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Archive for the tag “revisionism”

Unfathomable, Unacceptable!

Good day readers, I have been busy and away from this blog for a while, but today I was compelled to write about something I saw, thanks to twitter. Before I get started, thanks for following my blog, even when I don’t post for a while. Now on to the topic of the day.

UNTHINKABLE

The Yomiuri Shinbun (Shinbun means newspaper in Japanese) is a right-wing newspaper that is known for its far right stance. However, the latest editorial from that fascist rag takes the cake in terms of insensitivity, historical revisionism, and blatant misogyny. In an editorial on August 2nd titled

“Refute recent moves in U.S. to distort comfort women issue”

the newspaper issued the opinion that Korean-Americans who have set up monuments to the victims of Japan’s war time sex slavery system administered by their armed forces is “distorting” the “comfort women” issue. First the paper ridiculously refers to those trying to honor the memory of those victims as “anti-Japanese” as if to be honest about history and mourn the oppressed is to hate Japan. Of course that doesn’t say much for the moral character of Japan, but leaving that alone for the moment; the newspaper is once again, like many right-wing fascists in Japan have done for decades, is trying to revise history to be one that fits their agenda, and fits with their nationalist myth making. Let’s go through some of these ridiculous claims, and see if they hold any water. Just because I’m fair like that.

They point out that the monument erected in California reads “In memory of more than 200,000 Asian and Dutch women who were removed from their homes…to be coerced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan between 1932 and 1945.” The newspaper refutes this with “The distorted and exaggerated phrases “sexual slavery” and “more than 200,000” are enough to significantly degrade the honor of Japan.”

Let’s examine those two claims. One, they are asserting that the so-called “comfort women” system was not sexual slavery. Is that true? Well, what is the definition of slavery? According to Merriam-Webster online the definition of slavery is:

slav·ery

noun \ˈslā-v(ə-)rē\

1 : drudgerytoil
2: submission to a dominating influence
3
: the state of a person who is a chattel of another
: the practice of slaveholding
Now take that definition and read this testimony of a Korean woman about her servitude:

“[…] it was not out of our own will, we were forced into it. I was beaten until I lost hearing. I was tortured. They didn’t see us as people, but as objects.” –Lee Ok-sun, comfort woman (as cited in Wabnitz, 2007)

Well, that certainly sounds like slavery to me. There is a colossal mountain of historical documentation that shows that these women were forced into sexual slavery in service to the Japanese Imperial Army.  There are journal articles upon newspaper articles upon photos and government papers and reports and on and on and on that verifies the reality of the sexual slavery of these women. Yet apparently the Yomiuri doesn’t let a little history deflect them from “upholding the honor of Japan,” Those honoring the victims of that horrible fascist government aren’t dishonoring Japan, those who built the “comfort women” system of sex slavery are the ones who dishonored Japan. That’s like claiming the witnesses of a murder are more guilty of killing because they reported it. It’s cognitive dissonance on crack.

Ok, so let’s examine the second claim, that being that 200,000 sex slaves is an exaggeration. Let’s turn again to an academic source for that.

