a world away


Taken on my way to work today at Atsugi station.

Many people here are of course interested in what is scarily unfolding ‘over there’, but an equal number are, perhaps understandably – given how alien many of the ideas and behaviours are to Japanese thinking and culture – emphatically not.

43 Comments

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43 responses to “a world away

  1. Iuno Feronia

    Same here in Europe, but we cannot understand the wild west behaviour of this Country any more! A president who calls for the use of weapons, who not distances himself from racist ideas, who wants to stop the counting when it is getting tight for him, who has still About 50 percent on his side – this is a strange form of Democracy. Humanism and enlightment seem to have never made the way across the large pond.

    • It is honestly atrocious : but I would have to completely disagree with your last sentence. You just have to read any edition of the New York Times to see that ; to me it is a kind of apex ; unparalleled.

      Trumpf has just dragged things back to their most base and instinctual id is all

      • Iuno Feronia

        You are Right but I got the Impression over the last years that The New York Times and their Position is not the Position of the majority. America is not NYC oder the east coast only but is all the central states where the rednecks dwell. And the percentages of the votes are often 49,6 to 49,4 or something, very close to each other. I wish it was just like you say… we will see.

      • Robin Razzell

        I remember reading an article when the unthinkable happened and Trump was elected in 2016. Something about the Democrats dismissing the wild west at their peril, writing them off as barely literate, entirely ignorant and underestimate their collective convictions. Couldn’t find it, but this 2019 article by The (non-partisan) Hill is somewhat on point:

        https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/457044-why-democrats-demonizing-trump-supporters-destroys-accurate-polls

        But not exactly. What they were saying in 2016 is that Republicans were being mischaracterized; that in truth most of them weren’t gun-slinging white supremacists, but more frustrated salt-of-the-earth working class who just wanted jobs and mortgages they could afford.

        As you know, I think Trump is the worst thing to happen to the US — and the rest of us. (He delights in chaos. He doesn’t give a flying F about his country or anybody or anything but himself and his self-aggrandizing power.) And that I’m Canadian, and I used to consider myself solidly left-leaning until recently. The Alienation of Other you mentioned below: I think you’re so very right about this as a pivotal issue. I was delighted to read that post, as well as the other things you’ve outlined here.

        But we’ll have to agree to respectfully disagree about the NYT. I think this piece offers a prime example of what’s been going on there, of where they’re at. The tail is wagging the dog.
        https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/06/09/a-woke-coup-at-the-new-york-times/

      • Thanks for the article and the stimulating debate. I agree with you. And I am also guilty of the redneck scenario when infuriated (I know that it is all far more complex).

      • Robin Razzell

        You are the most mature and open-minded person I’ve ever had the pleasure of gently disagreeing with.

      • I am not sure we are even disagreeing – I think I see the NYT slightly too exotically sometimes – I think it is the language I love in it as much as anything.

        Most people would think I was anything but mature seeing the ridiculous posts I put up on here – but thanks. I don’t know if I am open-minded, but am cursed with always seeing everything from multiple perspectives.

        And it is fantastic that amidst the brutal crudeness of all of this, we can retain some sanity and discuss various things intelligently.

        THANK FUCK WE ARE NOT MORONS.

      • Robin

        I do like that side of you, when you’re flipping out about something, and usually rightly so!! And then when you’ve got it out of your system and come back to it from another perspective, or you have a bit of self-reflection. It’s the balance you achieve, and that’s quite extraordinary. I admire it.

      • Thankyou. I am very extreme, and always have been, so like to express the brain stem instinctual froth as well as the more removed and rational, even if I sometimes probably embarrass myself in the process, Most people present a more measured and clipped persona to the outside world : I prefer the Full Monty.

      • Robin

        I also love how iconic the New York Times is. The sheer physical heft of it, the typeface and small font, its cameo in the scenes of dozens of New York City-centric films over the decades (sitting up in bed on a Sunday morning in Manhattan with a breakfast tray doing the crossword, or the montage of issues tossed in front of a hallway’s worth of apartment doors with the same earthshattering headlines, etc.).

  2. Sadly, many of us in the USA don’t understand or welcome the “Wild West” behavior either. While it does look as if Biden will win the White House, we struggle with how to move forward with such a large percentage of our population who still endorse beliefs and behaviors we find abhorrent, and powerful interests who actively invest in promoting those beliefs and behaviors.

    • But the reverse is also true ; ‘they’ would find me and my lifestyle completely abhorrent as well, probably ( and who is to say they are wrong ?) The worldviews are so polar different and irreconcilable it is just pure separation. Alienation from The Other ( I actually do get frustrated by the pig-headed inflexibility sometimes of my largely left wing friends : it bores me – I find it unseeing).

      In Japan, and in Europe on the whole, you can be left/ right but still consider the other person a human being with a generally shared view of what a citizen is. In the US it is like different planets : what can be done?

