November 14th, 2009

Behind Obama’s bow: making up to Hirohito for past humiliations

I was just reminded of something I’d forgotten, something I should have recalled because, after all, I wrote an article for American Thinker about it.

Back in July, Obama was quoted as having said:

I’m always worried about using the word ‘victory,’ because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.

I noted in my article that the scene that so haunted Obama never occurred. But why did it bother Obama so much anyway? Here was my speculation:

If I had to guess, knowing what I now know about our President, I’d say that it’s related to what he sees as the humiliation (“coming down”) of a non-white (in this case, an Asian) at the hands of a white American military man who was nothing if not overbearing (in this case, MacArthur), in order to not only surrender but to unconditionally surrender, and then to have his country occupied by the morally despicable US.

So my guess now is that one of the many things that motivated Obama to bow to the present emperor of Japan was to make up just a tiny bit for the terrible humiliation the previous emperor received at the hands of the United States, which had the effrontery to win a war that the Japanese began by their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

Akihito, the emperor to whom Obama bowed, is Hirohito’s son.

80 Responses to “Behind Obama’s bow: making up to Hirohito for past humiliations”

  1. Dr. Mabuse Says:

    What must the Japanese think about this mummery? They know the significance of a profound bow before the Emperor; they ALSO know that in this case, the significance is fake. Obama is NOT subservient to Akihito – he is neither a subject nor a petitioner. He is play-acting to an audience that only exists in his own mind; the people outside, in the real world, see quite plainly that his actions are completely unconnected to any reality. They are not likely to feel “honoured” by Obama’s unreal showing off.

  2. Wandriaan Says:

    Can anyone come up with a historical parallel for this? A president that acts like a tyrant to his own people yet grovels like a worm towards foreign dictators or their sons without any reason? And the people not rise up in anger?
    This is the real Obama: he feels that EVERYTHING is better than his own (?) country.
    America was battered for decades by the left like an abused wife. Apparently she shows now the symptoms of the abused wife syndrome: identifying with the aggressor.
    It is unbelievable and unspeakable.

  3. Alex Bensky Says:

    I haven’t seen the video on this, Neo, but Obama may have a defense on this one, depending on whether the Emperor bowed back and if each one bowed equally low. In Japan a bow is the equivalent of a handshake and a mutual bow is a sign of respect, no more.

    The bow to the king of Saudi Arabia wasn’t the same thing and was shameful, especially for the president of a republic.

    What is sad, but given this administration not at all surprising, is that apparently no one briefed him on this or suggested that he might get a question about the atomic bombings.

    That said, and this is a serious question, can anyone tell me if since he was inaugurated he has before a foreign audience said anything complimentary or even just nice about the United States, other than that it elected him?

    He has referred to two major achievements, the Berlin Airlift and the successful end of the Cold War, by saying it was “the world” that accomplished those deeds.

  4. PA Cat Says:

    Alex– please see Power Line and the links it provides for an explanation of Japanese imperial etiquette. The Emperor bows to no one. Obama’s gaffe most likely embarrassed Akihito.

  5. E Says:

    Manners and formality are everything to the Japanese. Their society is highliy structured, and it’s important to know the rules. A bow is a complicated thing – even among Japanese, the degree and nuance of the bow is hard for foreigners to understand.

    For gaijin, a slight bow is polite, but more than that is inappropriate. It’s impossible for a foreigner to understand the proper degree and nuance of the bow – and to attempt to show deeper respect by bowing ever more deeply enters the realm of caricature and the Japanese don’t appreciate it.

  6. RYO Says:

    Learn all about proper bowing etiquette in Japan (satire):

  7. nyo Says:

    Ugh this is so annoying! The President of a secular democracy does not bow to royalty!!

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Alex B: The emperor did not bow back. I believe I read that the emperor bows to no one.

    I will add a video.

    As for whether Obama has said anything good on foreign soil about America, I haven’t combed all of his speeches to find out, but my guess is that there’s been some pro forma language to that effect. His heart’s clearly not in it. He spends much more time and effort talking about America’s crimes, flaws, and sins—the ones he is going to change and redress.

  9. jon baker Says:

    This and the Saudi bow should be played over and over on TV.

  10. Gray Says:

    I was reminded watching some loopy Japanese underground sci-fi “gore” film (love those things) that the Japanese still don’t like black people except as a novelty. ‘Nuff said….

    I’ve spent some time in Korea and Japan. Love the culture; love the food; love the people.

    My dad was in Japan after the Korean war. He went mad for it. I grew up with a lot of his reminiscenses of, and respect for, Japanese culture. I think my mom was almost Japanese….

    If I were to take off my American view and put on the profoundly non-western Japanese view: This reflects more on his color than on his country.

    They know “America” would never bow like this to them. They certainly don’t want America to. They need us: They look up to us in all our wretched excess. They love to imitate and criticize us.

    Obama looked like an imbecile in their eyes, but it doesn’t reflect on America in the least. “Their” America is still the ideal….

  11. dicentra Says:

    Here’s one analysis of Obowma’s faux pas.

  12. Gray Says:

    Yeah, westsoundmodern nailed it.

    My father spent a few years in Japan in the 1950’s and he described to me as a curious young man the intricacies of the bow in Japanese culture.