“It was not until 1993 that the Japanese government stopped denying its involvement in the creation of comfort stations—establishments that saw the systematic rape, torture, and in some cases murder, of approximately 200 000 so-called comfort women.”
and another
“Comfort women” is the bitterly ironic euphemism for the approximately 200,000 women, mostly Korean (about 90%) that the Japanese Imperial Army tricked or abducted into military brothels, called “comfort stations” and forced into sexual slavery during World War II. Although most of the comfort women were Korean, women from Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, the Netherlands, and the Philippines were also forced into this sexual slavery. The comfort women system was a sweeping network that existed throughout Japan and its growing empire in China, Hong Kong, Indochina, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, the East Indies, Burma, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Saipan, Guam, and the Coral Sea Island Islands (Factbox: Disputes, 2007).” ()
Sorry, seems like a pretty established fact. I could pull out hundreds of articles of evidence that shows that the sex slavery system of Imperial Japan was that extensive, but I figure these idiots would ignore the evidence, or just claim that it’s a vast “anti-Japanese” conspiracy like they always do. Un-fucking-believable.
The end the article by claiming there is no evidence for that which the rest of the goddamn world knows there is a mountain of evidence for, and claim that the famous “Kono statement” of 1993 needs to be changed, or redacted. At the same time they try to appear humanitarian by writing “It is true there were actions by the Japanese government in wartime that injured the honor and dignity of many women. If the comfort women issue were to be judged under the standards of human rights awareness that exist today, there would be no chance for Japan to politically win the issue.”
No fucking sir, nice try you weasel fascist fucking ratfink, whoever you are. They were crimes against humanity by the standard of human rights OF THAT ERA, which is why so many of your leaders were hung like the fascist fucking rats they were. You can’t on one hand say that the Japanese government committed atrocities, and on the other hand say that they weren’t that bad of atrocities and so Koreans have no right to be angry about Japan’s continued idiocy, and stubborn historical revisionism.
Dear Japan, stop trying to weasel out of the horrible history of your imperialist expansionism. Stop trying to wiggle out of the responsibility your government still holds for the deaths, tortures, and rapes of millions of people. Stop trying to prop up your bullshit national myth on the backs of the victims of your imperialist fascist aggressions. Take responsibility for your history, and establish a future where no one will ever again be afraid that that horrible history would ever repeat itself. Take a note from Germany, that has to its credit, largely owned up to the sins of the past, and has criminalized the denial of the holocaust, and Nazi symbolism. Those who forget the past, are doomed to repeat it.
SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on Japan, and SHAME on the Yomiuri Shinbun. You are not fit to print advertisements, let alone speak about serious issues. Either stop distorting history, drop your projections, and own up to the past, or just at least do the world a favor, and shut the fuck up.
Postscript
Inb4 “you hate Japan”: I live here, and my wife and children are Japanese citizens.
 Inb4 “What about America”: I have no great love for the fascist US government, and I fully acknowledge the crimes of the US state. No red herrings or diversions allowed here.
Sources:
Durham, Helen, and Bebe Loff. “Japan’s “comfort women”.” The Lancet357.9252 (2001): 302.
Heit, Shannon. “Waging sexual warfare: Case studies of rape warfare used by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.” Women’s Studies International Forum. Vol. 32. No. 5. Pergamon, 2009.

American History 101

I was born in the US, and have lived here a great majority of my life.  I was raised with the same stories most Americans are raised hearing; the old familiar tales of how the “greatest country on earth” came to be. I was taught to be patriotic, to be loyal. I was taught to love the flag and the Star Spangled Banner, and Davey Crocket and Abraham Lincoln. We threw off the weight of the tyranny of King George III and fashioned an incredible and majestic nation the likes of which the world has never known.

This would be great and all, if it wasn’t precipitated on a complete, boldfaced lie.

History, as We’d Like to Believe it

You see, pretty much everything we’re taught about American history is false. Complete and utter hogwash. Squanto helped the Pilgrims, it’s true. It’s also true that he did so because he came back to where his village was, and everyone he knew was dead and gone. In their place, in his village were the invaders.  He still helped them out. Just before the famous settlements at Jamestown and others, a plague brought by the Europeans wiped out most of the population of Natives all along the coast. What had been a thickly populated area of Natives, with a society and people no more primitive than the Europeans who came, was reduced to a shadow of its former self in record time thanks to the greatest genocide ever known to humankind.

Christopher Columbus raped, pillaged, and end enslaved the natives he met. From the very beginning this country was not founded on an idea of  freedom, but one of racism, slavery and theft. Within a few years of the settling of what is now the US, slaves from the West coast of Africa would arrive, beginning the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  It would not end for hundreds of years.

Slaves, packed into the bottom of the ships, dying as they lay chained in their own filth, not even able to move. The stifling hot cabin making them pass out. Millions died in the infamous “Middle Passage.” If they tried to refuse the gruel they were given to keep them alive, preferring death over their horrible conditions, the slave traders would force them to eat with this:

It’s called a Speculum Oris, or “mouth opener”. It was forced violently into the slave’s mouth to pry his mouth open; which would then give the opportunity for the slave trader to pour the gruel down the slave’s throat. It only cost the slave a few teeth to do this, to deny him the right to die.

These slaves built the material wealth of the US. The founders of the US owned slaves whose ancestors had been brought over from Africa, from their homes and their villages and their families. The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —” himself owned hundreds of slaves. Obviously he either didn’t consider slaves people, or he didn’t believe the words he wrote.

That’s not all. Immigrant workers, sharecroppers, oppressed and poor people of all nationalities built the country. All while the high minded plutocrats convinced the poor men and boys to die for their country. From the Trail of Tears, to the Transcontinental railroad,  America has been built on the backs of the oppressed, while those in power reap all the rewards.

Why Historical Revisionism?

The question is then, why this cult of America? Why do we speak of “Un-Americanism” as if there was some high cosmic ideal that we all were assigned to live under at our birth? Why are we shackled to the unending propaganda that somehow, the US is better, more moral, more just than any other country, when by any stretch of the imagination it’s not?

