I Love a Parade

President George W. Bush addresses sailors and the nation from the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln of the coast of San Diego, California May 1, 2003. From [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/05/images/20030501-15_lincoln6-515h.html] {{PD-

Here’s a good piece explaining what’s going on with China’s new Two Minutes Hate holiday kicking off tomorrow. Even though I recognize the genuine horror and humiliation China suffered at the hands of the Japanese during World War II, I’m too jaded by my experience in China to rise above my cynicism. I’ve had seven-year olds in class tell me unprompted how much they hate Japan. I taught middle school students who actively hoped for another war with Japan so that China can finally get its revenge. I’ve been out at restaurants or bars and had total strangers strike up conversations with me just so that they can tell me how much they hate Japan.

It’s weird, and I don’t understand it, and then I remember Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech. I don’t have much of a point here. This post is more an exercise in reminding myself that no country is immune to the allure of big set piece displays of nationalism, and before I get too critical of China I need to remember some of my own country’s Orwellian moments.

If there is a point, I suppose it’s something about how both Americans and Chinese would do better to remember that war is more a careful-what-you-wish-for kind of thing rather than something to lust after.