Iris Chang: In Memory

Steve Clemons, at his blog (Nov. 11, 2004):

I HAVE JUST BEEN GUT-PUNCHED BY THE NEWS that a dear friend and intellectual soul mate over the last several years, Iris Chang, was found dead in her car near Santa Clara, California.

Iris's book, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, had immeasurable impact on a collective historical amnesia problem not only in Japan, but also in the United States and around the world. This brilliant and beautiful writer and thinker was, to me, a modern Joan of Arc riding into the nastiest of battles calling for honest and fair reconciliation with the past.

We met via email years ago. She joined a quest I was on some years ago to try and get people to look seriously at the contemporary legal consequences of back room deal-making by John Foster Dulles on the eve of signing the San Francisco Peace Treaty, formally ending Allied Occupation of Japan on September 8, 1951. I wrote a New York Times piece on this subject, which appeared on 4 September 2001.

Whereas I thought I had found an interesting historical tidbit that had been neglected by historians and lawyers, Iris Chang knew that I had just wandered unsuspecting into a raging battle between Chinese and Japanese warriors over memory and the historical record. She called me, and we had a two hour phone conversation where she helped prepare me for the onslaught of criticism that would fly my way from those who wanted to preclude any discussion of Japan's wartime responsibilities.

She followed up with her own New York Times articles on the debate about Japan, war memory, and what I called -- America's complicity in Japan's historical amnesia. Unfortunately, her articles are not available on the internet....

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