From the Home front - Homeland security!
50 days in London jail
BY LAURA POOLE,
Wimmera Mail-Times, 19/12/2008 10:38:00AM
GOROKE man Fredrick Töben spent 50 days in a London prison after police arrested him at Heathrow Airport on October 1 for Holocaust denial allegations. Speaking publicly for the first time since his arrest in London, Dr Töben told the Mail-Times about his experience.
Police arrested him with a European Arrest Warrant issued by Germany in 2004. Dr Töben was on a plane that had travelled from Chicago to Heathrow Airport. It was a transfer flight, with 10 hours planned at Heathrow Airport before a plane trip to Dubai.
Dr Töben said the plane docked at Heathrow Airport at 11.30am on October 1. He said once the plane landed nothing happened, but then there was an announcement that said, "We have an incident." Dr Töben said he knew at that point something was up.
HOME: Fredrick Töben in Horsham on Wednesday. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
It was not the first time security had questioned Dr Töben at airports; it had happened in 2003 and 2004. "There was an announcement, `Would Dr Töben please identify himself?' I stood up, I had my hand luggage," Dr Töben said.
He walked, as directed by the announcement, to the plane's exit. "Outside the exit there were four fellows, one had a flack jacket with police on it, you could see you wouldn't argue with him."I was standing right there and I said `let me make a record of this' and I pulled out my camcorder." Dr Töben said two of the officers pulled his hands behind his back, believing he had a weapon.
By 2pm on October 1 Dr Töben was in a police car travelling to the City of Westminster Magistrate's Court. News of his arrest had made the 2pm news. At 2.30pm he was in court.
At a bail application hearing he argued that in Germany he could not defend himself against the charge of Holocaust denial. Dr Töben explained that if he talked about his opinion in court it exacerbated the charge and he could be jailed for five years. A defence team argued his case during the ensuing weeks.
Dr Töben was born in Jade, northern Germany, and migrated to Australia with his family in 1954. The family bought a farm near Edenhope; his brother still farms in the district. Dr Töben calls Goroke home and returns to the town to `regain sanity after the insanity of cities'.
After 50 days in prison Dr Töben found out German authorities had dropped their charges. He was in his prison cell which he shared with a Nigerian cellmate, when a prison guard said he could leave. He said a prison officer yelled out his name and prison number, 9993 and said: "You're going home; pack your things."
Dr Töben, a director of right-wing think-tank, primarily a website, has challenged history's account of the Jewish holocaust during the Second World War.
Dr Töben's history includes being sacked by the Education Ministry in 1985, and being removed from an English teaching position from the Goroke school. In 1989 the Melbourne County Court re-instated him as a teacher.
In 1999 a Mannheim judge in Germany sentenced Dr Töben to 10 months jail for having spread anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi propaganda. He spent seven months in jail awaiting trial. After the trial German sympathisers paid for the remaining three months of his sentence.
Dr Töben believes the Holocaust during which six million Jews were systematically exterminated in gas chambers during the Second World War, is untrue.
"When you touch this topic, be prepared to lose your job, your social environment, family break-up, that's the usual thing," Dr Töben said. "What I'm doing here as an educator is throwing it open for discussion and if free expression is worth anything, if our thoughts are to be criminalized, then we've lost it. I'm only expressing an opinion and inviting others to look into it and not to abuse me, not to defame me publicly and not to lock me up."
Letter to the Editor, The Mail-Times, Wednesday December 24 2008, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sir: Congratulations Mail-Times for making us all aware that we have a man in our district who can only be described as an embarrassment to our community. To be travelling the world denying that the holocaust existed and that six million people were exterminated is a disgrace. Dr Töben you are in denial and urgently need help.
You say, and I quote: "When you touch this topic be prepared to lose your job, your social environment and family break-up. That's the usual thing. End of quote. Dr Töben. Does this send you a message? This is your own quote.
We are all ashamed that this happened, but it must never happen again. Our children, grandchildren and future generations must be taught the truth.
I have no doubt the authorities are keeping a close watch on you and will take action if you continue down this path. Dr Töben, everyone of us understands the shame, so accept the truth and try to rebuild your life.
Kevin Morrow, Horsham
Letter to the Editor, 24 December 2008
Veiled threats of a believer
Sir: Mr Kevin Morrow's letter reveals the mind of an uncritical believer who feels threatened in his comfort zone when new information about an historical event surfaces. It is a normal thing to investigate historical events, especially when new information comes from archives that contain locked-up information.
For example, up to 1988 all respectable history books stated that there were two written orders by Adolf Hitler that began the so-called extermination process of the Jews. This had to be corrected because during the 1988 Ernst Zündel trial at Toronto, Canada, Professor Raul Hilberg, under cross examination, had to admit that there were no written Hitler orders.
This was a fundamental challenge to the official Holocaust-Shoah narrative, which up to that point celebrated the 'proof' of the Hitler orders. Also, since that date no Holocaust-Shoah witness was ever permitted to be cross-examined in court again because their stories do not stand up under close scrutiny. Hence my point that the Holocaust-Shoah has no reality in space and time, only in memory.
Also following that Zündel trial the official 4 million deaths figure at Auschwitz was revised. During the early 1990s the 20 plaques were replaced with new ones whereon the deaths figure was reduced to between 1.-1.5 million. Miraculously, though, this reduction did not affect the official six million total number of Jews claimed to have been killed.
Then in 1996 an official book on Auschwitz stated that the 'gas chamber' shown at Auschwitz-Stammlager is a mortuary that symbolically represents what happened at Krema II, Auschwitz-Birkenau.
And in 2002 an article appeared in a German historical magazine that stated there were no gassings at the Auschwitz concentration camp, but that the gassings occurred in two farm houses, called Bunker I and Bunker II.
I need not go on detailing how systematically Revisionist historians have demolished the lies about Jewish extermination told to an uncritical public that, for whatever reason, wishes to believe in stories which defame Germans.
But it does not only involve Germans because the upholders of the Holocaust-Shoah narrative are twisting our understanding of world history for the sake of deflecting from what is happening when, for example, financiers are destroying our civilization through their predatory usury behaviour, which literally steals the taxpayers' money and sends massive amounts, among other places, to the Zionist, racist state of Israel where the real Holocaust of the Palestinians continues to this day.
There should be no reason to lock up Revisionist historians for going against the stream of accepted opinion, and labelling individuals as 'hater', 'Holocaust denier', 'antisemite', 'racist', 'Nazi', 'xenophobe', even 'terrorist', does not help clarify historical problems. What legal persecution does reveal is the impotence and the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of those who continue to believe in the story that Germans exterminated the Jews, something they never did.
So, Mr Morrow, educate me and inform me where in my version of the Holocaust-Shoah narrative I have gone wrong, but please do not trot out this nonsense about having to feel shame for what didn't happen. Can you show me the murder weapon, the homicidal gas chamber? If you can, then you would become world famous overnight because to date no-one has produced the murder weapon.
Finally, Mr Morrow, I don't think you speak on behalf of 'everyone of us'. This statement alone indicates you 'understand' little about what went on during World War Two, and you are the one who is delusional and urgently needs help to adjust to historical reality where truth rules supreme. Or, would you like to be threatened with arrest and imprisonment for expressing your views about an historical event?
Fredrick Töben, Goroke - 3412
As an example of outright lying about the Holocaust-Shoah, here is just the latest example
Did Oprah Endorse a Made-Up Holocaust Memoir?
12/23/08 at 5:15 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Penguin
"Herman Rosenblat and his wife Romanare the most gentle, loving, beautiful people," literary agent Andrea Hurst said on Sunday
When all the outlandish claims in Misha Defonseca's ridiculous Holocaust memoir Misha almost slipped by unnoticed earlier this year, Herman Rosenblat probably thought he could put anything he wanted to into his ridiculous Holocaust memoir, just so long as he didn't claim he was raised by wolves or something (which Defonseca did, hilariously). But he might've been mistaken! The New Republic has just posted an investigation into Rosenblat's upcoming biography, Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived, in which the retired TV repairman claims he was kept alive during his stay in the Buchenwald concentration camp by a girl who slipped him food through the fence, and whom he subsequently married years later after meeting her on a blind date ("The single greatest love story, in 22 years of doing this show, we've ever told on the air," says Oprah, who's had him on her show twice). As it turns out, though, it's possible that none of this even happened.
According to TNR: It would've been impossible for a Buchenwald prisoner, or person on the outside, to access the fence. The only possible location to which someone could get near, according to Professor Kenneth Waltzer, Michigan State University's director of the Jewish Studies program, was "right next to the SS barracks." Also, Rosenblat's story is doubted by those who were in the concentration camp with him, including Ben Helfgott, a fellow survivor who "went through the Holocaust with Herman every step of the way, and never once heard of the girl at the fence until Herman spoke publicly of his story in the 1990s." "The story is a figment of his imagination," says Helfgott. "There is not a word of truth in what he is saying."
Reps from Penguin, Rosenblat's publisher, insist his story has been fact-checked, as does Harris Salomon, the president of Atlantic Overseas Pictures, who's producing a $25 million film based on Angel at the Fence. Even so, we can't imagine Oprah will be too pleased to hear about this.
The Quiet Revolution
The creation of racism offences.
Continual change to create confusion.
The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children.
The undermining of schools and teachers' authority.
Huge immigration to destroy identity.
The promotion of excessive drinking.
Emptying the churches.
An unreliable legal system with bias against victims of crime.
Dependency on the state or state benefits.
Control and dumbing down of media.
Encouraging the break-down of the family
PS: When you live in a closely-knit community, you watch the unfolding of life's cycle with interest: birth, marriage, death. There is a place for everyone: from baby, adolescent, homemaker, warrior and philosopher, from benevolent thief to information gossip.
30 Almond Court,
PALM BEACH QLD 4221
Tel: 07 55762179
Mobile: 0409 727782
Friday, 03 October 2008
Baroness Scotland of Asthal, PC, QC
Attorney General's Office
20 Victoria Street
I have just read reports in the international media that German-born Australian national Dr Gerald Fredrick Töben, 64, was detained by the Metropolitan Police extradition unit using an EU arrest warrant issued by the German authorities. Also, District Judge Nicholas Evans refused Toben bail so he was remanded in custody until another extradition hearing on Friday.
Would this be the same unit that allowed Major General Doron Almog, an alleged Israeli war criminal, to escape arrest, leave Heathrow Airport and return to Israel despite an arrest warrant having been issued 10th September 2005 by Bow Street Magistrates' Court? This double-standard was brought about by pressure from the Israeli Embassy.
As a citizen of both the United Kingdom and Australia, I find it absolutely appalling that 50 million died in WW ll fighting for democracy and freedom of speech, yet in 2008 the jackbooted Zionazi Thought-Police who control five European countries can order British police to arrest and detain a man which may result in a five year jail sentence simply for exercising his right to free speech.
It is common knowledge that the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, Geneva Convention and human rights have became totally irrelevant since the UK entered the illegal war in Iraq and was part of a coalition that created Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, rendition flights, water boarding, sleep depravation etc.
As far as I am aware there are no reports of Töben having threatened or incited violence of any kind far less being accused of war crimes. So, have the British government and the judiciary really sunk to such depraved depths? No wonder British citizens are leaving the UK in droves!
Yours in absolute disgust,
District Judge Nicholas Evans.
Commissioner of Police
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
The Guardian, Private Eye
I Support Jews against Zionism
Reply to my facsimile to: Baroness Scotland, HM Attorney General, 03/10/2008
----- Original Message -----
From: Tim Strevens
Sent: Friday, October 03, 2008 11:09 PM
Subject: Dr Gerald Frederick Töben
Thank you for your letter of 3 October. I have been asked to reply.
The Attorney General is the principal legal advisor to Government, and as such cannot give legal advice or assistance to individuals. She has no role to play in relation to the police.
You may wish to take this up with the Home Office as your particular issue, it appears, would come within their remit. Please click on the following link for their contact details: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/contact-us.
