Some people think Japan’s earthquake and tsunami are payback for Pearl Harbor? Really?

Japan tsunami

I was shocked, saddened and depressed when I learned that there are people in the United States who think that the Tohoku Kanto Earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which has caused enormous damage and casualties that will surely top 10,000, is some sort of karmic payback for Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor. Really? Seriously?

Yes, unfortunately. Here’s just a sampling of some updates and comments from Facebook that rant about Pearl Harbor and the tsunami, and how the U.S shouldn’t send any aid to Japan:

Who bombed Pearl Harbor? Karmas a bitch.

Do I feel bad for japan? Two words….pearl harbor

Dear Japan, it’s not nice to be snuck up on by something you can’t do anything about, is it? Sincerely, Pearl Harbor.

screw japan they got what they dederve. any remember pearl horbor I do .they killed thousands of anericans and would do it again. kill em all let god sort emm out.

Now the people in japan know how we felt during pearl harbor when they made are man abd women float in the ocean…

Its god way of sayng theres too many chinese here imma take u out lol

If they didn’t bomb pearl harbor this wouldn’t have happened. Gods way of tell japanese people there gay

all yall remember pearl harbor when yall give money to japan

OMG!!! Im so sick of people “praying for Japan” :we should help” i don’t know wha happened in yall brain but they’re the same people that bombed Pearl Harbor! get it together mane, I have no sympathy for em, Tragic stuff happen every single day!!

Obama To Offer Assistance To Earthquake.. We have starving people in this country, people with housing /medical needs and other life substaining essentials yet USA runs to the rescue, who’s going to rescue us the overinflated porices does any 1 remember “PEARL HARBOR”??? AGAIN TAX PAYERS WILL END UP PAYING AT THE END OF THE DAY

I’m all for free speech and these people have a right to say what they think, even if it’s ignorant, misinformed and downright hateful. But these thoughts are worrisome because they seem so cavalier, so easy for these people to express.

Thankfully, there seems to be a backlash building of people on social networks (just search for “Pearl Harbor” on Twitter) raising a chorus of sentiment calling out these ignorant comments and saying, for instance, “If this Earthquake is Japan’s Karmatic punishment for Pearl Harbor, I dread to see what ours will be for Hiroshima and Nagasaki” and “Who ever said that the earthquake was karma for Pearl Harbor are morons. Obviously they forgot the US nuked 2 of their cities in retaliation.”

Some people who should know better because they’re public figures have made stupid pronouncements too. A WNBA superstar, Cappie Pondexter had to apologize for a pair of Tweets, “What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there own country! Idk guys he makes no mistakes” and “u just never knw! They did pearl harbor so u can’t expect anything less.” She later apologized.

Alex Sulkin, a writer and producer for the animated TV show “Family Guy” Tweeted, “If you want to feel better about this earthquake in Japan, google “Pearl Harbor death toll”. He also later apologized.

Gilbert Gottfried, a comedian whose raspy voice has been the quack of the Aflac duck for the insurance company’s US television commercials, made some insensitive jokes (12 of ‘em) on Twitter about the tsunami, and he was fired by the company.

Although she wasn’t a celebrity a few days ago, a student at UCLA, Alexandra Wallace has become something of a name for a really unfortunate anti-Asian video she posted to YouTube, “Asians in the Library,” in which she makes the mocking “ching-chong” phony Chinese sound and makes a comment about how Asians in the library are irritating her even if they’re getting news about their relatives “back home” after the tsunami.

What is it about this horrible disaster and the tragic aftermath — we’re on the brink of a nuclear meltdown, hello — that is bringing out such stupid reactions?

I’m most disturbed by the range of people spouting this garbage: Looking at their Facebook profile pictures I see young and old, white, black, Hispanic faces (no Asians, thankfully) and both men and women. One profile photo shows a smiling man holding a cute baby to his cheek. But the update next to his photo is anything but cute or smiling.

Years ago in the 1990s when I worked in Colorado Springs at the Gazette, I interviewed a veteran who survived Pearl Harbor and he kept saying “Japs” during the interview. He finally stopped, looked at me and said, “You know I don’t mean you, right?” If he’s still alive, I wonder if he would agree with the people who link the tsunami with Pearl Harbor.

