klortho (klortho) wrote,


A student of mine just sent a message, via our email Google group, to the whole class. It was titled "The Nanking Massacre", and was a word document filled with all of the worst images from that time that you've ever seen or could possibly imagine. Dead children, grandmothers being raped, that sort of thing. Here is what I replied:

These pictures are tragic and horrifying, and deeply upsetting.

Now, Tom, I would ask you, what is the point of sending them out? This is, of course, a somewhat touchy political issue. But I would like to share with you my perspective as an American. I'm familiar with the history of these events, and have read a good book about them, "The Rape of Nanking", by Iris Chang. But I have to say that what I'm disturbed by more now is the Chinese fascination with this part of history, and how it fuels anti-Japanese sentiment.

These things are called "wartime atrocities", and, while they are inexcusable, what is a fact is that every country on earth, even China, is guilty of these kinds of things at some time in the past. America is routinely criticized for massacres committed in Vietnam, and, more recently, in, for example, the Abu Graib prison in Iraq. When I read about these kinds of things I feel deeply ashamed of my country, but I think that it's good that people bring them up and talk about them. On the other hand, what about Americans who criticize other country's behavior towards Americans? Believe me, there are a lot of these kinds of people. They talk, for example, of the extreme cruelty that would have to be in someone's heart to fly a planeload of innocent people into a building full of other innocent people. "Who could do such a thing?", they say. And then they use this as an excuse to go to war. This is one of the reasons that the Iraq war started out as fairly popular in the U.S.

Well, when I hear those kinds of things, I cringe. I think it is healthier to look at the wrongs that are committed by my own country, and try to make my country a better, more peaceful place, than it is to dwell on the wrongs committed against my country. So, when you send out this email full of these kinds of pictures, I would ask you, why? What is the point? These pictures are very inflammatory, and are used to incite people into hatred of the Japanese. Is that what you want to do? I don't think that's a very noble goal. The Japanese are people, human beings just like you and me -- I have a lot of Japanese friends, and I know that they are among the best people I have ever met.

I'm not a Christian, but one thing in the Bible is very poignant: "better to remove the log from your own eye before attending to the splinter in your own". If you think I'm wrong that Chinese people have committed atrocities, think again. You just don't hear about them very often, because your news and education have all been tightly controlled.

  • Moving ...

    I have moved my blog over to Blogger, here (Klortho was taken, sigh). The main reason is that Livejournal continues to be blocked here in China.…

  • Breathing Green

    Hey, hey, my first posts in such a long time! Aren't you excited? I know I am... I've been continuing to have a fabulous time here, and am always…

  • Strange page break

    I just read an article in the Shanghai Daily, Warning over danger for non-smokers, and was a little bit surprised to read this last paragraph:…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded