Whatever Happened to Human Decency? Amid Rescue Efforts in Quake-hit Japan, Racist Comments are Rampant on the Web

I was amazed to see the support and concern the world had for Japan, but I was brought back to reality after seeing all the racist comments that followed.  In a March 13 post, a blog promoting the need for a University of California, Santa Cruz Ethnic Studies Department posted a collection of racist status updates and tweets gathered from Facebook and Twitter including references to “payback” for Japan’s World War II attack on Pearl Harbor.

“If you wanna feel better about this earthquake in Japan, google ‘Pearl Harbor death toll,’” tweeted Alec Sulkin, a scriptwriter for the Fox animated television show “Family Guy.”

Sulkin has since deleted his comment on Twitter and has apologized for his “insensitive tweet”.

Hateful rhetoric is rampant on the web. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried continues to make lewd jokes about the disaster on his Twitter page. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried has been known to crack jokes, however on Monday it got him fired. Rap star 50 Cent reacted to backlash from his tsunami jokes by tweeting, “Hate it or love it. I’m cool either way 50 cent.”

Racist comments like these, the UCSC Ethnic Studies blog argues, show why Ethnic Studies is needed.

JACL national director Floyd Mori is also blasting the comments.

“I think comments such as these not only inflame prejudices of the past but cause misinterpretations of the real facts of this major catastrophe,” said Mori. “It’s unfortunate that people have to stoop so low to try to make a name for themselves and get their seconds of notoriety on social media.”

In a March 12 statement, the JACL expressed “deep concern for and condolences” to the people of Japan affected by the massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami, including friends and family and members of the JACL Japan chapter.

Organizations like the Japan-American Society and the JACL are encouraging concerned citizens to donate to the relief effort.

The official death toll from the March 11 double tragedy in Sendai has been raised to about 2,800, but the Miyagi police chief said that more than 10,000 people are estimated to have died in his province alone, which has a population of 2.3 million.

Millions of people are homeless without water, food or heating in near-freezing temperatures in the northeast devastated by an earthquake and the wave it spawned. Meanwhile, a third reactor at a nuclear power plant lost its cooling capacity and the fuel rods at another were at least briefly fully exposed, raising fears of a meltdown. The stock market plunged over the likelihood of huge losses by Japanese industries including big names such as Toyota and Honda.

But as the death toll climbed higher, one student at UCLA thought it would be the perfect time to film a racist rant about Asian students then posting it on YouTube. In the three-minute clip, Alexandra Wallace complains about Asian students using their cellphones in the library.  Wallace says the “hordes of Asians” at UCLA lack American manners. She also mocks their speech and faults them for calling family in the wake of the tsunami. “I swear they’re going through their whole families just checking on everybody from the tsunami thing.” She took the video down soon after she posted it on YouTube on Friday afternoon, but not before angry users had copied the clip – entitled ‘Asians in the Library’ – and reposted it. It has since had more than 279,000 views on one version alone.She is listed on examiner.com as an LA Style Examiner, where she is described as ‘an economics student at UCLA, with a passion for recession-friendly fashion.’

I can’t provide any more commentary on this poor excuse of a human being, but everyone should read Edward Hong’s open letter to Alexandra Wallace at 8asians.

Whatever happened to human decency? The devastation in Japan is the fourth largest earthquake ever recorded and 100 times worse than what happened in Haiti. Reading news like this just makes me angry and embarrassed for Americans who still think this way. These people have no right to mock the devastation and lives lost in Japan!


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