I Am Assuming This Widely-Circulated Telegraph Article On Tohoku Quake Was/Is A Dog Whistle

And I largely agree with the (assumed) dog whistle assumption that this is unimaginable in a multicultural non-ownership-society culture.

I will undermine my premise by saying that I can on an outisde chance basis imagine this happening in Singapore, which is theoretically multicultural.

Japanese people I’ve talked to are genuinely and profoundly shocked when I mention looting. “Why would we do that when other people need help?”

Maaaan, the comments under the article are nasty.

You’ve answered your own question; it was the same thing in the Grand Forks ND flood in 1997. At one point, the number of sandbaggers exceeded the population of the state. In some places, the most important thing is to help eachother; in others, not so much.

Dog whistle? I don’t get it.

the looting the author makes immediate reference to, during 2007 flooding in the West Country, was in all likelihood perpetrated by white Englishmen. If he were referring to looting in major urban areas like Liverpool or Birmingham, then non-European minorities would probably have been involved. Britain does have a large and growing criminal underclass, but it’s mostly white and native born.


If tsunami hit Vladivostok on the Pacific coast of Russia, I’m quite sure there’d be massive looting and other street crime. The perps would be lower class Slavic Russians though, not foreigners. If anything, the Korean and Chinese immigrants there would show a lot more self restraint.


So I don’t think we’re talking multiculturalism so much as successful cultures versus failed ones. The Brits today are not the self-reliant, stoic, self organizing people who withstood the Blitz.

On the other hand, I full expect that the present day Germans and Dutch would handle themselves with their characteristic organization, cooperation, and self-restraint.

Yeah, if it wasn’t a dog whistle, a lot of people heard it anyhow . . . .

There are aspects of Japanese culture that make it plausible that there is less propensity for looting… and aspects of Japanese culture that make it plausible that we’d never hear about it if there were just as much, or more, looting.

I wonder how the Rape of Nanjing is handled in Japanese academia and the culture at large? I’m guessing blanket denial.

I don’t know. Japanese society has lots of features other than just being mostly relatively uniform in ethnicity. There is also very little poverty there, and I imagine that has a lot to do with looting/not looting.

You’d be wrong. Japanese academics are responsible for most of the best scholarship on the massacre. But thanks for tossing out a gratuitous slam into the thread.

Even though the Telegraph isn’t known for its bleeding heart leanings, I don’t actually think it was intended as a ‘dog whistle’. Seen from a British perspective, it just looks like a run-of-the-mill “where have we gone wrong?” British handwringing article, of which there are a lot; or perhaps just going “the Japanese - aren’t they amazing?” The alternative is that it’s promoting monoculturalism, which is illogical, since the propensity for theft is based in the culture that is mono-, and the British one has always been quite prone to petty theft. Qv. Robin Hood.

FTR there was quite a lot of looting where I was in Thailand after the tsunami. The locals, some of whom I have spoken to eyewitnesses who saw them doing it, sure were involved, tended to blame Burmese pirates and illegal immigrants.

That’s more than a bit ridiculous. There are scores of international journalists combing the scene. And the Japanese press, while willing to systemically cover-up less visible scandals or historic misdeeds in other contexts, is IME very big on self-flagellating over crimes against order such as taking up too much space on the subway or letting your umbrella drip on somebody else. Katrina-style looting going on and being covered up? Preposterous. The corrupt government of New Orleans didn’t even come close to managing that.

As I recall, the response to the 9/11 attacks on Manhattan was pretty exemplary; that would seem to belie the whole “cultural uniformity” thing.

Largely disanalogous I’d think – the serious damage was confined to a couple of square blocks, there was little to no interruption to public services, and the area in which it took place doesn’t particularly have any native population to speak of.

I lived in Grand Forks at that time. I was one of those sandbaggers. My mom had a house severely damaged by the flood (my wife and I got lucky, our apartment building was in one of the few areas in east Grand Forks that wasn’t touched). The reason there was no looting is because after water hit, it wasn’t really possible. Everything was under filthy water. A large part of the downtown area burned down and was not navigable. There wasn’t really anything to loot. The people there aren’t inherently any more ethical than anybody else, the opportunity just never really arose.

There seems no rhyme or reason to the public response to mass disasters. Take blackouts. In some cases, they act as the trigger for breakdown in public order; in others, the public pulls together - they actually increase public-spiritedness and co-operation.

Look at the great blackouts of NE NA. In the '70s, people experienced widespread riots. looting and mayhem:


The even more widespread blackout of 2003, on the other hand, people did not:

I remember the blackout in 2003 in Toronto, and I remember that there was an overall feeling of civic-mindedness: allegedly at the time, crime actually decreased (dunno if that was true, but it would not surprise me).

Why the difference? Obviously, it has nothing to do with monoculture. NY and Toronto in 2003 is not greater in “monoculture” than NY in 1977.

I wonder if it has anything to do with herd mentality. People are more likely to do stuff like that if they see other people doing it. The more others are engaged in in something like that, the more more emboldened new people feel about joining in. If no one is doing it yet, people are more reluctant to go first. There is a feeling of safety in numbers. Nobody wants to be the one to smash the glass and be the first one into the store, but if the doors are already off the hinges and the store full of people, it doesn’t feel as transgressive to go in.

I wonder if its just about that catalyst. That first scumbag with a brick. If nobody is willing to be that first scumbag, then nothing ever gets started.

I could be grossly wrong, but IMO it would be that 9/11/01 had “recently” happened and there was a mindset of pulling together again.
As for Nanjing, well the mayor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishiharahas some interesting ideas about it:

More about the movie:

I wonder if they’re the Palin/Bachmann versions in Japan though.

I think there is something to that, and it works the other way too - if people are visibly helping others and pulling together, there is a pull to comply and join in. Though how & why you get a sufficent critical mass of scumbags vs. the civic-minded is still a bit of a mystery to me.