For the record, here are some facts to counter some of the claims about Pearl Harbor, and other misinformation passed along in such comments:

Pearl Harbor attack, Dec. 7 1941Pearl Harbor suffered a terrible attack on Dec. 7, 1941, but it was an act of war, not an act of nature. The targets were military (not that that makes it less awful), and 2,402 men were killed and 1,282 wounded.

The U.S. declared war on Japan the next day, and towards the end of the war, had embarked on a firebombing campaign that killed more people than the two atomic bombs that forced Japan to surrender. On the night of March 9-10, 1945, 335 B-29 bombers flew over Tokyo and dropped around 1,700 tons of bombs. About 16 square miles of Tokyo was destroyed and well over 100,000 people (that’s a conservative estimate) died in the firestorm caused by the bombing.

The atomic bomb over Hiroshima killed about 90,000 instantly, and in Nagasaki, 70,000 were killed by the second A-bomb.

If people think the tsunami is some sort of payback, that’s some steep interest over the decades, because anyone would say that during the war, Japan paid the ultimate price for its aggression of the 1930s.

Some people are objecting to sending monetary or relief aid to Japan, claiming that Japan didn’t even help the United States after Katrina. That’s blatantly untrue, or terribly uninformed.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry announced it would provide $1 million in relief aid to Katrina victims, and the government also donated $200,000 to the Red Cross immediately following the hurricane. Private Japanese donors gave more than $1.5 million and Japanese companies with US operations gave $12 million towards Katrina relief.

What’s happening in Japan right now is a tragedy of worldwide proportions, and luckily, I think most people here in the U.S. and around the globe understand that and empathize with the plight of the Japanese. It’s just too bad that there are also those who think the Japanese people somehow had it coming to them.

27 Comments to "Some people think Japan’s earthquake and tsunami are payback for Pearl Harbor? Really?"

  1. March 15, 2011 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

    The fact that many of these people seem to have forgotten Nagasaki and Hiroshima shows their ignorance. Throughout history, almost every culture has done something for which “karma” could cast retribution. Thankfully, the majority of people see such a disaster not as karma, but as means to see each other as one humanity, despite our differences.

  2. Julie Yun's Gravatar Julie Yun
    March 15, 2011 - 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Blatant ignorance and insensistivity aside, I would like to point out that there is a very compelling reason why we as a nation must be concerned about what is occurring in Japan right now. We are no longer living in a “us-them” world. What happens in one corner of the world impacts what happens in the rest of the world. So even if you have a heart of stone and cannot muster up concern for the sake of decency or humanitarian reasons, you might want to take a step back and think about how this catastrophic event will impact global economies and governments. So the idea that we shouldn’t be concerned about events that happen across the other side of the world because it doesn’t affect us is not only callous but misinformed and naive…the fate of the Japanese, the Egyptians, Lybians,etc. are inextricably tied with our own.

  3. Shirley Goh's Gravatar Shirley Goh
    March 15, 2011 - 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all the figures, Gil. I assumed there would be, as you say, “steep interest” if the stupid “karma” comments were true, but didn’t know the numbers myself. Then again, I don’t expect ignorant people to look up facts before they spew their hate.

  4. March 15, 2011 - 6:52 pm | Permalink

    It makes me sick and ashamed to see my fellow countryman act with such cruelty and stupidity in the face of such human tragedy. No one no matter what your politics are you can not tell me that little Yuki-chan had to die because of some war generations ago or some whales killed in the Antarctic. This isn’t a time to cast judgment. Particularly from non-Buddhists who do not know what Karma really is. This is a time to show compassion for your fellow man. This isn’t just a Japanese crisis. This is a world wide humanitarian crisis that affects all of us particularly if that nuclear plant blows and spreads radioactive fall out into the Jet Stream hitting the entire U.S. then we’ll see whose karma now.

  5. Shirley Goh's Gravatar Shirley Goh
    March 15, 2011 - 7:09 pm | Permalink

    The things they don’t teach you in history!

  6. A Minister of the gospel's Gravatar A Minister of the gospel
    March 16, 2011 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    And how would insensitive people who attack Japan’s tragedy account for all the serial killers America produces? A blessing from God?

