The Rape of Nanjing, Education By The Nape Of The Neck


Hiding head in sand

“Western indifference has been a problem. It continues to be a problem.” — Iris Chang to the author, 2004

On Craig’s List I came across an ad which called for an Elementary School Teacher to provide Spoken English instruction to youngsters in Nanjing, China. I’m highly qualified to serve in that capacity, the pay and benefits are good, and I’d love to have the experience of being abroad again in an educational setting. Thing is, my journalist contacts in the Far East have informed me that

  1. Thousands of dead fish float in and around Nanjing regularly.
  1. Chemical accidents involving benzene occur now and then in a tributary of the Changjiang River, where many of those dead fish were found.
  1. More than half of China’s surface water is so polluted it cannot be treated to make it drinkable, and one-quarter of it is so dangerous it can’t even be used for industrial purposes.
  1. In January alone, there were 19 days when the index in Nanjing surpassed that 300 threshold, and readings above 500 are no longer unusual. On Jan. 12, the reading reached an eye-bleeding 886, comparable to living inside a smoking lounge.
  1. China now burns 47 percent of the world’s coal, roughly equal to the amount used by all other countries of the world combined; the coal-burning electrical plants dynamic which plagues Nanjing is slated to get worse, along with the proliferation of vehicular traffic.

Nanjing’s profile is not the rare case for China.

No can do. They can keep their free round-trip flights and all the other perks they’re dangling. I mean, doesn’t it enter the minds of all applicants that they might not be in any condition to return after spending a year there? Return to anything resembling health.


As horrific as the highlighted events in Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking are, this is much worse. But what the citizens of 1937-38 China were subjected to by Japanese troops is totally omitted by instructors in the Japanese Public School System today. I know because I taught in Osaka for two years with textbooks which totally whitewashed the abominations. On the other hand, the environmental crises in China are spotlighted — underscored heavily — for one and all in Nippon — as a kind of feather in the Japanese cap: Look how much better off you are in Japan is the message. And it’s their own Fukushima fallout that’s ignored; ignored too in U.S. schools, indifference to others’ challenges a function of many domestic delusions.

Educators worldwide are suffering from Ostrich Syndrome.

In the U.S. there’s a rape going on — on an ongoing basis — which involves keeping students oblivious to the depth of our horrid environmental momentum and present day dangers. Children are being tested, and being prepared to take their turn on a treadmill that will guarantee our all going over the precipice.

It is commonly agreed that rape is not primarily a sexual act, but a matter of violently asserting control over another. In that sense, youngsters are certainly being forced by the nape of the neck into careers which enable worldwide rape to continue, our Empire’s rape vis-a-vis mining, military invasions, the undermining of the democratic process, media mendacity and much more. I won’t insult your intelligence by spelling out the career choices which contribute to our horrid momentum. The ones which are the most popular majors on the most prestigious campuses in the country at present.

That test prep and those prized career tracks culminate — clearly — in undervaluing everything from critical capacities and simple kindness to social/environmental consciousness of a high order. There’s plenty of talk about the importance of all that, but it’s not practiced in any meaningful way; see a past piece to appreciate just the tip of the the toxic melting iceberg that educators nationwide are ignoring.

If educators are going to make a big enough difference soon enough, they will have to not only change their approach to education, it will be necessary for them to secure significant reins of decision-making power very soon. If that doesn’t happen the U.S. will go the way of China and Japan.

The Age of Indifference must be transformed into The Age of Making a Difference.

Richard Martin Oxman has been an educator and activist for over half-a-century. He would be honored to speak gratis at any educational institution which makes a request at [email protected].


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