"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Kanadian Korner #3
Good Day eh!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Come back Chevy, all is forgiven
the Woodshed salutes CNN announcer and smart ass Jack Cafferty .
Up next on Point/Counter Point, Lou Dobbs calls Paula Zahn an ignorant slut, Soledad O'Brian will have a commentary on "Sax and Violins on Television," Richard Quest will present the news for the hard of hearing and Father Guido Sarducci will have a report from the Vatican. That's the news, Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Vigilantes by any other name still stink

Given what has been going on in Arizona, I don't think it is a huge jump to think this could be the work of fellow travelers of the Minutemen. Gee, a bunch of bigots start spouting hate, prompting a bunch of other bigots to start waving guns around and another bunch of bigots start shooting people. What were the freakin' odds? The last line of the article in the second link is telling -- human smugglers shooting people out in the desert are unlikely to be wearing something as dramatic as berets. Anything that theatrical sounds to me like a bunch of uber-patriot military fetishists turned vigilante. Doubtless the freepers can explain to us how it was all the fault of the vicitims for seeking a better life in the first place instead of staying where they were and working for some mega-corporation's dirty little branch plant for a dollar a day.

In other news from Stupidville, 25 percent of Americans think Jesus will return this year. And that is according to an Associated Press poll, not a survey of members of the 700 club. If you are an American reading this, just remember that one of the next three people you meet is likely to think the rapture is going to occur in the next 10 months. So don't lend them any money.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

"Tokyo - city of violent degenerate foreigners"

This is a magazine which just came out in Japan, "Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu" the translated title of which is "Foreigners Underground Crime Files" (your translations may vary).

I'll rant later, first have a look at some of the contents. As is usual with these sort of incidents in Japan, Debito Arudou has done all the heavy lifting for us lazy foreign parasites.

Here is an image from one of the chapters, that I think indicates both the tone and quality of this charming piece of racist trash:

The text reads: "Oi Nigger!! Get your fuckin' hands off that Japanese lady's ass!!"

Other highlights:

Article about crimes by Iranians:
Catch the Iranian!!

Article lamenting Tokyo’s demise into lawlessness:
City of Violent Degenerate Foreigners!!

Article about foreigners scamming Japanese for money:
Japanese getting conned. “Theesaway to ze ATM, Meester Managing Director”

Feature of foreign guys picking up Japanese women (What this has to do with ‘crime’ is unclear)
You sluts really think foreign guys are so great, huh!!
We know Japanese guys are small, but..

On its own it is appalling, but what is more appalling still is the societal acceptance of such a magazine. It isn't sold at some seedy neofascist bookstore tucked away on a side street in the redlight district or anything like that. It originally went on sale at the Family Mart chain and other major convenience stores. It isn't some obscure little rag no one will ever see, it is mainstream media. Both Debito and Japan Probe are calling for a boycott of stores selling the magazine, which seems to working

Gaijin is a bit of a nasty word. Somewhere between gringo and nigger, it is still a common, if impolite term used to refer to foreigners in Japan. My "Foreign Resident Registration Card" is generally referred to by anyone outside a government office as my "gaijin card." Many Japanese and even newly arrived expats don't even recognize it as an offensive term and a lot of expats will use it to refer to themselves and their foreign friends.

Those who don't live here may not realize that Japan has its own aparthied system. Many bars, restaurants, clubs, public baths and other establishments do not allow non-Japanese on the excuse that our inability to speak language or understand the rules will cause problems. People of Korean descent in Japan - many of whom are second, third and even fourth generation residents born and raised here and most often descendants of slave laborers brought to Japan during its colonial occupation of the Korean Penninsula before and during WWII - cannot become citizens.

It is an article of common wisdom in Japan that foreigners, especially Koreans and Chinese, and increasingly Iranians and Africans, are responsible for most of the crime in the country, a bit of common wisdom that the facts simply do not support.

"Japan's crime rate is one of the world's lowest at 1,776 reported crimes per 100,000 people in 2005, according to the latest government statistics. The number of crimes among Japan's 2 million foreign residents in 2005 was 2,380 per 100,000.

Offenses by foreigners rose to a record high of 47,865 in 2005, from 47,128 a year earlier and 40,615 in 2003, according to police statistics. The number of non-Japanese arrested is also rising, to 21,178 in 2005 from 20,007 two years earlier.

The statistics don't break out visa-related offenses, which in 2003 accounted for 46 percent of crimes committed by foreigners. By their nature such breaches can't be committed by Japanese citizens.

Japan's overall crime rate in 2003 was 2,185 per 100,000 and 2,120 among foreigners. Excluding visa offences, the rate was 1,570 per 100,000 foreigners."

(source: Bloomberg News)

Big black buses decorated with Hinomaru and rising sun military flags, blaring loud martial music and slogans ("revere the emperor and expel the barbarians" is a favorite) are a fairly common sight in Tokyo. They are operated by ultra-nationalist groups, which are in turn funded by the Yakuza often as a way to launder money. Such groups are major supporters of the rightist conservative factions of the ruling LDP party and have been known to physically attack politicians and journalists who disagree with them. As a result, they are rarely mentioned in the mainstream press.

