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Iris Chang

January 13, 2012 Comments off


“Please believe in THE POWER OF ONE. One person can make an enormous difference in the world. One person — actually, one idea — can start a war, or end one, or subvert an entire power structure. One discovery can cure a disease or spawn new technology to benefit or annihilate the human race. You as ONE individual can change millions of lives. Think big. Do not limit your vision and do not ever compromise your dreams or ideals.” — Iris Chang

racism occur in cycles – “…That’s right, and even congressmen are not exempt from this. Congressman David Woo when he wanted to give a speech at the Department of Energy— ironically to celebrate Asian History month—they stopped him. They wouldn’t let him in. This was shortly after the Wen Ho Lee scandal and even after he showed a congressional identification, they wouldn’t let him in. The reason I brought up these stories was to show that these episodes of racism occur in cycles. There is a perception that the Chinese started out downtrodden and abused in the 19th century and gradually rose to the top of society as model minorities, and you see them winning Nobel Prizes and getting into our best colleges. But it is not a linear progression. Things don’t always get better. Sometimes they get worse. I find that they occur in cycles. The pattern of acceptance and abuse is closely linked with economic and political realities of that era and the state of Sino-American relations. Often when times are good and when the US is on good diplomatic terms with China, the Chinese are viewed as a bridge between the two countries. [Chinese] Americans are seen as honorary whites and as cultural ambassadors. You saw this in WW II, when China and the US were wartime allies. Also, in the mid-19th century when the US had a severe labor shortage and desperately needed Chinese manual labor. You also see backlashes at different times, such as the Korean War, when Chinese forces clashed with American forces. You saw it in the late ’90s—not a coincidence that it occurred after the disintegration of the Soviet Empire because China then became the second greatest superpower in the world, and there were concerns in the media of China rivaling the US militarily, economically and intellectually…” (interview: Iris Chang)

accounts of ancient atrocities – “…’Civilization is tissue thin,’ Iris wrote. She called this the most important lesson to be learned from the tragedy of Nanking. And she believed her research produced irrevocable proof of Japanese atrocities. She wrote: ‘After reading several file cabinets’ worth of documents on Japanese war crimes as well as accounts of ancient atrocities from the pantheon of world history, I would have to conclude that Japan’s behavior during World War II was less a product of dangerous people than of a dangerous government, in a vulnerable culture, in dangerous times, able to sell dangerous rationalizations to those whose human instincts told them otherwise…At the same time, torrents of hate mail came in, Brett said. “Iris is sensitive, but she got charged up,” he recalled. “When anybody questioned the validity of what she wrote, she would respond with overwhelming evidence to back it up. She’s very much a perfectionist. It was hard for her not to react every single time.’…Most of the attacks came from Japanese ultranationalists. “We saw cartoons where she was portrayed as this woman with a great big mouth,” Brett said. “She got used to the fact that there is a Web site called ‘Iris Chang and Her Lies.’ She would just laugh.” …But friends say Iris began to voice concerns for her safety. She believed her phone was tapped. She described finding threatening notes on her car. She said she was confronted by a man who said, “You will NOT continue writing this. ” She used a post office box, never her home address, for mail…” (Historian Iris Chang won many battles The war she lost raged within)

attempt to discredit – “There are aspects of my experience in Louisville that I will never understand. Deep down I suspect that you may have more answers about this than I do. I can never shake my belief that I was being recruited, and later persecuted, by forces more powerful than I could have imagined. Whether it was the CIA or some other organization I will never know. As long as I am alive, these forces will never stop hounding me…Days before I left for Louisville I had a deep foreboding about my safety. I sensed suddenly threats to my own life: an eerie feeling that I was being followed in the streets, the white van parked outside my house, damaged mail arriving at my P.O. Box. I believe my detention at Norton Hospital was the government’s attempt to discredit me…I had considered running away, but I will never be able to escape from myself and my thoughts. I am doing this because I am too weak to withstand the years of pain and agony ahead.” …The report stated that Iris had been taking two medications: the mood stabilizer Depakote, an anticonvulsant similar to lithium; and a smaller dosage of Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug commonly used to control mania, which is also thought to reduce suicide risk. Sluggishness is a common side effect of Depakote, because it subdues the manic phase of bipolar disorder by depressing the central nervous system…” (Historian Iris Chang won many battles The war she lost raged within)

inducing suicidal thoughts – “…Theirs is a story of love for their star child – born in Princeton, N.J., after they immigrated from China – and a search for answers to her shocking demise. A younger brother, who is “just average,” they say, was not nearly as ambitious or devoted as a student. “This question of why did she kill herself hounded me all the way until today,” her mother allows, explaining that the book has brought her some comfort. Near the end of her life, Ms. Chang was hospitalized with paranoia and depression…But her parents believe that the medications she was prescribed worsened her state of mind, inducing suicidal thoughts. “Reactions to drugs vary from person to person,” Dr. Chang says, noting that her biochemical background helped her research the prescribed drugs her daughter took…Her husband, a 74-year-old retired physics professor, puts his hand on his wife’s forearm. “Later they find out that Asians have much stronger effect from the drugs,” he says in one of the occasional interjections he makes during his wife’s intense explanation about her book. “We do not think she was well treated,” his wife puts in…” (Iris Chang committed suicide. Now her mother aims to resurrect her reputation)

Iris Shun-Ru Chang (March 28, 1968 – November 9, 2004) was an American historian and journalist. She is best known for her best-selling 1997 account of the Nanking Massacre, The Rape of Nanking. She committed suicide on November 9, 2004. Chang is the subject of the 2007 biographical book, Finding Iris Chang, as well as the 2007 documentary film Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking. Reports said that news of her suicide hit the massacre survivor community in Nanjing hard. In tribute to Chang, the survivors held a service at the same time as her funeral, held at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Cupertino, California on Friday, November 12 2004, at the victims’ memorial hall in Nanjing. In 2005, the victims memorial hall in Nanjing, which collects documents, photos, and human remains from the massacre, added a wing dedicated to Chang (Wikepedia).

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