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24 September 2006

attempted Japanese

I just know bad things are going to happen if I try to do this, but I'm going to try anyway.


Deru kugi wa utareru

is Japanese for: The nail that sticks up gets pounded down.

Which is a saying that warns against acting like or being perceived as a non-conformist. "Don't make waves" is a comparable English saying.

What's hard or difficult to figure out without visiting there is whether Japan is more addicted to or obsessed with conformity than the USA is.

Certainly conformity -- the wish not to be perceived as an Up Nail -- is the domestic handmaiden of Bush's strange, violent, hostile, bullying military and foreign policy. Something so flawed and so fragile and so fraught with lethal peril could only continue this long in an environment where an unusually large number of people are terrified to speak candidly about what they see when they look at the emperor's new clothes.

Since the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has depended very heavily on voter and Congressional conformity, and on portraying those -- Cyndy Sheehan, for example -- who starkly oppose the war in Iraq as practically treasonous.

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