Religious minority demonized in incendiary hate speech article
Gearoid Reidy, opinion columnist for Bloomberg covering Japan and the Koreas, exploits the fact that U.S. law does not limit hate speech, in an incendiary analysis published by the Washington Post 13th October 2023, headlined “Japan’s Media Has to Account for Its Own Failures, Too”. Reidy has certainly displayed similar tendencies before. According to the media bias agency Biasly, he has received the score “poor” for low number of sources with different viewpoints.
The United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech spells out hate speech as
“any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factor.”
Reidy’s use of the words “odious” and “noxious” to describe the Family Federation, can only be said to be discriminatory, bigoted, intolerant, pejorative, contemptuous and demeaning.
Those kinds of words are more commonly found in the comments sections on social media platforms. An editor-controlled large media outlet like the Washington Post is meant to be trustworthy, providing reporting of high quality.
To depict a religious minority the way Reidy does, is more reminiscent of Nazi propaganda before and during World War II. Words like “odious” and “noxious” were constantly used to create the mob mentality necessary for Hitler’s Final Solution to the Jewish Question – the mass murder of Europe’s Jewish minority.
And just consider Muslims or Jews being depicted as odious and noxious. Anyone using such adjectives, would be called islamophobic or antisemittic. There would have been an outcry.
The language Gearoid Reidy uses in the Washington Post article is an obvious attempt to demonize a religious minority. There have already been numerous reports of members of the Family Federation in Japan being harassed and receiving death threats. After media spreading disinformation and fake news like “The Family Federation killed Shinzo Abe”, members started being mobbed at their work place or school.
Dr. Massimo Introvigne, Italian sociologist of religion and leading expert on new religious movements, wrote soon after the terror attack on Abe,
“From Abe’s assassination to August 20, the Unification Church in Japan had documented some 150 hate incidents. But they continue, and the number is probably higher, since insults and threats to individual Church members are not necessarily reported to the headquarters. […]
On July 17, somebody posted in an electronic bulletin board ‘ Tomorrow morning I will come to your headquarters and kill all with a knife.’ Death threats were received by Unification Church branches in Aichi, Hokkaido, and Osaka. In Nara, threats to kill the pastors reported to the police led to the precautionary closure of the local church.
In Tokyo, Nara, and Osaka, sound trucks cruised around the churches and shouted hostile slogans. Some were operated by right-wing extremists, who in Osaka on August 4 screamed ‘ Korean anti-Japanese group, go out of Japan!’
In Aichi, on August 15, the church’s mailbox was painted black, and graffiti hailing Abe’s killer were spray-painted.” (The Abe Assassination and the Unification Church in Japan: How to Create a Mob, an article by Dr. Massimo Introvigne in Bitter Winter 1st September 2022)
Since then, there have been much more persecution of members and the movement itself, a lot of it caused by inflammatory media articles and TV programs of the kind that Reidy put together for the Washington Post.
He associates the Family Federation with the term “forced donations”. That is a claim coined by and constantly used by a group of leftwing activist lawyers called National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales. The network was founded by communist and socialist lawyers in order to destroy the Unification Church, now called the Family Federation.
Masumi Fukuda, award-winning investigative journalist wrote in June,
Unfortunately, however, even if the donors are convinced at the time of the donation that they are donating freely, as time goes by, their faith may wane. Their relatives may rush to the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales to recover the donation.
The donors may be persuaded by lawyers from the Communist Party of Japan or the former Socialist Party that they have been ‘deceived’, and a lawsuit against the religious organization for the return of the donation may follow. In fact, there are many cases in which relatives consulted with the Network on how to force the donors-believers to sue.” (The Plot to Destroy the Unification Church in Japan. 3. Fraudulent Lawsuits, written by Masumi Fukuda, published in Bitter Winter 26th June 2023.)
Deliberate use of derogatory terms
One derogatory word used by Reidy is “Moonies”. It is deliberately utilized by leftwing and anti-religious activists to make fun of and belittle the Unification Church, now called the Family Federation, and its members.
The Oxford English Dictionary designates “Moonie” as a pejorative term, and major US media such as the New York Times and Chicago Tribune have foresworn use of the term for the same reason.
The large international news agency Reuters produced a handbook for its journalists, where it says: “‘Moonie’ is a pejorative term for members of the Unification Church. We should not use it in copy and avoid it when possible in direct quotations.”
A totally unrelated scandal
For some reason, it may well be intentional, the piece by Reidy is also about a sexual abuse scandal that has surfaced in Japan fairly recently. It turns out that Johnny Kitagawa (1931-2019), founder of the J-pop agency Johnny & Associates Inc. over a period of more than 40 years have raped hundreds of boys who were part of his company. Reidy lumps the Family Federation and the J-pop agency together using the words “odious” and “noxious” about both. The Family Federation has no relationship whatsoever with sexual offender and known pedophile Johnny Kitagawa.
This kind of journalism belongs to the gutter press. It is interesting to note that the Washington Post is joining their ranks. Scandals related to sex, money and power rule the gutter press. And if you cannot find a sex scandal in the Family Federation, then mention it in an article about sex abuse, even though it is completely unrelated. This is really foul play and a journalism devoid of fairness.
Gearoid Reidy has written before about the post-Abe situation in Japan. One topic he has covered, is the alleged links between LDP politicians and the Family Federation. In the Washington Post he wrote,
“While some politicians indeed had a curiously close relationship to the religion, many who were tarred with having ‘ties’ did nothing more than send congratulatory telegrams or show up at meetings the church participated in — in other words, the type of glad-handing of prospective voters that every politician must engage in. Attending a meeting isn’t an endorsement; many attend events organized by those they don’t agree with […]”
Politicians saving their own skin
Reidy clearly points out the cynicism of the political world. LDP politicians attacked the Family Federation in order to save their own skins. He compares the process against the Family Federation to a practice in the Shogun era from 1603. Persons suspected to be Christians, were then forced to step on paintings of Jesus or Mary to prove they were not believers. The Washington Post writes,
“the LDP forced its members to cut ties [with the Family Federation] despite the constitutional rights to freedom of religion, association and assembly.”
The paper also asks why the Family Federation’s alleged influence on Japanese politics has become a big issue, when another religious organization, Soka Gakkai Buddhism, much more involved in politics, is not considered a problem. Through the Komeito party, the junior partner in the current government, the Soka Gakkai movement exercises considerable power and uses its influence for all its worth.
Featured image above: The Washington Post headquarters at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington DC. Photo: Michael Fleischhacker / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image
“Incendiary Hate Speech from Washington Post” – text: Knut Holdhus
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