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Monday, April 04, 2011
Last week, Floyd Meek, one of my neighbors back in Holabird, died at the age of 89. He was well known and respected in business and the community, but his greatest fame came from the fact that he was a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack nearly 70 years ago.
When I heard that Floyd had passed, I mentioned that fact on my Facebook page last night, along with a remark that "Time had done what the Japs failed to do 70 years ago. One of my Friends on Facebook took offense to my use of the work Jap, which can happen as people take offense to nearly anything these days. My friend equated the work Jap to the N word. I decided to study on this and see if this was a valid criticism.
Black people object to the N word. Polite society really hammers those who use it. I used to use that word myself, but my experience with the DWU MCC showed me that it was not the best choice of word. I have stopped using it, and will not use it out of respect of my brothers and sister who are people of color. It bothers me to hear friends and family members use that word, but not enough to speak up. I just consider the source and pray that they will see think better of it someday.
Jap is a term used in the WWII era to denote people from the Japanese Empire. There were other terms used, which to me were more offensive than Jap. The way I used the word on Facebook may have been offensive, and indeed was offensive to at least one person, but in the context used was historically correct. At that time and place Jap was the proper term.
In this day and age however, things have changed. The United States are no longer at war with the Japanese Empire. There are more Toyotas being built on American soil than any other kind of car. I have an uncle, who is a WWII veteran himself, who sold one of his houses to a Japanese family. I have two cousins who married Japanese gentlemen. If I were to go out into the world and point to a Japanese person and yell, "JAP!", that would be wrong. However, if I point to Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941 and say that the Japs did that, it would be 100% correct to do so. Anyone who says otherwise is itching for a fight.
The big difference between Jap and the N word is that Japan was the antagonist. The black people were enslaved by the white Europeans simply because they found a passage in the Bible that they said gave them permission. Just as racism is a form of ignorance, so is political correctness. Words can be used as weapons, they can also be used as a teaching tool. Hopefully we've all learned something today.
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