    My dad too, weird.

  13. david foster Says:

    Wandriaan..historical precedent. To some extent, a historical precedent is offered by Stalin’s behavior in the years prior to Hitler’s invasion of Russia. Although Stalin was afraid of Hitler, he was apparently far more afraid of his own people, and spent a lot of energy on internal terror that could have been much better devoted to military preparations.

    Almost by definition, leftists are primarily concerned with the war *within* their own societies.

  14. jon baker Says:

    NYO said:
    “Ugh this is so annoying! The President of a secular democracy does not bow to royalty!!”

    Neither should the President of a Constitutional Republic influenced by Judeo-Christian principles.

    In the spirit of the U.S. Declaration of Independence:

    “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States… And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

    Then the Founders made clear in the very signature paragraph of the US Constitution no mere mortal man was their lord to bow to, instead “Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names”

  15. Brian Swisher Says:

    I can’t figure the guy out. He apparently was elaborately coached on how to do a parade-ground salute for his photo-op at Dover AFB, yet fails abjectly in something the most casual observer (such as me) knows is wrong, wrong, wrong. Weird…

  16. jon baker Says:

    The US is to be brought low I believe. Others have said it. Rush was saying something about it this week – how many of our fellow citizens hate this country and wish to see it humiliated.

  17. jon baker Says:

    My grandfather , who faught the Japanese on Iwo Jima, will surely be upset about this when he sees it.

  18. jon baker Says:

    That same grandfather, a patriot, said before the Presidential election, he was “afraid we are going to get the government we deserve.”

  19. jon baker Says:

    You see, the difference between the Jeremiah Wright preachers who say “God D%%% America” and other preachers who say this or that may be Divine punishment is that it seems the former is rejoicing and calling for calamity while the latter is weeping for his country and begging for repentance in hope that further judgement may be avoided.

  20. neo-neocon Says:

    Brian Swisher: It only seems that Obama failed if you assume you know that his intent was conventional. But if, for example, his intent was to show American inferiority and to make up for past American sins, then he didn’t fail.

  21. Bob from Virginia Says:

    Someone tell me if Obama gave the Emperor an IPOD with recordings of his speeches (reference the same to Queen Elizabeth)?

  22. huxley Says:

    Plus Obama declared that he would be “honored” to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki sometime during his presidency, and he made no attempt to defend the decision of Truman, an American president and even a Democratic president, to drop those bombs, saving millions of lives, Japanese and American.

    I do despise this man.


  23. A_Nonny_Mouse Says:

    I take it that “Protocol Adviser” is one of the posts still vacant in the Current Administration?

    Poor Obama. Can’t even manage a handshake with a nod; has to do the whole drama-queen bow and demonstrate yet again that he’s an idjit.

  24. Occam's Beard Says:

    But if, for example, his intent was to show American inferiority …

    Japanese look down on Caucasians as inferior. You don’t want to know their views on Negroes. They probably considered abject servility from one to be entirely appropriate, given their views on their respective places in the order of things.

  25. kinch Says:

    I’ve just about had enough of this fellow. I’m thinking of the title of a novel by Conrad. Anyone care to guess? Hint: not Nostromo :).

  26. Terrye Says:

    Far better men than Barack Obama laid down their lives in the fight against Imperial Japan. Leave it to Obama to shame them.

  27. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Trying to come up with a fitting title to describe the Obama Presidency; how about “the Wrecking Ball Presidency?”

    It seems to me that Obama believes he is the God–or more likely Allah–ordained instrument to see to it that America is damned by God as his mentor and spiritual counselor the Rev. Wright’s said it should be.

  28. betsybounds Says:

    jon baker,

    LOL! Your grandfather was at least partly right (given that a lot of us knew what this was going to look like, and don’t deserve it). His words remind me of something my dad used to say: “If the American people wanted good government, they’d vote for it.” A bit simplistic, perhaps, but still. . . .

    I’m also reminded of something attributed to H.L. Mencken: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

  29. centralcal Says:

    Terrye said: “Leave it to Obama to shame them.”

    I think Obama shames no one but himself.

  30. Scottie Says:

    Perhaps The Won has watched a few too many Kung Foo and martial arts movies? Ya know, in those things everyone bows to everyone else….

    I’m thinking at this point he’s simply incompetent, thought it would be impressive on his part to do the bow, was coached in how to do it by someone who hadn’t a clue, and is surrounded by people who won’t tell him that in the manner he’s conducting himself he looks like a twit.

    What little I know of bowing came from some martial arts I took decades ago. It was made clear at the time that bowing was a very specific act with specific meaning depending on where you were and what you were doing.

    Some cultures you bow deeply and avert your eyes – in others you always keep your eyes on the other guy during the course of the bow.

    Previous American leaders have done well to dispense with the formality entirely and conduct themselves as Americans – not as some cultural wannabe.

    Because of this, those Americans were respected by those they were dealing with, whether in war or peace – whereas I don’t believe Obama will be seen as of the same stature by the very people he thought he was impressing.

  31. Alex Bensky Says:

    Thanks for the references for Japanese bowing customs.

