Is This Lawsuit Seeking To Remove Public Art Misguided Or Evil? Why Choose?
The Japanese did awful things in World War II that went above and beyond wartime fun, including mass rape and and forced prostitution. Japanese rightwingers do not like to be reminded of this, so some terrible people are suing Glendale, California, for having the gall to erect a memorial to “comfort women” — the women enslaved by the Japanese as prostitutes for the military. Wait what??
First, a little back story. Back in 1993, the Japanese government fucking finally apologized to comfort women and acknowledged that its colonial rule had been particularly oppressive. We’d actually kick that up several notches and call it insanely brutal, and if you do not agree, just go read The Rape Of Nanking and get back to us. Anyway, so there was an apology, but ever since, some right-wing Japanese officials have been all like naw mang Nanking never happened and the whole comfort women thing was NBD. Because of this, some Japanese politicians and Japanese-Americans are none too happy that Glendale decided to put up a memorial honoring the comfort women and have taken a true blue American route to get the thing gone: suing the pants off the city.
In 2013 the City of Glendale erected a modest memorial to the comfort women of World War II in a public park next to the library. Japanese politicians were enraged and have repeatedly demanded that the memorial be removed. The federal lawsuit filed by [law firm] Mayer Brown seeks to have the memorial removed by force of law. […]
The plaintiffs complain that the presence of the comfort women memorial in Glendale causes them to suffer “feelings of exclusion, discomfort, and anger because of the position espoused by her city of residence through its display and endorsement” of the monument, and that they avoid the park because it shows a “pointed expression of disapproval of Japan and the Japanese people” and diminishes their enjoyment of the park.
Well, we guess it is a little “enjoyment diminishing” to have to remember that Japan was responsible for the rape and enslavement of shit tons of women but SUCK IT UP.
Does the lawsuit get worse? Oh, kittens, of course it does. According to the plaintiffs, you can’t have a memorial about the comfort women in the good old US of A if the Japanese government doesn’t believe there was such an animal. From the ridiculous complaint itself:
Glendale’s installation of the Public Monument has a direct impact on U.S. foreign policy that is neither incidental nor indirect. By installing the Public Monument, Glendale has taken a position in the contentious and politically sensitive international debate concerning the proper historical treatment of the former comfort women. More specifically, given the inflammatory language used in the plaque that is prominently featured alongside the statue, Glendale has taken a position at odds with the expressed position of the Japanese government.
Can one of you drive over here and lift our jaw off the ground please? We were hitherto unaware that civic art needed to conform to the wishes of foreign powers. Hell, civic art doesn’t even have to conform to the wishes of our own federal government. Also, too, the whole lawsuit leads to what we lawyer types like to call a parade of horribles, except in this case said parade could actually come true.
Will Mayer Brown next be suing to force the removal of memorials to the Armenian Genocide, or to prohibit city councils from recognizing it, because it is extremely controversial to apologist forces in Turkey? Given the delicacy of U.S. relationships with the new government of Afghanistan, will someone use the federal courts to police the language of civic war memorials and commemorative statements across the nation, to make certain that they portray the Afghans as our allies?
Seriously, attorneys that took this case, we know that a dollar is a dollar and all of it spends the same, but do you really want to represent the people that just want to wipe out a chunk of Japanese history because they find it dismaying to think about? Don’t be those people, for real.