Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Race relations in Japan are in meltdown after Japanese airline carrier All Nippon Airlines ran an ad, which showed the cruelly offensive racist stereotype of the big-nosed gaijin (Nihongo for 'foreigner'). Luckily, the nose in question wasn't hooked or it would have been anti-Semitic as well.

Actually, no... People with actual things to do are not in the least bit bothered, and while some internet warriors thousands of miles away might think that something is amiss, the actual gaijins condemned to live in the "racist hellhole of Tokyo" have hardly noticed the internet shit storm.

Sure it's a racial caricature, but less well known is that the same series of ads, which include posters on trains as well as the now notorious TV commercial, also presents the same actor dressed as several other racial stereotypes.

The difference is that in all the other cases – at least as far as I can recall – the costumes did not involve any prosthetic additions or even changes to skin colour. This is because most of the routes being advertised are to destinations in Asia or elsewhere that have easily referenced national costumes, so that the actor just needs a visit to the wardrobe.

Luckily ANA don't bother flying to Africa much, as we know what that might involve in a country that has not been pussy-whipped into full compliance with Western-style political correctness.

The TV spot presents a generic foreigner. Strange as this may seem, for the Japanese, this is a blonde-haired man with a large nose who is not reticent about showing his feelings. This is, in fact, gently mocking shorthand for Americans (remember them?), who, despite the best efforts of Hollywood and generations of immigration-hungry businessmen and politicians, the Japanese still persist in seeing as Northern Europeans (possibly with a hint of Jewishness signified by the large proboscis, although for the Japanese, of course, all Occidentals have big noses).

For the Japanese this is the archetypal or hegemonic foreigner, reflecting the simple historical fact that most of the important foreigners who have influenced Japan, either through their actions or ideas, were White men.

Also, a large nose correlates in the Japanese mind with a large penis. 

So, rather than being a reflection of contempt, the ad is actually a backhanded recognition of how great and powerful – and indeed sexy – White men are. People oversees exhibiting butthurt about this may somewhat slightly spoil the effect.

Incidents like this also raise the question of how insulting racial epithets are, and more importantly why they are insulting.

My thesis is simple: racial epithets are only insulting if a person is a member of a racial group that is justifiably held in low esteem. I am Scottish, and therefore a member of the world’s true master race. You could remind me of this fact as often as you wanted, but let me assure you, you could never insult me by it.

Even if you called me a "Scottish moron" or "Scottish idiot," this would still be less insulting than calling me a standard issue moron or run-of-the mill idiot. Even synonyms for Scottishness, like "tartan-arsed," "haggis munching," etc., wouldn't get you very far.

After all when you're a member of a master race, you're bullet proof.

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