After the Disaster in Japan, When Comments Go Too Far

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While Japan is dealing with a rising death toll, massive destruction and a nuclear crisis in the wake of a devastating 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, some prominent media personalities, athletes and celebrities in the United States have found themselves apologizing for making insensitive comments about the tragedy. Jeff Yang, pop culture columnist, discusses the cultural implications of such remarks.

Family Guy scriptwriter Alec Sulkin tweeted, "If you wanna feel better about this earthquake in Japan, google 'Pearl Harbor death toll.'"

WNBA player Cappie Pondexter tweeted, "What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there own country! Idk [I don't know] guys he makes no mistakes." She added, "u just never knw! They did pearl harbor so u can't expect anything less."

And others being criticized for insensitive comments include Glenn Beck, rapper 50 cent, comedian Gilbert Gottfried and CNBC host Larry Kudlow.

Is this slew of thoughtless comments the result of a historically contentious relationship between Americans and the Japanese, or do some Americans simply think they have a free pass to make fun of Asians? The Tumblr KarmaJapan has been making a record of some of the invective about Japan that has been published online.