Sunday, September 23, 2012

Genocidal rhetoric in China

I'm not sure what to make of the recent wave of anti-Japanese sentiment in China. The good folks at Language Log have some interesting posts up about a slogan/poem now appearing all over China calling for the extermination of all Japanese.
Even if the whole of China is covered with tombs, [we] must kill all Japanese; even if no grass grows in China, we must recover Diaoyudao [the Senkakus]
The Diaoyuadao are the disputed islands in the East China Sea. Here is a discussion of the poem. Here is a discussion of how literally we should take such rhetoric, including this comment.
Since Mao, words like xiāomiiè 消灭 ("eliminate; extirpate") have crept further into daily-life Chinese than they had ever been before, and in that sense they are not literal. But the very "normalization" of bloodthirsty language probably makes violence more possible, too.
I've been thinking we need to update the old Tom Lerher song, National Brotherhood Week: Oh the Christians, hate the Muslims, and the Muslims, hate the Hindus and the Chinese hate the Japanese, and everybody hate the Jews. I'm not sure who Joe Arpaio should be dancing cheek to cheek with, though.