What’s With the Post-Earthquake Anti-Japanese Animus?

From politicos to two-bit comedians and anonymous racists on Tumblr, it seems like everyone has lost their minds.

By Julianne Hing Mar 15, 2011

We’re five days into the devastating aftermath of the largest earthquake in Japanese history, an 8.9-magnitude quake that triggered a tsunami and set off a nuclear crisis in the country. At least [2,414](http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703908304576201662147823794.html) people were killed and more than 3,000 more are missing. People along the coast are making do with food and water shortages as rescue workers slowly make their way. The suffering is everywhere, but so too, apparently, is the ignorance. Yesterday, Gilbert Gottfried was fired from his decade-long job as the voice of the Aflac insurance company’s duck mascot, after tweeting a series of [callous jokes](http://www.tmz.com/2011/03/14/gilbert-gottfried-japan-roasts-jokes-tsunami/). The company took swift action, which shouldn’t be surprising given its bottom line–the [Wall Street Journal](http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2011/03/15/aflac-hit-hard-on-japan-worries/) reports that Aflac gets 70 to 75 percent of its earnings from Japan. Alec Sulkin, a writer and producer for "Family Guy," tweeted the other day: "If you wanna feel better about the earthquake in Japan, google ‘Pearl Harbor death toll,’ " which prompted [Cartoon Brew](http://www.cartoonbrew.com/ideas-commentary/family-guy-writer-and-producer-is-an-insensitive-jerk.html) to call Sulkin "an insensitive jerk." But there’s more. Last night Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s press secretary Dan Turner [resigned](http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2011/03/15/2011-03-15_gov_haley_barbours_press_secretary_dan_turner_resigns_after_making_japan_earthqu.html) after sending around an internal email with the line: "Otis Redding posthumously received a gold record for his single, (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay. (Not a big hit in Japan right now.)." Never to be left out, 50 Cent has, well, [been the usual 50 Cent](http://www.theroot.com/buzz/50-cent-tweets-jokes-about-japanese-tragedy). And still more! For the most stunning display of Internet-abetted cruelty, we bring you [karmajapan.tumblr.com](http://karmajapan.tumblr.com/), a brand new blog dedicated to highlighting the worst of the worst tweets that poke fun at Japan and suggest that the country is getting its comeuppance for its role in Pearl Harbor and World War II. (If we’re actually going to go there, and people are looking for things to Google, they could start with "Nagasaki" and "Hiroshima.") Another person with the handle [@kevElric](http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_li2v4o098e1qi050vo1_1280.png?AWSAccessKeyId=0RYTHV9YYQ4W5Q3HQMG2&Expires=1300300871&Signature=DGqvVhzD9Zn65IMIbQQ9R0i%2Fx6A%3D) comes at it from a twisted animal rights angle: "The japs continue to eat whales despite being told not to, now the whales are eating the japs. I think it’s fair to be honest." The tweets are dominated by a sick schadenfreude, combined with some serious vengeance and racial ignorance. What is going on? For a more extensive catalog, check out [ignorantandonline.tumblr.com](http://ignorantandonline.tumblr.com/). With all the recent animosity toward Japan, whoever’s running that blog has enough material for plenty more. Blog to book deal, anyone?