On Teaching a Difficult History
Updated: Sep 7
Below is an excerpt from an article I wrote for The Nation. See the full text here.
"I have thought a lot about the meaning of history when I teach the 'comfort women' issue in my classroom. We work through how to understand how we know what we know about the past, so we can better evaluate sources and truth claims, paying close attention to context and complexity. I don’t teach about this uncomfortable history to cultivate 'masochists, and have not found that those who become interested in further researching the 'comfort women' come to hate Japan or themselves. I find, instead, that their historical curiosity and empathy create a stronger basis for international cooperation. It takes education like this to counter the countless abuses of history. In failing to teach what the wartime state did, the Japanese government only emboldens the forces of misogyny and racism and cultivates new generations of violence. And that should frighten us all."