After reading the various articles about looting and the so-called “exemplary” behavior of the Japanese who were directly affected by the recent earthquakes and tsunami (as discussed by my fellow colleague, Mike), I immediately thought, “Bullshit.” I was convinced that looting and other types of lawless behavior were being played down by both the Japanese and Americans.
The Japanese obviously have more to gain by showing that the government still has some control; the Americans jab at the poor Black folks who had to loot in order to survive Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The Japanese–to a certain point–believe that their government will be able to take care of them during a disaster; the Americans, unfortunately, know better. This also downplays what I think is an important part of humanity: when faced with a life-or-death situation, your very survival overrides any sociological or cultural expectations. If a person has to steal from someone to stay alive, especially when one has suddenly become homeless, one will do it.
Alternet has posted an interview by Ed Schultz taking both American and Japanese media to task by addressing the presence of looting in Japan. I find it sad that racism is playing such a huge role in how Americans are looking at this disaster. While in the midst of all this suffering, we’re still pointing out that Asians are the “good minorities” and Blacks and the poor are the “bad ones.”