Apparently, "yellow faces" do better at the negotiating table in the Middle East than blond, blue-eye peeps. That's the conclusion of Japan's foreign minister, Taro Aso. I swear, if I hadn't read it on CNN.com, I would have assumed it was a joke. Then I saw that this dude also said he hoped that Japan could become a home to "rich Jews" back in 2001. Wow. Again, I'm glad to see that American politicians haven't totally cornered the market on verbal diarrhea.
Many years ago, there was a silly little comedy called "Crazy People" starring Dudley Moore and Darryl Hannah. It wasn't a great film by any means, but it had some damn funny bits. Moore played an advertising executive who had a nervous breakdown and started being very, very, very honest in his work. "Volvos: boxy, but safe." "Jaguars: Cars for men who want hand jobs from beautiful women they don't know."
Moore ends up committed to a very posh, super friendly mental hospital, where he organizes a rag-tag group of inmates to be a super-successful advertising machine. In the very end, Sony ends up as a client. At first, through a twist of plot, the patients refuse to cooperate and come up with slogans like "Sony. Bony." (Stupid, but it stays with me, years later.) But, finally, they come up with an ad where a Sony executive talks about how (and I'm paraphrasing here) "caucasians aren't good at building microprocessors because they are too tall and awkward - they're too far away from the equipment. But Asians are short, so their eyes are closer to the chips." I swear to god, Taro Aso could have written that, and it wouldn't have been a scripted joke.
God bless politicians. The world round, they're guaranteed to be idiots.
Here in the melting pot, where even though equality may not necessarily always be a reality it's at least near the forefront of people's thoughts a good deal of the time, it is simply hard to fathom the mindset that would bring about the comments people like Aso make. I got perhaps a glimpse when I visited Japan for 6 weeks, then came home only to stare around the airport and think, "Whoa, look at all the white people!"
It is simply crazy how homogenous Japan's population has been up until modern times. Now there are lots of "foreigners" living in Japan, but even five or ten years ago that wasn't the case. (While there I was riding bicycle through town and people I passed remarked in surprise, "Look, it's a foreigner!" I called back over my shoulder, "Yup, I'm a foreigner." They laughed :>)
I think when the other is so very definitely Other, it's much easier to be prejudiced without realizing you're being prejudiced. If you grew up in a town where everyone wore red hats, and you never left town and hardly anyone ever visited town, then when someone wearing a yellow hat did visit you might extrapolate that everyone who wore a yellow hat was like that person...
It sounds terrifyingly simplistic, but then again that's how our brains work. We make associations based on what we know. Even our imaginations are limited by our experiences.
One of my favorite things to do is think about why I think about things the way I do.
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