To keep you enslaved. You are enslaved. You most likely don’t own your own business. Even if you do, the bank probably owns it on paper. You work your whole life to make a living. Most people don’t think that they’ll ever get filthy rich, but they’d like a nice lifestyle. They want a decent place to live, enough food to eat, entertainment. They want to send their children to school, to college. They want to pursue their dreams. Most can’t. Most are left living vicariously through TV; seeing their favorite celebrity wear the clothes they’ll never see, let alone buy. Their idols making more money than 100 lifetimes of normal work. They go to work every day, putting in time, selling the only commodity they have. Their life.

They have the freedom to choose what job to have! You may say. They don’t have much choice though, nor can they choose how much they’re going to make. To even own a home, they must put themselves in 30 years of debt. A car for transportation is also expensive, even if you’re buying used. Food prices through the roof. After all they pay for, maybe there’s some left over for  a small amount of entertainment in your small amount of free time.

Day after day after day. Eat work sleep eat work sleep. You buy and you buy but you can’t fill the empty void inside you. You’re not living. You’re going through the motions of a robot. You’re nothing more than a commodity who makes the rich richer.

Then, the 4th of July comes. Red, white and blue are everywhere. Bunting hung on porches, flags flown from the eaves, the smell of gunpowder fills the air as we blow things up in celebration of our great country. We celebrate all the good that America is. The next day you go back to your soul crushing job. You make money for the rich capitalists, and barely make it through. Forget saving enough for your kids to get a good education, they’ll have to accumulate years worth of debt to achieve anything. Maybe they can join the military, they’ll be lauded as heroes as they try not to die for imperialist causes. Maybe if they make it out alive, they can go to college, still barely making it, to get a soul crushing job that won’t even pay for their kid’s education. Rinse, repeat, cash your little check.

Never though, do we teach our kids the truth of the horrible genocidal history of their country. We wouldn’t want them to question the country they were born into. We wouldn’t want them to think critically about their country. We wouldn’t want to progress beyond the politics of the 18th century. No, we stubbornly assert that we are the best in the world. Our cities crumble. We have trains systems from 50 plus years ago as the rest of the world moves forward. We talk about freedom while millions of our citizens are incarcerated in the horrible hell hole called the US prison system. The prison building companies get rich, the war profiteers get rich, the Wall St. gamblers get rich. The working mother struggling to feed her family falls into depression. The country moves on, continuing the centuries of exploitation and wage slavery. Those who work the hardest can barely survive, while the rich live off their trust funds. They go to Harvard and Yale, where they get set up for a life of luxury. Don’t worry, you can make it too. Just think of people like Bill Gates, he was a college dropout. OK, so his father is a rich attorney who sent him to the most prestigious school in the Seattle area, then to Harvard. Don’t worry about the fact that he had his daddy’s money to live on while he was busy stealing other’s ideas to make Microsoft. I’m sure if you “work hard enough” you can make it too.

The Way Out of Poverty

So why are so many Americans enslaved? Unable to break through the bullshit story of our past? Unable to see through the decades of propaganda? We are shackled to our propaganda, unable to think, unable to move. We believe vehemently that we are merely a step away from financial freedom. As our homes are taken, as we fail to pay our bills and they pile up, we keep telling ourselves that one day, we’ll catch a break, that all will be OK. To paraphrase the great John Steinbeck, we are convinced that we are temporarily displaced millionaires, not the oppressed proletariat. They have a hold on our minds, our labor and our very being. We are naught but cogs in the wheels of their machinery, making the money flow on the oil of the worker’s blood, sweat and tears.

It needn’t be this way. We shouldn’t have to live in a bleak world, looking to the future, not with hope, but with dread. We should be the masters of our ship, the guardians of our souls. We should realize that the very bounty of the earth is ours for the plucking. That we can live in harmony and peace. It will not be easy. It will not come through pleading and praying and begging. It will come by asserting the rights of all humanity. The right to food, the right to clothing, the right to an education and to health care. We deny the right of capitalists to hoard unlimited amounts of wealth to the detriment of the rest of society. We reject the capitalist idea of property rights, that one person or company can monopolize a portion of the means of production necessary for everyone’s livelihood.  We assert that we can build a better world through the unity, strength and work of the proletariat. We assert that all humanity is one brotherhood. We the proletariat, have no country. We are internationalists, who want the best for everyone, not just a few.

The only way forward is educating the working class. Tell them of the real history of the US. Tell them of the real nature of the material conditions. Talk to them about their problems. Help each other as much as you can. The only way that the world is going to change, is through a revolution of the mind, first and foremost. The material conditions for revolution are already here, we just need to show them to the world. The only way things are going to change, is by the forcible overthrow of all social conditions, and the end of the United States of America as we know it. Be brave. Be happy. A better future awaits.
“I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
Harriet Tubman

 

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