Tag Archives: Japanese


Putin and Syria

Here’s an interesting paragraph from German-Foreign-Policy.com, February 15th:

“German military personnel are beginning to consider Russia’s intervention in Syria as having prevented IS/Daesh from taking power in Damascus and carrying out offensives against other countries – including Israel.”

While the western media concentrates on exposing Russian air attacks as potential “war crimes,” it may be that, overall, Russia’s intervention has been a good thing, stopping the spread of ISIS and thwarting a greater threat to Israel.

The key words are “may be.”  We may never know.


Russia’s intervention in Syria may have, inadvertently, helped Israel.  President Obama’s occupancy of the White House certainly has not.   US unreliability has led Israel to seek alliances elsewhere. Bret Stevens wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal:

“On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon publicly shook hands with former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal at the Munich Security Conference. In January, Israeli cabinet member Yuval Steinitz made a trip to Abu Dhabi, where Israel is opening an office at a renewable-energy association. Turkey is patching up ties with Israel. In June, Jerusalem and Riyadh went public with the strategic talks between them. In March, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi told the Washington Post that he speaks to Mr. Netanyahu “a lot.”

“This de facto Sunni-Jewish alliance amounts to what might be called the coalition of the disenchanted; states that have lost faith in America’s promises.  Israel is also reinventing its ties to the aspiring Startup Nations, countries that want to develop their own innovation cultures.” (“Israel looks beyond America, WSJ)”


February 15th was an important date historically.   On that day, in 1942, the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese.   It was a major turning point for the British Empire. It wasn’t until almost fifteen years later that the world could clearly see the Empire was no longer the major power it had been, but Britain’s defeat at the hands of the Japanese was disastrous.   Note the following from Stratfor:

The Beginning of the End of the British Empire — The humiliating surrender of Singapore on Feb. 15, 1942, was the first sign of decline for the British regional order.

“On Jan. 31, 1942, Allied engineers blew a hole in the causeway linking the island city of Singapore to the Malay Peninsula, hoping to slow the advance of Japanese Imperial troops down the coastline. The blast resounded throughout the city. As the story goes, 19-year-old university student and future prime minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew was walking across campus at that moment. When his British headmaster, passing by, asked what the sound was, Lee responded, “That is the end of the British Empire.”

Lee Kuan Yew was to lead Singapore for over three decades, presiding over one of the world’s greatest success stories.


The US election has taken a worrying turn, again.   The two Democratic candidates are busy criticizing the police in order to get the African-American vote. They need to tread carefully.   The police are all that stand between the general population and anarchy. One day, one of these candidates may need a policeman or two to protect them. Undermining the police is not in anybody’s interests.

Christopher Marquez, an Hispanic decorated US Marine, was attacked and left unconscious by a gang of young African-American teenagers at a McDonald’s in Washington, DC, last week.   They had been taunting him along racial lines asking him if “Black Lives Matter,” the popular slogan started last year following the deaths of a number of young black men at the hands of white police.

“I believe this was a hate crime and I was targeted because of my skin color,” Marquez, who is Hispanic, told The Daily Caller. “Too many of these types of attacks have been happening against white people by members of the black community and the majority of the main stream media refuses to report on it.”

Of course black lives matter.  But white ones should, too.   No attention was given to this story of the white Marine until Fox News” put it on its website this morning.  No attention has been given either to the death of a 17-year-old white male a few miles from our home – shot by a white policeman who, some think, over reacted.  “Justice for Devon Guilford” is written on signs all over our neighborhood as investigations continue.   The issue has seriously divided Eaton County.

There is definitely a double standard in the media, where “black lives matter,” but white lives don’t!


President Obama was shown on television this morning assuring people that Donald Trump will never be president.  Meanwhile, there’s increasing talk that Joe Biden will jump into the race if Hillary Clinton slips any further against fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders.


The Establishment clearly does not want outsiders like Trump or Sanders to lead the country!   Whatever happened to democracy?


It’s not that different overseas.

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on Britain’s future in the European Union.   Referenda are easily manipulated.