    Kinch I trust the Conrad title you’re alluding to is not the one about the Narcissus. “Almayer’s Folly” does come to mind.

    and yes, for someone who is as painstaking as he is about other people’s cultures, you’d think someone would tell him that you don’t grab the Queen, however affectionately, and if the Emperor isn’t going to bow to you you don’t bow to him, especially if you’re the president of a great republic.

    I am already bracing myself for his visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whenever it comes. As what the hell’s the matter with the word “victory?” The Japanese behaved in Asia about as badly as the Nazis did in Europe and we defeated them. Of course, mentioning that might be considered as saying something good about the United States before we elected Obama.

  32. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Having studied Japanese culture and been there in my youth, and researched and advised government officials on aspects of Japanese society, culture and protocol, my understanding is that bows in Japan are intricate affairs (there are schools just to teach Japanese how to bow correctly in varied social situations) intimately connected, as are the various forms of address in the Japanese language, with social station, and who is the superior and who the inferior when people meet. So, first off, Obama’s deep bow, really a servile obeisance, says to the Emperor, here is someone who acknowledges that he—and by extension the United States–is vastly inferior (and, perhaps, even subservient) to me and by extension Japan, and acknowledges my ancient lineage, my Imperial status and power, or, alternatively, who let this uncouth yahoo, this numbskull asshole in here?

    Second, this is not a bow that any leader of a free, democratic nation—particularly one which has fought –and won –a war against Japan, should make.

    Third, there is a whole office at the State Department devoted to explaining and coaching U.S. leaders in the intricacies of protocol when dealing with every country in the world and their leaders, particularly in formal situations; I cannot imagine that they were not consulted and, if consulted, would have advised Obama to bow, or especially to bow so profoundly low.

    This is Obama’s choice, sending Obama’s message.

  33. Brian Swisher Says:

    I just had a chuckle recalling a scene from “Fifty-Five Days in Peking”. The British Ambassador (David Niven) is having a diplomatic audience with the Dowager Empress. He approaches the throne, and sees that a pillow has been placed on the ground so that he can do the full kow-tow. His expression doesn’t flicker – he brushes the pillow aside with his foot and does a cursory bow from the waist…

    Now that’s a choice!

  34. Scottie Says:

    Just another thought on the matter.

    Regarding the view of anyone that bowing to the Japanese ( and I DO have a lot of respect and admiration for many components of Japanese culture) is acceptable since it’s their *cultural* method of greeting….

    The United States fought a bloody war against Imperial Japan from 1941 to 1945, and eventually defeated a military dictatorship that had committed attrocities every bit as dispicable as those of Germany.

    That is the huge elephant in the middle of the room that Obama is ignoring.

    It was an evil government, and the world is better off without it.

    At the same time, America provided the men and material to likewise defeat Germany – also an evil enemy if there ever was one.

    The US paid a high price for those victories, and by virtue of those sacrifices has earned the right to NEVER bow – to the Japanese or anyone else.

    We can acknowledge other culture’s sensitivities – but other cultures should in return recognize that we Americans have our own sensitivities as well.

    Too bad the Bumbler-in-Chief has such a tin ear for those sensitivities….

  35. Bob from Virginia Says:

    Scottie and all
    Please recall that our dear leader plainly stated in his Cairo speech that no nation has the right to impose democracy on another by force, ergo we do owe an apology to Japan.
    O is merely cleaning up the mess left him by the Truman administration.

  36. jon baker Says:

    Bob from Virginia said : “O is merely cleaning up the mess left him by the Truman administration.”

    ROFL! That should be the sarcastic caption under the picture of Obama bowing.

  37. jon baker Says:

    Hey Socialist peasant liberals, you want to bow? You bow. But we free men will stand!

  38. driver Says:

    The atrocities committed by Imperial Japan—which began well before the bombing of Pearl Harbor—were medieval in their scope and barbarity.

    The Japanese are very lucky that they were not completely annihilated with nuclear weapons (or the even more fearsome fire-bombings, a la Tokyo and Dresden).

    The Japanese were even worse than the Nazis, and yet everyone skates right by that, for some reason.

    In comparison to Germany, Japan got a total pass, Hiroshima and Nagasaki notwithstanding. They have never been held fully accountable for what they did (as the Germans were and have been, by contrast). And that is a basic fact of history.

    Any person who reads “Prisoners of the Japanese” would agree with friends of mine who lost relatives in the Holocaust that they would prefer to have been prisoners of the Nazis.

  39. Occam's Beard Says:

    Far better men than Barack Obama…

    Doesn’t narrow the field much.

    Please recall that our dear leader plainly stated in his Cairo speech that no nation has the right to impose democracy [emphasis added] on another by force

    Note he didn’t say anything about socialism or Islam in this connection.

  40. Occam's Beard Says:

    We dropped the ball a bit in rebuilding Japan. Japanese today, in my experience, have little to no grasp of the behavior of Imperial Japan. For example, during a lecture trip to Japan I was invited to the home of a Japanese colleague for dinner. On learning that I’d earlier spoken at Hiroshima, my colleague’s wife (a bit sanctimoniously) asked me how I felt on seeing Hiroshima. In an effort to thread the needle between being a polite guest on one hand, but on the other not to let rubbish pass unchallenged, I replied that I had felt pretty much the way I had when I visited Nanjing.

