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Quitting America

The following is my translation of the November 5, 2008 entry from Tomoyuki Hoshino’s online journal, which you can see here.

Quitting America


There are just a few days left until the American presidential elections.  While it’s supposedly the election of one country’s leader, the people holding this office have wrought so much damage throughout the world that I’m sure many people in various places feel like they want to vote too even if they aren't Americans.


On the other hand, there are also those like my American friend A who want to renounce this right.  An avowed anarchist, A taught at a Midwestern university.  However, she was increasingly disgusted with the intellectuals there who routinely brag about how liberal they are while closing their eyes to the poverty and discrimination right in front of them.  So from her point of view, not wanting McCain was a no-brainer, but Obama’s candidacy smelled fishy too given the support he had from those same intellectuals.  This summer, she found a job in Canada and moved there.  “I’m quitting America,” she said.


This expression “to quit America” comes from the title of the book Quitting America by the African American human rights activist Randall Robinson.  He moved from America to a small country in the Caribbean.  


For A who is an anarchist, the declaration that she was “quitting America” wasn’t about choosing between a Democrat or Republican; it was a fundamental critique of both parties as historical accomplices.  It was also a way of expressing her inability to bear any more of the crimes perpetrated by America.


With that kind of feeling, I want to quit Japan too.  But since I’m neither an anarchist nor archist*, the best I can do is mutter, “First, let me choose my government.”


(Tokyo Shimbun, October 31, 2008. Evening Edition, partially revised from the front page column entitled “Nuclear Radiation”)


Obama won the American presidential election.  This is better than a continuation of Republican administrations.  He’s a skillful speaker, so his acceptance speech was moving.  But we still don’t know how fundamentally he will change things.  It may not matter what I think, but all the same, I don't trust this person yet.

*The original Japanese here warrants mention.  He uses the characters for anarchist (無政府主義者), which mean something like “having no government-ist,” and the made-up antonym (有政府主義者), which means something like “having a government-ist.”  When laid out like that, it’s pretty funny to me in that he highlights some of the limits of that particular rendering of “anarchist” in Japanese – and also because it’s just funny.



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