Attorney General's Office
(020) 7271 2492
The Attorney General's Office is located at 20 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0NF
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30 Almond Court,
PALM BEACH QLD 4221
Tel: 61 7 55762179
Saturday, 08 November 2008
Leitender Oberstaatsanwalt Alexander Frenzel
L 10, 11 - 12
68161 Mannheim - Germany
I refer to the attached article in The Australian newspaper dated 11-12/10/2008 regarding the 'criminal' charges relating to freedom of speech being brought against Australian citizen Dr Fredrick Töben by Mr Andreas Grossman.
The Federal German Government has, for the last sixty years, been a shining light in our western democratic system. Is it now descending into a Zionazi jackbooted controlled regime more in line with the former Deutsche Democratische Republik? You may have any form of 'democracy' you wish as long as it conforms to the ideology of your faceless 'masters'.
In any democracy there should be the undeniable right to free speech. As far as I am aware Dr Töben has never threatened or advocated violence against anyone. So the question must be asked, "What does the Holocaust Industry have to hide?"
Compare the statements made by Dr Töben with the activities of those who are emerging as the 'String Pullers' in the Great Zionist Puppet Show.
The persecution of the so-called Holocaust deniers helps to deflect from the Zionist State of Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine. This is being carried out on orders of persons, some of whom claim to be Holocaust 'survivors'. Many of those were also members of terrorist organizations such as the Stern Gang, Haganah, Irgun Zvai Leumi et al. One of their more notable 'achievements' was blowing up the King David Hotel, Jerusalem on 22 July 1946 killing 91 Jews, Arabs, British soldiers and women and children.
Germany has paid its debt to the Jews a thousand times over and has no need to prostitute itself just to enable the Zionist scourge to spread like a malignant carcinoma throughout compliant European Governments masquerading as democracies.
When, not if, the world economy and monetary system collapses due to the nefarious manipulation of the Zionist bankers and the millions of unemployed marching in the streets discover the real culprits, Mr Andreas Grossman and his ilk will become the most successful recruiting agents for the rising neo Nazi movement.
I SUPPORT JEWS AGAINST ZIONISM
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
The Hon Robert McClelland, Attorney General
Central office/ Robert Garran Offices
BARTON ACT 2600
Jones v Toben in Federal Court of Australia Adelaide
Regarding the statement by Judge Bruce Lander, hearing the case, he said "any evidence tendered arguing that the Holocaust did not occur would be ruled irrelevant". See attachd copy of an article published on The Australian newspaper's website Monday, 11 August 2008.
This alleged pre-judging of a case defeats the whole purpose of a fair trial and I am of the opinion that this trial should be aborted and the Judge replaced.
Has the Australian judicial system dispensed with Habeas Corpus? Have we now established a Guantanamo type of Justice? More than half of the Zionist controlled European Parliaments have passed legislation which enables a person to be jailed for questioning the Holocaust. Is this the aim of Jeremy Jones? If so, the spelling of Judiciary must be altered to Jewdiciary".
It is worth noting that the only event in the whole World War II which one cannot question is the Holocaust. It is therefore pertinent to ask: is there something to hide? Has the Australian judicial system become party to a "cover up" a "conspiracy" or whatever you like to call it?
I had a very close relative in the advanced party which entered one of the concentration camps, and as he surveyed the scene, what he thought was a corps was being removed on a stretcher, the hand of the 'corps' grabbed his hand and said "Thanks soldier". So, I have no doubt about the Holocaust having happened.
If one Jew was murdered it was one too many. However, even 'The Simon Wiesenthal Centre', which is the internationally recognised authority on the Holocaust has revised its figures downwards. Any aspect of a war in which over 50 million perished should be open to scientific and historic analyses, anything less is governmental manipulation by the Zionist Thought Police. Is this the new Australian "democracy"?
Even Wiesenthal's reputation and his cohorts in the B'nai B'rith/Anti Defamation League - an oxymoron - are well known for their vicious attacks on any Australian who wishes to exercise their increasingly diminishing rights to free speech.
As for Zionist influence over Australian politicians it is a well documented fact, but generally not reported in the Murdoch press, that former Prime Minister John Winston Howard was committed to the Zionist cause and had a plethora of awards and medals for services to Zionism and Israel.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is quickly following in his predecessor's footsteps. Soon after being elected to office he moved a motion on n12 March in the Australian Parliament honouring Israel's 60 years of independence. The motion was seconded by the Opposition Leader Dr Brendan Nelson. This event was nothing less that a celebration of the 60 years of ethnic cleansing of Palestine carried out by the Israelis many of whom claim to be Holocaust survivors.
