Tuesday, May 17, 2005
I'm sure you're wondering what kind of parade this float appeared in. A nationalist anti-Japan rally? A Mayday rally? Nope. It was in the Lotus Lantern parade - the one that celebrates Buddha's birthday. And oh yes, it brought hearty cheers from the spectators around me. This float was almost as good as the one which had a tv with the Dalai Lama talking on it. In the corner of the tv were the words 'Dokdo in Korea'. Which of course, makes sense. Anyone I know who has ever met the Dalai Lama has told of how they tried to ask him questions about the path to enlightenment, only to be met with yet another speech about how arrogant the Japanese are to believe that Dokdo belongs to anyone besides Korea.
Sigh. Sorry if I sound exasperated. But when Dokdo is brought up, my first and second grade students will begin to sing the '독도는우리땅' song. You'd think changing the last word to 똥 and drawing two cartoon blobs of poo poking out of the water would make 8 year olds laugh, but you'd be wrong (well, 1 or 2 of the boys did). And it's funny, but I don't remember singing songs about territorial disputes when I was in the first grade (though a rousing chant about the Black Death still sticks in my head). The mere mention of Japan to my middle school students gets a similar response ('Ohhh, I hate Japan!'). For a written composition test, one of the topics a friend gave his university students was 'Why I Like Japan'. Few chose this, but one who did wrote, "I like Japan because they are so good at lying..." The response from my adult students (and people in general) isn't much different. Not to say that everyone is uncritical, but nonsense like this is more the rule than the exception. Of course, when their elected representatives provide examples like this, I guess no one should be too surprised.
I think a more appropriate float would have had models of the islands travelling down the street followed by a flock of sheep.