http://www.worldmeets.us/images/KTVU-asiana-names_pic.jpg

Screen grab from San Francisco's KTVU: Whether one attributes the

station's error in identifying the pilots on last week's tragic crash to

insensitivity, racism, or incompetence, it is undeniably embarrassing.

 

 

Asiana Tragedy: American 'Racists' Should Face Django (JoongAng Ilbo, South Korea)

 

"San Francisco television station KTVU aired a broadcast that included racially bogus and insensitive names attributed to the pilots of the Asiana aircraft. ... making a mockery of Asian names - especially in an Asian tragedy - is nothing but discrimination. ... It is truly unpleasant that some Americans mock Korean culture at a time of such a tragic accident. The antidote I would propose is a movie. Iíd recommend Django Unchained, a 2012 American western directed by Quentin Tarantino. Let Django deal with these racists."

 

By Nahm Yoon-ho

 

July 17, 2013

 

South Korea - JoongAng Ilbo - Original Article (English)

Jamie Foxx as Django: Dees the insensitivity of American media in the wake of the Asiana air crash in San Francisco warrant his brand of rough justice?

KTVU TV, U.S.: Asiana Pilots Names from KTVU News, July 12, 00:01:53 RealVideo

A Tokyo correspondent for an American newspaper told me - as if he had made a major discovery, "When I visited the house of a Japanese friend, he offered me a pair of slippers. Perhaps he was afraid of a foreignerís feet touching his floor. It succinctly revealed how Japanese culture distinguishes inside from outside."

 

In fact, by offering him a pair of slippers, the reporter's Japanese friend was simply trying to be nice and make him comfortable. The American told me that before coming to Tokyo, he had read many books on Japanese culture. His overly analytic approach caused him to interpret every incident in Japan from a book-based perspective. I realized that even with an educated journalist, "bias" can lead to a distinct loss of common sense.

 

Rather than under conditions of complete ignorance, prejudice against other cultures comes about when one has only partial knowledge of it. American media are diagnosing the causes of the recent Asiana Air crash in San Francisco based on half-baked ideas of Korean culture. They report on certain aspects of Korean culture, highlighting a respect for seniority and hierarchy, an authoritarian streak, top-down communications and the uses of honorifics in Korean. They argue that these aspects of our culture may have prevented a prompt response to the crisis in the cockpit. So before investigating the objective causes of the crash, they have rushed to a very subjective judgment: "Thatís how Koreans act."

 

But how about military aviation, in which the culture is far more authoritarian and hierarchical? If Western pilots are so free from authoritarianism, are they also free from the risk of accident? How about pilots in Japan, where the language has extremely complicated honorifics? Blaming the accident on Korean culture reflects a complete lack of logic.

 

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The temptation to explain complicated phenomena with a single theory often leads to cultural determinism. There are many scholarly examples of this. In the 1960s, American political scientists Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba came up with a theory on political culture, which outlined three types of citizen orientation and highlighted that the participant culture of the West best suits a democracy: parochial [political sleepwalker, not involved, no knowledge or interest in the domestic political system]; subject [somewhat aware of political institutions and rules], and participant [possessing a strong sense of influence, competence and confidence in understanding the domestic political system]. Essentially they argued that the superior are superior because they are born that way, and the inferior are inferior because they, too, are born that way.

 

Similarly, other Western scholars have sought the Confucian secret behind the development of the four Asian dragons - Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. They claim that state-led economic development has been supported by Confucian values. The unavoidable question is where Confucian culture was in the era before the abrupt acceleration in state-led growth? If Confucian culture helped promote economic development, why had Asian countries fallen so far behind in industrialization compared to the West? This theory on Confucianism completely fails to address these questions.

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Of course, understanding cultural differences is important. But one cannot expect it to explain everything. This is how ideas of cultural supremacy and even racial discrimination emerge. San Francisco television station KTVU aired a broadcast that included racially bogus and insensitive names attributed to the pilots of the Asiana aircraft, which, amazingly, were confirmed by an intern at the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. When the hoax was uncovered, Americans claimed it was a bad joke - not racial discrimination. But making a mockery of Asian names - especially in an Asian tragedy - is nothing but discrimination.

 

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Of course, it would also be a mistake to blame deeply-rooted American racial discrimination. The United States has elected Barack Obama as president twice. In any society, one finds third raters. In Korea, a news anchor also made ignominious remarks about the fatalities in the crash being Chinese.

 

Trying to explain everything through culture is foolish and risky. It is truly unpleasant that some Americans mock Korean culture at a time of such a tragic accident. The antidote I would propose is a movie. Iíd recommend Django Unchained, a 2012 American western directed by Quentin Tarantino. Let Django deal with these racists.

 

*Nahm Yoon-ho is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

 

 

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Posted By Worldmeets.US July 17, 2013, 4:59pm