      On the other hand, part of me finds the sheer ferocity of the divide strangely beautiful

      • I think an important difference is that most Americans on the left side of the spectrum aren’t trying to force others into their way of life. I.e., if you’re against abortion, don’t have one, no one will force you. But don’t tell others they can’t make that choice, or force upon the rest of us the belief that a zygote is literally the same thing as a living baby, with the same rights as an actual woman. While gun owners might say they’re being forced not to have any guns, that’s not true — gun control proponents ask questions about what kinds of guns civilians should be allowed to have, what conditions should be placed on them (like driver’s licenses?) and whether those guns can be brought into shared public spaces, where they may cause others fear and danger. But you’re right that there is a thread of intolerance on the left that is starting to feel like the religious absolutism more common on the right, along the lines of “If you don’t agree with me, you should burn in hell, and I’ll pour gasoline on the flames.”

      • You speak to the converted – particularly in the area of gun control ( a lot of Americans literally do adore them….. no comment).

        What makes me by far the most sick personally is that the vast majority of ‘Christians’ are not actually Christians – hardly any follow the tenets of what Jesus ( is supposed to have ) said. I have a very positive view of the teachings, but think that most adherents are in direct opposition to them.

        Jesus was hugely left wing !

  3. It is Trump and his cult followers who have created the “Wild West” behavior. He is crooked, evil and despicable not to mention a poor loser (which is putting it mildly).

    • Of course ( you may have noticed I am not exactly a fan).

      But some reconciliation with the reality of what America is ( which surely includes the whole Wild West beginnings ie gun love) is necessary, rather than just pretending it doesn’t exist.

      Trump has mined the worst parts of these people ( who presumably do have some redeeming features ?)

      D and I don’t exactly come from left wing / ‘liberal’ families/ backgrounds..

      • Also, my late English mother, who moved to the US in the 1950s, used to say for decades that Americans always go to extremes. So it’s nothing new. It just feels more malevolent and deliberately cultivated nowadays than it has been for a long time.

      • Precisely. Yes. And this is what I cannot forgive.

        That this shallow, insecure being has INTENTIONALLY caused all the mayhem just for the hollow satisfactions of his ego, when what is obviously needed is someone who can heal the rift..

        During the Bush/Gore etc period, it is obvious where my sympathies lay. But I didn’t feel that Busy was an inherently evil human being; Romney neither. Human beings will ALWAYS have both sides : some people will always plump for an iron fist and an apron with a touch of persecution on the side; in my view it is ingrained or innate I am not entirely sure.

        Trump has a unique talent for plumbing the depths of the basic psyche of the afraid tradionalist (“protect the White Man!”) which is why for me he is genuinely akin to Hitler and thus utterly threatening to human stability.

    • Iuno Feronia

      You are Right, but what I couldn’t unterstand in the last years that still so many the Republicans (politicians) stood by him although he trampled democtratic values.

  4. Tara C

    I completely see the similarity with Hitler – they seem drawn to him despite his despicable narcissistic character. Not sure if they really believe he cares about them (he doesn’t) or if it is just his macho blustering appeal to their base white supremacist souls. It occurred to me that maybe it would be cathartic to have DT win and burn the whole thing down like Hitler did – the Germans seem to have come out of their destruction better for it.

    All I can say is I am grateful not to be like him or his followers. I sincerely hope his cancer will never creep north of the 49th parallel into my Canadian haven (disregarding Alaska for the moment). That border can stay closed for a long, long time.

    I feel sympathy for those in the blue states who despair and say, « But this is not who we are! » Unfortunately it is exactly who they are, in that vast swath of red states. Un-Christian Bible-thumpers who claim to follow Jesus but despise the poor, who will vote against things that would lift everyone up just so that they don’t have to pay for « those people ». They support him because Donald Trump embodies pure politics of reprisals. They love him not because of what he does FOR them or the nation, but because of what he does TO those they have long nursed grudges and hatred for: liberals, educated “elites” and experts, LGBT, immigrants, people of color, and the like. As long as he keeps promising to hurt these groups, they will never abandon him.

    • In fairness, he hasn’t started any world wars – and though he is definitely ‘casually racist ‘ – such a scourge ! -I don’t think he is anything like the Nazis in terms of ideology : as we know, he has had plenty of non-white, non-straight associates in the past ::: anyone to perk up the party ! In that sense, the comparisons to Austria’s worst export are not suitable – I don’t think he bears a deep ethnic hatred towards any race, not deep down ( though I could of course be wrong ).

      It’s the fans that strike me as similar : the Brainwashed Barbecue Bunch and the Stormtroopers : anyone that blames the tedium of their own life on another social group

    • Iuno Feronia

      I am not d‘accord with you, I think he is a horror and a complete asshole but Hitler had an ideology, a terrific one. Trump is an egomane, folliwing only his profits, his corrupt business, installing his family like a middle eastern potentate but he is not a monster with a plan like hitler.

  5. Tara C literally posted exactly what I was planning to write.
    As far as racism goes, Hitler also had Jewish associates, Hedy Lamar’s husband being one of them, as long as they helped him. So I definitely see the parallels with Hitler. The orange thing’s followers are exactly like him, they are sub-par and mediocre at best, on many levels. They just don’t measure up, in one way or another, so they have to find others to torment and make suffer, so that they will feel somewhat better about their worthless lives.

