In the lead up to China’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in WWII, I thought I’d do a little personal aside … that might explain why Japan can be so delusional about so many things.
Politics … in many ways … especially politics in the democratic sense (i.e. at the level of the people) … is about caricatures … about simplifying (over-simplifying as the case may be) the issues. Politics is about setting narratives – about burnishing worldviews – through selective highlighting (and de-emphasis) of reality … to present a particular view of the world that sometimes resembles some aspects reality … but that can some times also be completely in contravention with any sane view of reality.
There is a reason why people often avoid talking politics and religion in polite settings. People can try to use logic and reason … but the problem is that underneath iceberg tip of logic and reason are mountains full of unspoken – and sometimes even unconscious – presumptions. It’s why reasonable people can disagree vigorously and get so worked up about political disagreements.
Before I get to Japan, let’s take a caricaturist’s view of the most recent “controversy” involving Donald Trump’s latest negative ad on Jeb Bush. Here is an excerpt of an article from the Huffington Post:
Donald Trump released a video on Monday attacking fellow GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush for his comments about undocumented immigrant families, attempting to associate the former Florida governor with three undocumented men who have been charged with murder.
The video implies that Bush supports policies that allow undocumented criminals — Trump seems to think many, if not most, unauthorized immigrants belong in this category — to remain in the United States. Trump’s attack features a clip of Bush from last year talking about people who come to the U.S. to provide for their children, but omits the context — that he was talking specifically about families.
“Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony,” Bush says in the clip. “It’s an act of love.”
But what Bush said immediately beforehand casts the remarks in a different light.
“The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their families — the dad who loved their children — was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table,” he said at the time. “And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family.”
Trump’s video features images of three undocumented men who were charged with murder this year. The first, Francisco Sanchez, was charged last month with the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco. He had been deported five times beforehand, but was released after serving prison time under San Francisco’s policies, which call for limited cooperation with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The second man pictured is Santana Gaona, who was sentenced to 50 years in prison earlier this year for a 2011 murder. Brian Omar Hyde, the third man, was charged this month with murdering his aunt, his pregnant cousin and another man.
“Love?” the video asks in all-caps letters. “Forget love. It’s time to get tough!”
So on illegal immigration, Jeb Bush (and the author of the Huffington Post is definitely with Bush here) would like to paint first a picture of wholesome illegal immigrants coming to the States coming here for economic opportunity. They are here to give service, to do the work that no one else would, to work hard despite being paid minimum wage. They contribute to society and pay taxes, and should not be criminalized when all they do is to try to bring other members of their families in to unify their families.
Trump and his supporters would retort: it is undisputed public record that many of these illegal immigrants are criminals. These immigrants are the lowest of class where they came from and are here to fight for a livelihood. And desperate people can … and do …. do desperate things. The country can debate the merits of having more immigrants, and when a consensus arise, the country can raise the quota and allow more immigrants to come in … legally. But until a consensus arise, let’s not treat illegals as saints and angels … it is disgraceful to presume that for “politically correct” reasons when innocents Americans are being murdered and raped everyday by these people … LET’S GET TOUGH!
Is there an objective political solution here? I don’t think so. Which narrative you subscribe to depends on your worldview, your presumptions, and your notion of how the world works, how the world should be…
I personally subscribe to the notion that the U.S. is a land of immigrants, and should look favorably toward immigrants. The U.S. as it is is too white and European. But that’s my political persuasion…
Which narrative grabs you? The immigration conflict described above is played out throughout the rich world … from France to Germany to Japan to Hong Kong … and Taiwan. For a particular narrative to grab you, a constellation of life experiences – presumptions and outlooks – have to align. How have your life experiences affected how you view the immigration issue?
Compared to the debate between Japanese right wingers and the Chinese people over history, who is right and wrong, the immigration issue – in my eye – is actually quite tame …
But when reasonable people already get worked up over issues as mundane immigration, how can we expect people of two nations to agree on bigger issues as such the historical narrative on WWII, who is right, who is wrong, and what that implication is on today’s … tomorrow’s … world?
What’s my point of all this?
Something simple. Give those Japanese a break. The goal cannot be to ask them to apologize. It’s akin to asking a cow to play flute. A better goal is to clearly articulate our view of history – to our future generations and to the world, and work for a stronger China such that future generations will look back on Japan of the early 21st century as backward, unenlightened, inhumane, dangerous … and ridiculous.
It has been written that “[t]he notion of zhong [忠], as applied in the Confucian moral hierarchy, comprises a moral theory that focuses on moral duties or obligations, rather than on rights or entitlements. It constitutes a basic tenet of Confucianism, which is an ethics built on demands on oneself rather than on others.”
In the relation among world of nations, China should strive to be loyal to justice, to truth, and to work toward leading a just world order, with or without Japan. It should not contemplate on subsisting on rights and entitlements dished out from others. The best revenge of China’s inhumane suffering is the resurrection of China … not apologies from half-witted politicians and former aggressors.
Politicians can always muddle and obfuscate. It is the nature of politics. Let’s work toward a future where historical muddling and obfuscation can be revealed for what they are … and become tomorrow’s laughing stock!