No doubt Prime Minister Rudd's medals will be in the post.
The Hon Bruce Thomas LANDE
Federal Court of Australia
Level 5, Law Courts Building
3 Angas Street
Adelaide SA 5000
I SUPPORT JEWS AGAINST ZIONISM
Iris Chang: Elegy for a Brave Writer
Iris Chang was a Chinese-American author and historian who took her own life in 2004. As Paula Kamen recounts in a new biography, Chang had challenged the establishments of two of the world's most powerful nations. This review of Kamen's book has been posted today at CounterPunch.org. E.F.
Paula Kamen: Finding Iris Chang. Da Capo Press, 2007.
Review by Eamonn Fingleton
Somewhere in the Sherlock Holmes stories there is an episode where Holmes slyly sets a little test for Watson. Holmes has already checked out the mystery du jour but, without letting on, deputes Watson to take a second look. Watson reports back in plodding and largely irrelevant detail, as Holmes impassively listens. Finally Holmes thunders: "Watson, you have noted everything but what is significant .You see but do not observe."
Anyone familiar with the geopolitical ground covered in Paula Kamen's book Finding Iris Chang can be forgiven a similar harrumph. While Kamen's account consistently holds the reader's interest, she comes up short on many of the crucial questions that knowledgeable readers want answered.
Iris Chang was a Chinese-American author and historian who died early one morning of a single gunshot wound to the head on a quiet road in Santa Clara county in November 2004. Various suicide notes were found. Aged just 36 and the mother of a two-year-old boy, she had seven years earlier published The Rape of Nanking, a book that had accomplished an impressive double as a runaway best seller and a major contribution to our understanding of World War II. She went on to become an international celebrity and at the time of her death had been researching the so-called Bataan Death March, another little publicized Japanese atrocity in which in the summer of 1942 more than 70,000 American and Filipino prisoners captured on the Philippines' Bataan Peninsula were force-marched across jungle tracks for more than sixty miles in conditions often of gratuitous brutality.
Chang was a historic figure in that she was probably the first American intellectual of Chinese descent to win acceptance as an unhyphenated American. Certainly she thought of herself as mainstream, even to the point of openly scorning affirmative action. The tragedy is that she was to find out the hard way that the world is not as "global" as the Wall Street Journal and the Economist would have us believe, nor can Americans speak their minds as freely as the political science textbooks suggest -- at least not where sensitive geopolitical issues are at stake.
Kamen was a friend of Chang's from their college days at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They remained in occasional touch thereafter -- mainly via marathon telephone calls which were evidently a signature element of Chang's style.
One of the most obvious questions Kamen fails to address is how someone as young as Chang could have soared so seemingly effortlessly to fame. True, The Rape of Nanking was well written and Chang had added considerably to what was already known from the 1930s. But, in an era in which hype alone can catapult sheer balderdash to the top of the best seller list, good writing is hardly a sufficient condition for publishing success. What propelled the Nanking book was its unique shock value in breaking a half-century-old omerta in the Japan studies field. Quite simply in pre-Chang days, Nanking was virtually never mentioned by American Japan watchers.
This self-censorship was all such a sharp contrast with the dedication with which American scholars had pored over the horrors of Auschwitz and Treblinka (and indeed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Yet, as the truly sickening photographs presented by Chang showed, the bestiality at Nanking was uniquely shocking. In one photograph, for instance, the stark naked body of a young Chinese woman is shown with her legs wide apart and a long stick of some sort protruding from her vagina.
Why had Nanking been forgotten? The answer -- one whose significance has evidently been lost on Kamen -- is that the highest government officials in Tokyo wanted it forgotten. And in Japan studies, what Tokyo wants it usually gets. The field has long been under Tokyo's thumb thanks to American universities' shamefully subservient dependence on Japanese money (much of which comes directly from Japanese sources and most of the rest from various "globalist-minded" American corporations intent on currying favor with Tokyo).