    She had no idea what I was talking about. None.

    Her take was that there was some unpleasantness during the Forties, and for no reason at all we’d nuked Japan, killed a bunch of Japanese who were just minding their own business, and then taken over the country. Amazing.

    This perspective is quite common in Japan, and apparently reflects a failure of the Japanese educational system (we can talk, I know) to educate Japanese about their modern history.

  41. nyo Says:

    influenced by Judeo-Christian principles. includes much of what we were forming a constitution republic from. Influenced, yes there is history, but predicated is the better word of which would be Enlightenment principles, our philosophical union of moderate religiosity and secular values. The Rights of Kings was not a secular value, its roots are of the supernatural.

  42. nyo Says:

    I replied that I had felt pretty much the way I had when I visited Nanjing. brilliant reply Beard!!

  43. neo-neocon Says:

    Some believe that Obama’s bow was a careless error that shows his incompetence. Others (and I am in this group) beg to differ, and say:

    …[T]here is a whole office at the State Department devoted to explaining and coaching U.S. leaders in the intricacies of protocol when dealing with every country in the world and their leaders, particularly in formal situations; I cannot imagine that they were not consulted and, if consulted, would have advised Obama to bow, or especially to bow so profoundly low.

    This is Obama’s choice, sending Obama’s message.

    But let’s just for the sake of argument say that the first group is correct, and that Obama somehow missed the briefing and is clueless, or forgot what to do in the moment.

    But even if that were true, the bow is telling. Can you imagine any other president, even if clueless or forgetful, bowing like that? I cannot. When in doubt, people fall back on either their previous training, habit, or reflex, and convey (often unconsciously) clues about what they are thinking and feeling. Americans are not raised to bow in that way, but Obama is probably quite familiar with it from his own foreign upbringing and even bowing in prayer in Muslim schools as a child in Indonesia.

    So the bow would be evidence of that, as well as evidence of the subservience he desires for America in the world. Even if done unconsciously rather than consciously (and remember, I happen to believe it is the latter rather than the former), it would be a symbol of certain other things we already know about him, and would express his cultural and political differences from the way most Americans think, both about their country and the world.

  44. driver Says:

    About 10 years ago I took my kids to visit the UN in Geneva (I had a French cousin who worked there) and this is the film they were showing in their anti-nuke exhibition room. I was so angry that I walked out and gave my kids a lecture on Imperial Japan on the sidewalk outside.

    This is the kind of crap the modern Japanese have been inundated with (along with most of Europe). It infuriates me.

  45. Occam's Beard Says:

    Thanks, nyo.

    Driver, that’s exactly the kind of crap I was talking about, and perfectly captures the perspective of my colleague’s wife. It’s why I couldn’t let her comment pass.

    Apparently the rest of Southeast Asia didn’t have children, or paper airplanes, or lakes, or flowers.

  46. br549 Says:

    I hope he keeps this kind of crap up, and I hope it gets on the MSM video media for all to see. Because the majority of people only see and hear what is presented on those outlets. But I still fear it won’t happen. We need to get rid of Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, Frank, and a slew of others, including bureacrats whose names I don’t even know (!!!) without lots of research, in the 2010 and 2012 elections.

    Perhaps it’s getting time to again dig up and play the video of the FBI agent who infiltrated Bill Ayers and friends. Unless the curerent administration somehow had it removed from you tube.

  47. br549 Says:

    One of the definitions of subservient is “useful in promoting a purpose or an end.”

  48. nyo Says:

    It’s sad that Nagasaki was chosen as a target because it was the home of a large Japanese Catholic community, traditionally this was the center for Roman Catholicism in Japan, and so a community which could have been our allies in the reconstruction of Japan, but then again there was the Catholic/Axis alliance on the European continent.

  49. huxley Says:

    It’s a teachable moment!

  50. br549 Says:

    Don’t want to leave the house or senate out.

  51. F Says:

    Neo: Good observations. It seems to me the way to judge Obama’s cultural context is not just to think about his upbringing in Indonesia; it is also to imagine what the Rev. Jeremiah Wright would have done when introduced to the Japanese emperor. Would he had bowed? I think not. Which leaves me to think this was indeed Obama’s message, and it was tells a lot about what he thinks about America. Sad, sad day. F

  52. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    driver—having spent several years researching Japanese WWII atrocities, I have to agree with you that many of these atrocities were downplayed or buried, and were far worse–in some cases–than those of the Nazis, and that we have been fed the “narrative” of the basically guiltless, almost saintly Japanese, who we barbarously and needlessly bombed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    A few examples:

    Acting on a written command from Emperor Hirohito, starting in the mid-1930s and for 15 years until the very last days of WWII, the Japanese military established and operated several chemical and biological warfare experiment facilities in China and Manchuria, staffed at a professional level by a large percentage of what was to become the Japanese medical establishment after WWII. The most prominent such facility was “Unit 731,” (officially a “Water Purification Plant”) whose tightly guarded, massive, miles-square facility, with it’s own railroad spur in Manchuria, staffed by three thousand scientists and doctors as well as soldiers, experimented in the most savage and remorseless way on live human subjects—referred to by all as “maruta” or “logs,” who—all without anesthesia—had limbs deliberately frozen and/or hacked off, were injected with diseases, staked out and exposed to chemical or biological weapon delivery systems—often explosive, had organs removed, we put in high altitude chambers where they suffocated and died excruciating deaths, replaced their blood with horse blood or took out half their brains, just to see what would happen, and engaged in a horror show of sadistic experiments on somewhere between 800 to 10,000 or more live human subjects, mostly POWs—none of whom survived the experiments. These horrific actions, these experiments that killed—at the low estimate–far more victims than the Nazi’s Dr. Mengele, are hardly even known about today, and were deliberately covered up by the U.S. government after WWII, the doctors, scientists, officers and men involved not prosecuted, in exchange for the results of their “experiments.”

    Chinese researchers claim that Unit 731 and other similar Japanese army units like “Unit 100,” about which we know almost nothing—so thorough has the scrub job been—sickened and/or killed hundreds of thousands or even millions of Chinese and others in East, and perhaps Southeast Asia too, by spreading—via “field operations/experiments–the manufactured chemical warfare agents and diseases that their experiments yielded, and also established new diseases in areas of China that never saw them in the past, but suffer from them to this day.

    Of note is the fact that copies of documents giving details about the crude but apparently effective chemical and biological warfare agents and delivery techniques perfected by Unit 731—which were published in academic sources prior to 9/11–were discovered after a U.S. raid of an Al-Qaeda hideout overseas (in Afghanistan?).

    The Lieutenant General, Dr. Shiro Ishii, the MD who created and ran Unit 731, was given a Japanese state pension after the war, and there is a cenotaph erected to him in Japan. As of a few years ago, the remaining men of Unit 731 were still holding an annual “reunion” in Tokyo to, no doubt, talk over the “good old days.”

    The gruesome details, the utter savagery of the Japanese during the Bataan Death March was and still is downplayed to this day.

    During the war it was said by American leaders that Emperor Hirohito, who made the final, decisive decision to attack America, and was fully appraised about, and intimately involved in the planning and execution of the war, was supposed to be tried as a war criminal. Yet, after the war his central, decisive role in the war was covered up, obscured, there was a new “narrative,” and Hirohito was portrayed as a harmless, shriveled up, absent minded scientist, who was wholly focused on and only cared about his scientific studies—not the war; he was, now—presto chango–an otherworldly, bespectacled, peaceful, mild-mannered man, who had been bullied into going along with the war by Japan’s bloodthirsty military leaders.

    If the Japanese POW camp commanders thought they might lose control over their captives, or if things started to go badly in the war for Japan, all POWs held by Japan were to be killed by order of the Army High Command, but this fact, the existence of a long rumored, official, written “Kill Order” was deliberately covered up during the Far Eastern War Crimes trials, to avoid further inflaming the people of America, “embarrassing the Japanese,” and making MacArthur’s pacification of Japan harder.

    The crew of one of our bombers that was shot down over Japan were captured and taken to a Japanese teaching hospital where they were, one-by-one, and without any anesthesia, cut apart by the “Doctors” and eaten (the cannibalism charge was dropped at trial). The Japanese Doctors were tried, convicted and executed. Did anyone ever hear of this incident?

    During the war the Japanese launched dozens of long range weather balloons loaded with incendiaries and explosive booby traps on the prevailing winds towards the U.S. Some landed in isolated areas on our West coast, some started fires, some killed or injured those who found them, but this story, too, was buried. During the last days of the war the General in charge of Unit 731 was pushing for these balloons to be loaded up with his deadly infectious diseases. Ever hear of this?

    How about the Japanese WWII program to develop nuclear weapons, and their massive manufacturing and test facility in Manchuria? The existence of this operation was really scrubbed out of existence. Ever read the quote by one of the key scientists involved, that if the Japanese had created nuclear weapons they would have, of course, unhesitatingly used them on us?

    History–real History–is far different, much darker and more complex, than the politically correct, “preferred narrative” that is usually taught in school.

  53. nyo Says:

    History–real History–is far different, much darker and more complex, than the politically correct, “preferred narrative” that is usually taught in school.

    You got that right!!

  54. Scottie Says:


    “Some believe that Obama’s bow was a careless error that shows his incompetence. Others (and I am in this group) beg to differ…”

    I would ask you to consider this – every single left wing socialist liberal I know of considers themselves to be intellectually superior to those who hold views contrary to their own.

    Interestingly enough, a sizable percentage of these same people at the same time seem to look UP to the Europeans and their ways of doing things, and when looking out at other nations always seem to see only a glamourized stereotype they sympathize with rather than reality.

    So, it’s kind of a pecking order with the right wing being at the very bottom in their view and everyone else being at the top.

    If you extrapolate this mindset to take in the idea that Obama and the left consider pretty much anyplace else in the world to be superior to the US in every way, then it makes sense that Obama can look down his nose at the US while at the same time sincerely believing a bow to a foreign leader is acceptable.

    So, whether he did it consciously or unconsciously, the decision I think would be the same and have the same political …ahem…fallout.

  55. huxley Says:

    So now Obama is wearing a Mao Jacket! I had to go direct to the AP feed to be sure it wasn’t an Onionesque joke.