Rampant racism, sexism and militant nationalism are the 800 pound rhinos in the living room of Japanese politics. Everyone knows they are there, but feel it would be impolite to mention them.
Here is a more comprehensive account of this horrible racist magazine (with other discussions of the same issue here, here, here, here and here)

The scary part is that this is just the latest manifestation of a much larger problem. You will notice that none of sites linked to are Japanese newspapers or other media. That's because the Japanese media has yet to mention this magazine, which is put out by a sizable publisher, or the fact that a major convenience store chain was willing to carry it in its hundreds of stores nationwide. Not even the English-language press which caters to foreign and foreigner-friendly readers.

I am frustrated, ashamed and embarrassed by this. I've lived in this country for nearly ten years now, and most of the Japanese I've met are the nicest, kindest, most open-hearted and hospitable people you could ever hope to meet. I'm sure most (probably all, at least I hope so) of my native Japanese friends would be equally appalled by this collection of racist claptrap -- I once had a total stranger apologize to me for his fellow citizens after one of the hate-blaring black buses went past in the street. But there seems to be this societal blind spot when it comes to foreigners, especially non-European ones. The not-so-subtle encouragement of this attitude in the mainstream media here, both Japanese and English-language is reprehensible. All that is required for evil to succeed, is for good men to do nothing.

Yokoso Japan, indeed

Monday, February 05, 2007

Vocal minorities

While doing some quick research on the religious make-up of India to fact-check a story our paper was running, I was surprised to find that Christians, comprising 2.3 percent of the population, outnumber Sikhs (1.9 percent) Buddhists (0.8 percent) and Jains (0.4 percent) in India. The second largest group is Muslims (13.4 percent) with the dominant Hindu faith comprising 80.5 percent of the population (all figures are for 2001).

Casting about on the web for a similar set of figures for Canada, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the second largest "religious" grouping in Canada is atheist/agnostic/no religion.
Looking at the census data it is clear that not only is Canada becoming less Christian-dominated in terms of overall demographics, but that the bible-thumping literalist fundementalist Christian denominations are shrinking faster than the more liberal Christian faiths like the United Church.

We are still mostly Christian, with the Roman Catholic Church predominant at 43 percent of the population as a whole (cough Quebec cough) but the reality based community is number two with a bullet, doubling to about 16 percent of the population since 1981. The evangelical, apostolic and born-again churches have also doubled their following --- and here's the real kicker --- to a whopping 2.5 percent. That's right, in contrast to the U.S. where this group is growing at an alarming rate, there just aren't that many of them in Canada - 780,000 in 2001. So even if you include the other conservative leaning Christian faiths - the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, the Baptists (and Canadian Baptists are to Southern Baptists as Peewee hockey stars are to Wayne Gretzky) the numbers of the faithful still don't come close to the number of people who ticked the "none of the above" box for religion on the 2001 census. Suck on that you Focus on the Family, queer-hating, home-skoolin', what-about-the-children-for-God's-sake-what-about-the-children, Rapture-awaiting, book-banning, pulpit-pounding thickhead true believers.

Now would someone please explain to me why this tiny group of very vocal Christian cultist seem to have Stephen Harper's nutsack in a death-grip? Surely if you want to court the largest voting blocs in the country your priorities are the French Catholics, followed by the WASAA's (White Anglo-Saxon atheists and agnostics) and Christian liberals in the United Church.

So why do the Fundamentalists wield so much power in Ottawa and other centers of government.? Why do they have their own TV channels and carry so much weight with school boards and local governments? Why don't we pay them so much heed and the large chunk of the population that has no strong interest in religion so little? Is it because atheists tend to be lone wolves politically, running the full political spectrum from neofascist right-wing libertarian traditionalists to commie pinko anarchists to live-and-let-live libertarian liberals, while fundamentalist congregations tend to be flocks of voting sheep?

Follow the link for a whole bunch of interesting facts and figures about how Canada does religion.

The top ten:

Roman Catholic 12.8 million 43.2% of the population

No religion 4.8 million 16.2%

United Church 2.8 million 9.6%

Anglican 2.0 million 6.9%

Other Christian, 780 thousand 2.6%

Baptist 729 thousand 2.5%

Lutheran 607 thousand 2.0%

Muslim 580 thousand 2.0%

Other Protestant 549 thousand 1.9%

Presbyterian 410 thousand 1.4%

For the record, Jews, Sikhs and Buddhists each comprised about 1 percent of the population.
All figures from the 2001 census, as compiled by Religious Tolerance.org, who have it all laid out in a nice chart at the link above.

Another interesting tidbit:"About 37% of people in the Yukon, 35% in British Columbia, and 23% in Alberta reported no religion. This compares to 6% in Quebec, and fewer than 2% in Newfoundland & Labrador."

I can understand how spending winters in the Yukon might convince you that there is no God, but 23 percent of people Alberta, usually portrayed as Canada's Bible belt, rejecting organized religion was a bit of a shock.