    I wonder do they think mass murders in America and child molesters and rapists and disease and invasion of pythons and disappearing honey bees in America is a judgment of God or a blessing from God?
    What about the trillions of dollars of debt America is in; is this a blessing from God?
    Heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, obesity claiming American lives daily is this a blessing from God?

    I could go on but this should suffice to show that no nation is favored by God and all nations are UNDER him.

    God said in the Bible is is the SOUL THAT SINS THAT SHALL DIE, not the nation that sins.

  7. Paloma Rowan's Gravatar Paloma Rowan
    March 16, 2011 - 12:20 pm | Permalink

    This kind of thinking is truly horrendous! I ended a romantic relationship because he made a similar comment. Have Americans forgotten that we waged the only nuclear war on Japan??? 2,406 Americans died as a result of the Pearl Harbor attack. 100 times more people died in Japan as either a direct or indirect results of the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki – that’s 240,000 thousand lives lost. Not to mention the biological and environmental ramifications. I’d say America “got even” with them.

    The Japanese people are generally some of the most gracious and humble cultures on the planet, and they are very tenacious and I feel certain they will prevail!!!

  8. Jay Demo's Gravatar Jay Demo
    March 16, 2011 - 6:38 pm | Permalink

    great comments above! i wholeheartedly agree…

    And for those ‘people’ who think it is some karmic retribution… hhmmm , let’s see, it’s about 60 years after the fact, so i guess that in oh, 2014-15 somebody will be ‘paying’ for the Tokyo fire storms bombings; some of which killed over 100,000 people in ONE night… a higher toll than the atomic bombings. i guess they Mayans were off a couple of years… ;-)

  9. March 16, 2011 - 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Gil, for writing this balanced report and commentary to counteract some of the idiocy out in cyberspace. I suppose we’ve always had such idiots around us; we just didn’t have to listen to them at quite the same volume before the advent of social media.

  10. Zariez's Gravatar Zariez
    March 21, 2011 - 7:22 am | Permalink

    I wish I was not an American. Being American is the worst. So many people are rude and ignorant.

  11. March 22, 2011 - 4:35 am | Permalink

    saadi says:
    human beings are members of a whole
    in creation of one essence and soul…

  12. DKW's Gravatar DKW
    March 22, 2011 - 7:04 pm | Permalink

    This message is to Cappie Pondexter:

    I have to confess the first time I ever heard your name was when I read about your horrible, inhuman comments about the recent tsunami tragedy in my adopted country. Therefore, I don’t know anything about your talents as a basketball player or your views and values as a person or anything. So I’m not in a position to make any judgment about you (which of course is NOT my intention here either) except to observe that at least in that instant that you tweeted those meaningless remarks about how Japan deserves this disaster, you lost, may be momentarily, what it means to be a decent human being.

    We, no matter what race or religion we are of, NORMALLY feel empathy towards our fellow human beings.
    I cannot fathom how one can feel elated at seeing/hearing about the vast destruction that nature had unleashed on entire innocent communities who had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor, and declair “they deserve it”. As all have observed here, THAT generation of this country paid for Pearl harbor dearly. No one, even you Cappie, in the entire world deserves what happened in Tohoku on March 11th. If you cannot understand that, all I can say to you is, you are insdeed a very small soul despite all your basket ball talents and declarations of being “spiritual”.

    I don’t know whether you were on the Rutger’s University team in 2007 under Vivian Stringer, when some insensitive radio journalist (cannot remember his name) stooped to new inhuman lows and made unpardonblae commens about the team. I saw on TV here, how upset the players were and my heart went out for them, and filled with admiration about how they handled that situation. I wonder wheterh you were a part of that team. What etched in my mind most was how Ms. Stringer supported and encouraged her team to act with dignity with this wisdom: “No one can make you feel inferior unless you allow them”.

    Cappie, you and all those others who even momentarily think that this country desves what it got on March 11th cannot put us into despair because we won’ t ALLOW our minds to get hurt from ignorance and inhumanity of a tiny fraction of our fellow human beings. We get soothed by the kindness and generosity of million folds more people than the littel minded fraction. And with grit, we face waht we have to do with level heads, and Japan as before, will come through this tragedy also intact and would rebulild the lives spared in that area as best as it can.