If the subject of Nanking had long been taboo, another element of Chang's story was the ultimate third rail: Japan's war reparations policy. This was defined in 1951 when, in negotiating the Treaty of San Francisco, Japanese officials played up Japan's then sub-Saharan levels of poverty to slough off most war claims. Even the orphans of Nanking (or Nanjing as it has now become known) never received a penny. Nor did millions of Imperial Japan's other victims, not just in China but in countless other victim nations.
What made the compensation issue particularly explosive was that governments of the victim nations were quietly but deeply complicit in Japan's not-a-penny policy. This included even the Chinese government. Although Beijing was not a party to the 1951 treaty, Mao Zedong renounced all Chinese war claims on Japan when Sino-Japanese relations began to warm up in the early 1970s. Thereafter Beijing did Tokyo's dirty work in blocking attempts by Chinese victims to sue Japan in Western courts.
Perhaps even more controversially Washington has played a similar role in, for instance, marginalizing claims by former American prisoners of war against Japan. Many of these prisoners worked in appalling and often life-threatening conditions in mines and factories owned by Japanese industrial groups that went on in the post-World War II era to build huge empires around the world.
Before Chang, the not-a-penny policy had received even less attention in the West than the Nanking massacre. Even the Tokyo and Beijing correspondents of America's most prestigious newspapers quietly decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Some of them did begin finally to take up the compensation issue in the early 1990s but only in the context of the so-called comfort women issue and then only after the activities of women's groups in the Netherlands in the late 1980s had made it safe to do so. Even when in October 1994 Chinese activists in Shanghai were given stiff "re-education" sentences for campaigning for compensation from Japan, the news received no more than a few paragraphs in the American press.
Ian Buruma, an influential commentator on East Asian affairs, did not mention the policy in The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and Japan, a 1994 book in which he extensively compared and contrasted German and Japanese attitudes towards the legacy of war. As far as I can see there were only two significant discussions of the policy in English in the 30 years before The Rape of Nanking was published. One was by me in a book I published in March 1995. The other was a reference in the 1970 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. This reference was dropped a few years later after the Britannica company established an important financial link with the Tokyo Broadcasting System
As someone whose grandparents had fled Nanjing just before the massacre, Chang can have been in no doubt about the cages she was rattling. Kamen, on the other hand, seems blissfully unaware that there was anything eerie about the previous silence on the Nanking and compensation issues. Yet this background is key to understanding much of Chang's subsequent career and in particular the less happy side of that career. From the start the governments of not only Japan but less obviously China had their knives out for her. So had most of the West's Japan watching establishment, for whom any acknowledgment of the merits of The Rape of Nanking was tantamount to an admission of their collaboration with Japanese censorship.
Where Kamen does make some useful points is in reporting the strange goings-on ahead of the launch of The Rape of Nanking. Newsweek had contracted to publish a lengthy extract to coincide with the book's publication in November 1997. Then, amid rumors that Japanese advertisers had pulled advertisements, the magazine's top editors decided at the last moment to delay the extract. In the end this was published two weeks later and without the customary promotion that might have been expected. The delay was crucial: the point is that had the extract run as scheduled, books editors across America would have taken note. By the time the extract finally appeared, however, many books editors had already passed. Of course, in the end the book did become a best seller but, in a major exception to the normal pattern in the modern book business, it made its way on its own merits rather than as a result of a heavily promoted launch.
What of Newsweek's decision to delay publication? Although Chang openly alleged that the magazine had bowed to Japanese pressure, Kamen seems to think otherwise. In reality the preponderance of the evidence is on Chang's side. It is notable, for instance, that in the end the November 17 1997 issue in which the extract should have appeared carried no less than eleven ads from Japanese corporations. On Kamen's figures, this was about twice as many as usual. Did this "clustering" happen by accident or had it been pre-arranged as a bargaining tool in pressing for a delay? Kamen leaves this question unanswered.
All Newsweek's protestations to the contrary, it has long been an open secret that advertising pressure constrains American press coverage of Japan. Anyone who thinks otherwise might ask himself when was the last time major American media frankly discussed Japanese import barriers, particularly barriers to manufactured goods such as cars. Even Renault, which via a stake in Nissan ostensibly controls Japan's second largest car distribution network, has never been able to sell its French-made cars in Japan. There are no Korean cars on the road in Japan either, although the Koreans hold their own in virtually every other market.
