Ah yes, the Nanjing Massacre….

I see that the Shanghaiist has linked to the youtube edition of a “documentary” on the Rape of Nanking, one of the most evil and depraved aberrations of the 20th Century. It happened, it was unforgivable and if my own family had been one of the victims, it would be a source of outrage my entire life, as the Holocaust is to me today.

This video, however, is nothing but a piece of embarrassingly obvious propaganda that, with the very first voiceover, betrays its agenda and prejudices. It is designed to incite a desired reaction, which of course it does – go the the comments to feel some of the love:

Gooddevil123 (21 hours ago)
apanese soldiers tear out the eyes of children, gang-rape women then set them on fire, bury people alive or use them for bayonet practice…beheading women, children, old men….and torturing people for fun…and then laughing hysterically as victims, who have been set on fire, run screaming through the night…

stsbchu (22 hours ago)
no jab has common sense so there is no commonsense in japan i knpw the reason japs are not human beings yes thier forfathers are devils you chinese guys plz dont expect for japs to be human beings

Plenty more where those came from. And yes, this is the same cynical video that created a bit of a firestorm here a few months ago. Before the usual suspects whine that I don’t understand China and hate them and don’t know how bad the Japanese were, read through the earlier thread. I know, I sympathize, I reject the revisionists in Japan who would rewrite the awful story, and I have read Iris Chang’s book. I know. I also hate propaganda and the manipulation of the masses with images and slogans designed to appeal to man’s basest instincts, and attempts to titillate and incite with a never-ending stream of graphic photos of dismembered women and children, clearly attempting to fan the flames so the hatred burns as intensely now as 60+ years ago. Tell the story of the Rape of Nanking and the Holocaust and show us the photos. Show us the videos of the innocents beheaded in Iraq. But do it in a manner that educates and informs, as opposed to titillating with vulgarity and lewdness.

One more link Shanghaiist provides takes us to another interesting look at the Nanjing Massacre that I think comes to a reasonable conclusion: both sides have shown a lot of irrationality and willingness to obfuscate when it comes to this topic, knowing they can appeal to people’s emotional rather than critical faculties and thus steer them in the desired direction. The video on youtube is a glowing example.

No reasonable discussion is possible, of course, because like abortion and Taiwan and Social Security this is a third-rail topic that turns normally sane people into shrieking, whining, bursting-with-outrage automatons basking in the full glory of victimhood, which is exactly where the CCP has traditionally wanted them to be, focused on Japan’s evil of 60+ years ago as opposed to its own more recent transgressions. That post from Japundit above may indicate the CCP is getting more mature about this – I hope so. But God knows they’ve used the victim card for years to keep many of its people foaming at the mouth and incapable of reason, which is just what any good dictator strives for – get the people to hate someone else with such intense blind rage they can’t see what’s happening right in front of their faces.

Bush is the master of this technique, as Muslims around the world are painfully aware. Check out some of the nutter sites like Hot Air and Michelle and LGF – there are some fascinating parallels with the youtube comments. Blind rage against the perceived enemy, and an automatic reaction to anyone who questions it: simply questioning Bush makes you one of the enemy. Simply questioning the rationale behind the bustling exploitation of the Nanjing Massacre for political gain make you as bad as the Japanese perpetrators.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

You are aware, aren’t you richard, that iris chang has been shown to be a plagiarist and a liar? i don’t think her book can be taken seriously




these are from wikipedia, but the articles quoted hold up, in my opinion.

these distortions of history should not be accepted by us! as any good rabid han nationalist would say…..

February 3, 2007 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

I have my doubts about Iris, but her book was an important one and I did read it and think she played an important role in familiarizing the West with this story. Just like the other Chang’s Wild Swans was important. Both Changs are to be taken with a grain of salt as historians.

February 3, 2007 @ 7:34 pm | Comment

I have to say i am deeply concerned, given that there is a film about it, which appears to uncritically accept the chinese version of the story.


it is a sad day indeed when the ravings of a communist country are uncritically accepted and not even examined. it is problematic to popularise the story of nanjing if it is lies.

i further feel your comparison of iris chang to jung chang is wrong. whilst chang’s mao biography has been attacked, no-one as far as i am aware, has accused her of plagiarism. could you perhaps give me some links/evidence showing how wild swans is fabricated and/or plagiarised? i’d be very interested to read it

February 3, 2007 @ 8:13 pm | Comment

I don’t accuse her of plagiarism, but I have read enough to convince me her capabilities as a historian are questionable, as much as I would love to believe all she says. No one despises Mao as much as I do, but we have to make sure the charges we make against him are accurate and free of the same emotional fanatacism of thoae who defend him.

And I don’t believe that Iris’ version of what occurred in Nanjing is far from the truth. But I’ve read enough about her, as well, to convince me she was not a true, let along great, historian.

February 3, 2007 @ 8:50 pm | Comment

[i]it is problematic to popularise the story of nanjing if it is lies.[/i]

The controversy, I believe, is over the death toll, not over the existence of the historical event itself.

February 3, 2007 @ 11:38 pm | Comment

Yes, Nausicca, you are right. That is one point of disagreement. Iris Chang was also criticized for her polemic tone.

Thanks for the links, Si. I read all three articles and encourage other TPDers interested in the Nanjing Massacre to do the same. All of the writers were critical of her work but none expressed any doubt that the Japanese conquest of Nanjing was not bloody. Most interesting was the last link by a Western professor in Japan, who explained in detail the three schools of thought in Japan regarding the Nanjing Massacre – the illusion school, the middle-of-the-road school, and the great massacre school. If you’re only going to read one link, read the last one; it’s the most informative to the issue itself.

February 4, 2007 @ 2:52 am | Comment

RE: Si’s comments about the Rape of Nanjing being “lies” and “fabricated.” None of the researchers whose articles you linked to used those words. The first one, which focused on the content of her book in detail, classified flaws into four types: 1) careless errors; 2) sheer sloppiness; 3) historical inaccuracies; and 4) shameless plagiarism. Of the four, only one, historical inaccuracies, could possibly show that Ms. Chang lied or fabricated material. None of the corrections made by Mr. Kelly dealt directly with the massacre, but rather, the historical context of Meiji Japan, its conquest of Asia, and the aftermath.

The first link provides numerous examples of plagiarism in Ms. Chang’s book. The writers pointed out numerous inaccuracies and criticized her polemic tone, but none accused her of lying or fabricating history. Thanks again for the links, Si.

February 4, 2007 @ 3:07 am | Comment

I read the Rape of Nanking years ago and found it credible and well-written.

I have always found it laughable that the Japanese history revisionists are always arguing about whether there was a holocaust or the number of people killed in Nanking.

P.S. One person killed was one person too many.

February 4, 2007 @ 1:21 pm | Comment

Sonagi, nausicca: perhaps my language was too strong, and i should have pointed out that the accusations of plagiarism come from one source. my apologies for that.

i also apologise if some people read what i wrote and thought that i was saying it didn’t happen.

nevertheless, i believe that the body count matters, particularly due to the way the CCP handles the matter. they often compare it to the holocaust. the holocaust is estimated at between 6-8 million deaths. israel has not then taken the number 12 million and carved it into stone outside a memorial, which would be the equivalent of what the chinese appear to have done. if the number is much lower, say low 5 figures, that would make it more comparable to atrocities committed by the red army as they swept west out of russia, or reprisal killings by the nazis after resistance attacks. there is an important difference between this and the industrialised slaughter of the holocaust. you need to be sure of your facts before you literally start carving them into stone and banging on about it constantly, not noticing the bored look on your teacher’s face.

as for your comments LA, i’d be interested to know why you still feel that the rape of nanking is well written in the light of the above three links and why you find it laughable that the japanese would want there to be an accurate portrayal of what happened. it would be interesting to read the evidence that you feel cancels out what i discovered. true, one death is one too many, but if i was on trial for having killed one person, but then was falsely accused of killing ten more,i’d still have the right to complain. the truth is always the most important

February 4, 2007 @ 6:48 pm | Comment


Thanks for your clarification. I agree with you that the Rape of Nanjing does not merit being compared with the systematic slaughter of millions during the Holocaust. Japan’s invasion of China was not a genocide. The Japanese never sought to wipe the Chinese race off the face of the earth. The Rape of Nanjing, whether hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands were killed, was soldiers gone wild, like the US soldiers who are facing trial for raping an Iraqi girl and then murdering her entire family to cover up the crime. War turns ordinary people into brutal killers.

