Of all the political battles to wage, why did Northern Virginia’s Korean community go to the mat over cartography? Last week’s cover story by Mike Paarlberg looked at the statehouse migraine caused by a quixotic campaign to include references to the “East Sea” alongside references to the Sea of Japan in Virginia textbooks and what it says about one of the commonwealth’s fastest-growing political blocs. “this @wcp story really has it all: ethnic politics, history, organizing, cartography,” tweeted @sethdmichaels. “Up close, identity politics can seem strange. But if you’re a politician, you’d better respect it,” wrote @otiswhite.
In the comments, reader R criticized the article’s reference to Japanese textbooks that downplay the country’s wartime atrocities. “While the continuing controversy over Japanese textbooks makes headlines, it has little practical effect on what students experience in the classroom. In fact, a 2012 study at Stanford University found that Japanese textbooks were in fact less likely to put a nationalist spin on or omit significant events,” wrote R, who added, “Overall, the article makes some good points, especially with regard to the Korean-American communities’ place in local politics, but the repetition of tired misconceptions impugns its credibility.”
Paarlberg parried: “As for Japanese textbooks’ history of downplaying wartime atrocities and their only recent, still inadequate efforts to address them, this has all been well documented, from the books themselves to personal testimonials by Japanese students,” he wrote. “The very fact that the Ministry of Education has had to periodically adopt new standards for schools to order books that include references to events left out of previous editions—after fierce debate and resistance by conservative politicians—is evidence enough that such deficiencies existed. The fact that these events are often still glossed over or relegated to footnotes is evidence that, while standards have improved, much progress remains to be seen.”
An arts feature by Alexis Hauk spotlighted the considerable talents of two 14-year-old stand-up comedians who are beginning to make murmurs in D.C.’s comedy scene. Commenters had nothing against the kids, just their parents: Comedian Rahmein Mostafavi, who roasted burgeoning standup comic Leo Lytel’s family at a comedy night, wrote, “As a father, I see this level of exposure to all brands of stand-up comedy to be irresponsible. It’s stressful, it’s neurotic, and it can be far more information than a kid needs. But hey, stage parents will never stop, even if it means ruining a kid’s mental stability…This is not a comment on the talent of the kids, they are just dandy, but a bar/club comedy scene is not a place for children. Beyond the damage I think it may do to a young mind, it makes the crowd and comics uncomfortable.”
Reader Jane agreed: “You wouldn’t let your kid into any other 18-plus venue, so why is a comedy club any different?…Both of these kids seem talented, but why not let them work with audiences their own age?”
Department of Corrections
Last week’s Loose Lips column contained several inaccuracies. Due to an editing error, the story incorrectly stated that Chuck Thies started working for Vince Gray’s re-election campaign in November. Due to a reporting error, it incorrectly said he began working on a Ward 1 campaign in 1999. And due to another reporting error, it also misspelled Muhammad Ali’s name. And the arts feature about teenage comics contained two reporting errors. It originally gave the wrong venue where Rahmein Mostafavi roasted Leo Lytel’s family; it was at the Hyatt in Bethesda. And it gave an incorrect location for Episcopal High School, which is located in the Seminary Hill neighborhood of Alexandria.
Due to a reporting error, this post incorrectly said that a campaign wanted to replace “Sea of Japan” with the “East Sea” in Virginia textbooks, when its aim is to list one alongside the other.