If the majority votes against Europe, a second question could be asked phrased differently to try to get a ‘yes’ vote.   Even if both votes result in a resounding ‘No,’ other nations in Europe will retaliate making it difficult, if not impossible for Britain to break away. German leaders are already threatening a trade war at a time when global trade is already going through a rough period.


Mr. Sanders claims that he wants “democratic socialism” and cites Denmark as his model.   He has wisely avoided any mention of Venezuela where socialism has brought the country to near-starvation.  Stratfor reported yesterday that the socialist President Nicolas Maduro may be around for some time:

“Maduro could maintain a political impasse with the legislature for a long time. He could also deal with a slowly mounting economic crisis, as former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez did during the latter years of his presidency. But the Venezuelan crisis is rapidly becoming a social crisis. Maduro’s economic adjustments have focused on sharply cutting imports across the board, spurring rampant inflation that effectively places even basic food items out of the poor’s reach.  The situation is potentially explosive. With rapid consumer price increases on the black market, endemic shortages of food in public stores, failing public utilities and an intransigent president, the stage is set for a major wave of social unrest that could rival the 1989 Caracazo riots that killed hundreds of people.”

Margaret Thatcher got it right when she defined socialism as “equal shares of misery for all!”   Government is inherently incompetent.  That will never change.




Donald Trump Muslims

After Donald Trump’s call for a temporary halt in allowing Muslims to move to America, there has been a great deal of “moral outrage,” as CNN called it.   Prominent members of the liberal intelligentsia have been appearing on the various news channels.   Accusations of Trump being “un-American” are constantly being yelled out, even though America had no Muslims in its infancy and few until a change in the immigration laws fifty years ago.

Donald Trump has called for a ban on immigration to the United States by Muslims.  TV talk programs seem to have discussed nothing else since his controversial call Monday, which he referred to as “common sense.”

The liberal media, plus almost all politicians of both major parties, have condemned Mr. Trump and called him a “racist” and lots of other bad names.

Methinks they protest too much!   Why are they so determined to see so many Muslims in America?

Let’s consider the facts ……

The US is the leading nation of the western world.   The country has experienced a number of terrorist attacks by Muslims, including San Bernardino, Boston, Chattanooga, Garland, Fort Hood and 9-11.

The number two economy in the western world is Japan, with 130 million people.   Japan has not had a terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims.   Japan has a very strict immigration policy, which does not encourage Muslims to move there.   Could there be a connection?
Mr. Trump lacks tact, a quality he needs and one that needs to be brought into this debate.

I remember a conversation with a member of the diplomatic service in an African country some years ago.   My wife and I were enjoying our visit to his country and I expressed the hope that they would have more tourists, which would boost their economy.   I told him that one thing they could do to help encourage tourism was to abolish the visa requirement for tourists.

He responded that the country had to require a visa, at a cost of $100, before any tourist could visit.   He explained that it was reciprocal. In other words, because the US insisted people from his country must get a visa to enter America, his country had to insist on visas for Americans.

The US requires peoples in many countries to get visas, to screen them before they visit and to weed out those who might visit and stay to look for work.

But my point is that visa requirements are reciprocal.

Can’t we do the same when it comes to immigration?

We should apply the same rules to people wanting to come to the United States, as their countries apply to Americans who go there.

As none of the 57 majority Muslim countries allows Americans to immigrate into their countries, we would effectively achieve the ban on Muslims Mr. Trump wants, but do it more tactfully.   The ball would be in their court!

Yes, there are Americans living in Muslim countries.   Some are married to locals in those countries, while some work there on contract, providing skills their economies need; but none have permanent resident status and will never be allowed to apply for citizenship.  Muslim nations know that Muslims and non-Muslims just don’t mix!

Quid pro quo.   Problem solved.   With tact, Mr. Trump!

There was also a lack of tact in the White House when Josh Earnest, White House spokesman, described Mr. Trump’s comments as “fascist,” forgetting that the most famous Democratic president of all, Franklin Roosevelt, interred Japanese, German and Italian Americans during World War II.