  6. David

    Here in the Brazilian countryside, no one asked me about the election today. I don’t think it’s because they thought it’s a sensitive topic with me. (and it’s not; I’ll chit chat about anything in my kind of rough Portuguese).I just think they have other things to get on with.

    What’s happening in the USA makes me want to scream and cry and go back to some of my old ways, but I don’t want to give anyone that power over my life.

    I was a teenager in the state of Connecticut in the 80s and 90s and I remember Trump and his first wife Ivanya appearing all over the NYC talk shows during this time. That’s also when i heard about him scamming his contractors and bankrupting Atlantic City. Of course, he was not a Republican back then. He was just a rich sleaze bag.

    There’s a really good song by the GoGos called Worlds Away.

    • Belinda !

      A rich sleaze bag – yes; now with dictatorial inclinations to fill his inner void of deep insecurity : a well of resentment and negativity that feeds on itself like a centrifuge.

      I just wish he had succeeded in his casinos and stayed in them

  7. Robin Razzell

    Oops. I meant to reply at the end of the comments, Neil, not up there in the middle of nowhere where you’ll never find me!

  8. Robin Razzell

    I just realized. What’s really getting to me is how CLOSE this election is. I’m baffled. It should be a slam dunk for Biden. Are that many Americans that deluded? How can that many Americans POSSIBLY be that deluded, with everything Trump has done in the last four years?????

  9. Robin

    I have a feeling that part of the equation is a reaction to what’s happened to Seattle and Portland and is threatening to happen elsewhere. I suspect that more than a few voters who were sitting on the fence looked at those situations and said to themselves, “Well, we sure as hell don’t want downtown Pittsburgh/Atlanta/Raleigh to look like a third world civil war zone. We gotta do something.” I think there were well-meaning people protesting in Washington and Oregon but there were others, a minority but disproportionately influential, who knew exactly what defacing and destroying businesses, neighborhoods and public buildings would do so close to a presidential election.

    • I hadn’t thought of this, actually.

      • Robin

        So interesting. After I wrote that, I was reading ABC News online about the House Democrats unexpectedly losing seats this time around when they assumed they’d increase their majority, no sweat. A Democrat Rep. commented ruefully, “We have to commit to not saying the words “defund the police” ever again.”

        There’s been a tug of war within the party between the moderates and progressives and by the results it’s certainly very possible that the progressives have done a bit of a scuppering.

        That same Rep. also flatly said, “If we are classifying Tuesday as a success and we run this way again, we will get f—— torn apart in 2022.”

        Sad, Portland, last night after I commented. Agitators targeted a city commissioner’s home, breaking a window and throwing burning flares and paint-filled balloons. Then they went downtown and set fire to the Portland City Hall. This is so crazy. I and so many of my friends used to go to Portland all the time, a really fun five-hour drive from Vancouver and an essential pit stop on the way to the amazing Oregon Coast. It was cooler than Vancouver at the time, ahead of us with hip bars and restaurants and coffee places and microbreweries. So mellow. Of all places to f-up, why there? But of course, why not?

      • What is going on in these agitators’ minds precisely, do you think? I understand the urge to ransack and go wild, being a ‘Brit’ (always the plundering Viking underneath; the Punk) but it feels that tearing up and setting fire to cities, even if you are genuinely enraged, can only be self defeating

      • Tara C

        I think it’s just some people taking advantage of the situation to break and steal, it’s their idea of fun & profit.

      • Robin

        Unless you want to create more chaos and undermine the democratic process and pull a country down whose structure you despise. Then it certainly has its merits.

      • Chaos will ultimately not benefit anyone.

  10. Robin Wright

    Are you familiar with the American writer and satirist Sinclair Lewis? One of his most famous works is Elmer Gantry, written in 1927. (A highly acclaimed movie was made years later, in 1960).
    Elmer Gantry satirizes the American evangelical Christians and fundamentalists of the day, and how American society regards them. Though this was written decades ago it seems as though it could’ve been written yesterday, sadly. It gives one good insight into the contemporary Red State mind-set.
    On a more personal note, I am exhausted, stressed and saddened by how close our Presidential election is turning out to be. I am very liberal but also very patriotic, and it really hurts to see how divisive, chaotic and just UNKIND my country has become the last four years. Trump turned the rock over and the ugliness has crawled out.

    • He is honestly, in my view, personally responsible for it. Not for creating it, but in cynically using it for his own shallowly avaricious purposes.

      The book sounds interesting. I have written about religion before on here and am not disrespectful towards it : but righteous hypocrites make me puke

  11. Robin Wright

    Righteous hypocrites make me want to puke as well! I find that people like that are so narrow-minded and rigid in their beliefs. If one doesn’t share their beliefs they won’t acknowledge and/or respect that there is room for other points of view.

    • This is absolutely true on both sides though, right and left. And that is what makes any progress difficult. You have to at least TRY to understand the other side. I am bound in very tightly in my ultra-leftist bubble – all of the ideas of which I basically agree with – but I don’t feel there is much room for manoeuvre. To suggest anything that doesn’t fit in with these ideas is total heresy and can lead to total excommunication. I prefer people with a broader scope of imagination : I know I see the world in a less restricted way personally.

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