One of the biggest omissions in Kamen's account is a clear, extended account of how The Rape of Nanking was reviewed. Initially, many East Asia-watching scholars and journalists adopted a haughty establishmentarian policy of trying to ignore the book (this tactic, standard in Japan in dealing with any boat-rocking initiative, is known as mokusatsu -- "killing with silence"). But as sales soared in the spring of 1998, mokusatsu was no longer tenable, so the establishmentarians switched instead to a policy of loudly alleging gross inaccuracies.
But was the book inaccurate? For any conscientious biographer, this question is surely paramount. In effect the question is was Chang a serious historian or not? What is called for is a dispassionate itemization of alleged inaccuracies accompanied by a careful and fair evaluation of all the available evidence. This sort of digging seems beyond Kamen and indeed it does not even occur to her that it is necessary.
It is a pity. Chang was actually a more than averagely scrupulous fact-checker and in virtually all cases she had solid sources for what she wrote. The only issue was that whether her sources were more reliable than those the Japanese establishment has wanted us to believe. Tellingly one of the most significant charges concerned the secondary matter of the captioning of one of the book's photographs. The picture showed frightened looking women being escorted by Japanese soldiers. Whereas Chang's caption suggested these were Chinese women being rounded up for "comfort woman" duty, Japanese spokesmen claimed they were Japanese women being led to safety. We will probably never know the truth. But what is clear is that if the photograph was wrongly captioned, Chang was merely the victim of an inaccurate source (she relied on a Japanese author who had similarly captioned the photograph in an earlier book).
By the same token Chang was roundly criticized for a statement on the book's cover that the massacre had claimed more than 300,000 lives. As Chang pointed out, she had actually presented a range of figures in the text -- between 260,000 and 350,000, with both of these numbers attributed to named sources. In the end she admitted nine errors, most of them insignificant. Few non-fiction writers have ever done much better (there are factual errors even in Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and indeed the Bible).
The conclusion is that Kamen has done her friend a signal injustice in not more spiritedly debunking the inaccuracy charge. Kamen moreover missed some of the most telling critical sub-controversies. After the San Francisco Chronicle, for instance, published a lengthy critique by Charles Burress, a noted Japanophile, the paper's editors refused to publish a powerful point-by-point rebuttal by Chang. Kamen also omits all mention of the curious role played by Ian Buruma, a crucial figure because of his reviewing activities for the New York Review of Books. His first mention of the book in the New York Review did not come until nearly 18 months after publication.?Earlier, in an interview with the rightist Japanese-language magazine Sapio in the summer of 1998, he sounded notably condescending, suggesting the book was not "serious history." The magazine used the interview, in which Buruma poured scorn on Chang's alleged overstatement of the number of deaths in Nanking, as the first item in a battery of anti-Chang propaganda. In the words of the Tokyo-based commentator Michael Hoffman she was portrayed as "the central character -- central villain -- in an extended Sapio feature entitled 'The Nanking Massacre Campaign Plot.'" The magazine portrayed the book as having been spawned by a Sino-American conspiracy against Japan.
What really happened to Chang? Although there is little doubt that she pulled the trigger, she had been an extremely strong person whose sad end would a year earlier have seemed utterly out of character to those who knew her best. Kamen does little to illuminate the mystery. Part of the problem is that, true to one of the less felicitous traditions of New Journalism, Kamen conducts much of the explication in the first person singular. Too often the approach is, "This is what happened to me," rather than "These are the facts." While it is understandable that Kamen, as a friend of Chang's, might be tempted to take this approach, it proves in her hands, as in the hands of so many second-rank American journalists, a lazy and incurious writer's way of avoiding the time-consuming research needed to resolve contentious issues.
Towards the end Chang was evidently suffering serious psychological problems (in one of her suicide notes she described herself as "a wild-eyed wreck"). Instead of providing as impartial as possible an assessment of these problems, Finding Iris Chang treats us to a confused account in which Kamen tries to equate her own experience of psychological illness with Chang's. The unstated assumption is that the problems arose from similarly autonomous causes, which of course would be highly unlikely in any circumstances let alone in the uniquely Orwellian world in which Chang found herself.