    As for you Cappie, if you had also played under Ms. Stringer, then shame on you, you haven’t learned anything form an inspiring person like her. For that I pity you.

  13. March 26, 2011 - 1:02 am | Permalink

    Just change of topic for a moment; I recall the classic comedy film “Animal House” with the late John Belushi and his frat-boy character Bluto:

    Bluto: Over?! It’s not over til we say it’s over! Was it over…when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor??
    (two other frat members are talking)
    -Germans?
    -It’s OK, he’s on a roll!

  14. Complete Unknown's Gravatar Complete Unknown
    March 28, 2011 - 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I don’t agree with saying that the Tsunami was karma for Pearl Harbor on an intellectual level, but I do feel obliged to play Devil’s Advocate for some of the people claiming that to be the case.

    Pearl Harbor was that generation’s 9/11, and when they went to war against Japan, Japanese soldiers were infamously cruel, sadistic bastards. Their POW camps were very comparable to Hitler’s Concentration Camps. I myself have heard war stories about Japanese doing some awful things to prisoners that made even my stomach churn a bit.

    Bearing this in mind, people from this generation do have a right to hold a grudge. It is simply human, and that is really all that needs to be said.

    Younger generations do get less of a pass. I could understand if you were raised by your Jap hating grandparents, but the majority of us have realized Japan now is much different from Japan then. I don’t think it is fair to call the older generation ignorant and racist, however, since they actually did live in the Us vs. Them era and they are, well, relics of it.

  15. gabriela's Gravatar gabriela
    March 31, 2011 - 7:55 am | Permalink

    i don’t think that this happened because of the Pearl Harbor insodient. i don’t think it was right that Japan did it, but they did. and we should not blame those had nothing to do with it. many Japanese people died in the Pearl Harbor as well. we need to learn how to forget and forgive. yes i know that it is hard to forget about your loved ones, but if you realize it they lost loved ones just as well. and just don’t blame it on them, things happen for a reason. Pray For Japan.

  16. April 2, 2011 - 4:12 am | Permalink

    Julie: what you say is true. In Afghanistan, a number of UN staff have just been murdered by a mob who was angry about Quran-burnings in the U.S.

    While what that Afghan mob did was clearly criminal, people like Pastor Terry Jones, as well as the Westboro Baptist Church and similar groups/individuals, need to understand that when they blatantly insult other people’s religions and cultures (by Quran-burnings, for example), it can
    have consequences for people elsewhere.

  17. sim hong ze's Gravatar sim hong ze
    July 24, 2011 - 7:15 am | Permalink

    While what that Afghan mob did was clearly criminal, people like Pastor Terry Jones, as well as the Westboro Baptist Church and similar groups/individuals, need to understand that when they blatantly insult other people’s religions and cultures (by Quran-burnings, for example), it can
    have consequences for people elsewhere.
    Leave a Comment

  18. Cynthia's Gravatar Cynthia
    January 20, 2012 - 3:12 am | Permalink

    That is ridiculous, do people honestly believe that we have that much control over Earth to manipulate it to their will? If they are talking about the nuclear plant that leaked , that calls for a more loaded answer. Our industrialized life styles have their conveniences but they also come with risks and and consequences. California for instance is very condense with industrialization though we sit right on top of a fault line. All casualty’s like this was from structure collapse. We chose to live in such structures knowing the risks, just like Japan chose to have nuclear powers though they also are are sitting on active fault, they chose to live on a coastline knowing fully that the tide is unpredictable. Do I think some of the damage could have been avoided “YES” But that doesn’t mean we can turn our backs on those in need. Its against humanity.

  19. May 28, 2013 - 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Gil, this is an interesting article indeed. For some people, the Second World War did not end. Besides, we are not suppose to dance in joy over someone else’s trouble but we oughta help them. If people in America believe that this is payback for Pearl Harbor it’s rather insensitive but not without totally without rational thought. Some people just couldn’t get over it.

  20. jo's Gravatar jo
    April 8, 2014 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I think I heard there were some Koreans and Chinese that said the same thing but people like this are rare, though disappointing. Unfortunately, there are ignorant haters like this…can’t please everyone. There’s an internet saying…haters gonna hate. Don’t let it get to you, or you’ll feel tired and angry.

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