A few weeks back, NHK, which is a Japanese public television network, got in touch with me and invited me to participate in a panel on nuclear weapons issues in New York. That panel, which featured 15 Americans and 15 people from Hiroshima, Japan discussing nuclear weapons for a few hours happened last week-end and the edited footage is going to be shown in Japan, on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.
Although the panel isn’t going to be shown on American television, I thought it was a great opportunity to see New York on someone else’s dime, so after a bit of negotiation (I said I needed 2 days in New York instead of 1 and less than one connecting flight each way), I came to an agreement with NHK on joining the panel.
That agreement came to pass last week-end and I headed out to New York.
On Friday, I took a direct flight from Myrtle Beach, SC into New York. So, here I am, flying into NYC for the very first time and out the window, in the distance, I see the Statue of Liberty. It was an awesome sight and I couldn’t help but think….”Wow, the Cloverfield Monster really knocked that thing’s head clear off in the movie!”
After landing, getting to the hotel, and getting cleaned up a bit, I took a cab over to Hoboken, New Jersey to eat dinner with my friend and co-blogger, Sharon Soon from GOP USA New Jersey.
Sharon is one of the genuinely nicest people that I have ever met in my life. In fact, I’m not sure who the nicest blogger I’ve ever actually met is, but it would have to be either Sharon or Lorie Byrd.
Ironically, given that I live in North Carolina, we ate Cajun food for dinner. Here I am in North Carolina, and I’m having to go to New Jersey to get Cajun food.
Karol is very sweet and laid back and Pamela is, as you’d guess from her Vlogs, a bundle of energy. As Karol said, you can practically feel her when she walks into a room.
After we ate, we took a little mini-tour of a few nearby landmarks. We walked over to the Chrysler building, headed into the stunning lobby of the New York Globe, and then Pamela and I (Karol had to split) beat feet over to the United Nations where we took a pic in front of some anti-gun artwork.
Later that night, NHK scooped up all the panelists, took us to an Italian restaurant, and then we bounced over to the Reuters Studios in Times Square to film.
The actual debate on nuclear weapons was a little frustrating because the Japanese group was, to a person, comprised of childlike anti-nuke people. By that, I mean all of them wanted to rid the planet of nukes and blamed the US for stopping it, but had absolutely no practical ideas on how to make it happen. In all seriousness, we could have had a more informed and nuanced debate with a class full of 10-year-olds in the United States.
Our side of the panel was roughly split between conservatives and anti-nuke liberals, but they called on liberals a little more. So, in essence, the show was about 80% liberal opinion and it’s entirely possible that once they edit it, that percentage may go up.
The discussion itself primarily consisted of the liberals and people from Japan saying some variation of, “Why doesn’t the United States want a nuke free world?” and the conservatives replying, “We’d love a nuke free world, but there is no practical way to do it. Suggest something if you have an idea.” They did have “ideas,” but they were always things like “education,” “hope,” and “wishing.” After listening to that kind of magical thinking for 3 hours, I have a better understanding of why Changey McHope is so popular overseas.
It’s also worth noting that they actually put up pics of Hiroshima for us to look at as if we would wave our magic wands to make all the nukes disappear if we would only realize that nuclear weapons hurt people. Moreover, I personally thought that the audience in Hiroshima should be looking at pictures of Pearl Harbor while we were looking at the pictures of Hiroshima. I raised my hand to make that point, but some other people, who were much less blunt than I would have been, were called on and made the same point. Either way, there was a little too much of a victim mentality in the room. The Japanese raped, robbed, and murdered everyone they could reach that was too weak to stop them during WW2 and worse yet, they attacked the United States. After that, they don’t really have much standing to complain about what was done to them in return and they certainly aren’t victims in any meaningful sense.
Although the panel wasn’t exactly a blast because of the nature of the whole thing, NHK was a very generous, professional, courteous, well organized host and I have nothing but good things to say about them.
* This was my first time in New York and it really is an incredible city. Personally, I was so impressed that I’d like to live there…well, if I had say 10 million dollars to toss around.
* During the short time I was in New York, I got to see the Lincoln Tunnel, New York Times, UN Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Chrysler Building, and probably another 3 or 4 famous landmarks I have already forgotten. You almost trip over the famous spots in New York.
* The plane rides, on Delta both ways, were very smooth. In fact, I was actually surprised at how well things went at LaGuardia Airport, where I was checked in and through security in less than 30 minutes. Stripping out those connecting flights really cuts down on the hassle.
* Most annoying feature of dining in New York: they typically charge $2.50 to $3.00 per soda and don’t give free refills. So, if let’s say you’re sitting around for 2-3 hours chatting over dinner, you either nurse a single drink the whole time or run up a $9 bill for diet soda. It’s ludicrous.
* Speaking of ludicrous, the traffic was like nothing I have ever seen before. I’ve driven in downtown DC before with no problems, but I am amazed they don’t have a traffic wreck every 5 minutes in NYC. Between the people who just wander right into the street with minimal regard for traffic, the typically aggressive drivers in the city, the looky-lou tourist drivers, and the taxicab drivers, who motor around like bats out of hell, the traffic is just a roaring, tumbling snarl.