or cause significant strain on other relationships.

Immersing oneself in the internet world of QAnon can also resemble a behavioral addiction to pursuits like video games or gambling. QAnon is a complex world of interrelated conspiracy theories; it takes significant effort to follow. And so, devotees often end up spending more and more time on it, at the expense of in-person relationships, work, or more traditional recreational activities.

- What Kind of Person Believes in QAnon? By Joe Plerre, PsychologyToday.com, September 23, 2020.

3. According to a recent press release by U.S. Congresswoman Cindy Axne, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) needs a makeover immediately.

Appalled by the recent puppy mill scandal in her home state, Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) investigated how a facility with over 200 AWA violations could remain open for months, continuing to abuse and neglect animals out of greed. Axne uncovered that the USDA has decreased penalties and enforcement on dog breeding facilities by 90% in the last five years. This is in large part due to certain loopholes added to the AWA which allow USDA inspectors to make “courtesy visits” rather than official inspections, eliminating written violations or reprimands to facilities with subpar standards.

This allows for commercial dog breeders with cruel and inhumane tactics fly under the radar while the USDA turns a blind eye to animal abuse. Without accountability, for-profit facilities like puppy mills can cut corners by reducing accessibility to animals’ needs like veterinary attention, clean water, nutrition, and enrichment.

Goldie’s Act would change all of that. The bill was named after a golden retriever who was found by an inspector at a puppy mill in Wayne County, Iowa, where she was in extremely poor condition. Unfortunately, the inspector did not make any official report of the dog, according to this recent news article. Sadly, the dog was found months later in a barn at the same facility, and she was so emaciated that she was euthanized on site. Goldie was just one of hundreds of animals who were victims of abuse and neglect at this puppy mill, which is now closed.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣   编辑:丹妮)


Forces at play? 起作用的力量


Front and center? C位


All in all? 总而言之


All in? 全力支持


Open question? 尚无定论


Rock bottom? 跌至谷底

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