    In my book wearing a Mao jacket is worse than bowing to the Japanese emperor.

  56. huxley Says:

    Well, maybe it’s not so bad. My European friend tells me that Bush wore local costumes often as well on overseas trips.

    At least Obama didn’t wear the red jacket.

  57. Mel Williams Says:

    Something conspicuously absent in Obama’s inner circle are pre-baby boomers. So presumably he gets little input from our seniors. I’m 55 and am not saying our parents were perfect, but I sure wouldn’t mind seeing some white haired folk sprinkled in.

  58. expat Says:

    I doubt that the average European knows much about the war in the Pacific. Here in Germany, it is rarely discussed, so that dreadful cartoon doesn’t surprise me. The Europeans sell their sophistication pretty successfully to US academics, but I find their general outlook provincial. If they aren’t in the center of things, those things are insignificant. Obama’s tutors have been lefties who think like the Euro elite, and he has never had the guts to go beyond their superficial viewpoint.

  59. Occam's Beard Says:

    Obama should bow to Bush. He’s not worthy to carry Bush’s jockstrap.

  60. Oblio Says:

    Neo, I continue to believe that Decolonialism and its twin Multiculturalism form the backbone of Obama’s Master Narrative. In any situation, if you want to know how Obama will react, you need merely ask yourself, “What is the orthodox Multiculturalist/Decolonialist position on this question?” You can bet that Obama will take that position. We really should study Decolonialist theory more.

    The chameleon character in the narrative is Frantz Fanon, one of the heroes of Decolonialist theory. Born in the West Indies, professionally educated (as a doctor), he worked in Algeria as simultaneously a government official and as a secret agent for the insurgency. This insurgency wasn’t quite communistic; national socialist would be the more accurate description, complete with militants sporting old Wehrmacht helmets. Fanon became a major propagandist on the both the decolonialist and race-consciousness literature. Obama gives Fanon a particular shout out in Dreams from My Father.

    Fanon converted to Islam before his death.

    At the heart of Decolonialism and Multiculturalism there are the Leninist ethics “Who/Whom?” There are no foundational moral principles, and don’t forget it. There are only oppressors who need to be humbled, and the oppressed, who need to avenge themselves.

  61. neo-neocon Says:

    Oblio: sounds about right. The Fanon shoe seems to fit.

  62. ELC Says:

    Here’s a video displaying numerous photographs of other dignitaries, from foreign heads of state to lieutenant governors of American states, greeting the very same emperor: not a “bower” among them.

    Far be it from me to discount other explanations of Obama’s peculiar behavior, including anti-American animus… but it does occur to me that the current occupants of the White House sometimes demonstrate similarities to children who are trying to imitate their elders but don’t quite get things right because they don’t really understand what’s going on, or why.

  63. Oblio Says:

    Paul Mirengoff describes the symptoms in today’s Washington Examiner without naming the disease:

    Fanon was a psychiatrist(!). A couple of his books have striking titles:

    Black Skin, White Masks
    The Wretched of the Earth

  64. Occam's Beard Says:

    Why is black scholarship so poor? They’re opposed to slavery, and yet are enamored of Islam, and prize racial solidarity.

    Who the hell do they think enslaved Africans in the first place? Do they think the Europeans went into the bush themselves? Surely no one is stupid enough think that – right?

    Europeans bought slaves from African coastal tribes and Arab Muslims, who did the actual enslaving. As Hugh Thomas points out in The Slave Trade, one of the biggest obstacles the British faced in trying to end the slave trade was resistance from chieftains of African coastal tribes. One of them made 20 times as much annually from slaves as the wealthiest nobleman in England at the time, but all of them made a lot of money from slavery, and bitterly resisted efforts to stamp it out. So much for racial solidarity.

    And as for Muslims, the brothers should note that Saudi Arabia, homeland to Islam, formally banned slavery in…1962! Slavery apparently continues, sub rosa, to this day. Black Africans – including Muslims – today, right now, are suffering at the hands of Arab Muslims in Sudan. But none of this seems to budge the needle.

    The Western record on slavery is poor, but the Muslim and African record is worse, by far. Obama himself almost certainly counts a slaver or two in his family tree, yet for some reason, this realization does not appear to intrude on African American consciousness.

    Some day I will understand why. It’s just not gonna be today.

    And to return to the topic, before kowtowing to the Emperor of Japan, Obama might reflect on how the rest of Southeast Asia views the Japanese. Given Obama’s own lousy scholarship, we’re probably lucky he didn’t propose another Greater Southeast Asia Co-Propserity Sphere. That would’ve put the cat among the pigeons!


  65. neo-neocon Says:

    Occam’s Beard: I think your answer lies here. Look especially at #13, and substitute “the US, Europeans, and/or white people” for “the US (or Israel).”

  66. Occam's Beard Says:

    Thanks for the link, neo – the associated post is excellent. I wobble between ascribing the phenomenon to stupidity or to perfidy. In fact, it’s probably both; stupidity by the “masses,” and perfidy by those promulgating this nonsense.

