Japanese criticism of America has a ring of truth

Mike Royko

June 24, 1991|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

YOU THINK WE'RE gonna get in a real shootin' war with Japan again?" asked Slats Grobnik.

What a ridiculous question.

"Whadaya mean, ridiculous? I read in your paper that some egghead professor wrote a book that says it's a cinch to happen because of the way we're bashin' them and they're startin' to bash us."

Yes, harsh words are frequently exchanged because of our economic differences. But that doesn't mean we'll take up arms against each other.

"I dunno. I don't trust them. There's something about that deadpan look of theirs. You know, they're unscrewable."

You mean inscrutable.

"Whatever. You never know what they're thinking. But you can bet that whatever they're thinking, it's kinda sneaky. Always has been. I seen some of them samurai movies. Always whacking each other on the heads with swords. You never saw Robin Hood or Zorro do that. Always stuck 'em in the heart, like real sportsmen."

See? You are engaging in Japanese-bashing right now.

"So what? They do it to us. They go around saying that we ain't civilized and we're ignorant and uneducated and we ain't got no couth and we spend our money like drunken sailors."

Well, they're not entirely wrong. Considering our alleged greatness and our role as leader of the free world, it does seem contradictory that we lead the civilized world in murders, rapes, robbery, child abuse, lawsuits -- and our illiteracy rate is appalling. Not to mention being up to our ears in debt as individuals, corporations and a nation.

"Hey, whose side you on?"

It's not a matter of taking sides. Remember, I own two true-blue American cars, unlike some pseudo-patriots who dangled yellow ribbons from their little Tokyomobiles. But I'm simply being realistic. Some of their bashing of us is valid.

"Yeah, well, I don't appreciate being called uncouth by some bow-legged guy who ain't got enough sense to cook a fish before he eats it. I even read where the big fad in Japan is to eat little fish while they're still wiggling. Now that's what I call really uncouth. Can you imagine going on a fishing trip with people like that? They'd eat all the bait before you even got away from the pier. Talk about gross."

At least it's low in cholesterol.

"You know what I think is bugging them? Sure, they can make cars and fancy TV sets and VCRs and all kinds of doodads and gizmos. But they ain't no good at sports, and they're jealous because we are. I ask you, what kind of country makes national heroes out of 500-pound blobs who wear diapers in public and

wrestle for five seconds until one of them runs out of breath and faints?"

Nonsense. They have their own highly successful baseball league.

"Hah! I saw them play on TV. What a joke, bowing to the umpires and running around on their little stumpy legs. They even import some of our has-beens to try to give it a little class. But a good saloon softball team could beat them."

Maybe. But they are also avid golfers.

"Yeah, and that's why I think that professor is right. If they ever start a war with us, it's because they don't have enough land for golf courses of their own. So maybe their secret military plan is to have another sneaky war and if they win, they can take over our golf courses and make us their caddies. I get depressed just thinking about that. Just imagine, our grandchildren totin' golf bags for those guys. And when they get to a water hazard, bein' told: 'Ho-hi, caddy. Jump in pond and catch me raw fish for lunch.'"

I think you are being an alarmist. Even if they wanted to have a war with us, they don't have the military means to do it. In order to build a massive war machine, they would have to wreck their own economy, drain their domestic resources, sacrifice their international financial position, shortchange their educational and health systems, run up high deficits and errode their own standard of living. In this day and age no intelligent, civilized country wants to somethat that self-defeating.

"No? I can think of at least one."

Let's talk about the pennant race.

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