Meanwhile, a great deal of ignorance has been exposed in the media on this issue.   A number of news people have told us that Mr. Trump’s suggestion goes against the constitution.   It’s difficult to justify such a statement when there were no Muslims in the country at the time the constitution was written.   It wasn’t until after the Civil War that Muslims first came on the scene and the first mosque was built in Chicago as recently as 1929.

Nihad Awad, Executive Director and Founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, likened Mr. Trump’s comments to those of Nazis against the Jews, asking:  “Haven’t we learned anything from history, Mr. Trump?”   This blatant double standard went unquestioned.   It was a perfect opportunity to raise questions about attitudes toward Jews shown in some Muslim countries and during the Holocaust.

On the same day that this dominated the news, TIME magazine announced its choice of “Person of the Year.”   This year’s choice is Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, who opened Germany’s doors to allow in one million migrants this year, the equivalent of the US taking in four million.   The decision has already resulted in negative repercussions that must be borne by the German people.

The question arises – why is the media so determined to see the end of the European races?   At the same time as ridiculing Trump, most news sources are seen praising Frau Merkel for her decision.

Whatever you may think of Mr. Trump’s call to halt Muslim immigration at this time, Americans should be thankful the issue has been raised for one simple reason – any more attacks could easily result in a violent backlash against Muslims by other Americans. The population needs to be thoroughly educated on the religion and its goals toward the United States so that a responsible debate can take place.







It seems as if our ancestors did nothing right.

The latest example is the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima seventy years ago August 6th.

70,000 people were killed instantly while another 70, 000 died of severe burns within weeks.

The BBC World Service (radio) led with a longer than usual report from Hiroshima.  One of their veteran correspondents concluded his report by asking when the United States is going to apologize for what it did seven decades ago.

Particularly disturbing was that a group of university students from Princeton were in Hiroshima for the commemorations yesterday.   Those that were interviewed all thought the US should apologize. One even went so far as to say that the US, as the world’s leader, should set everybody an example by dismantling its nuclear weapons, then the others would follow!   Fortunately, he is too young to run for president!

If you had any doubts, it’s clear what young people are being taught in schools – the slant is always anti-American.   The US is always to blame.   Well, not just the US – we will come to that later.

For the record, the dropping of the bombs (a second one was dropped on Nagasaki three days later) ended World War II in the Pacific.   Before the atomic bombs there was no hint that the Japanese would surrender.   The US would have lost a further 100,000 men, an estimate of how many would die fighting their way to Japan through the jungles of the Philippines and other islands.   In addition, thousands of sailors would have died.   The USS Indianapolis was sunk just a few days before Hiroshima, with the loss of almost a thousand men.

A second benefit of the bomb is that, seventy years later, no country has used an atomic or nuclear device since.   What happened in Japan seventy years ago has made world leaders hesitate before starting something that would lead to massive retaliation on them.

This is likely to change as Mideast nations, starting with Iran, get the bomb.   India and Pakistan could also use theirs against each other.


Which brings us to the other nation everybody likes to bash, including Generation Y.

At the time the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the British were still ruling India, which included Pakistan and Bangladesh.   After two centuries, they were about to withdraw from the sub-continent.   Now, there are increasing calls for reparations. The Oxford Union (Oxford is one of Britain’s two most famous universities) debated the issue last month and voted in favor of reparations. The Indian prime minister has added his own view, demanding the British pay up.

What is interesting here is that the leaders of India’s independence movement did not call for financial reparations – and they were in a much better position to know if reparations were called for.

But they were also aware that the British were responsible for laying a solid foundation throughout India – including one of the best railway systems in the world, a solid infrastructure, parliamentary government, the rule of law, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the English language, which India’s first prime minister described as “India’s window to the world” and a first-class military, which had served the British Empire well.   In addition, the British kept the peace on the North-West Frontier, where the Taliban, al-Qaeda and, now, ISIS, are active.

Those early leaders were content to build on these strengths.   They did not demand reparations, though they did ask for aid.   That aid is still coming from Britain and other western nations, even though India itself is quite wealthy.

