Feelings Don’t Care About Facts, But Neither Do Facts Care About Feelings

Anyone who claims that I have said “As I learned about Nanking, I came to believe the Comfort Women were sex slaves…” or anything similar in the essence in the documentary film, Shusenjo, or in the interview is wrong.  I have never thought they were sex slaves.  What I said was "I had started to see things that the nationalists said more skeptically."

Below is to clarify my thinking:

I used to think only the leftists spread propaganda and lies.  But I learned that there were propagand and lies on both sides. Crooks, mercenaries, fanatics, demagogues, ideologists and enablers were everywhere.  But so are good-hearted, respectful, honest individuals.  In fact, the “side” does not authenticate anything nor prove anyone's decency at all.

There are certain elements which make resolving political or historical disputes difficult.

I used to believe the only thing we, as individuals who “seek truth,” should do was to spread truth, and the people who hear the truth would receive it with gratitude.  After all, wasn’t “the truth” what the nationalists claimed to be pursuing?  But I now think that was naïve, wishful thinking.  It turned out, truth is a hard medicine to swallow for most people, especially when strong emotions or means of earning is involved.  Facts do not care about one’s feelings, but neither do feelings care about facts.  There is nothing more detestable and inconvenient than fact when it tries to stand in one’s way of meeting needs.  

When I stated how I changed my views on Nanking on my Facebook account, I received, literally, hundreds of responses from my nationalistic Facebook friends, primarily to convince me to stay within “a zero massacre” theory.  I tried to explain the reasons of my changed understandings of the past event, quoting Dr. Hata’s book on Nanking.   Hata was and still is, considered as a notable historian who was famous for his thorough and unbiased investigations on the comfort women issues to the nationalists.  To my surprise, Hata’s researches meant nothing to the nationalists.  They suddenly started discrediting and some even started slandering the same historian whom they upheld as an authority on the comfort women issues.  Hata’s careful estimate of total unlawful death tolls, 20,000 to 40,000, was dismissed as a result of his “biased, poor, and lazy job.”  

“How could it be?” I argued, “He is the same Dr. Hata whom we, the conservatives, respect as an authority on the comfort women issue.  How could his investigations on Nanking suddenly be a biased, poor, lazy job?  Hata’s reasoning and the estimate are more logical and persuasive than the zero-massacre theory.”  My words didn’t mean anything to the nationalists.  Their focus was to discredit China’s 300,000 massacre propaganda, and Hata’s acknowledgement of some level of massacre was, they felt, standing in their mission.  One even wrote: “In order to counter China’s propaganda, I think we should even state that there was negative 300,000 massacre.  It’s an eye for an eye.  A propaganda for a propaganda,” as if historical disputes could be settled by negotiations.

This was the moment that I realized what the nationalists, at least some nationalists, were pursuing was, unlike what they claimed, not necessarily the truth nor understanding.  There were even some scholars who were seriously claimng that admitting some wrongdoings would encourage China’s exaggerations.

The ridiculousness of this illogic was obvious to anyone who was not emotionally involved with Nanking disputes.

But I can easily point out that the liberals also fall into similar inconsistencies and illogics.  For example, the support groups for the comfort women which uphold the women’s words as indisputable truths have turned against the same comfort women who have accepted money from Asia Women’s Funds.  The liberals who demanded official apology and compensations from the Japanese government also reject the 2015 bilateral agreement which stated Abe's apology and offered compensations.  

I no longer share the belief of “people will come to know the truth once it’s given.”  It’s more likely that people believe what they want to believe and disregard the rest, especially when strong emotions or methods of earnings are involved.   I, therefore, am not in the business of making myself popular or getting approvals.  I criticize what I find despicable, mostly bad behaviors or damaging rhetoric.  I state my disagreement when I find something unreasonable.  But I also share my admiration or give credit where it’s due. 

I do recognize that there are personal attacks against me as well as admirations.  Those do not bother me nor flatter me.  What bothers me instead is that the words which I didn’t say are circulating as my words.  I have never said “the comfort women were sex slaves” or anything similar in the sense.  That is a fact.  Anyone who wants to take it, it’s there.  I ended up disappointing and angering the right side of the aisle.  I’m sure this will disappoint and anger the left too.  But so be it.

Feelings don’t care about facts, but neither do facts care about feelings.


"Facts don't care about your feelings" is a famous statement from an American conservative journalist, Ben Shapiro.