buruma172_Carl CourtGetty Images_trump supporters japan Carl Court/Getty Images

America’s Undimmed Global Culture

In Japan, local followers of QAnon, the far-right US conspiracy theory, are adding their own zany fabulations to the shared belief that Donald Trump was robbed of his presidency. For better or worse, the influence of American culture remains as strong as ever.

NEW YORK – Amanda Gorman’s remarkable performance of her poem “The Hill We Climb” at US President Joe Biden’s inauguration touched millions. That was reason enough for a leading Dutch publisher to commission a prominent novelist to prepare a translation. But the choice of Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, an International Booker Prize-winning novelist who is white and identifies as nonbinary, provoked an immediate protest by black activists in the Netherlands. They demanded that Gorman, an African-American, be translated by a black person. Picking a white translator caused one of the protesters “pain.” Rijneveld withdrew from the project.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, in Japan, local followers of QAnon, an American far-right conspiracy theory, are adding their own zany fabulations to the shared belief that Donald Trump was robbed of his presidency. Japanese QAnon supporters are convinced that sinister foreigners are ruling Japan behind the scenes, and that the imperial family was responsible for everything from the atom bomb to the devastating earthquake of 2011. If that isn’t odd enough, one group of Japanese QAnon adherents idolizes the disgraced former US army general Michael Flynn.

For better or worse, the influence of American culture remains as strong as ever. In this respect, at least, reports of US decline are wildly exaggerated. Even with the rise of China, the vast wealth of the European Union, and the embarrassing spectacle of the Trump presidency, people around the world still look to America for their cultural and political cues.

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