The current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, should be thankful for British rule.   Without it, India’s democratic system would not exist and he would not be in power!

India has the potential to become the greatest economic power in the world.   The country is only diminished by calls for reparations, as if they can’t take care of themselves.   To use an analogy, all of Britain’s offspring have been independent adults for fifty plus years – isn’t it a little embarrassing to go back home and ask for money?


Talking of the sub-continent, a fourth blogger has been murdered in Bangladesh for his comments on Islam.   The religion of peace clearly is not big enough to handle criticism!


Little attention has been given to President Obama’s decision to alter the Oath of Allegiance, taking into account Islamic beliefs.

According to the Middle East Forum: “On July 21, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced some “modifications” to the Oath of Allegiance that immigrants must take before becoming naturalized. The original oath required incoming citizens to declare that they will “bear arms on behalf of the United States” and “perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States” when required by the law. Now the USCIS says that “a candidate [to U.S. citizenship] may be eligible to exclude these two clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection.”

Why is this “necessary”?

Because, although Islam allows Muslims to fight for a non-Muslim country, it does not allow believers to fight other believers.   In other words, American Muslims are not going to be helping in the fight against radical Islamic extremism. In effect, they will be helping the other side!


What does it say about us when more attention is given to the hunting death of a lion in Zimbabwe than to the selling of baby body parts in restaurants?

Richard Weikart’s “From Darwin to Hitler”, shows the progression from the Theory of Evolution down to all the sins that plague the western world today.   Abortion, the murder of innocent children unable to defend themselves, is a sin before God.   We can dress it up as “a woman’s right to choose”, or a “female health issue”, but murder is murder and should be called such.

The prophet Isaiah put it well when he said that “The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it” (Isa 1:5b-6a).

We can’t think straight any more.

If King David were alive today, he would no doubt be languishing in a prison somewhere for killing lions in his earlier role as a shepherd! (I Samuel 17:34-36).

From now on, I shall refer to him as ‘David, the lion killer.”   It’s just another way of showing how ridiculous political correctness is.


BW Reunion Group
Back row standing: Simone (Carol Johnson) Albert, Carol (Wooten) Boyer, Alan Boyer, Susan and Colin Lauchlan, Phil Shields, Mark and Donna (Pattemore) Rhodes, Steve and Denise (Branham) Acerra, Richard and Annette (Weatherley) Forkun. Sitting on chairs/couch: Anita Wickham-Becker, Melvin and Diane (Hoot) Rhodes, Patricia (Kingsmore) Hayward, Carole (Beeston) Shields, Suzy Blackwell, Carl Hayward. Sitting on floor: Leo and Jane (Patterson) Van Pelt, Lowell Blackwell.

On a more uplifting note, Diane and I spent last weekend with old (and I mean old) friends from Bricket Wood, the English campus of Ambassador College, that closed down in 1974.

Apart from a few spouses, everybody present attended BW in the early seventies.

Although we are all now in different churches or no church at all, it did not detract one bit from the spirit of unity, friendliness and love that we all felt.

All people who profess to follow Jesus Christ should remember what He said was the identifying sign of real Christians:  “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, that you love one another.” (John 13:35)

We hope to do this again sometime!  (No pressure, Tricia!)


Baltimore mom

Video of a mother pushing her teenage son away from the Baltimore riots has been shown across the world.   One television news station quipped:  “Send in the moms!” as the solution to the rioting.

This raises a pertinent question – Where are the dads?

When young African-American males are killed by white policemen, invariably it’s the mothers who are interviewed.   If there is a male in the room, it’s likely a step-father.

This is not just an African-American problem.   School shootings are usually the work of young white males.   Again, when reporters cover a shooting, it becomes clear that there was no father around.

But it’s African-American families that suffer most from absentee fathers, though whites are not far behind.

In 2011, it was reported that 72% of black children were born to unwed mothers.

The same source reports that, in 2005, 39% of African-American children did not live with their biological father and a further 28% had no substitute father in the home.   This means that two-thirds of African-American teenage boys have no father figure in their lives.(Wikipedia:  African-American family structure.)