February 4, 2007 @ 8:49 pm | Comment

If wanted to, I could find arguable points on every book ever written. But, arguing and low balling the number of killed and then diverting the argument by blaming CCP is too funny.

What’s next, that Iranian dude was right to question the Jewish holocaust? He was just questioning about the number of people killed or if the Jews made up the whole story. A very reasonable argument around here, apparently. LOL.

February 4, 2007 @ 10:29 pm | Comment

“He was just questioning about the number of people killed or if the Jews made up the whole story. “

There is a difference between disputing numbers and denying the entire event. Nobody in this forum is denying that Japan brutally killed a large number of civilians in its attack on Nanjing. The Iranian conference on the Holocaust did not merely question the 6 million figure. It set out to prove that the Holocaust is a myth fabricated by the Jews.

Don’t get so huffy, LA. Historians will naturally question inaccuracies and errors in history books and historians do debate numbers for many battles and wars. None of the non-Japanese critics of Iris Chang’s book called the Rape of Nanjing a myth. The only people who do so are Japanese from the School of Illusion referred to in Tim Kelly’s article.

February 4, 2007 @ 11:12 pm | Comment


“If wanted to, I could find arguable points on every book ever written.” if you can, then it shouldn’t be much of a problem to read three articles and explain why they are false using your incisive intellect.

as for “low balling” the figures, you miss the point entirely. you assume that the ccp figure is correct, and any attempt at debate is “lowballing”. i am complaining that the ccp has “highballed” the figures, and prevents serious discussion. it is completely acceptable to criticise them for doing this.

HIV carrier, (love the name!) i had problems understanding what you are trying to say. however, i noticed that you say that “Therefore, the newspapers in Japan has killing competitions for Japanese soldiers to kill the most.” you will notice this is disputed in the article written by askew that i supplied. assuming you read it, could you explain why you think it is inaccurate?

February 5, 2007 @ 5:44 pm | Comment

I just dropped in by accident, and I would have to say that this vulgar numbers game being played by the Chinese and the Japanese sides of the argument is a bit too much. Whenever I talk about the Nanjing Massacre, I NEVER EVER mention the number of casualties killed. Not just because it’s a contested figure, but because of the reason why we should remember the Nanjing Massacre by.

We remember it because it was a showcase of humanity’s ugliest side, that’s why. To be sucked into the “how many people died” debate is to completely miss the lesson history is teaching us, and THAT is something to be truly sad about. You can talk about the Nanjing Massacre by refusing to say how many peope died. I do it all the time, and it instantly kills any dumb numbers debate going on.

Ahh, and then all of a sudden, people forget about their verbal duelling and petty national pride, and remember that the Nanjing Massacre is something that could have happened anywhere in the world, committed by any race/nationality in wartime. It’s amazing how easily people can forget the big picture in life, just so they can focus on the little petty things.

As for the Chinese government comparing Nanjing to the Holocaust, they should just shut up. It’s not the same thing. The end.

February 6, 2007 @ 11:16 pm | Comment

I remember also Mao ended up killing more than 80 million of his own people. It’s another showcase of humanity’s ugliest side.

February 6, 2007 @ 11:29 pm | Comment

Actually, holocaust was the word used in the Rape of Nanking book.

BTW, Stupid Japanese history revisionists=nutty Iranian dude= evil Mao. That’s based on what I read here so far.

I hope nobody is going to “argue” about that. LOL.

February 8, 2007 @ 12:47 pm | Comment

Nanjing is just one of numerous cities/towns/villages where the Japanese army committed horrendous crimes against humanity. Total civilian death toll during the 8 years of invasion exceeds the death toll of the Holocaust.

Doesn’t matter how you call it, facts are facts.

February 10, 2007 @ 4:29 am | Comment

Source? You may be absolutely right, but you have to say how you know this.

February 10, 2007 @ 12:12 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.