  67. Occam's Beard Says:

    Imagine my surprise: the first comment, from the cleverly named “Anonymous,” was mine, apparently before I’d adopted my nom de net. I well remember that exchange with Angela Davis, which took place back when she was an acolyte (Vestal Virgin?) of Marcuse, who was still alive then.

  68. expat Says:

    Occam’s Beard: I think some credit has to go to Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) for mainstreaming the myths about Islam. His stance on Vietnam made people look at his other views and swallow them without doing much research or thinking.

  69. general_tiu Says:

    I’ve met some Japanese friends and I told about this Obama bowing to the Japanese Emperor. Their reaction, is like: “Ah, so the US needs to kiss our ass. But we had a recession, too. So go to China instead.”

    So by this gesture, this means that the US is sorry for stopping Japan’s own self-destruction, and so the Japanese won’t sacrifice 20 million Chinese, a million Koreans, and in my case, half a million Filipinos to the Mikado.

    This also means that Obama prefers not to bow to the wishes of the American people, who were his supposed master.

  70. nyo Says:

    “Ah, so the US needs to kiss our ass. But we had a recession, too. So go to China instead.”

    LOL that’s so freakin funny!! :D

  71. Vieux Charles Says:

    Even today the Japanese have a unique culture where the most subtle gesture is an expression of status.

    The rules are quite strict between Japanese but are tempered when applied to Gaijin.

    The Japanese had never lost a war until they challenged the United States. As such they view themselves superior to all people – except Americans.

    This is palpable from the rural countryside to the international districts of Tokyo and Osaka. Americans are treated differently from other foreigners and are almost always treated with respect.

    Then comes Obama. His gesture was awkward and tinged with confusing signals. The Japanese public will likely force themselves to appreciate it, but ultimately they’ll think it was weird and uncouth.

    The American public will take it for what it is, another attempt by Obama to humble the stature of the United States by offering deference where no deference is needed.

  72. strcpy Says:

    The video is even worse – the little continued head bobbles as he talks are an extreme sign of deference. Nor are they something that simply occurs as one talks.

    I can’t really think that the two put together is anything but that. Further, as someone mentioned, I bet the Emperor was uncomfortable with it (He sure looked it to me). Nor do I think that Japan really wants that weak a US – it must be frightening to see it in action.

    Heck, it doesn’t even take a person who watches much Anime to know what those things mean, let alone a entire staff devoted to that.

    So, did he ignore the experts and go with his own feeling (again I would say)? Either way he knew Japanese culture well enough to have a public exchange that was fully 100% the actions of a inferior seeking forgiveness and showing they are inferior.

    A slight bow with the proper hand placement followed by a handshake would be OK (if meeting in Japan). That is also the appropriate greeting when dealing with business partners if one is one Japanese and the other is not (and is in a position to know customs to some extent – as said there is a whole language in bows and they only expect as much as you know). I’m not sure the bow is needed for heads of state or not (I probably would do so – it *is* a sign of respect and no reason not to give that IMO), I do not deal with anything at that level.

  73. armchair pessimist Says:

    People bound and determined to think no evil of their hero no matter what will applaud it as a symbolic repudiation of America’s cowboy foreign policy. I’d be curious to hear more of the European reaction here, for they might be the intended audience for this disgraceful scene.

    On the other hand, there may be a more practical motive here. Our friend has gotten a lot of milage out of charming the pants off white people and to ingratiate is instinctive with him. Worked in America, so why not everywhere? The trouble is that for all his travels when he was young, he is an ignorant rube outside of Harvard Yard and Chicago back rooms.

    I had great hopes that Putin would take one look and send Mr President home in a chum bucket, but why should he clean up our mess?

  74. Beverly Says:

    This is all we really need to know about the Japanese’s “humiliation.”

    Here’s a website detailing just some of their horrific war crimes:

    Check it out. But be warned — much of the click-through content will give you nightmares.

  75. Artfldgr Says:


    i would also add to your point as to slavery. do some research into sierra leone… why did it come about, what it was for… what the arguments were. and then think about the idea of what they tried to do in a form of reparations before.

    In 1787, a plan was implemented to settle some of London’s “Black Poor” in Sierra Leone in what was called the “Province of Freedom”. A number of “Black Poor” arrived off the coast of Sierra Leone on May 15, 1787, accompanied by some English tradesmen. This was organized by the St. George’s Bay Company, composed of British philanthropists who preferred it as a solution to continuing to financially support them in London. Many of the “Black poor” were African Americans, who had been promised their freedom for joining the British Army during the American Revolution, but also included other African and Asian inhabitants of London.

    Disease and hostility from the indigenous people nearly eliminated the first group of colonists. Through intervention by Thomas Peters, the Sierra Leone Company was established to relocate another group of formerly enslaved Africans, this time nearly 1,200 Black Nova Scotians, most of whom had escaped enslavement in the United States. Given the most barren land in Nova Scotia, many had died from the harsh winters there. They established a settlement at Freetown in 1792 led by Peters. It was joined by other groups of freed Africans and became the first African-American haven for formerly enslaved Africans.

    The English abolitionist Granville Sharp originally planned Sierra Leone as a utopian community

    the english and america’s tried to return slaves to africa. that didnt work out so well. the utopian idea was kind of like they would try later with the jews and isreal.

    i have no idea… so..