It should, therefore, not be surprising that a disproportionate percentage of our prison population is made up of black males.   Without a strong father figure at home, boys are more likely to get into trouble, regardless of race.

Media coverage of this year’s riots gives the world the impression that America is inherently a racist society.   How can this be, when Indians, all fairly recent immigrants from India, now have a per capita income higher than whites?   They are dark skinned but do well.   Chinese and Japanese Americans are also more successful than whites.

The difference is the family structure.   These three ethnic groups have a strong family structure.   As one Indian told me when I was visiting India, “It’s unthinkable for an Indian man to desert his family!”

But we shouldn’t blame all of this on African-American adult males.   They must take their share of the blame – babies born out of wedlock are the result of fornication, which the Bible condemns as a sin (I Corinthians 6:18).

But blame also falls elsewhere.

Although the numbers of black couples living together in a traditional family had been falling gradually with every census from 1880 to 1960, the numbers took a dramatic dive with the 1970 census.

The reason for this is government – and the white liberals behind it.

In 1965, LBJ’s War on Poverty set out to improve the lot of mothers, who soon found they were better off being taken care of by Uncle Sam than their husbands.

It wasn’t long before mothers were kicking their husbands out, if they had even bothered to marry at all.

The end result is the level of violence we see in our inner cities, including the recent rioting.

God warned us of this.   Malachi 2:16 says:   “For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence.”

There’s a connection between broken homes and violence – and not just in the home.

Certainly, police need better training in conflict resolution, but the real problem begins in the home.   That’s where it should be resolved.


Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore is one of the greatest success stories of the modern world.

The modern history of the country started in 1819, just under 200 years ago.  The British were looking for a strategic location to base their growing merchant and naval fleets and to thwart Dutch regional influence.

The then Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolan in Sumatra, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, landed in Singapore after surveying neighboring islands.   A colony was soon founded with a population of only 150. Today, the population is almost 5.5 million.   Singapore’s success was based on free trade, which made it a vibrant commercial center, attracting merchants from all over Asia, the Middle East and the United States, as well as Great Britain, which dominated the globe in the nineteenth century.

The port city saw its greatest period of growth after the British opened the Suez Canal in 1869.   Control of vital sea-gates around the globe contributed to the dominance of the British Empire.   It was possible for British vessels to sail from England to Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus in the Mediterranean, before continuing their journey through the Suez Canal and Aden, then on to points east, including Singapore.   The naval base at Singapore enabled the British to dominate the Far East and Australasia.   Singapore was a vital sea-gate, one of the arteries of empire.   Many believe this fulfilled the prophecy in Genesis 22:17 that Abraham’s descendants would “possess the gates of their enemies.”

Everything went well until the Japanese attacked the city the day after Pearl Harbor.   Once regarded as an impregnable fortress, the city surrendered on 15th March, 1942.   It remained under Japanese occupation for three-and-a-half-years.   Looking back, it was a major turning point in the decline and fall of the British Empire, perhaps the biggest single turning point.   It showed that the seemingly invincible British, a white race that ruled the greatest empire in history, could be defeated by a non-white peoples considered backward and inferior.

After the defeat of Japan, the British returned, but it was impossible to return to the pre-war order.   New political parties were formed that campaigned for independence.

In 1963, the people of Singapore voted to join the new Malaysian Federation, which the British had created six years earlier.   Only two years later, Singapore, an island of mostly Chinese immigrants, had to leave the Moslem dominated federation and go it alone.

In 1965, at the time of independence, the total Gross National Product of Singapore was only $1 billion.   Fifty years later, it’s $300 billion.   Per capita income has grown from less than $500 per year to well over $55,000, second only to Japan in East Asia.   The island state has been transformed in fifty years from a Third World outpost to a thriving city-state that belongs proudly to the First World of wealthy, affluent countries.

