Saturday, March 26, 2005

"One final victim of the Rape of Nanking?"

Was Iris Chang "One final victim of the Rape of Nanking?"
On November 6 she spoke to Paula Kamen, whom she knew from university, and told her that she was struggling to deal with the magnitude of the misery she had uncovered, listened to and written about. She begged to be remembered as lively and confident. It was the last conversation they would have. Two days later, Chang was even more despondent than she had previously been. Her husband tried to calm her down but eventually fell asleep.

At some point in the night, Chang got into her white 1999 Oldsmobile, taking with her a six-round pistol that she had bought from an antique weapons dealer to defend herself from attackers. She drove to a country road, loaded the pistol with black powder and lead balls, aimed it at her head and fired. She was found a few hours later, along with a farewell note to her family.

Yet even in death Chang was not rid of the controversy. In recent memorial services across China, historians have blamed intense hostility from Japan for her death. The People’s Daily in Beijing hailed Chang as a “warrior full of justice” and a “dart thrown against the Japanese rightists”. In April the massacre museum in Nanjing will add a statue of Chang to its commemorative collection, in effect giving her the status of a massacre victim, with a finger pointed firmly across the Sea of Japan. The San Francisco Chronicle seemed to concur: “Many wonder if the gentle, sympathetic young woman was the massacre’s latest victim.”
How sad...

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