From what little factual information Kamen provides, Chang's problems seem to have a world away from Kamen's. For a start Chang seems to have had no pre-history of illness: her problems emerged suddenly only in her final months.
Chang was used to stress and generally thrived on it. The question is whether the external pressures increased qualitatively or quantitatively towards the end. Kamen makes little attempt to address this. Kamen emphasizes how much Chang had been affected by interviews with Bataan Death March survivors. But such interviews could hardly have been more distressing than her mid-1990s interviews about the even more appalling atrocities committed at Nanjing.
Kamen also suggests that Chang's punishing work schedule may have been a factor. But again this seems less than convincing. After all from earliest childhood Chang had been an overachiever (she had written her first mystery story at the age of four!) and she was used to pushing herself to the limit. Another factor Kamen mentions is that Chang had been frightened by the harassment efforts of ostensible Japanese "rightists" -- but again this was nothing new. As far back as 1998, she had been quoted as saying, "not a week goes by when I am not harrassed by a vicious [Japanese] right wing group."
Kamen treats Chang's complaints of being followed and watched as evidence merely of acute paranoia. This surely puts the emphasis in the wrong place. While we will probably never know the truth, what surely cannot be denied is that, even by Chang's own daring previous standards, the Bataan book was a work apart in the degree to which she was baiting formidable geopolitical interests. In highlighting the fact that the Bataan survivors had never received more than derisory compensation she was provoking apoplexy not only in Tokyo but perhaps even more so in Washington, where, in the name of good U.S.-Japan relations, the State Department has long been even more fanatically hostile than the Japanese establishment in slapping down the Bataan survivors' quest for justice. In essence Chang was poking a stick in the eyes of two of the world's most powerful governments at once.
As Kamen records, some Bataan survivors have speculated that Chang's death was not a suicide. All the evidence, however, seems to suggest that this goes too far. The real question is whether new forms of coercion were instigated against Chang in her final months. What is clear is that the pressures in the field are enormous and few Westerners stay long without being relieved of their truth ethic. Either that or they voluntarily sideline themselves in bland peripheral aspects of the subject. Chang retained her Western truth ethic to the end -- and kept her gaze unflinchingly on the center of the target.
Chang seems to have believed that her real enemies resided in Washington not Tokyo. As she pointed out, the Bush administration was desperate to ingratiate itself with Tokyo in its efforts to retain at least nominal Japanese support for the Iraq war. Was the U.S. government watching Chang at the end? In truth, because of a legal ban on spying on U.S. citizens, Washington tends to "outsource" such work to other nations. So the real question comes back to what Tokyo was doing. Given the size of the stakes and the fact that the Bush administration would almost certainly turn a blind eye, it is hard to see how the Japanese government would not have spied on her. That said, though Chang's allegations of strange vans parked across the street and strange people following her around may have been true, it is surely a stretch to imagine they were real in the sense that their true purpose was surely not surveillance: rather they may have been theatrical gimmicks intended to increase her paranoia and undermine her credibility. After all serious surveillance these days is done so unobtrusively that even experts find it difficult to spot.
The conclusion on Iris Chang is that she may have ventured out of her depth. Certainly her biographer did.
Comment from Peter Myers
Re Fingleton's item: He says that Japanese advertising pressure intimidates the US media from publishing material critical of Japan. But the example he gives, Iris Chang's book about the Rape of Nanking, nevertheless went on to become a best-seller.
By comparison, books critical of Zionism are generally ignored, or ridiculed. Even Jimmy Carter was likened to Hitler.
Fingleton may not be a Zionist, but he's an anti-anti-Zionist. I know this from a strident phone call he once made to me, demanding that the Amazon review America's Postindustrial Nightmare? A conversation with Eamonn Fingleton be removed from this anti-Zionist website: www.gwb.com.au/2000/myers/170300.htm
One analyst who knows Fingleton told me he thinks he is funded by Jewish contributors concerned to find out what's going on behind the scenes. That, of course, does not mean he's wrong. On the contrary; all of his books are worth buying.
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