This achievement was the work of one man, Lee Kuan Yew, the longest serving prime minister in the world (from 1959 to 1990). Singapore’s former prime minister died at the weekend.   The man who cried when the federation broke up and Singapore had to go it alone, had a clear vision of what was needed – a free enterprise system which would become a regional financial center.   This does not mean that government was not involved.   He was mildly authoritarian, with restrictions on freedom of speech and the press.   He also oversaw massive public housing projects, which contributed to a rising standard of living for the people. The US could learn from its medical system.

He leaves behind a wealthy, efficient and honest administration – one of the modern world’s greatest success stories.   Other developing nations, struggling to survive in the contemporary world, could learn a great deal from Singapore and the man who built its modern economy.

Singapore is also symbolic of Asia’s growing might, accompanied by the decline of its former imperial master Great Britain, and the West in general.

The world has changed a great deal in the fifty years since Singapore became an independent republic.   It’s experience should give many nations pause for thought and reflection.




Hollywood is adding to US foreign policy woes at an incredible rate. No less than four current movies are causing upsets in various parts of the world.

“The Interview” has received a lot of attention.   I have not seen it and would have had no interest in seeing it, if North Korea’s paranoid regime hadn’t flipped out over the movie, blaming the US president personally for its showing. (When you’ve grown up in a country where the “Dear Leader” decides everything, it’s not surprising that people think the US president plays the same role in America!)

The movie revolves around a comedic attempt to assassinate the leader of North Korea. Along the way it makes fun of the more comical aspects of the regime.

As the US has never had good relations with North Korea anyway, Pyongyang’s anger can largely be ignored. But other movies are also a problem.

“American Sniper” has been labeled racist by Muslims who see the conflict with ISIS as a continuation of the clash of civilizations between the “Christian” West and the Islamic world. The movie tells the true story of the US military’s greatest sniper, who killed over 200 people during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. As all his victims were Muslims, he, therefore, must be a racist. Don’t look for logic – it’s not a strong point with people who grew up in the Middle East.

“Unbroken” is also a problem, this time with the Japanese. Conservatives in the country are upset over the way Japan’s troops are portrayed in the film, which again is a true story, telling the story of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini’s experience in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in WWII.   It’s not the first movie to depict the horrors of life in a Japanese POW camp.   They had no respect for prisoners as their own military culture taught that fighting to the death was preferable to surrender.

The truth is the truth. No apologies need be made for “American Sniper” or “Unbroken”, assuming they stuck to the truth.

Even “Exodus” has been quite controversial, thousands of years after the event. My wife and I didn’t like it. Nor did the Egyptians who said it was “inaccurate,” that Jewish slaves did not build the pyramids and that the depiction of ancient Egyptians was not accurate. Although the depiction of the plagues was interesting and imaginative, and Christian Bale played a convincing Moses, the parting of the Red Sea and receiving of the Ten Commandments were much better in the 1956 version, when special effects were more primitive.   Perhaps the downplaying of the commandments reflects changing societal attitudes in the interim decades.

In Egypt, ‘Censors objected to the “intentional gross historical fallacies that offend Egypt and its pharaonic ancient history in yet another attempt to Judaize Egyptian civilization, which confirms the international Zionist fingerprints all over the film,” the statement said.

The ministry said the movie inaccurately depicts ancient Egyptians as “savages” who kill and hang Jews, arguing that hanging did not exist in ancient Egypt. It said the film also presents a “racist” depiction of Jews as a people who mounted an armed rebellion. The ministry said religious scriptures present Jews as weak and oppressed.

The statement also objected to the depiction of God as a child, which also drew criticism in the West.’  (Seattle Times, December 28th)

Hollywood has always had a problem with religion, rarely depicting biblical events with any degree of accuracy. “The Ten Commandments” (1956) was one of the better biblical movies, with considerable input from Josephus.

But Hollywood has also had a serious problem with history. I cannot think of any historical movie made in Hollywood that was 100% accurate. “Braveheart” has been labeled the most historically inaccurate movie ever made, with 87 historical inaccuracies, according to one website. Another Mel Gibson movie, “The Patriot” got the prize for the fourth most inaccurate movie in history. Amongst other things, the movie depicted British soldiers burning down a church with people in it. The film was set during the Revolutionary War.   British soldiers have never burned down a church full of worshippers, never at any time in history. If they did, they would be court-martialed and severely punished. But it made for great entertainment!

