This is a post for Intl. Blog Against Racism Week
My terms, definitions, and disclaimers
This is sparked by these comments
made during the HP Daily Deviant Debate, but I am not specifically commenting on said debate.Definition:
The "But Japan is racist too!" fallacy is used in discussions of racism as a means to deflect attention from white privilege in the oppression of POC. It is a special corollary of the "But POC are racist too!" fallacy.Example:
Person A: "I'm still mad that the Haitian on Heroes
has no name and little agency! It is in a long tradition in which black men on TV and in movies play sidekicks to the white heroes and get no agency."
Person B: "But look at Hiro and Japanese society! Japan is racist too!"The Nanking Corollary:
Person A: "First, you are redirecting the conversation, as we are not talking about racism in Japanese society. Second, even though non-Japanese people are discriminated against in Japan, being white in Japan still carries privilege that being Ainu, Korean, Filipino, black, Ryukyuan, and etc. does not. Furthermore, if you look at the global hierarchy of race
, you will find that white privilege exists on nearly every level."
Person B: "You think non-white people can't be racist? What about the Rape of Nanking?"Further exploration:
Usage of the "But Japan is racist too!" fallacy is an automatic bonus square on White Liberal Bingo
. Usage of the Nanking Corollary means you FAIL AT LIFE. Usage of either when your only contributions to discussions on racism are limited to "You are racist toward white people!" and "Why are you so angry? We should all live in peace" and when the only time you discuss racism of your own accord on your blog or in RL is when you personally feel offended by someone suggesting something is racist is also a FAIL AT LIFE.
Please note that talking about racism in Japan in discussions that originally focus on comfort women, WWII, immigration policy, the Tokugawa caste system, the occupation of Taiwan, the relocation of Korean people, or other such relevant topics does not count as a fallacy.
"But... Japan is
racist... I don't get it...," someone says.
This is true. Japan is racist. On the other hand, using this argument during a discussion of white privilege is the equivalent of someone saying "She steals too!" when accused of theft themselves. That is to say, it is not the topic at hand, and furthermore, people are using it as a means to not talk about an uncomfortable topic like white privilege. Also, no one is stopping anyone from talking about how Japan is racist anywhere else, but somehow it just keeps popping up in discussions of white privilege.
Even more, I would add that focusing on racism directed toward white people in Japan while completely ignoring the existence of white privilege and not putting it into context is misrepresentation and turns the conversation back to whiteness. Racism in Japan is by and large directed at other POC, particularly those of Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Ainu and Ryukyuan descent, not to mention the burakumin, who are arguably not an ethnic minority.
Also, since someone decided to bring in the Rape of Nanking, Japanese colonialism happened in a very specific context. I am by no means saying that Japanese colonialism was ok; they forced a generation of people to learn a different language in Taiwan, and that is next to nothing compared to what they were doing in Korea. Nor am I saying that all discussions of Japanese colonialism must be placed within a Western context. But what I'm seeing is not the desire to discuss Japanese colonialism at great length, but the desire to discuss non-Western colonialism at great length. And if the latter is the case, then I do think context is necessary, because Japanese colonialism is an anomaly in the history of modern colonialism.( A century of history in a few short paragraphs )