Hero of the Week: The People of Japan (Retroactive Dick of the Week: The Hurricane Katrina Looters)

15 Mar

This page is all about humor.  We make fun of assholes and idiots, or, sometimes, people who just weren’t thinking very clearly at the time.  The point is, the point of this blog is not to honor GOOD people.  No one would read it if that were the case–mockery sells, praise doesn’t.

The people of Japan deserve massive amounts of praise for their perseverance in the face of extreme adversity, but that alone was not enough to inspire me to write about them.  We all already know that Japan got (I’ll just say it) fucked.  One of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded just off their coast would have been bad enough, but we all know what comes next: tsunamis.  No one was surprised by the devastation wrought by the tsunami, but devastated we all were to see it.  And that might have been it: we might have opened our coffers, sent in the military and the Red Cross, expressed our feelings of solidarity, and been on our merry way.

Ed West, of the UK daily newspaper The Telegraph, however, raises the best point that I have heard yet:

Why is there no looting?

Countless pictures of the devastation have been released.  Dozens of amateur videos have been released chronicling the destruction as it happened.  Stories are appearing by the hundreds of inspirational rescues and miraculous reunions.  Soldiers and civilians work hand in hand to free those trapped beneath the rubble.  It’s a story of solidarity that I, frankly, would never have believed if I weren’t seeing it with my own eyes all over every media outlet.

The Twitterverse exploded in outrage when a few idiots tried to compare the tsunami with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  And they were right to, as the disasters are not remotely the same.  For instance, the people of Katrina had days and days of warning during which to escape the city whereas the people of Japan had no such hope.  Oh, and then there’s the fact that Japan was prepared for a disaster (which only emphasizes the magnitude of this one) while New Orleans’ local government had allowed its safeguards to degenerate over the course of decades (despite the city residing well below sea level).  I think the point here is that I could have given a flying fuck whether the Saints won the Super Bowl “for New Orleans.” New Orleans is a stupid city.  There, I said it.

Fuck off, Brees.

But there is at least one area in which the people of Japan and the people of New Orleans found themselves in an exceedingly similar position: the opportunity for looting.  New Orleans, homeland of we oh-so-cultured Americans, experienced looting on an apocalyptic level.  Those who stayed behind in the city have been portrayed as innocent victims of a horrible tragedy, and, while many no doubt were, those who took advantage of the opportunity to loot stores and make themselves rich on the backs of others do not deserve the courtesy of simply being forgotten.

I do not know if it is the culture of Japan that has allowed them to remain so united in this, but it certainly doesn’t speak well of the people of New Orleans.  Nor the people of the UK, as West rightly points out, who looted their asses off during the 2007 floods.  Nor does it speak well of the Australians, nor the Chileans, nor the Haitians, nor, as far as I can even remember, the people of any other population who has suffered a major disaster.  Looters, one and all.

So here’s to you, Japan, for managing to not resort to complete barbarism like the rest of us.  I, for one, salute you, and award a retroactive Dick of the Week to the New Orleans looters.


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