I always remembered hearing that it is the Americans (a term meaning, of course, only U. S. Americans) who were infected by such a shrill, screaming nationalism that bordered on the irrational. Now, thinking of that makes me chuckle. Surely as far as many standards in the West go it could be said that the Americans certainly have a relatively strong nationalist bent that does, from time to time, manifest itself in very asinine displays & country music videos… but at the end of the day there is always some sort of narrative that can be followed.
American nationalism comes from general sense that freedom, democracy, free enterprise, hard work and rugged individualism can combine into this unique thing we call the American dream. Of course, whether or not that still exists is up for debate as many who graduate from Universities struggle to find any work at all, forget the guaranteed picket white fence upper middle class guarantee…
However, it seems to be Asia takes the cake when it comes to utterly reckless, pointless and insane political protests.
You will never see so much passion poured out for collections of small, rocky outposts. Whether it is the Japanese against the Koreans, or the Japanese against the Chinese, or even the Chinese against the Filipinos there are always some youths willing to smash cars and restaurant windows or stage bizarre nationalist actions up to and including self-mutilation (protestors do not mind cutting off fingers for Dokdo)…
And, of course, it is kicking off now between Japan and China:
BEIJING — Angry youths on Sunday overturned cars and smashed shop windows in anti-Japanese protests across China stemming from a long-standing dispute over uninhabited islands claimed by both countries.
Not to be outdone in nationalist fervor, 150 Japanese activists tried to land on the islands in the East China Sea by boat Sunday to commemorate World War II deaths. When that failed, 10 of them swam to one of the rocky islands and tried to plant a Japanese flag.
The demonstrations in China were the largest since 2010, when a Chinese fishing captain whose boat collided with a Japanese coast guard vessel was arrested, leading to a protracted standoff.
The largest street protest was in Shenzhen, where thousands of people, mostly students, overturned Japanese-made police cars and smashed the windows of Japanese restaurants. Demonstrations also took place over the weekend in Chengdu, Xian and Jinan, among other Chinese cities, as well as in Hong Kong. Japanese chain stores including Uniqlo, which are wildly popular among young Chinese, were forced to close for the day.
“Japanese, get off our Diaoyu islands,” read most of the banners, while others exhorted Chinese to “kill all the Japanese.” The islands are known as Senkaku in Japan.
Photographs that circulated on Chinese microblogs during the day showed a young man with a metal pipe destroying a Honda police car. Another showed a demonstrator in an anti-Japanese T-shirt taking photographs — with a Canon single-lens reflex camera. Canon is a Japanese company.
What makes all of this so mind boggling is that the fighting is about nothing. It is literally about rocks. Rocks that, of course, may represent some increased income in extended fishing rights or theoretically there could be natural gas or oil reserves nearby, but to the economies of South Korea, Japan and China? In all reality this is a small drop in the bucket.
This is the true face of nationalism in its extremes. A meaningless fight over rocks.