They are neither Mongols nor Mongolians you stupid!

Posted on janvier 23, 2011

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Some people like to call others « mongolian » when they do something stupid. In that case, is the word « mongolian » offending? I’ve long thought it was the case but a Youtuber made me revise my opinion. Here’s a little social media case study with some social morale thrown in.

Public Relations on Youtube

Lately, I turned to censorship because I can’t bear the growing number of insulting comments towards some races (Black are monkeys) on one of my Youtube videos.

To put into practice studies in Public Relations, I sometimes write people explaining why I haven’t authorized their comments. I encourage them to make the corrections themselves and re-submit their comments for publication.

In general, people do not reply but yesterday, a Youtuber whose comment was deleted wrote me back.
I had explained in a private message that his comment was rejected because he called another user « mongolian », a term that I find to be pejorative. I told him it could hurt people from Mongolia and even other ethnicities.

He replied arguing that I was confusing mongolians (suffering from genetic problems) with Mongols, an Asian ethnicity. This is how he made me doubt myself. I put my pride aside and sincerely asked myself if I weren’t wrong but a thorough research brought light to my hesitation.

Mongol versus Mongolian

The term « Mongol » describes ethnic groups that can be found in Russia, China but also in Mongolia. Therefore, some individuals of Mongolian nationality also belong to the Mongol ethnic group.

In France, Belgium and some African countries, the word « mongol » is used to call someone stupid. I have observed that in Quebec, people often say « espèce de mongol » when teasing a friend. But there is a but.
One of my good friend has Mongolian roots that are made manifest by her gorgeous eyes. Should I call her mongolian every time she tells me something stupid?

The origins of this insult

British doctor John Langdon Down was the first to use the term « mongolian » when referring to trisomic people. As demonstrated in the following statement, he didn’t choose this term by accident:

A very large number of congenital idiots (those suffering from trisomy) are typical Mongols. So marked is this that, when placed side by side, it is difficult to believe the specimens compared are not children of the same parents.

How arrogant! In 1961, a group of genetic experts asked the term « Down Syndrome » to be adopted as a replacement of « mongol ». Their choice was guided by the following reasoning:

It has long been recognized that the terms ‘Mongolian Idiocy’, ‘Mongolism’, ‘Mongoloid’, etc as applied to a specific type of mental deficiency have misleading connotations. The importance of this anomaly among Europeans and their descendants is not related to the segregation of genes derived from Asians (…) We urge, therefore, that the expressions which imply a racial aspect of the condition be no longer used.

My verdict on the basis of these statements?

I will have the last say

Since only stupid people don’t change their minds, I agree to remain an idiot on this one. I will not change my mind. Calling somebody mongol or mongolian is insulting, both for individuals of this ethnicity and for the ones who suffer from this genetic condition. I rather be wrong and frustrate a web user than supporting offending comments direct towards two communities.