Thursday, May 19, 2011

White Cultural Superiority Complex

The title of this article could very easily have been the saying, "People in glass houses should not throw stones." That is a very old saying and everyone knows it, but people do it all the time. Especially when it comes to foreigners criticizing Japan.

This is a post that will piss off a very many people, though it is not intended that way. This is just an observation that someone like me can make.

First off, the title of this post is very racy. Let me state for the record that I am half-white and half-Asian. To white people, I look 100% white. To Japanese, some can tell that I am half. To half-Japanese / Americans, we all can recognize each other within seconds. There's a sort of "brotherhood" to being half.

I have lived on both sides of the fence of being white or Asian. I have even sat on top of the fence as a half when it was expedient (of course, whenever it benefited me to be "Japanese" I became one, If it benefited me to be white, I did that).

I found this magical transition to be very useful when I was, say, a high school student in California in a school that was populated by Hispanics, Whites and a few Asians. Unfortunately, and with often violent results, the racial tensions were often ripe between the Hispanics and Whites. 

I do understand being proud of ones heritage and think that it is healthy to do so, but to the point of fisticuffs? Well, that's another question. I suppose it is a question of tribes and savagery.

Take a look at those
Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show
Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars? 
- David Bowie "Life on Mars"

I played the field. I'd do anything to prevent myself from getting pounded or trodden upon by some savage regardless of the color of their skin. I was a wimpy white guy when it served me; I was a wimpy half-white half Hispanic when it served me; I was an extremely wimpy half-Japanese American when it served me well.

Being able to make these transitions like Spider-man was helpful in keeping a total woos kid like me from getting my ass kicked at school with regularity.

I did this for years. I still do it. This blog is a good case in point. I can attack Japan when I think something is wrong and I can attack the USA when there is something wrong. I think I have the right to do that.

Since this blog targets an native English speaking audience, it seems to also attract many people who have a dim view of Japan and her people. Many times it's because of a confused view of history. Though, I admit that Japan did a very many bad things in the past; I cannot say that Japan has done anything worse than the USA does.

In fact, no country in the world, today, is worse than the USA for being the Nazi Germany of the new century. Yes, I mean that the USA bombs, maims and kills brown-skinned little children and old men and women around the world everyday 24/7. 

Hitler wasn't as bad as that. Hitler only killed for 12 years. The USA has been bombing and attacking and invading countries on and off since 1840 or so.  The atrocities have  gotten much worse over these last 60 years. The USA averages bombing one country a year, every year, since 1945

But this blog is not about US atrocities. It is about what is going on in Japan. Specifically, what I mean is that, if I write an article or a blog post defending Japan's position - or attacking the views of someone who attacks Japan, invariably confused westerners will much too often write the nonsense knee jerk reaction "But the Japanese get what they deserve as they have never apologized for attacking China" (or some such nonsense or comment to that effect).

It also doesn't have to be a retort to an article that I've written. I also get many comments (that I always delete) from racists and fools who, for example, in response to the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident write nonsense things like, "Japan gets what it deserves...." (using the absurd rationale of not apologizing for China, etc., above).  

I've gotten lots of those kind of nonsense comments from people with western names. I never get them from people of the so-called third world. Specifically speaking, I have never once, in my life, ever gotten these kinds of racist comments from people with names of the so-called "colored" persuasion... Nope. Never. Of course, it is racist of me to judge that a person whose name is, say, Sallamadin, is not white, just as it is racist for me to judge that a person named Williams is white....

But that is not the issue here.

I've never ever received a letter criticizing Japanese xenophobia from a person named  Muhammed or Sabahi or Ali. That's just a fact.

Don't even bring up American apologists for dropping the two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that I have to deal with at the end of every summer of every year... You see, Japanese old men, women and children deserved to be incinerated by the atomic bomb because of:

a) They attacked Pearl Harbor first
b) The Japanese attacked China
c) The Japanese were savages and the bombing was the only way to stop the war

Of course, all three reasons are not an excuse to commit genocide and wipe out innocent women and children.

Recently, in a post entitled,"Critical and Analytical Thinking are Lost Arts Amongst Many of Today's Adult Population

 In an article I wrote last year that was published in several international online sites, Japan's Bans the Cove and Other Atrocities I had suspicions on the motivations of that film's producers. The producers of that film claimed that their motivations were pure and sincere. They said something to the effect of "If the Japanese people could see the movie, then they'd rise up and stop the senseless killing of these dolphins." (I'm paraphrasing here.)

