This American Life: Racial Slurs Okay, Swearing Not Okay

In last week's This American Life episode, they put two instances of the (theoretically anti-Japanese but really just anti-Asian) racial slur "Jap" in a fun white American–centered nolstagic narrative about World War II (both instances are quoting people):

And now the War Department received thousands of letters from eager volunteers-- that is, people eagerly volunteering their dogs to volunteer, like this one. "We want to kill all of the Japs we can. We are glad to give Laddie away if he will help."
Here's Marine Private First Class Mason [? Wachtsletter ?] writing to the owners of a dog named Tubby. "Tubby was in the front lines 23 days and had been on about 15 patrols. The second night in, he ran four Japs into a cave. And when they thought he was coming after them, they blew their heads off with hand grenades.
Now this is a show that will warn listeners' children not to listen if there's even talk about sex. But nothing about the word Jap. Wow! And to make it even worse, the one time there's a swear, instead of chickenshit, we get a bleep:
Others imagined my demise in more inventive ways. "You are chicken [BLEEP]. I'd love to see you in a lion's cage and see what you think of butchery then."
Thanks, This American Life. Thanks. When we have racist tweets like this still happening, making the word Jap nostalgic is not cool.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree, great post.

    And the term “jap” sounds derogatory to me always, no matter the context on the sentence it is used in.

    Why cannot people all get along and realize that all races are people just like the race they happen to be born into?
    I think if all people could actually care for each other and help each other, most of the worlds problems would be resolved from that moment on…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *