8 Asians

One would hope that in the face of terrible tragedy, people can overcome their racism to, you know, become decent, compassionate human beings.

Instead, people are taking an unimaginable natural disaster and using it as a reason to justify why the Japanese “deserved” such devastation. To document and combat the ignornant Twitter and Facebook updates emerging online, Karma Japan began taking and posting screenshots of many Tweeters saying the disaster was “karma” or “payback” for the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, which happened over 70 years– and one World War– ago. There were enough so many tweets along these lines to make “Pearl Harbor” a popular trending topic on Twitter. One notable Tweeter, television writer Alec Sulkin who has over 160,000 followers said, “If you wanna feel better about this earthquake in Japan, google “Pearl Harbor death toll.” It was retweeted by over 100 over his followers within 4 hours. (A day later, Sulkin apologized and deleted his original tweet: “Yesterday death toll = 200. Today = 10 thousand. I am sorry for my insensitive tweet. It’s gone.” Only 75 people retweeted the apology after more than 24 hours.) For the record, the death toll at Pearl Harbor was approximately 2,400. It is likely that that the death toll in Japan will exceed that number by several fold, but regardless of the numbers, is it okay to compare the reasoning behind an act of war to that of an act of nature?

Japan Probe also posted a story about this phenomenon, also citing anti-whaling groups getting in on the anti-Japan action, as well. In a separate, but related story, Captain Paul Watson, the head of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society wrote a poem celebrating the tsunami as the “fearful wrath” of the angry sea god Neptune.

All of this underscores the hatred and ignorance that still exists out there against Japan and the lack of compassion for innocent Japanese victims. Even though the United States and Japan have been allies for decades, people still use Pearl Harbor as a reason to hate Japan.

That is a scary thought– even scarier than the fact that “Godzilla” was also trending during the first 24 hours after the footage of Japanese people fleeing tsunami was being shown around the world. “But not, it turns out, because everyone on Twitter was making tasteless Godzilla jokes in response to scenes of devastation in Japan. It would appear that some Twitterers, inevitably, did, which prompted plenty of outrage. Widespread complaining on Twitter about Godzilla jokes, of course, just helped “Godzilla” surge into the Trending Topics list.”

There are many ways to contribute to the Japanese earthquake relief efforts. Needless to say, no one “deserves” to go through what Japan has gone through.

h/t: K and Chris

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