From being a person who works in Marketing, the mass media and is intimately familiar with hype, I smelled a rat. I wrote:

"...if the makers of The Cove were truly sincere about their motivations in protecting the whales and dolphins, and how, if they truly believed that if the Japanese saw the movie, they'd demand the end of this whaling and dolphin killing, then they'd make the entire movie free on Youtube. Other people with a message have made theirs free, why doesn't the makers of The Cove do the same? Trust that Youtube has hundreds of millions more viewers than the movie theaters in Japan ever could hope to have. But, you know what? The Cove is not available on Youtube; only trailers for sales promotion are available. There goes their credibility.
And don't tell me that they can't give the movie away for free because then they won't make any money; just look at Google. Google gives away almost everything for free and they are one of the biggest money making companies in the world.
So just keep that in mind when you think about this problem and are bursting veins in your neck screaming about how evil these Japanese fishermen are." 

This post brought out the usual peanut gallery of abuse. People (with western names) came up with their usual litany of profanity and other intelligent logical discourse... They also kept up with the "Japan never apologized for China bit too."

The "Japan never apologized for China" notion is completely false. In an article that appeared on Lew in Feb. of 2006 entitled, "Japan, Atrocities, Apologies and Atonement" I showed proof of all post-war deals and reparations that Japan paid (the article is filled with links and documentation check it yourself and see) and those agreements were negotiated and signed - with the blessing of the victorious western powers - by the respective, then-recognized governments of the Asian nations  that Japan had victimized. At the end of the article I posed a question:

In the case of the Korean victims, deals made by the former military government of Korea with Japan let Japan off the hook for non-state claims from those who suffered. The South Korean government received money from Japan, yet didn't compensate its own suffering people, and then suppressed claims by its own nationals against Japan. Why is Japan the only defendant in cases that involve financial retribution and demands for compensation? Why does Japan have to take all the criticism? Why don't these people sue their own governments and the United States too?

When Chinese sue the Japanese government for damages over the Nanjing massacre, or chemical and biological warfare injuries suffered, why do they sue only the Japanese government? Remember, Chiang Kai-shek forgave and dismissed all personal claims against Japan in return for financial help to fight the communists. Why don't they sue their own government in Taiwan? Why not sue the US government that prevented claims of this sort being heard during the Tokyo war crimes trials? 

But I digress....

The point of this post is hypocritical westerners who are hopelessly trapped in what I call White Cultural Superiority Complex when the complain about Japan yet fail to see their own disgraceful actions. They want to criticize Japan for, say, killing a non-endangered species of dolphins as featured in the movie the Cove, but they fail to recognize and address war crimes and atrocities that are being committed by their very own governments at this very moment. Hypocrites! Many of these people are self-professed Christians too. The bible talks about them:

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye. (NRSV, Matthew 7:1-5)  

Then, when I take them to task, they knee-jerk the nonsense about World War II and Japanese invasion of Asia.

Yes. The Japanese invasion of Asia was a very bad thing. Japan committed war crimes in the past. If your countries are a part of NATO, you are committing war crimes right now.

But let's say your country is or was not a partner in crime over the bombing of Afghanistan or the invasion of Iraq... How about history, then?

Japan apologized in the 1950's for World War II. How about the west's genocide of native peoples, killing millions of them?  

Canada? It took them 200 years to apologize for:

" of the darkest chapters in its history, formally apologised on Wednesday for forcing 150,000 aboriginal children into grim residential schools, where many say they were sexually and physically abused." - Reuters

The Americans? Still hasn't apologized for killing an estimated 12 million native American Indians since the 15th century.... Maybe they get around to it in the next millennium. One of the most recent atrocities against native Americans was about 100 years ago in December of 1890 at Wounded Knee when US troops gunned down 150 men women and children.

But! But! We did give them a decent burial and, you can't 
deny that the Japanese do kill dolphins!

Australia? No apology for genocide against Aboriginal peoples wiping them out into near extinction.

New Zealand? Extermination of 85% of the Maori population and the so-called Land Wars.

Do I even need to mention any European country? No? I didn't think so.... I think I already mentioned something about NATO killing kids daily.

With all this past history and the wars and killing still going on today, people from these countries sure have the nerve to complain about Japan killing several hundred non-endangered species of dolphins, when they are bombing brown-skinned children in the Middle East?

It's much more difficult to look into the mirror and see just how grotesque and ugly one's face is. It's much easier to look over the fence and complain about your neighbors yard... For many westerners, I reckon looking in the mirror is far far too much to bear.

So, because dolphins are cute and more intelligent than dogs Japan is the target?

Pardon me if I scoff.

