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Gil Asakawa

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Seriously? Controversy About Obama Kids Getting Teriyaki Chicken at School?

Posted: 12/08/11 04:35 PM ET

This about takes the cake for lame-ass non-issues. WUSA9, Gannett's DC affiliate (and sister station to Denver's KUSA 9News, the top-rated station in Denver and home to Adele Arakawa, the Japanese-American top-rated anchor), posted this video and text followup about the Obama girls' private school serving Asian food on December 7: "Sidwell Friends School, Sasha and Malia Obama's School, Opts For Asian, including Japanese Food On Pearl Harbor Day."

If you watch the video, it criticizes the yahoos who turned the lunch menu into political commentary about dishonoring those who died at Pearl Harbor 70 years ago. But the text is much more ambivalent and invites readers to get worked up into a frenzy, even with its headline spotlighting "Japanese Food." Come one, teriyaki chicken? Yeah, it's Japanese but it's hardly un-American. Nothing to convene a new HUAC investigation over.

OMG -- no one should have any Japanese food on December 7. For that matter, we shouldn't have any German or Italian food in addition to Japanese food, on Memorial Day or Veterans' Day. And don't forget Korean and Vietnamese food... oh wait, there were Koreans and Vietnamese who were on our side. God forbid, if anyone gulped down any sushi yesterday, they're traitor bastards.

This kind of crap is why I grew up dreading December 7 every year.

As a kid, I used to get "Remember Pearl Harbor!" yelled at me by other kids, as if I had something to do with the bombing. The emotional echoes of that attack are still so potent that in 1991, when the U.S. attacked Baghdad at the start of the first Iraq war, the Rocky Mountain News ran a banner headline that read, "ANOTHER DAY THAT'S SURE TO LIVE IN INFAMY." The paper ran a correction the next day saying the of course didn't mean to say the U.S. attack was like the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor. No doubt it was written by some over-eager young copy editor who hadn't read his history books but understood the symbolism of the attack.

And earlier this year, when Japan was devastated by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, a whole bunch of ignorant Americans went on a rampage on social network sites like Twitter and Facebook, saying -- really -- that the disaster was God's retribution for Pearl Harbor. Really? Wonder what God's gonna do to the U.S. as retribution for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

I understand the attack on Pearl Harbor was terrible, and it sparked America's entry into WWII. I grieve for the thousands of people who died that day, like I grieve for the thousands who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in every war, and on 9/11, 2001. I note each year's memorial at the USS Arizona, the sunken coffin at Pearl Harbor, and share in Americans' mourning.

But having a little Americanized Japanese food on Dec. 7 -- by the way, the menu wasn't planned to coincide with Dec. 7 at all, it's part of a pre-planned rotating schedule of cuisines -- is no conspiracy to dishonor the memory of that tragedy.

(Thanks to Pamela Wu and the APA Mavens list for the heads-up.)

 

Follow Gil Asakawa on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gilasakawa