Alfredo’s post reminded me of a cartoon I came across which was actually used during WWII in a U.S. Army pamphlet distributed to soldiers in a Pocket Guide to China. The section called “How to Spot a Jap” instructed military men on how to distinguish between Japanese and Chinese Americans. I think the bit about how Chinese smile more often because the Japanese expect to be shot “and are unhappy about the whole thing” is particularly hilarious.


  1. Pretty funny how “idiotic” the references are.

    I grew-up in a US-community during the early to mid-70s that was predominantly of western European ancestry where there were almost no Asians…or any one “different”. It was SHOCKING how literally stupid and ignorant many our racist neighbors and my schoolmates were. Many of them probably read that pamphlet (or their family members that served brought them home after WW2), or perhaps they had watched too many old “Hollywood portrayals of Asians”. It was always ironically funny and maddening at the same time when they would mis-label my ethnicity and couldn’t even use the proper slurs.

  2. whoever knew that the spacing between your toes could be used as a method for ethnic distinction. that’s some powerful science…

  3. R, this is why I never go barefoot. But I digest.

    That generation grew up with a lot — spoke once with a white WW II veteran. He told how he and pals grabbed a Jewish soldier, held him down and moved his hair back from his forehead, looking for the scars of where his horns were removed. True. The belief was that Jews had norns on their foreheads. Probably from the old “Jews killed Christ” thing, in league with devil, etc.

    He also told how the common belief was that a Japanese (or Asian) woman’s vagina slanted sideways. Like Japanese eyes. This belief lasted after WW II.

  4. There’s another connotation to that gap between the big toe and second toe. People with Down Syndrome often have that gap between the first and second toe, and as you may know Down Syndrome was formerly known as “Mongolism”. It’s a very subtle way of categorizing Asians as slightly less human.

  5. I love it! It took Pearl Harbor for us to cozy up to the Chinese…

  6. For anybody near the Seattle area, there’s a copy of this pamphlet on display in the special exhibition, YELLOW TERROR: The Collections and Paintings of Roger Shimomura.


    Professor Shimomura has an extensive collection of racist / anti-Asian materials.

  7. Call me racist, but I can’t tell C and J apart in those drawings. They look exactly the same to me. Shit, as a Chinese I’d be scowling if some trigger-happy Judge Parker-lookin’ honky cop with a bone to pick came up to me too.