I shouldn’t be surprised or disappointed anymore, and accept the fact that there will always be idiotic people in the United States who probably function perfectly normally most of the time, and then turn into stupid racist haters the moment there’s some sort of tragedy in the world that involves people of color. Two years ago, I was dumbfounded that Americans would rant and rave about the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan and claim it was somehow “god’s revenge” for Pearl Harbor. What?
But the glibness and ease with which such racist drivel finds its way from pea-brained individuals to the social webs is still shocking. Here I’ve been following the crash of the Asiana jetliner at SFO (an airport I often fly to and from) as a human tragedy, but a miracle with only two casualties. I’ve felt empathy for the families of the two schoolgirls who were killed, and the many survivors who were injured. But the fact that most of those onboard survived — and that 123 survivors were able to walk away without being hospitalized — is nothing short of amazing.
But of course, the human stories of the crash don’t matter to the racists who immediately feel the need to respond with jokes about Asian stereotypes (we’re lousy drivers, har har) and hateful cracks about North Korea (hellooo, Seoul is in South Korea, and this was not an attack by Kim Jong Un on the US).
That such a lowbrow, juvenile mentality switches on so quickly shows that racism and prejudice are still alive and well just beneath the veneer of political correctness that the haters always complain about. Scratch the veneer just a bit with a news event like this tragedy, and you’ll see nothing but ugliness ooze out.
Poor Google. They’re in a tough spot this time. The Internet giant has hit some cultural snags in Japan before, over how it rolled out its products in the Land of the Rising Sun. This time, they’re in trouble because Google used publicly available historical maps of Tokyo and Osaka in an overlay for its popular (and amazing) Google Earth program.
The problem is, the maps showed the locations of former villages where the “burakumin” used to live in feudal times. The locations have long since been developed with the concrete, steel and glass of modern Tokyo, but the antique map has dredged up centuries and shame, and a fresh spate of anger from the descendants of burakumin as well as government officials who’d just as soon forget that such prejudice ever existed — and apparently still exists. Continue reading →
There’s been a blizzard of emails flying around town from groups and individuals, outraged postings (including mine as well as Joe Nguyen’s commentary on AsiaXpress), and TV and print media news reports.
A collective of APA students who’ve organized a Facebook group called Colorado Asian American Organizations organized a meeting yesterday at Denver University, where about 40 people showed up. Erin attended, and also sent out notices to some of the local media, so there were TV crews from several stations on hand to cover the discussion. Attendees included not just students, but community activists, older APAs and also African Americans and Latinos. Continue reading →
I’m always amazed at how young “journalists” can write really stupid stuff and then hide behind the cloak of “satire” to defend themselves. That’s what happened this week, when the University of Colorado’s amateur student news site, CampusPress.com, ran a commentary by Max Karson titled “If it’s war the Asians want… it’s war they’ll get.”
It’s not very well written. It’s self indulgent in an immature, self-possessed manner. It’s confusingly filled with hate language and alarming statements for much of the column, then it veers into surrealism, and suddenly, if you weren’t sure whether it’s supposed to be a joke (I wasn’t), you start to realize it’s not serious. The problem is, so much of it sounds serious, and feels serious, and perpetuates racist stereotypes and statements about Asians that I’ve heard all my life. So why wouldn’t I take it seriously? Continue reading →