Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why do They hate Us?

Why do they hate us?
Stupid question asked by simple people looking for feel-good answers.

Okay, I'll fall on the sword and proffer this:

No, they do not hate us for our freedom, for “Dancing with the Stars” or for Beyonce. “They” are not jealous of us - so stop feeling so superior. They hate us (okay hate is a strong word, and Okinawans are gentle people)…they dislike us because we are all up in their biz with FREAKING LOUD NOISE. Did you hear that? Because I didn’t. Not over the ABSURDLY LOUD planes that fly over my head every 3 minutes. Oh. My. Lord.

The F-15s have been grounded since I arrived on the island and now they’re baaaaack. I woke up this morning to rip-roaring engines, and the high-pitched whistle that usually precedes bombs exploding. I thought to myself, “this is it, we’re under attack, I cannot believe Kim Jon Il waited till I got here, just my luck.”

Thankfully, it was not the North Koreans, only my friendly neighborhood fighter squadron.

It’s an odd feeling to walk around amongst the natives, as I am so clearly affiliated with the US military. What do they think of me? I smile, bow, and say “Konichiwa!” – the subtext being “I’m sorry for the noise my people are causing, please don’t hate me.” But that’s just my liberal-self-loathment talking. Inevitably when you bring a bunch of 18 to 22 year-old boys anywhere, more than a few are going to be offensive. Laws will be broken, property will be damaged, messes will be made. I know this. I have many brothers.

But in the eyes of the Okinawans, I am the same as that Marine who just threw a glass bottle into someone’s driveway. Yes, I saw this happen. Thankfully, this idiot was an exception, as most every American I have met here is very respectful, and aware that they are guests here. Pretty much every American in this area is affiliated to the military in some way. We have been here since WWII. What must it be like to have a foreign military intrinsically part of your town for over 50 years? I was told by an Okinawan that the US military offers valuable protection that the Japanese military could not offer. It’s a complicated question I am not able to figure out just yet, but I realize that the answer is not so simple. Meanwhile, I will act like the good girl my parents raised, respect the laws here, and tread lightly on the Okinawan soil.

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