Note: Of course not all Caucasians are guilty of this error in thinking. Usually intelligent people with common sense do not - or can control themselves so they don't exhibit these behaviors. But, alas, even one person being a racist like this is one too many.


This article was inspired by a correspondence with Jen Freespirit S. I'm sorry that I initially took your queries as an attack on my views on the Cove. Hopefully, as I get older, I become more patient and wiser. Also good luck and chin up to Allison Sane.


Kevin said...


I've been here for 14 years now. Other than a very small handful of foreigners, I don't hang out with foreigners in Japan. One reason being that I've witnessed too much of the stupidity and racism that you mention here. I refuse to associate with such morons. I applaud your article.

BTW, maybe because I've been here so long, but I thought from your picture that you were half-Japanese, but your name gives no hint.


Anonymous said...

I am disappointed to have to read such an article - surely we are all above this and have better things to talk about ?

Anonymous said...

Yeah... Like Anonymous said.... Let's not talk about bombing kids in the Middle East.... It's too uncomfortable... Say? Isn't American Idol on TV tonight? - TW

Andy "In Japan" said...

Mongolia invaded Japan in 1274 and did they ever apologize? I believe the Mongols controlled China at that time and also used Korean soldiers. Did China or Korea ever apologize?

In any case, the Japanese government should have and did apologize to the South Korean and Chinese people as far as I know. Now it's time for the governemnt to apologize to the North Korean people and focus on being decent neighbors with everyone.

Afterall, the Japanese people have goods for sale and people in other countries have things we need to buy too.

Anonymous said...

The Romans brutally suppressed Boadicea's uprising. I'm British. I've been to London and seen Boadicea's statue. I deserve compensation!! And the Romans killed all those dolphins in the Coliseum, too! Probably. Well, they could have. They probably wanted to. Where's my bloody money!!!???

Anonymous said...

In reply to anonymous comment, it was not meant to avoid uncomfortable situations or feelings. Every single country can point a finger at another country for something over time and history. Stirring up hatred and traumatic emotions is not the way to go. Understanding, peace and learning is the way to go. Too many people in glass houses throwing stones.

Jen Freespirit S said...

Mike. Thank you. :-) I did not even notice that you took them as an attack. Sometimes, it is hard to know the tone of online questions. I hate to sit here and be repetitive, but you always make great points, thank you so much for writing this. You are correct. Sadly, much of the US can't see the end of Pinnochio's nose.

Anonymous said...

The parable in Matthew 7:1-5 speaks against having an attitude of superiority while pointing out the flaws in others. They are not acknowledging their sin or faults, yet focus on the faults of others. We would call this being hypocritical. One can, and should make moral judgments about how others live, but must evaluate their own lives to live up to those same standards rather than pointing out the shortcomings of others. Few do.

I can understand your attitude about killing dolphins. Compared to killing people for useless war-either outright or a slow death with DU, for getting rid of (killing) the elderly, or for getting rid of (killing) the unborn, it isn't anything. Unfortunately, the last two aren't politically correct in almost any westernized country today. (Mass media is very effective.) We coat it in acceptable euphemisms.


Anonymous said...

Some days I am ashamed to live in this country. We have fast food joints who make it impossible to sue, farms controlled by big businesses who have the BALLS to say free-ranged animals are unsanitary? Oh yeah, and having closed quarters for you stock piles are just fine. Not only that but we have excessive crime waves, racism, people who think it's necessary to treat us like children, abuse, criminals who get set free even though you just KNOW they're NEVER gonna change and worst of all, people who insult Japanese heritage. I'm looking at you, Roland Emmerich. God, I can't wait to move to Japan where I can at least relax.

Anonymous said...

Well, i as a white american am disgusted every day at the attitudes that other people in this group of mine act, i believe that the constitution that we are so proud of says this best "all men are created equally and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, just becaus ea citizen of a foreign country defines those differently or doesnt live under our constituion does not mean those rights should not be extended by the people of the USA if it is a part of their culture that they must kill a few dolphins a year or whatever the ammount actually is that so be it, as long as they dont take more than their needed share i dont know what the problem is besides some peta nutcase who thinks i chould live off only leaves because animals have a soul. Well guess what, that is your opinion and yes you are entitled to it, but what you are not entitled to is to force it down someone elses throat and to throw up a negative part of someones history is about as low as you can get for a defence when your argument has obviously not worked use that space between your ears for more than just holding air America and how bout lets concern ourselves with some issues that actually effect the people of our country and the countries we have imposed ourselves on.

p.s yea i know its a runon sentence but i tend to do that when i rant on my soap box lol

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