Tsunami vs Pearl Harbor: An Interview
You probably saw the post we put up over the weekend about people who made comparisons on Facebook between Pearl Harbor and the Japanese tsunami. You also probably got pretty angry at the people that said those things, which is totally fine, because it is a really awful thing to say.
Even though we blocked out the names, a lot of these people have been found on Facebook and threatened, so we thought we'd get in touch with them and see what they had to say for themselves. Of the five people who got back to us, one of them was a member of the US Marine corps; which is fucking terrifying. Another of them had copied and pasted the status from a friend's Facebook to point out what a stupid opinion it was; so we took his down once we realised our mistake. A few stood by their statements, but only one of them actually followed through and gave us an interview.
Gary, whose post is above, got back in touch to say that he didn't mind talking to us. What he said was definitely disgusting, and while the interview beneath is fucking infuriating, it's also pretty sad. Perhaps it's easier to understand why he has such a nasty and unforgiving view of the world once you hear a bit about his life.
VICE: Hi Gary. Do you remember what you were doing when you first heard about the disaster in Japan?
Gary (last name redacted): I was at home. And my mom called me and told me about it.
And what was your initial reaction?
I didn't care.
Did you tell your mom that?
Yeah. She didn't say anything. Just told me that they're people too.
Okay. But you don't agree?
I agree they're people, but I'm not gonna have sympathy for them and watch it on every news station. I just feel that there are bigger, more important things going on in our country and I think we should focus on that more than what's going on in Japan.
What do you think is more important that's happening in your country?
The war. When was the last time you heard anything on the news about the war? Every time I turn the news on, they show me a video of a boat tipping over during the tsunami. I'm not worried about that.
Right. What's happening with the war these days anyway?
I couldn't tell ya.
And you think that's because the US news has their priorities in the wrong place?
Do you think that there should maybe be some sort of law that prohibits US news stations from reporting too heavily on foreign issues? Like, in an ideal world, would you just have no idea that there had even been a tsunami because it didn't happen in America?
Yes. That's the kind of world I want to live in.
Hmmm, I get the feeling you're not being totally genuine. Are you "trolling"?
I don't even know what trolling means.
Okay, never mind. I suppose you wouldn't admit it even if you were. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I'm 19, on the path to getting my life back on track. I started using drugs at the age of 15 and just recently quit. I am signed up for college in May, and currently looking for a part-time job. I went in to a psych-ward a year ago and saw a lot of stuff a kid shouldn't see. I'm bi-polar also, so my reactions to things are different at times.
Heavy. What kind of things did you see that shouldn't be seen by a kid?
I saw my dad beat my mom all the time. Then they got a divorce. My mom's new husband has been in and out of jail my whole life. I don't come from a rich family. We're not poor but we have our nights with little food. I saw some crazy people in the psych ward. I was scared as hell when I was there, honestly. I was 18 and thought I had people figured out until I went in there. I was just shocked at how mentally ill some of those people were. I was hit on by old men. My 40-year-old roommate walked around naked all the time, and my only friend in there was a guy that had tried to kill his half-brother. It made me feel like I was some mentally ill psycho-person.
Wow. That all sucks. I'm sorry you had to go through all of that. You mentioned karma in your Facebook post about Japan. Do you think you did something bad in your past to bring so much bad fortune upon yourself?
I never really understood that. When I was younger I was my grandmother's favorite grandson. She would tell me that all the time. I played football, got good grades, I was kinda chubby but still could get a pretty girlfriend. Then I moved to a small farm town and started using drugs because of peer pressure and not having anything to do. So I don't really see what I could have done in my past. I was a well-mannered kid back then.
Huh. I think your karma theory is flawed. Why did you post the status? Did you think it would offend people?
I post things like that all the time. I let people know what I think about things. I'm a debater. I like arguing with people and trying to prove points. My friends and family say I should get into politics, haha.
In that case, present your case. Tell me why Japan deserved to be hit with a tsunami.
I think Japan did deserve what happened last week. But I want to make it clear that it's not about being racist or something, because I'm not racist. I think growing up listening to teachers preach to us about Japan and what happened in Pearl Harbor, and movies about Japanese wars or people in general are the reason people say things like what I said. People develop a hatred for someone or a population of people by something they know about them or something they did.
Hating a race of people for something different people of the same race did kind of does make you racist.
No it's not. We have Japanese people living in Michigan, I don't hate them, yet they're still the same race.
Using your karma theory, why do you think Hurricane Katrina hit the US?
Because of the war. I think President Bush fucked up and started this war over nothing, and killed for nothing. So karma bit him in the ass.
And 9/11? Same deal?
No. I think 9/11 was plotted by the government or the President or something, so we could have a reason to go to war.
Ah, okay. What about Hiroshima? Was that not punishment for Pearl Harbor?
Oh. Yeah. I think they learned their lesson.
So why did they deserve a tsunami? Or are they just generally a bad nation that deserves bad things?
I don't really have a reason for why they deserve the tsunami. I guess I just hate them. What have they done for the US other than bomb our ships and make video games?
Well, the Japanese public donated 16 million dollars when Hurricane Katrina happened.
That's true. But I think the Japanese are dumb for donating money to the US when we owe them billions.
And this is where Gary stopped talking to me. I've since sent him a Facebook message, but he hasn't responded.
JAMIE LEE CURTIS TAETE