Yesterday afternoon, Lew Rockwell blogged the following:
Posted by Lew Rockwell, March 20, 2011
Just how strong, brave, resourceful, and dignified the Japanese people are under horrific stress. Far smaller disasters have offered us a very different picture of the Americans.
I, too, have been inspired by Japanese stoicism and courage; however, is the distinction that Lew is trying to make really between the Japanese and “the Americans”? Were all Americans—or a certain segment of them—looting and causing havoc during the Katrina disaster? Was it, in fact, “the Americans” who were rioting and looting in Haiti last winter? Or have we stumbled upon an instance of cultural decay for which America’s welfare state and overseas empire aren’t solely to blame?
In the summer of 2008, the Upper Mississippi flooded, leaving much of Iowa under water: property was destroyed; farmland, ruined; and the local economy was brought to a halt. Residents exclaimed that the natural disaster amounted to “Iowa’s Katrina.”
Well, “Iowa’s Katrina” was a lot different than New Orleans’s Katrina. As Christopher Roach remarked at the time:
I’m sure we can expect Iowans to start looting, raping one another, and acting like animals on account of the recent flooding. I mean, this is what flooding–and the incompetent response of President George W. Bush–do to communities, you know. There’s no other factors of note that make people rape one another, shoot at rescue helicopters, and the like.
When liberals see these two distinct responses to similarly unfortunate and stressful situations, to what do they attribute it, I wonder. When in doubt, flush it down the memory hole, I guess.
It’s worth speculating how Murray Rothbard—or, say, Lew Rockwell 15 years ago–would have reacted to the stark contrast between the Haitian and Japanese earthquakes.
Thankfully, we have Jared Taylor:
As Japan’s agony grinds on, more and more foreign observers are marveling at the disciplined, orderly behavior of the victims of one of the greatest natural disasters of our time. Homeless Japanese patiently stand in line for food and water. They huddle uncomplainingly in cramped shelters. They do not loot. Why is the aftermath of catastrophe in Japan so unlike that in Haiti or Chile or New Orleans?
Japan expert after Japan expert has been rolled out to give the obligatory one-word answer—culture. But that’s not an explanation. All these experts do is describe the Japanese: they are community-minded, polite, honest, stoical, they care about “face”, etc. We knew that already. Tell us why they are that way.
The implication of this mantra-like repetition of the word “culture” implies that cultures drop out of the sky, that the lucky Japanese got a good one and the Haitians got a bad one. This implies that patterns of behavior are essentially arbitrary and any group can acquire them. If Haitians could live in Japan for a few generations they would behave just like Japanese.
Ordinary people know better than the experts. When Ed West in the London DailyTelegraph wrote a brief article asking why the Japanese weren’t rioting, he got nearly 4,000 comments in three days—and not very many were about culture. [Why is there no looting in Japan? – Telegraph Blogs](The number of comments has begun to shrink as the Daily Telegraph deletes the ones it doesn’t like.)
Commenters generally had two explanations: (1) There must be something about the genetics of the Japanese, and (2) they benefit from homogeneity.
A few days ago, I wrote on my website American Renaissance that the main thing that keeps the Japanese from looting is the fact that they are not black, but that was flip. The question deserves a longer answer.
I am certainly as willing as Daily Telegraph readers to credit genes and homogeneity for all manner of good things, but the experts may not be completely wrong about “culture”,either. It is conceivable that others could acquire some of the traits that help the Japanese deal with a crisis. Let us consider genes, homogeneity, and culture, each in turn.
The crucial genetic contribution to the exemplary behavior of the Japanese is intelligence. Liberals like to pretend that, even if there really is such a thing as intelligence, it has no moral value, and people of low intelligence can be just as “good” as smart people. But, as Michael Levin (Why Race Matters, New Century Books, 2005) and others have pointed out, this is not true. High intelligence is invariably associated with greater law-abidingness.