Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dogma, Meet Karma

I am not known as a vicious human being...though Tanigaki Sadakazu may take exception to that assertion.

I have, however, enjoyed almost too much the titanic implosion of Yamamoto Masahiro on the National Bureau of Asian Research's Japan-U.S. Discussion Forum. His self-appointed Sisyphean task is to perpetuate, with increasing shrillness and decreasing tolerance, the now increasingly untenable myth of Prime Minister Kan Naoto's behaving in anything other than a "heroic" manner (J) during the Fukushima Dai'ichi crisis.

NBR is considered a moderately center-right organization. Its list-serve is hardly a sump of leftist skulduggery. Avowed leftist Ronald Dore indeed complains that his most provocative thought pieces are constantly being rejected by the list moderator.

However, if you come aboard with an uncritical recitation of the accounts of last year printed in the Sankei Shimbun or, when you are feeling particularly magnanimous and collegiate, the Yomiuri Shimbun, you are going to get your behind fried. When you go further and claim that your view comes from having read Japanese-language sources rather than reading English-language ones, on a list serve of Japan experts, you are going to get your oshiri handed to you. If you then deliver a farewell address, vowing to drop the subject as others are ganging up on you, then come back with a list of demands on how the debate should be conducted on what is already a moderated forum, well...

Yamamoto Masahiro does not identify himself as being associated with any institution. There are a host of Yamamoto Masahiros on the Web. I would suspect, however, that the Yamamoto Masahiro in question is not the Tokyo University mathematician but indeed the author of Nanking: Anatomy of an Atrocity. The review of the book in the American Historical Review states that Yamamoto is "a self-described 'centrist-revisionist'."

This is an interesting compound noun. It seems to mean, "Yes, we killed, mutilated and raped large numbers of persons in absolutely horrible ways -- but not as many as you think!" with what appears after the "but" as the "revisionist" part of the phrase.

"Centrist-revisionist" in an absolute sense seems to mean cherry-picking the written record for evidence confirming one's prejudices and rejecting the documentation and reasoning of others as biased and politically-tainted.

The fun begins on March 5, in an over-the-top post by Gregory Clark, a character in his own right. Just start on the main list then pop back and forth to follow the discussion.

As I said, I am enjoying the results way too much.

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