Mel Gibson defended these movies by saying, “We are not in the business of teaching history. We are in the business of providing entertainment to make money.” (The quote is a paraphrase heard on NPR many years ago.)

At least he was honest. Perhaps his anti-semitic rantings owe their origin to the same ignorance of history!

Hollywood has always had a problem with history.

Exactly a century ago next month, what is considered the most influential movie in American history, premiered. “The Birth of a Nation” was an anti-black, pro-KKK movie that led to riots in cities across America. The film was set during the Civil War and Reconstruction and blamed African-Americans for the problems that plagued the US during this period. The NAACP tried to get the film banned. The movie was the first motion picture screened at the White House, then occupied by President Woodrow Wilson.

In an age when few people read anything in depth, preferring to spend their time with electronic gadgets, including TV and DVD’s, movies are perceived as fact.   But they rarely are. If you want to know the facts, you have to read and do the research.

The 1960 John Wayne movie “The Alamo” was made with two historical advisers during production. One of them walked off the set saying, “there isn’t one minute of historical accuracy in this film” but it hasn’t stopped people watching it in the last 55 years.

Hollywood has a responsibility to strive for accuracy. It can be done. Good movies can be made while maintaining accuracy. “To Kill a King” is a prime example. This is a British movie about the English Civil War, the execution of the King and the subsequent Republic under Oliver Cromwell. The film was lauded by historians as the most accurate historical movie ever made.

Sadly, it’s hard to track down. Perhaps, after all, people are not interested in facts – they just want to be entertained!


Midnight in Peking

“Midnight in Peking” is one of those rare books that you literally can’t put down.

It’s a true story of the murder of a young British schoolgirl in Peking in 1937, set around the takeover of the city by the Japanese.  Nobody knew it at the time, but it was the end of an era.  After an eight-year occupation by the Japanese, civil war followed for four years and then victory for the communists.  China was never the same again.

At the time of the murder, the European imperial powers had control of their own areas of China.  They enjoyed sovereignty over the treaty ports and significant portions of cities like Shanghai and Peking.  This is in addition to British ruled Hong Kong and Portuguese Macao.

As the British were the most important of the European powers in China, they had control over the Legation Quarter of Peking and other cities like Tientsin.  The latter had the best high school east of Suez, a school attended by Pamela Werner, the murder victim.

Her body was found just outside the Legation Quarter of Peking.  The death of a European so close to the Legation Quarter sent shockwaves through the community and was the main news for weeks, even at a time when Japanese troops surrounded the city and already had control over Manchuria.

Author Paul French is an Englishman who lives in Shanghai and clearly understands China well.  The murder was not solved in 1937, but French’s extensive research has resolved it.  How he was able to do this is fascinating.  It’s also interesting to see how the Chinese and British police operated at the time.

The cast of characters reveals a great deal about pre-war China.  Peking had a significant White Russian community, people who had fled the Russian Revolution and Bolshevik rule.  There were also many Jews who had fled Nazi Germany.  European countries had significant representation, with thousands of their own citizens resident in the country.  There was also a sizeable American community, mostly missionaries right through to businessmen exploiting every vice known to man, in areas like the “Badlands.”  Peking’s best dentist was an American and features prominently in the book.

The Japanese takeover and its aftermath were also of great interest.  Within a few weeks of taking over Peking, the Japanese had started two thousand businesses – 500 brothels, 1,000 opium dens and 500 others, presumably of a more respectable nature.

What the Japanese were doing was taking advantage of a totally degenerate society.  It wasn’t until Mao Zedong that it got cleaned up, but at a heavy price.

If you would rather wait, the book is being turned into a television series.  As it doesn’t say whether it’s a British or an American TV series, I don’t know how easy it will be to see it.  We will have to wait and see.  But in my experience, the book is always better – and this one was a real page-turner!