Dishonoring History

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Dishonoring History

Further to Frederick's recent post on Japanese history textbooks, some of the countries it victimized during and before World War II are complaining that the newly approved textbooks whitewash Japanese atrocities. This isn't the first time Japan's neighbors have gone public with their complaints about the teaching of history in Japan. I'm pretty sure it won't be the last.

Meanwhile, another, smaller atrocity was remembered yesterday. The dead of 1985 were honored in an appropriate fashion: with more violence. Those who are old enough may remember the Heysel tragedy, which was so ghastly that it made news in the U.S. even though it occurred at a European soccer match. 39 fans were crushed to death against a retaining fence during a battle between supporters of Liverpool and supporters of Juventus (from Turin). The violence has generally been blamed on the Liverpool fans, and the victims were on the Juventus side.

The two teams played each other for the first time in 20 years recently in a home-and-home pair of matches in the Champions League quarter-finals. The match in Turin was last night, and the Italian fans' bitterness over Heysel wasn't ameliorated by Liverpool's holding onto the advantage it had built in the first leg to eliminate Juventus from the tournament.

Juventus and Liverpool fans hurled objects at one another during a pre-game ceremony Wednesday recalling the Heysel Stadium tragedy....

Before the game, as a banner declaring "memoria e amicizia" - "memory and friendship" - was brought onto the field, fans began launching objects at one another over the plexiglass fence separating the two clubs' supporters.

OK, that's just disrespectful. Couldn't they at least have postponed the violence until after the moment of remembrance for the victims of the last round?

Also, police used tear gas to control Juventus supporters as Liverpool fans entered Stadio delle Alpi and three cars were set on fire, the ANSA news agency reported. A police helicopter circled above the stadium....

A night earlier, Juventus fans wielding baseball bats attacked a Liverpool supporter in a bar and police arrested eight Italian men - identified as "Ultras," or hooligans, by ANSA - and seized bats from their cars....

Some Italian fans are calling for retaliation for the Heysel tragedy and a group of Liverpool fans said it too would resort to violence.

A ceremony before the start of the first leg in Liverpool last week also honored the victims. However, some Juve fans turned their backs on the ceremony and made obscene gestures.

The mayhem in Turin happened only one night after the intracity quarterfinal in Milan had to be called off with 20 minutes still to be played. With AC Milan leading Inter Milan, fans started throwing objects on the field, including flares. The AC Milan goalkeeper was hit by a flare. The referee took the teams off the field and waited for the craziness to stop. But when he led them back out onto the field, the cascade of debris and fireworks began again, and he halted the match.

This in a city known for sophistication, wealth, and style.

Then again, Japan is also known for a rich culture and polite behavior, and that didn't stop the Rape of Nanking.

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