by Robert Moorehead
A video of a Japanese girl speaking at an anti-Korean rally in Tsuruhashi, Osaka, has recently gone viral. In the video, the girl calls for a “Tsuruhashi Massacre,” akin to the Nanking massacre by Japanese troops in World War 2. Yelling into her microphone, she tells Koreans to leave Japan before they are killed for their alleged arrogance.
The sight of a junior high school-age girl proudly proclaiming her hatred of an ethnic group and her desire to kill members of that group is chilling. The Zaitokukai and other right-wing groups have the support of a small portion of the Japanese population, but where is the outcry against such calls for violence? In times like this, quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr., fill my head. As Rev. King told us:
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
It’s depressing enough to see a young girl as one of the “bad people,” but we shouldn’t be surprised by open expressions of hate by groups like this. But how do we respond? Do we look the other way? Do we post a comment on a website, saying how terrible it is, and then move on? As Rev. King wrote:
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
So if we follow Dr. King’s call to action, how do we respond? Do we take up arms against our oppressor?
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Do we organize our own rallies? In my case, I will be making this a topic of conversation in every one of my classes. Year after year I have Japanese students tell me they had no idea such protests were occurring in Japan—but now that they know, what will they do about it?
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
Some have replied with the Japanese saying “Netta ko wo okosuna” (Don’t wake a sleeping baby). It’s similar to the English saying “Let sleeping dogs lie.” If we ignore the problem, it will go away. But will it?
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
My students sometimes think I’m pushing them to become radical activists (sometimes?), but I’d like to think that I’m pushing them to start living.