    The experiment gets off to a disastrous start. Half the settlers die in the first year. Several of the freed slaves opt for a prosperous new life working for local slave traders. And King Tom’s successor, King Jemmy, attacks and burns the settlement in 1789.

    But it is rebuilt on a new site, and is given the name Freetown. A corner is turned with the arrival of 1000 freed slaves from Nova Scotia and other black settlers from Jamaica, and with efficient administration from 1794 by a new governor, Zachary Macaulay.

    The future of the settlement becomes secure when the British government, after abolishing the slave trade in 1807, takes responsibility for Sierra Leone in 1808 as a base in the campaign against slaving ships. It is also used as a refuge for slaves freed by naval action in the Atlantic. Known as ‘recaptives’, as many as 50,000 are brought in British vessels to Freetown during the next half century.

    and in the west it was all started with good intentions too. a priest didnt like that the africans, when they fought, would wipe out the other tribe, women and children all. so he thought if we bought them, that was better. that bit of social engineering didnt work either.

    by the way… back in the day this happened, this is what spurned the idea of the too common american nasty phrase of telling someone to go back home if they dont like it.

    they are still a constitutional republic like the US and other free countries.

    compare and contrast them with south africa now after the natives have hacked their way through a lot of foreigners.

    history… is HUGE…
    and surprising…

  76. Artfldgr Says:

    Vieux Charles
    This is palpable from the rural countryside to the international districts of Tokyo and Osaka. Americans are treated differently from other foreigners and are almost always treated with respect.

    its more than the fact that we won.
    the difference between what they were told and what actually happened when they lost was a HUGE moral testimony to them.

    we did not subjugate them as they were doing to asia. we did not destroy their emperor (we could have). we did not ask for reparations (worked so well with germany, didnt it?). and we helped them rebuild, shared technology, and provided for their protection so that what would normally be for protection would be for economy. oh.. and we left our market open to them at a time when people were still playing more trade games than now.

    while thats a much nicer concentrated paragraph than those years and truth would attest to, they are still true.

    given how the japanese are, our actions in ignorance shamed them horribly. we acted morally in the bigger picture (not perfectly), and our actions fit the behavior of a serious chastisement in their own language…

    they acted like mean distructive teenagers and after they trampled our gardens, our house, broke windows, and tried to cause much misery. we stopped them, sat them down, cleaned them off, helped them, and then let them go (for the most part).

    oh… and we wished them good fortune (for the most part too).

    they must be very upset at america.

  77. Artfldgr Says:

    “they only expect as much as you know”
    and do not appreciate showing off and pretending you know more. cargo cult is not appreciated in a society that prides itself on the practice and attempt at attaining a form of literal perfection.

  78. Artfldgr Says:

    as bad as you think the japanese were, there were worse (in the same war) we dont talk about.

  79. Ymarsakar Says:

    My dad too, weird.

    NOt weird. Simply the mark of those that truly understand other cultures.

    The Left only pretends to understand and care about other cultures.

  80. Rhymes With Cars & Girls Says:

    [...] neo-neocon has a psychological explanation of Obama’s instinct to bow before Rulers that is scarily plausible. [...]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


Ace (bold)
AmericanDigest (writer’s digest)
AmericanThinker (thought full)
Anchoress (first things first)
AnnAlthouse (more than law)
AtlasShrugs (fearless)
AugeanStables (historian’s task)
Baldilocks (outspoken)
Barcepundit (theBrainInSpain)
Beldar (Texas lawman)
BelmontClub (deep thoughts)
Betsy’sPage (teach)
Bookworm (writingReader)
Breitbart (big)
ChicagoBoyz (boyz will be)
Contentions (CommentaryBlog)
DanielInVenezuela (against tyranny)
DeanEsmay (conservative liberal)
Donklephant (political chimera)
Dr.Helen (rights of man)
Dr.Sanity (thinking shrink)
DreamsToLightening (Asher)
EdDriscoll (market liberal)
Fausta’sBlog (opinionated)
GayPatriot (self-explanatory)
HadEnoughTherapy? (yep)
HotAir (a roomful)
InFromTheCold (once a spook)
InstaPundit (the hub)
JawaReport (the doctor is Rusty)
LegalInsurrection (law prof)
RedState (conservative)
Maggie’sFarm (centrist commune)
MelaniePhillips (formidable)
MerylYourish (centrist)
MichaelTotten (globetrotter)
MichaelYon (War Zones)
Michelle Malkin (clarion pen)
Michelle Obama's Mirror (reflections)
MudvilleGazette (milblog central)
NoPasaran! (behind French facade)
NormanGeras (principled leftist)
OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
Powerline (foursight)
ProteinWisdom (wiseguy)
QandO (neolibertarian)
RachelLucas (in Italy)
RogerL.Simon (PJ guy)
SecondDraft (be the judge)
SeekerBlog (inquiring minds)
SisterToldjah (she said)
Sisu (commentary plus cats)
Spengler (Goldman)
TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
Tigerhawk (eclectic talk)
VictorDavisHanson (prof)
Vodkapundit (drinker-thinker)
Volokh (lawblog)
Zombie (alive)

Regent Badge