Forgetting to Remember

December 14, 2004

Iris Chang said that the silence surrounding the Nanjing holocaust was like a second rape --silence equals complicity.

I agree. Japanese textbooks should record these and other atrocities performed by their country; schoolchildren should flood Nanjing with thousands of folded paper cranes, not just their own victims of the atomic bomb. (Having spent 3 years in Japan, I can attest that there's a lot more attention paid to Nagasaki and Hiroshima and Japan's victimhood, than to its aggression and culpability.)

And we here in America have failed to construct the memorials and museums and write the books and create the art that has been part of the surviving, healing process for other, more famous massacres. (Are we comparing massacres now? Is this my unsavory role in the world?)

This photo is so hard to look at that one wants, almost must, look away. There are many more, each so inhuman that it hardly seems possible humans could do such things. But if you haven't seen them, you need to. (See more photos here , here and here.)

I didn't want to look at the photos and tried to scroll through quickly. But the one above grabbed my eye. How can that man be smiling? He's holding a human head.

It reminds me chillingly of the photos taken at Abu Ghraib.

Sure, the scale isn't as great in Baghdad as it was in Nanjing. And U.S. soldiers merely sodomized, tortured, humiliated, and beat to death their prisoners --they didn't chop off their heads.

But what struck me in both cases is the ability of a human being, amidst all of that cruelty and blood, to pose for the camera.

girl smiles over corpse.jpg

pile of bodies Abu Ghraib.jpg

The photos, separated by almost 70 years, continents and cultures and politics, are a grim reminder of what happens to people in war. They make me fear that we will never learn how to stop the even the worst of human behaviour, that anyone, even our uncles and brothers and children, even ourselves, could be capable of total depravity.

This is what Irish Chang looked in the face. How disheartening to see the same story played out again and again, in Darfur, in Baghdad, in in Colombia, in Aceh.




the usa solders is very bitch . fucking them.