“Let’s remember Pearl Harbor!”

Burning ships at Pearl Harbor

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because of the 2,402 Americans killed there.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because it catapulted us into an incredibly bloody war for dominance over the Pacific.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because, within a few days, Hitler also declared war on America, so that America found herself a combatant in the biggest war in the world’s history.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because America’s participation in the European theater was the main thing that beat back Hitler’s genocidal bid for world domination (Britain had done her best, but couldn’t do it alone).

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because America’s participation in the Pacific theater was the  main thing that beat back Japan’s genocidal bid for domination over the Pacific.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because America, after utterly destroying Germany, Japan, and Italy in World War II, stuck around to build them up again as peaceful, economically successful republican democracies that have been our allies, not our enemies.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because, pretty much until Obama quit doing the job, it marked the beginning of America’s role as the world’s policeman, protecting as many people as possible from the “peaceful graveyard” that is communism as well has our efforts to protect as many people as possible from sharia’s murderous hands.

Friday’s “tame the inbox,” Part 2

I’m back with more.

Did you know that Afghanistan was declared a gun-free zone?  Well, if you didn’t, you’re right.  But this is a great satire anyway.

Have you heard of a site called Patriotic Voices?  (I do seem to be full of questions, don’t I?)  It’s a forum for conservatives.  It’s got very attractive formatting and interesting content.  If you look at the main page, there are new posts, although people don’t seem to be commenting. However, if you go to the forum page, it’s quite busy.  Check it out and, if you feel so inclined, come back here and let us know what you think.

Although blacks, sadly, suffer the greatest number of gun homicides, their voices are surprisingly quiet when it comes to the Second Amendment debate.  Digital Publius, however, did weigh in and I like what he had to say.

And now, below the fold, some wonderful WWII posters.  Looking at them is a reminder that part of why we were unable to come to a satisfying conclusion with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is the fact that our government never fought the war at home.  I’m certainly not saying it should have silenced the opposition, which would have made a travesty of what America is all about.  However, Bush’s government never advocated for the war either.  The Bush administration, which was afraid to speak the enemy’s name, never educated Americans about why we fought and never made Americans feels that they had a vested interest in see us win.

[Read more...]

When are we going to admit that there is a war going on between us and radical Islam?

I’m guessing that a majority of Americans (a slim majority, but still a majority) know that America entered WWII because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  What few stop to consider is why we ended up fighting, not only the Japanese who had just bombed us, but the Germans as well, since they, after all, had not yet done anything to us.  The answer to that unasked question is that, for reasons known only to a megalomaniac, a few days after the Pearl Harbor attack, Hitler declared war on the United States.  The United States took up the challenge with gusto.  Within months, America had become a war machine, cranking out ships, tanks, guns, airplanes, and trained troops.  If Hitler hadn’t acted, Germany might have won the war.  England, after all, was on the ropes by the time America came in to help out.

It’s a little chilling to think that, were we to replay December 1941 with Obama in the White House, America would simply have ignored Germany’s declaration of war.  We would have heard that we have no quarrel with the Germans, who are a peaceful people, except of course for a handful of madmen.  We would have been told that, if these madmen killed our citizens, we would bring the actual killers to justice, but that we had no quarrel with the nations or ideology that gave birth to those killers and that are hard at work to raise an army of madmen.

As our administration and media talked, Hitler would have tightened his grip on Europe; fought a single front war against the Soviet Union; killed all the Jews, Gypsies, mentally disabled, and homosexuals in Europe; and then enslaved all Slavs and Communists (never mind that Naziism was a variation of socialism itself).   At the end of the day, our government would have said that we’re scarcely in a position to criticize the Nazis, since America was once a slave country itself.  Congress would then have announced economic sanctions, but the Executive office would have failed to enforce them.

But we don’t need a hyp0thetical December 1941 to imagine what our current administration would do.  We can watch it in real-time today.  There is a saying that “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt” — and it’s funny that you should mention Egypt right now.  As if 9/11/01 and 9/11/02 weren’t strong enough declarations of war, Islamist clerics are actively calling all Egyptians to wage war against the west, starting with kidnapping:

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged Egyptians to restart their revolution to press for Islamic law and called on Muslims to kidnap Westerners, the SITE Intelligence Group said Friday.

In a video released on jihadist forums and translated by the US monitoring service, Zawahiri also lashed out at President Barack Obama, calling him a liar and demanding he admit defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan and North Africa.

Criticizing the new Egyptian government — led by a president drawn from the Muslim Brotherhood — as corrupt, he said a battle is being waged in Egypt between a secular minority and Muslims seeking implementation of Shariah law.

I’ll admit that this is a challenging war because we are fighting, not a single nation, but a geographically diffuse ideology, but it is still war.  After all, what do you call it when a vast and recognizable group of individuals announces that it intends to kill and enslave your people, and then uses arms to carry out that promise?

We should be addressing this war on all fronts:  militarily, economically, and ideologically.  Instead, we are pretending it’s not happening.  To give credit where it’s due, George W. Bush figured out the military part and, with Iran, the economic part.  His problem, though, was that, as leader of a pluralist country, but he couldn’t bring himself to break through political correctness to admit that we are at war with a huge ideological foe.  After all, many Americans who are good, decent people share the same label (i.e., “Muslim”) as that foe. We confuse linguistic nuances with substance.

A problem of nomenclature, though, should not be allowed to obscure the fact that we have an active, resolute, powerful, and devious enemy.  We therefore do not fight that foe by excusing it.  Instead, we fight it by using every breath of free speech to challenge it in every way possible — debate, media, leaflets dropped from airplanes, and whatever else could work.

Obama has been the ultimate Islamist apologist.  He has only half-heartedly imposed sanctions against Iran, given a blank check to the Palestinians (who are a front in this Islamist jihad), weakened Israel (which is an ally in this existential battle), demoralized troops and energized enemies in Afghanistan by setting a certain pull-out date, and undermined a nascent democracy in Iraq by pulling out all troops without leaving a provisional force.  As for what just happened in Benghazi, that’s a chapter in itself, one that includes institutional cowardice and politicizing, lying, cover-ups and, with the imprisonment of a video maker, the destruction of our First Amendment.

Not only is Obama not much of a leader, he’s totally unsuited to military leadership.  You have to love your country to lead your military.  Obama doesn’t.  You have to believe in your country’s values to lead your military.  Obama doesn’t.  You have to courage to lead your military.  Obama doesn’t.  At every level, in every way, Obama fails as a military leader.  Let’s fire him from the job before it’s too late and we find ourselves defeated in the war we continue to pretend doesn’t exist.

Let’s do the time warp again — Progressives keep urging those failed economic policies

The Huffington Post is one of the ugliest websites I’ve ever seen.  I’m not talking about content (although I’ll get to that), but about its layout.  The left-most column (and that turns out to be a very clever pun on my part) actually has some visual stability, insofar as it allows the hapless visitor to grasp what content the various blogs are offering.  The central column and right columns, however, are a disorganized amalgam of pictures and one- or two-word summaries of underlying stories.  Even I, an adept at reading the internet, find that these summaries range from cryptic to unintelligible.  Even worse, they keep resetting automatically, so it’s difficult to find a story that, one or two minutes before, might have caught my interest.

Having had occasion to read the substantive articles at HuffPo, I’m beginning to wonder whether this home page chaos is intentional, insofar as it’s meant to keep people away from content.  I mean, if I was the one publishing Robert Kuttner’s article about the American economy, I’d be so embarrassed as the publisher that I too would want to use subterfuge and prestidigitation to keep people away.

Kuttner, bless his little ol’ heart, is someone who seems to have missed the last 80 years.  More than that, he’s missed any sophisticated analysis of the last 80 years.  His economic understanding is rooted in post-New Deal 8th grade American history textbooks that assured credulous youngsters that even FDR’s best efforts at centralizing America’s economy failed, making WWII an economic necessity.  I kid you not:

Something similar [to today's economic problems] happened in the late 1930s. Though economic growth returned, it wasn’t strong enough to repair the damage of the Great Depression or create enough jobs. Despite the New Deal, unemployment remained stuck at around 12 percent.

World War II solved the problem — it was the greatest accidental economic stimulus in economic history. It put people back to work, retrained the unemployed, and recapitalized industry. But today, there is nothing in the wings waiting to play the role of the Second World War.

During the war, federal deficits averaged more than 25 percent of GDP, nearly triple today’s deficits. But that’s what it took to blast out of the depression. After the war, high growth rates paid down the accumulated national debt.

Anyone who had read Amity Shlaes’ very accessible The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression knows that Kuttner’s view of the 1930s is based upon Progressive propaganda, rather than economic facts. Shlaes cut through this gauzy reminiscent haze about the glories of New Deal Democratic politics, and looked at the economic numbers in the 1930s.

With actual data, Shlae’s ably demonstrates that Hoover, like Roosevelt, tried to manage the post-crash economy, and with equally deleterious results. Fortunately, because he was essentially conservative, Hoover’s efforts were tentative, and therefore not deeply destructive.  Sadly, the 1932 election came along before the economy had a chance to right itself from Hoover’s tepid efforts at market management.

With FDR’s New Deal firmly in place, there was no hope. FDR sucked money out of the economy and into the government, paralyzing wealth creation.  Since this economic experiment was the first of its kind in America, however, and because people bought into FDR’s ebullience and optimism (something sadly lacking in the dour, accusatory man living in the White House today), people cheered the sizzle and ignored the fact that it was, in fact, a scratchy recording, unaccompanied by actual steak.

When World War II came along, it had the virtue of providing almost full employment for the American public. Significantly, although the government was writing the checks, this wasn’t make-work. The U.S. needed to build ships, tanks, planes, and weapons, and it needed bodies in the field. In other words, this was the rare occasion when a centralized command and control economy was geared towards efficiency, rather than simply producing low employment numbers.

Normally, the opposite is true — that is, output is irrelevant — in a government-run economy. Milton Friedman nailed the problem with a government’s make-work “economy” when he delivered his pithy challenge to the whole notion of “shovel-ready jobs”:

Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.” To which Milton replied: “Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”

Busy work does not create economic dynamism. It simply allows a government to boast about its low unemployment. Eventually, the government runs out of money, and then you have . . . Greece.

What Kuttner also fails to grasp with his erroneous Depression/WWII analysis is that part of the US’s enormous economic success in the post-war era was the fact that it was the only Western or Eastern country that hadn’t seen its infrastructure (and population) destroyed by the War. England and Germany, which had led the free world in manufacturing before the War, had seen virtually every one of their factories wiped out. Those few English factories that survived the war were firmly rooted in the 19th Century, and the stagnant socialist economy that followed the war meant that these factories stayed mired in the past.

WWII  also spelled the end of Empire.  England and other former imperialist powers didn’t have their previous unemployment safety valves, nor did they have ready access to the rare materials that had once powered their manufacturing.

Russia had lost perhaps 20,000,000 people, which was a heavy burden when added to the 20-30,000,000 that Stalin killed in the 30s. Add to this the inefficiencies of a Communist “economy,” and you can see that Russia wasn’t going to stand in America’s way.

In other words, it wasn’t just that America was so good after the war; it was also that everything else was so bad. Right now, under Obama, we have the worst of all possible worlds, which is that both America and the rest of the world are in dire straits. By copying the world’s disastrous economies, America is unable to rise above them.

In addition to misunderstanding the 30s, 40s, and 50s, Kuttner seems to have slept through the 80s and the aughts. I vividly remember Jimmy Carter’s malaise economy, consisting in equal parts of inflation and stagflation. I remember, too, the uproar when Reagan insisted on unleashing capitalism’s power. Sublimely locked into my juvenile Leftism, I absolutely refused to acknowledge that it was Reagan’s commitment to the marketplace that enabled me, a young lawyer, to step into a thriving economy, complete with an obscene salary. I’m glad to say that, in 2001, when Bush pushed through his tax cuts, I’d matured enough to realize that the best way to allow economic growth is to trust “We, the people” with the money, leaving to the government the job of creating a stable environment that doesn’t see wealth creators (individuals and businesses) constantly trying to hide their money from an avaricious, inefficient, frequently corrupt bureaucracy.

Working from a mountain of ignorance, amnesia, misconceptions, and misapprehensions, Kuttner assures HuffPo’s hapless readers that the only way to end Obama’s economy is to raise taxes on the producers and have the government provide jobs for the unemployed — unaware, apparently, that this is precisely what Roosevelt did in 1932, and what led to a 12 year long Depression:

What’s needed today is a massive investment program, to shift the economy to a clean energy path, modernize infrastructure, increase productivity — and along the way create millions of good jobs and restore consumer purchasing power. Then, the vicious circle could be reversed.

The problem is that neither party is proposing such a program. It is entirely outside mainstream debate.

President Obama is willing to have the federal government spend more money. But he has partly bought the story that deficit reduction has to come first. The Republicans would further gut the public sector.

Contrary to the conventional view that deficit reduction would somehow “restore confidence” and increase business investment, that’s not how economies work. Businesses invest when they see customers with open wallets. Though the Congressional Budget Office projects higher growth returning around 2014, it bases these projections on a “return to trend.” There is no plausible story about where the higher growth will come from.

Kuttner is certain that, if Obama can just get four more years, everyone in America will eventually get a spoon. Then the American people can start digging their little holes, and the government can boast about its Soviet-style full employment.

A couple more fallacies in Kuttner’s thinking:

First, Kuttner, who insists that WWII was the best economic engine possible, was against the War in Iraq. Why was that? He should have been celebrating the economic opportunities, and shilled it as WWIII.

Second, Kuttner, in common with all the Progressives, keeps nattering on about revitalizing America’s infrastructure with “green” energy products. He makes this argument even though (a) the government’s “green energy” bets have failed at a terrible cost to the American budget (Solyndra, anyone?); and (b) the strangulation of rules and regulations (especially environmental rules and regs) in the last 30 years means that it’s virtually impossible to complete a big infrastructure job, or even to begin one.

As to the malignant effect of hyper-regulation, here’s just one example proving that the Hoover Dam era is dead and gone: The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge partially collapsed in 1989, when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck. That collapse proved conclusively that the original eastern half of the Bridge (built in 1936) was a seismic disaster.

In a pre-regulatory era, it’s very likely that the Bridge could have been rebuilt, both quickly and economically. In modern American, though, by the time the new structure is completed (maybe) in September 2013, it will have taken 24 years to rebuild just half the bridge, at a cost no less than $6.3 billion — a mere $6.1 billion dollars over the original estimate.

Kuttner’s post is the triumph of theory over fact. Kuttner was clearly the good little boy back in the 1970s, carefully studying his generic history textbook, and locking away in his brain forever all the Leftist fallacies about economic growth and the glory days of a government controlled economy. He is the poster child for the fact that, while the first Obama term has pushed us to the edge of the economic cliff, a second one will most assuredly push us over.

Remembering D-Day, 68 years later

Many people forget, or never knew, that the war in Europe was virtually non-existent before June 6, 1944.  Until that time, the Nazi’s had successfully repulsed Allied efforts to bring the war to European soil.  The Nazis owned the land in Europe.  Sure, there were aerial bombing raids, spies, in-country resistance movements, etc., but that didn’t stop Nazi dominance.  What stopped it was good, old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground warfare — and that warfare began with the first wave on D-Day.

I have never, never, never been able to imagine the feelings of the men in the first wave, seasick, cold, wet, rushing into sure death.  My brain just doesn’t take me there.  All I know is that the free world owes these men, and the waves of them who followed them to such places as Bastogne and Berlin, their undying gratitude.

To each of those men, I can only say, I salute you, sir!

[Photo deleted, because it was a film shot -- I knew it was too well-framed to be true....]

Our very literate military

One of my favorite books ever is Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory. (Just as a “by the way,” another wonderful Fussell book is Thank God for the Atom Bomb.)  In The Great War and Modern Memory, Fussell examines how the literary British upper-class men who participated in the British war wrote about it, from the unadulterated patriotism of Rupert Brookes (who saw so little fighting and died of an infected mosquito bite at Gallipoli) to the tortured trauma of Siegfried Sassoon, who spent too many years on the Western Front.  Fussell gracefully weaves military history, literary history, and literary analysis into one seamless, tragic whole.  It is an epic work.

Helping to write a letter 1917

Fussell’s book also makes one aware that there are always two wars going on:  the war on the ground, and what I call “the war as perceived.”  Only the troops know the war on the ground but, if one has a literate military, everyone can experience the war second-hand.  Although not as excessively literary as the British, who were steeped in Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Donne, etc., American troops did a fine job of bringing the war home, at least through the end of WWII.  They wrote home from the front during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and World War II.  Not just that, but during all those wars, a critical percentage of the American male population was engaged in the fight, meaning that, not only were troops writing, a critical percentage of the people at home were reading what the troops wrote.

Things changed after World War II.  We still fought wars and American troops still wrote home, but the audience was shrinking.  Fewer and fewer families had someone on the front.  Americans who did not have a friend or family member in the war lost sight of the “war as perceived.”  Into that vacuum stepped the Leftist propagandists.  They vigorously filled this informational void, most notably with John Kerry’s despicable Winter Soldier lies.  With Vietnam, on the home front, the “war as perceived” began to have a great deal to do with hostile sources — our home-grown communist fifth party — and nothing to do with the military’s own experience.

British chaplain helping WWI soldier write home.

The internet has changed all this.  In the ordinary course of things, between my environment (blue, blue Bay Area) and demographics (I’m too old to have friends who fight and my children are too young to be part of the fighting generation), “the war as perceived” would have passed me by.  Or, to the extent I did learn something about it, that knowledge would have come from the MSM filter, which is alternately maudlin or hostile when it comes to our fighting troops.

But with the internet  . . . well, that’s a different thing entirely.  We get front line reports, not from reporters, enemies, and propagandists, but from the troops themselves.  We also get “back line reports” (for want of a better phrase).  We don’t just learn from the troops about the blood and smoke.  We hear, first hand, about the camaraderie, the training, the boredom, the skill sets, the loss, and the foolish fun.

This first person war reporting is incredibly important.  It’s one of the reasons why, all efforts notwithstanding, the Lefties have been unable to turn Americans against the troops.  Because of the blogs, we know the troops, unfiltered.  They’re young men and young women who train, fight, play, dream, love and hate.  They are us.  We cannot pretend that they are some alien killer beings because the troops themselves won’t let that pretense exist.

The U.S. Army stays connected.

The other thing milblogging teaches us is that so many of those who serve in our military our excellent writers and thinkers.  They are well-informed, thoughtful, funny, intelligent and generally people with whom it’s nice to spend time.  When I read my favorite milblogs, I always think to myself “Gosh, I’d like to have lunch with that writer.”  (To my favorite milbloggers, that’s a hint.  If you’re going in be in town, drop me a line.)

I’d therefore like to introduce you to a few of my favorite milbloggers.  I’d also like it if you’d use the comments section to introduce me (and everyone else) to a few of your favorite milbloggers:

The Mellow Jihadi

Castra Praetoria

Neptunus Lex

CDR Salamander

Blackfive

And a newbie, a female Marine:  Tin and Phoenix

Why can’t we fight to the finish this time, so we’ll never have to do it again?

A friend sent me a link to an editorial bemoaning the fact that, by abruptly pulling out from Iraq and, soon, Afghanistan, the Obama administration is ensuring that we’re leaving a job undone — something that invariably means one has to do it again.  If history is going to keep repeating itself, why can’t we just repeat the good parts?

World War I ended with a definitive American victory, but a dangerous, un-managed peace, one that pretty much made World War II inevitable.  By 1942, my favorite songwriter, Irving Berlin, pretty much summed up the WWII mindset, which was “do it right this time.”

[Verse:]
‘Twas not so long ago we sailed to meet the foe
And thought our fighting days were done
We thought ’twas over then but now we’re in again
To win the war that wasn’t won

[Refrain:]
This time, we will all make certain
That this time is the last time

This time, we will not say “Curtain”
Till we ring it down in their own home town

For this time, we are out to finish
The job we started then

Clean it up for all time this time
So we won’t have to do it again

Dressed up to win
We’re dressed up to win
Dressed up for victory
We are just beginning
And we won’t stop winning
Till the world is free

[Coda:]
We’ll fight to the finish this time
And we’ll never have to do it again

Trust old Irving to hit the nail on the head. And, in fact, that’s what the Allies did.  First, they destroyed entirely the totalitarian states in Germany, Japan and Italy.  Then, in those regions over which they had control (as to those the Soviets held), the Americans carefully rebuilt the nations into democratic allies.  It was a tough, long-haul job, but it prevented post-war massacres and ensured that (so far) we haven’t had to “do it again” with Germany, Italy or Japan.

Clearly, we’re a whole lot dumber now than we were in the mid-20th century. In 1991 we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq (which is one of the reasons I’ve never liked Colin Powell, whom I’ve always blamed, fairly or not, for being the architect of that foolish retreat). Now, with Obama’s help, we’re doing it all over again, only worse. Does any nation get a third chance to remedy its chronic stupidity? I doubt we will, especially because Obama is also choosing to repeat the disarmament mistakes of the 20s and 30s. Ain’t those fancy Ivy League educations grand? They go in smart and come out stupid.

I’m an armchair warrior (aka a chicken hawk) and I’m disgusted and frustrated. I can only imagine how the troops — the ones who sweated and bled — feel as they watch their Commander in Chief dismantling all of their good work.

Hollywood once again shows its callous disregard for America’s military *UPDATED*

Back in 2004, entirely coincidentally, I ended up at the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., on the same morning that veterans of the Battle of the Bulge had gathered for a reunion. Some got there under their own steam. Many, though, were on walkers or in wheelchairs. They were so frail. And so many were weeping. It was that weeping that did me in. I seldom cry on my own behalf, but I’m a sympathy weeper. Watching these old, fragile warriors break down under the weight of their memories got my tear ducts working overtime.  I still get watery thinking of those men who not only fought one of the most important battles of the war, but who then came home and honored the dead by living.  They had families, held jobs, and generally gave meaning to the freedom for which they fought.

I mention this little story because there are people out there, especially in the entertainment world, and more specifically on the set of Hawaii Five-O, who do not share my reverence for these aged warriors (free registration required):

Last week, a special group of Americans made a trip to Hawaii. This was not their first trip to Hawaii. In fact, the first time all of these men were together in Hawaii was on December 7th, 1941.

Last week, these men and some of their families were back in Hawaii again for the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Today, less than ten percent of those who served during World War II are still alive.

For the men who made this trip, there was also another tacit acknowledgement. This would be their last trip. The average age of a Pearl Harbor [veteran] is in the early nineties. In fact, there are now so few Pearl Harbor survivors left that the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is disbanding at the end of the month.

On December 9th, 24 Pacific veterans, including 23 Pearl Harbor survivors were taken to the National Cemetery of the Pacific for a memorial ceremony honoring those who fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor and those who fell during the Pacific campaign.

While the men were at the cemetery, the TV show Hawaii Five-O was filming at the cemetery. As the National Anthem was played and the ceremony went on, the CBS production crew was filming. At first they told the veterans and their families to hush, then repeatedly pushed them back and finally told them to hurry up. As the veterans were laying roses on the graves of their fallen comrades, a production employee walked through the middle of the ceremony telling them to hurry up.

Perhaps the ultimate insult came at the end, when someone with the veterans group asked if one of the cast members of Hawaii Five-O could come over and say hello to the group. The production crew refused.

These World War II vets are a tough bunch. They went through the first depression and then the Second World War. I can guarantee you they did not let this incident ruin their trip, though some of their family members might feel differently.

[snip]

CBS has issued a carefully nuanced statement claiming they would look into the incident and throwing out some boilerplate language about how they respect the veterans of World War II.

Stefffan Tubbs, who was there, provides more details about the Hollywood thought process on display:

I decided to take a closer look at the production area from the public thoroughfare and walked closer to see catering trucks, grips, associate directors, production assistants, lighting workers, countless minions and the lead director – a Hollywood-looking middle-aged man wearing a black “AD/HD” t-shirt, a play off the rock band “AC/DC.” I stopped well behind the cameras and out of view when a local production assistant politely told me to keep moving. I was not happy and told her we had WWII vets who would likely be in the area. I was told, “Sorry, sir. We rented this part of the cemetery today.” My blood started to boil, but I remained calm and moved on. As I stood behind the tent, the director yelled at everyone to: “Get out of the line of sight! If you don’t belong here, clear out!”

I made sure to go where I was basically invisible, 40 yards from the nearest camera when the director heatedly walked to me. He was not happy.

“Can you please move?” he said sternly.

“OK,” I said. “Where would you like me to go? I have Pearl survivors who are here visiting their fallen comrades at a public cemetery.”

He couldn’t have cared less and told me that if we stood behind a tent, that would be fine. He walked away completely frustrated and yelled at a local assistant: “I am doing YOUR job! You wanna come back here again? Do your job!” I felt sorry for her. It wasn’t her fault a group of vets actually came back for a realreason to this cemetery. Having been around a few movie sets, I knew this was how they were especially if the scene was behind schedule, etc. Keep in mind at this point I was alone. It wasn’t as if our entire entourage was milling about. There was only one veteran anywhere near me and was walking toward me from up the road.

Walter Maciejowski, 90, from Massachusetts soon caught up and I quickly tried to run interference so he wouldn’t get yelled at as he stood there in his cream-colored Pearl Harbor Survivors cap. Walter was clueless and was just amazed at the technology. He whispered in my ear as the scene was about to begin 75 yards away. We both stood exactly where the director had told me to stand.

[snip]

I told Walter we had to go, and we started to walk away as lead actor Alex O’Laughlin and Terry O’Quinn from Lost did their scene. As we moved out, yet another woman came up to us and with a fake smile told us Walter couldn’t take any pictures.

“Our actors get very skiddish [sic] around still cameras, sir.”

“Funny, and yet they act in front of them,” I said, ticked off because we were already leaving.

I wish he hadn’t done it, but Walter asked if they by chance had a hat for him. To his face, she said, “I doubt it but I will try.” She never did.

You can read the rest of this eyewitness narrative here.

This whole thing falls into the category of I see it, but I don’t believe it.  It’s impossible for me to understand the mindset of louts who are either so callously self-involved or so Progressively propagandized (or both) that they are unable to support old men on a last pilgrimage to a defining moment in their youth — a defining moment, moreover, that was not only one of the more savage acts in a savage century, but that also paved the way for a freedom that blessed Europe (until it squandered that gift) and was the making of a very successful modern Japan (which then decided to stop having babies).

Pearl Harbor Survivor David Shoup at the 70th anniversary commemoration at Pearl Harbor (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark Logico)

UPDATE: In the first comment to this post, Don Quixote points out that Hawaii Five-O is fairly military-friendly in content, something that I respect and appreciate.  I can’t figure out if that fact makes the cast’s and crew’s behavior at Pearl Harbor more or less unpleasant.  It’s like discovering the worms under a rock (with all due respect to bookworms, of course).  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Back in Hollywood’s golden days, the studios employed vast numbers of publicity people to make sure that people didn’t learn that the stars of wholesome, family friendly movies lived somewhat debauched lifestyles.

UPDATE II:  JJ offered so much good information, I’m copying his comment here:

A little information from the world of TV.  Whether it mitigates or not is up to you, but here’s what happened.

1) Whoever – in Hawaii – it is who schedules events at the cemetery is a retard.  (Dear Editor: I don’t actually care about the political incorrectness of using that word, it’s apposite, it stays.)  Or, perhaps it was a screw-up on the part of the scheduler for the vets.  Either way, some dingbat somewhere dropped the ball and allowed the two groups to be occupying the same space at the same time.  This unfortunate confluence was the fault of neither group – blame whoever has the appointment books.

2) CBS has no idea what the complaints they’re suddenly receiving are about, so idiot boilerplate is their best – maybe only – response.  They don’t actually have a production company in Hawaii – or much of anywhere else these days.  I would be astounded if it was an actual CBS production company.  The people who own, produce, and deliver that show to CBS for air do not work for CBS.  They are an outside, independent production company that exists as an entity for the purpose of making episodes of the show – most of them have never been within a thousand miles of Black Rock.  That production company hired that director – and everybody else on set – to make that episode.  The director is a production company employee – for that episode – and he may make all the episodes, (a probability rare to the point of vanishing), many of them, some, few – or this may be his only one.  He’s a jobber.  When you complain to CBS about him, they’re going to say, “huh?  Wha…?”  They didn’t hire him, probably don’t know him, may never have heard of him, and he ain’t their problem.  (The network doesn’t know or care about the labor, they only want to see the baby – in time for it to go out when it’s scheduled to.)

3) The production company got seriously shafted on the cost to film in the cemetery that day.  How do I know?  All production companies always get shafted on fees for the use of locations, because everybody in the world – including people who should know better – begin having visions beyond the dreams of avarice when they see Hollywood coming.  And the biggest shafting is the make-it-up-on-the-spot insurance premiums for filming on location.  If there’s a blade of grass out of place, or a broken twig on a tree after the production company wraps and leaves, you cannot fathom the megillah this is.  (Which is why they film in studios and on lots, and in Canada.  It’s why studios and back lots came into being in the first place: to avoid the never-ending problems of locations.)  The PAs all knew that if anything remotely definable as “damage” happened to any part of the cemetery or its grounds – even if committed by a Pearl Harbor veteran or somebody else – they would be the ones turning on a spit over a hot fire,

None of which excuses the shitty attitude of these overpaid, well-tanned, tower of ignorance trolls, but it may make it a bit – a microscopic bit – understandable, or maybe explicable.  The fact is most of them, being products of American education, never heard of Pearl Harbor.  Factor in the self-centeredness engendered by hanging around Hollywood, and you have a group that’s only rarely in touch with where they are.  The director, probably the senior guy present (at least on the on-the-spot management ladder, could have been gracious and understanding.  The actors as well – neither of whom I know – could also have brought matters to a halt for a respectful pause.  (Tom Selleck or John Hillerman, speaking of people who filmed in Hawaii for CBS, would have.  [Selleck would have stopped the scene, and worked out a way to get the Pearl Harbor vets into it, as objects of deep respect and honor.]   I wouldn’t know either of the two clowns mentioned above if I fell over them.

Hat tip:  America’s First Sergeant

My mother’s war, courtesy of Pearl Harbor

My mother’s heading to the hospital again today.  She’s not aging gracefully, in large part because of the damage done to her body and soul during WWII.  I thought that this would be a good day for me to reprint what I once wrote about her war (originally part of this longer post about Japanese atrocities).

In 1941, my mother was a 17 year old Dutch girl living in Java. Life was good then. Although the war was raging in Europe, and Holland had long been under Nazi occupation, the colonies were still outside the theater of war. The colonial Dutch therefore were able to enjoy the traditional perks of the Empire, with lovely homes, tended by cheap Indonesian labor. All that changed with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Most Americans think of Pearl Harbor as a uniquely American event, not realizing that it was simply the opening salvo the Japanese fired in their generalized war to gain total ascendancy in the Pacific. While Pearl Harbor devastated the American navy, the Japanese did not conquer American soil. Residents in the Philippines (American territory), Indonesia (Dutch territory), Malaya (British territory), and Singapore (also British) were not so lucky. Each of those islands fell completely to the Japanese, and the civilians on those islands found themselves prisoners of war.

In the beginning, things didn’t look so bad. The Japanese immediately set about concentrating the civilian population by moving people into group housing, but that was tolerable. The next step, however, was to remove all the men, and any boys who weren’t actually small children. (Wait, I misspoke. The next step was the slaughter of household pets — dogs and cats — which was accomplished by picking them up by their hind legs and smashing their heads against walls and trees.)

After this separation, the men and women remained completely segregated for the remainder of the war. The men were subjected to brutal slave labor, and had an attrition rate much higher than the women did. Also, with the typical Bushido disrespect for men who didn’t have the decency to kill themselves, rather than to surrender, the men were tortured at a rather consistent rate.

One of my mother’s friends discovered, at war’s end, that her husband had been decapitated. This is what it looked like when the Japanese decapitated a prisoner (the prisoner in this case being an Australian airman):

Japanese execution0001

The women were not decapitated, but they were subjected to terrible tortures. After the men were taken away, the women and children were loaded in trucks and taken to various camps. The truck rides were torturous. The women and children were packed into the trucks, with no food, no water, no toilet, facilities, and no shade, and traveled for hours in the steamy equatorial heat.

Once in camp, the women were given small shelves to sleep on (about 24 inches across), row after row, like sardines. They were periodically subjected to group punishments. The one that lives in my mother’s memory more than sixty years after the fact was the requirement that they stand in the camp compound, in the sun, for 24 hours. No food, no water, no shade, no sitting down, no restroom breaks (and many of the women were liquid with dysentery and other intestinal diseases and parasitical problems). For 24 hours, they’d just stand there, in the humid, 90+ degree temperature, under the blazing tropical sun. The older women, the children and the sick died where they stood.

There were other indignities. One of the camp commandants believed himself to have “moon madness.” Whenever there was a full moon, he gave himself license to seek out the prisoners and torture those who took his fancy. He liked to use knives. He was the only Japanese camp commandant in Java who was executed after the war for war crimes.

Of course, the main problem with camp was the deprivation and disease. Rations that started out slender were practically nonexistent by war’s end. Eventually, the women in the camp were competing with the pigs for food. If the women couldn’t supplement their rations with pig slop, all they got was a thin fish broth with a single bite sized piece of meat and some rice floating in it. The women were also given the equivalent of a spoonful of sugar per week. My mother always tried to ration hers but couldn’t do it. Instead, she’d gobble it instantly, and live with the guilt of her lack of self-control.

By war’s end, my mother, who was then 5’2″, weighed 65 pounds. What frightened her at the beginning of August 1945 wasn’t the hunger, but the fact that she no longer felt hungry. She knew that when a women stopped wanting to eat, she had started to die. Had the atomic bomb not dropped when it did, my mother would have starved to death.

Starvation wasn’t the only problem. Due to malnourishment and lack of proper protection, my mother had beriberi, two different types of malaria (so as one fever ebbed, the other flowed), tuberculosis, and dysentery. At the beginning of the internment, the Japanese were providing some primitive medical care for some of these ailments. As the war ground on, of course, there was no medicine for any of these maladies. She survived because she was young and strong. Others didn’t.

So yes, the Japanese were different. They approached war — and especially civilian populations — with a brutality equaled only by the Germans. War is brutal, and individual soldiers can do terrible things, but the fact remains that American troops and the American government, even when they made mistakes (and the Japanese internment in American was one of those mistakes) never engaged in the kind of systematic torture and murder that characterized Bushido Japanese interactions with those they deemed their enemies. It is a tribute to America’s humane post-WWII influence and the Japanese willingness to abandon its past that the Bushido culture is dead and gone, and that the Japanese no longer feel compelled by culture to create enemies and then to engage in the systematic torture and murder of those enemies.

“I fought for you — and I’d do it again”

One of the best things we did on our vacation was something we slotted in during the short time we had between arriving in Seattle at the end of our cruise and boarding our plane for home.  During those few hours, we went to the Museum of Flight, which is every bit as wonderful as you’d expect a museum in Boeing’s home town to be.  (It is not, in fact, a Boeing museum, although it incorporates Boeing’s original, albeit relocated, “red barn” into the exhibit.)

The museum has all the things you’d want to find in an institution dedicated to flying.  There are meticulously restored aircraft, ranging from a perfect model of the Wright Brothers’ first plane, to the Air Force One that ferried presidents from Eisenhower to Nixon, to an actual Concorde jet.  In between are mail planes from the twenties and thirties, exhibits about women aviatrixes, histories of the giants of flight, and all sorts of cool memorabilia from the heyday of flying, when it was still a cool, jet-setting experience.

That last, naturally, was in the days before hijackings and bombings, when people waltzed onto planes, and lived the high life.  Regardless of the reality of long hours in a cramped seat, flying then was redolent of romance and adventure.  Here’s a great song to put you mind of an experience some of you may actually remember:

What really made the museum, though, was the newly opened Personal Courage Hall, dedicated to aviation during World Wars One and Two:

Personal Stories
Meet ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances as they demonstrated the highest qualities of courage, dedication and heroism. The Personal Courage Wing . . .

  • Features exhibits dedicated to telling the stories not only of those who flew, but the people who designed, built and maintained these amazing aircraft.
  • Provides a fitting tribute to that “greatest generation” and an inspiring experience that motivates and encourages the next generation of innovative thinkers and inventors.
  • Highlights stories of the American Fighter Aces and the American Volunteer Group—the “Flying Tigers”—who now make The Museum of Flight their official home.

Unforgettable Experiences
Revisit the sights, sounds and sensations of bygone eras. The Personal Courage Wing . . .

  • Tells the history and evolution of World War I and II fighter aviation through state-of-the-art exhibits, flight simulations and interactive experiences unlike any this Museum has ever created.
  • Gives visitors a feeling of reliving history through innovative exhibits and displays with highly dramatic lighting, realistic sounds and theatrical sets.
  • Provides a highly immersive environment using dioramas and displays such as observation balloons, French and German airfields, a pilots’ lounge, a French farmhouse, a battlefield trench, a Quonset hut and an aircraft carrier flight deck.
  • Includes new technology and multimedia presentations such as an aircraft ID kiosk and database, in-depth oral histories, vintage film footage and photos.
  • Offers an exciting new educational live theater program—Amazing Skies Theater—in which actors interact with visitors and bring aviation history to life by recreating characters from the military past and by retelling the courageous exploits of fighter pilots.

Priceless Artifacts
See the planes and artifacts that helped forge the history of a century and learn how that history shaped our world today. The Personal Courage Wing . . .

  • Showcases 28 restored World War I and World War II fighter planes in two galleries—including one of the finest collections of historic fighters found anywhere in the world—the internationally known Champlin Fighter Collection.
  • Includes famous fighters such as the Spitfire, Sopwith Camel and P-38, as well as the less celebrated, but extremely rare, Soviet Yak.
  • Provides a “black-box” environment that controls exposure to harmful ultraviolet light and humidity, enabling the Museum to display personal artifacts and fragile items like documents, uniforms, letters and vintage photos that previously could not be displayed.

The above description doesn’t give you a sense of the immediacy of the exhibit.  There’s something riveting about staring directly at the white silk scarf a long-ago aviator war during a WWI dog fight, or seeing the heart breaking, blue ink letter one pilot wrote to another describing a third one’s death during an aerial battle over Germany in WWII.

It helps that the wars themselves have an emotional resonance.  World War I, which was truly the birth of the modern era, was still fought with an almost insane 19th century valiance.  And World War II was, of course, the Good War.  That Allied troops may have erred and sinned occasionally does nothing to diminish the fact that these men (and women) fought with incredible courage against one of the greatest scourges in history.  The museum gives you a strong sense of the bravery, sacrifice and, frequently, good humor and eccentricity, that characterized these long-ago aviators.

My kids were riveted by the exhibit.  What engaged them from the first moment they walked through the doors was the small section dedicated to America’s Medal of Honor winners.  Side by side, mounted in towers about four feet high, stood two computers monitors.  On one, you could view information about every Medal of Honor winner, since the Medal’s inception.  (It’s the same information you can see here.)

The other computer featured interviews with living Medal of Honor recipients who fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.  In each, the recipient told his story while footage played illustrating some of the details he described.  In keeping with the Medal’s purpose, each man narrated, with great humility and, almost, surprise, the way in which he rose above himself to achieve an impossible military goal or to save his comrades from certain death (or, often, both).  It was only the knowledge of our own plane’s imminent departure, coupled with our desire to see at least a bit more of the museum, that forced us to drag the kids away.

If you ever find yourself in Seattle, I urge you to carve out the time to visit the Museum of Flight and, specifically, the Personal Courage Hall.  It is worth your time.  And if you’re very lucky, you might get the added bonus we got.  As our taxi dropped us at the museum a few minutes before it opened, we saw at least a hundred people in the parking lot, all staring fixedly at next door Boeing field.  We stared too.  We would have done better to cover our ears (which we eventually did).  Within one minute of our arrival, with staggering speed and noise, an F15 took off, followed almost immediately by an F22.  We were awed by the combined magnificence of American engineering and aerial skill.

Because this post is dedicated, in significant part, to the sacrifice our troops have always made for us, I’d like to leave you with a moving video, from which comes the quote that is this post’s title. (H/t American Digest.)  My kids are learning this lesson, not through the schools, but through me.  I know yours will too.  Let’s hope we can reach the others out there as well:

Tom Hanks shows stunning ignorance when he claims Americans were engaged in racial genocide against the Japanese during WWII

“Back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as ‘yellow, slant-eyed dogs’ that believed in different gods,” he told the magazine. “They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different. Does that sound familiar, by any chance, to what’s going on today?” — Tom Hanks.

“‘The Pacific’ is coming out now, where it represents a war that was of racism and terror. And where it seemed as though the only way to complete one of these battles on one of these small specks of rock in the middle of nowhere was to – I’m sorry – kill them all. And, um, does that sound familiar to what we might be going through today? So it’s– is there anything new under the sun? It seems as if history keeps repeating itself.” — Tom Hanks.

We’ve long since grown accustomed to the fact that Hollywood’s actors periodically feel compelled to comment upon the world political scene, despite their manifest and abysmal ignorance.  One could say that Tom Hanks is simply following an honored tradition when he makes appalling ignorant remarks about Japanese-American history in 1930s and 1940s.  Or perhaps he’s more cynical, and he’s simply trying to drum up publicity (a la “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”).

I shouldn’t take Hanks’ remarks personally, but I do.  You see, my mother was interned in a Japanese concentration camp in Indonesia from the time she was 17 until she was 21.  I grew up with her stories, and I can tell you that the Japanese were indeed “different” — and that America, England, the British Commonwealth, and Holland were engaged in war with Japan, not because they were racist Western nations anxious to destroy “yellow, slant-eyed dogs,” but because they were faced with an unusually brutal and rapacious enemy.  It was kill or be killed.

I am indebted to Victor Davis Hanson for his brief rundown of the historical ignorance that characterizes Hank’s (and other liberals’) beliefs about America’s relationship with Japan before Pearl Harbor:

In earlier times, we had good relations with Japan (an ally during World War I, that played an important naval role in defeating imperial Germany at sea) and had stayed neutral in its disputes with Russia (Teddy Roosevelt won a 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for his intermediary role). The crisis that led to Pearl Harbor was not innately with the Japanese people per se (tens of thousands of whom had emigrated to the United States on word of mouth reports of opportunity for Japanese immigrants), but with Japanese militarism and its creed of Bushido that had hijacked, violently so in many cases, the government and put an entire society on a fascistic footing. We no more wished to annihilate Japanese because of racial hatred than we wished to ally with their Chinese enemies because of racial affinity. In terms of geo-strategy, race was not the real catalyst for war other than its role among Japanese militarists in energizing expansive Japanese militarism.

In other words, while there’s no doubt that individual Americans may have expressed racial opinions about Japanese (something commonly done by all races about all other races in that pre-politically correct time), America did not have an inherently racist enmity towards the Japanese nation.  Japan was simply a nation among nations:  one with which America traded, made and broke convenient alliances, and observed from afar with a certain naive wonderment.

Japan, however, was not a nation like any other nations.  As Hanson points out, the Bushido creed that Japan slavishly followed at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries had created a nation characterized by exceptional arrogance, and a disdain for “others” so profound that those “others” were reduced to the status of vermin who not only needed to be destroyed, but deserved to be destroyed.  Nothing more clearly exemplifies this Bushido creed in action than the Rape of Nanking, a six week long bloodbath that occurred in 1937, when the Japanese invaded the Chinese city of Nanking. Steel yourself for the following description of Japanese atrocities (hyperlinks and footnotes omitted):

Rape

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East estimated that 20,000 women were raped, including infants and the elderly.  A large portion of these rapes were systematized in a process where soldiers would search door-to-door for young girls, with many women taken captive and gang raped.  The women were often killed immediately after the rape, often through explicit mutilation or by stabbing a bayonet, long stick of bamboo, or other objects into the vagina.

On 19 December 1937, Reverend James M. McCallum wrote in his diary :

I know not where to end. Never I have heard or read such brutality. Rape! Rape! Rape! We estimate at least 1,000 cases a night, and many by day. In case of resistance or anything that seems like disapproval, there is a bayonet stab or a bullet … People are hysterical … Women are being carried off every morning, afternoon and evening. The whole Japanese army seems to be free to go and come as it pleases, and to do whatever it pleases.

On March 7, 1938, Robert O. Wilson, a surgeon at the American-administered University Hospital in the Safety Zone, wrote in a letter to his family, “a conservative estimate of people slaughtered in cold blood is somewhere about 100,000, including of course thousands of soldiers that had thrown down their arms”.

Here are two excerpts from his letters of 15 and 18 December 1937 to his family :

The slaughter of civilians is appalling. I could go on for pages telling of cases of rape and brutality almost beyond belief. Two bayoneted corpses are the only survivors of seven street cleaners who were sitting in their headquarters when Japanese soldiers came in without warning or reason and killed five of their number and wounded the two that found their way to the hospital.

Let me recount some instances occurring in the last two days. Last night the house of one of the Chinese staff members of the university was broken into and two of the women, his relatives, were raped. Two girls, about 16, were raped to death in one of the refugee camps. In the University Middle School where there are 8,000 people the Japs came in ten times last night, over the wall, stole food, clothing, and raped until they were satisfied. They bayoneted one little boy of eight who have [sic] five bayonet wounds including one that penetrated his stomach, a portion of omentum was outside the abdomen. I think he will live.

In his diary kept during the aggression to the city and its occupation by the Imperial Japanese Army, the leader of the Safety Zone, John Rabe, wrote many comments about Japanese atrocities. For the 17th December:

Two Japanese soldiers have climbed over the garden wall and are about to break into our house. When I appear they give the excuse that they saw two Chinese soldiers climb over the wall. When I show them my party badge, they return the same way. In one of the houses in the narrow street behind my garden wall, a woman was raped, and then wounded in the neck with a bayonet. I managed to get an ambulance so we can take her to Kulou Hospital … Last night up to 1,000 women and girls are said to have been raped, about 100 girls at Ginling College Girls alone. You hear nothing but rape. If husbands or brothers intervene, they’re shot. What you hear and see on all sides is the brutality and bestiality of the Japanese soldiers.

There are also accounts of Japanese troops forcing families to commit acts of incest. Sons were forced to rape their mothers, fathers were forced to rape daughters. One pregnant woman who was gang-raped by Japanese soldiers gave birth only a few hours later; although the baby appeared to be physically unharmed (Robert B. Edgerton, Warriors of the Rising Sun). Monks who had declared a life of celibacy were also forced to rape women.

Murder of civilians

On 13 December 1937, John Rabe wrote in his diary :

It is not until we tour the city that we learn the extent of destruction. We come across corpses every 100 to 200 yards. The bodies of civilians that I examined had bullet holes in their backs. These people had presumably been fleeing and were shot from behind. The Japanese march through the city in groups of ten to twenty soldiers and loot the shops (…) I watched with my own eyes as they looted the café of our German baker Herr Kiessling. Hempel’s hotel was broken into as well, as almost every shop on Chung Shang and Taiping Road.

On 10 February 1938, Legation Secretary of the German Embassy, Rosen, wrote to his Foreign Ministry about a film made in December by Reverend John Magee to recommend its purchase. Here is an excerpt from his letter and a description of some of its shots, kept in the Political Archives of the Foreign Ministry in Berlin.

During the Japanese reign of terror in Nanking – which, by the way, continues to this day to a considerable degree – the Reverend John Magee, a member of the American Episcopal Church Mission who has been here for almost a quarter of a centuty, took motion pictures that eloquently bear witness to the atrocities committed by the Japanese …. One will have to wait and see whether the highest officers in the Japanese army succeed, as they have indicated, in stopping the activities of their troops, which continue even today.

On December 13, about 30 soldiers came to a Chinese house at #5 Hsing Lu Koo in the southeastern part of Nanking, and demanded entrance. The door was open by the landlord, a Mohammedan named Ha. They killed him immediately with a revolver and also Mrs. Ha, who knelt before them after Ha’s death, begging them not to kill anyone else. Mrs. Ha asked them why they killed her husband and they shot her dead. Mrs. Hsia was dragged out from under a table in the guest hall where she had tried to hide with her 1 year old baby. After being stripped and raped by one or more men, she was bayoneted in the chest, and then had a bottle thrust into her vagina. The baby was killed with a bayonet. Some soldiers then went to the next room, where Mrs. Hsia’s parents, aged 76 and 74, and her two daughters aged 16 and 14. They were about to rape the girls when the grandmother tried to protect them. The soldiers killed her with a revolver. The grandfather grasped the body of his wife and was killed. The two girls were then stripped, the elder being raped by 2–3 men, and the younger by 3. The older girl was stabbed afterwards and a cane was rammed in her vagina. The younger girl was bayoneted also but was spared the horrible treatment that had been meted out to her sister and mother. The soldiers then bayoneted another sister of between 7–8, who was also in the room. The last murders in the house were of Ha’s two children, aged 4 and 2 respectively. The older was bayoneted and the younger split down through the head with a sword.

Pregnant women were a target of murder, as they would often be bayoneted in the stomach, sometimes after rape. Tang Junshan, survivor and witness to one of the Japanese army’s systematic mass killings, testified:

The seventh and last person in the first row was a pregnant woman. The soldier thought he might as well rape her before killing her, so he pulled her out of the group to a spot about ten meters away. As he was trying to rape her, the woman resisted fiercely … The soldier abruptly stabbed her in the belly with a bayonet. She gave a final scream as her intestines spilled out. Then the soldier stabbed the fetus, with its umbilical cord clearly visible, and tossed it aside.

Thousands were led away and mass-executed in an excavation known as the “Ten-Thousand-Corpse Ditch”, a trench measuring about 300m long and 5m wide. Since records were not kept, estimates regarding the number of victims buried in the ditch range from 4,000 to 20,000. However, most scholars and historians consider the number to be more than 12,000 victims.

The Japanese officers turned the act of murder into sport. They would set out to kill a certain number of Chinese before the other. Young men would also be used for bayonet training. Their limbs would be restrained or they would be tied to a post while the Japanese soldiers took turns plunging their bayonets into the victims’ bodies.[citation needed]

Although revisionists are trying to rewrite this bit of history, I incline to the traditional history, both because contemporary eyewitness accounts and photographs tend to be a giveaway, and because the Japanese exhibited similar behavior (although with less rape) half a decade later during World War II.

The Bataan death march serves as a perfect example of the Japanese capacity for almost unparalleled brutality — brutality made worse in this instance by the fact that, under the Bushido doctrine, surrendering soldiers were objects of special contempt (again, footnotes and hyperlinks omitted):

At dawn on 9 April, and against the orders of Generals Douglas MacArthur and Jonathan Wainwright[citation needed], Major General Edward P. King, Jr., commanding Luzon Force, Bataan, Philippine Islands, surrendered more than 75,000 (67,000 Filipinos, 1,000 Chinese Filipinos, and 11,796 Americans) starving and disease-ridden men. He inquired of Colonel Motoo Nakayama, the Japanese colonel to whom he tendered his pistol in lieu of his lost sword, whether the Americans and Filipinos would be well treated. The Japanese aide-de-camp replied: “We are not barbarians.” The majority of the prisoners of war were immediately robbed of their keepsakes and belongings and subsequently forced to endure a 61-mile (98 km) march in deep dust, over vehicle-broken macadam roads, and crammed into rail cars to captivity at Camp O’Donnell. Thousands died en route from disease, starvation, dehydration, heat prostration, untreated wounds, and wanton execution.

Those few who were lucky enough to travel to San Fernando on trucks still had to endure more than 25 miles of marching. Prisoners were beaten randomly, and were often denied food and water. Those who fell behind were usually executed or left to die. Witnesses say those who broke rank for a drink of water were executed, some even decapitated. Subsequently, the sides of the roads became littered with dead bodies and those begging for help.

On the Bataan Death March, approximately 54,000 of the 75,000 prisoners reached their destination. The death toll of the march is difficult to assess as thousands of captives were able to escape from their guards. All told, approximately 5,000–10,000 Filipino and 600–650 American prisoners of war died before they could reach Camp O’Donnell.

I don’t need to look to history books and websites, though, to understand that the Japanese were indeed different from the Americans.  I just have to turn inwards and resurrect the stories my mom told me as I was growing up.

In 1941, my mother was a 17 year old Dutch girl living in Java.  Life was good than.  Although the war was raging in Europe, and Holland had long been under Nazi occupation, the colonies were still outside the theater of war.  The colonial Dutch therefore were able to enjoy the traditional perks of the Empire, with lovely homes, tended by cheap Indonesian labor.  All that changed with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Most Americans think of Pearl Harbor as a uniquely American event, not realizing that it was simply the opening salvo the Japanese fired in their generalized war to gain total ascendancy in the Pacific.  While Pearl Harbor devastated the American navy, the Japanese did not conquer American soil.  Residents in the Philippines (American territory), Indonesia (Dutch territory), Malaya (British territory), and Singapore (also British) were not so lucky.  Each of those islands fell completely to the Japanese, and the civilians on those islands found themselves prisoners of war.

In the beginning, things didn’t look so bad.  The Japanese immediately set about concentrating the civilian population by moving people into group housing, but that was tolerable.  The next step, however, was to remove all the men, and any boys who weren’t actually small children.  (Wait, I misspoke.  The next step was the slaughter of household pets — dogs and cats — which was accomplished by picking them up by their hind legs and smashing their heads against walls and trees.)

Once separated, the men and women remained completely segregated for the remainder of the war.  The men were subjected to brutal slave labor, and had an attrition rate much higher than the women did.  Also, with the typical Bushido disrespect for men who didn’t have the decency to kill themselves, rather than to surrender, the men were tortured at a rather consistent rate.

One of my mother’s friends discovered, at war’s end, that her husband had been decapitated.  This is what it looked like when the Japanese decapitated a prisoner (the prisoner in this case being an Australian airman):

Japanese execution0001

The women were not decapitated, but they were subjected to terrible tortures.  After the men were taken away, the women and children were loaded in trucks and taken to various camps.  The truck rides were torturous.  The women and children were packed into the trucks, with no food, no water, no toilet, facilities, and no shade, and traveled for hours in the steamy equatorial heat.

Once in camp, the women were given small shelves to sleep on (about 24 inches across), row after row, like sardines.  They were periodically subjected to group punishments.  The one that lives in my mother’s memory more than sixty years after the fact was the requirement that they stand in the camp compound, in the sun, for 24 hours.  No food, no water, no shade, no sitting down, no restroom breaks (and many of the women were liquid with dysentery and other intestinal diseases and parasitical problems).  For 24 hours, they’d just stand there, in the humid, 90+ degree temperature, under the blazing tropical sun.  The older women, the children and the sick died where they stood.

There were other indignities.  One of the camp commandants believed himself to have “moon madness.”  Whenever there was a full moon, he gave himself license to seek out the prisoners and torture those who took his fancy.  He liked to use knives.  He was the only Japanese camp commandant in Java who was executed after the war for war crimes.

Of course, the main problem with camp was the deprivation and disease.  Rations that started out slender were practically nonexistent by war’s end.  Eventually, the women in the camp were competing with the pigs for food.  If the women couldn’t supplement their rations with pig slop, all they got was a thin fish broth with a single bite sized piece of meat and some rice floating in it. The women were also given the equivalent of a spoonful of sugar per week.  My mother always tried to ration hers but couldn’t do it.  Instead, she’d gobble it instantly, and live with the guilt of her lack of self-control.

By war’s end, my mother, who was then 5’2″, weighed 65 pounds.  What frightened her at the beginning of August 1945 wasn’t the hunger, but the fact that she no longer felt hungry.  She knew that when a women stopped wanting to eat, she had started to die.  Had the atomic bomb not dropped when it did, my mother would have starved to death.

Starvation wasn’t the only problem.  Due to malnourishment and lack of proper protection, my mother had beriberi, two different types of malaria (so as one fever ebbed, the other flowed), tuberculosis, and dysentery.  At the beginning of the internment, the Japanese were providing some primitive medical care for some of these ailments.  By war’s end, of course, there was no medicine for any of these maladies.  She survived because she was young and strong.  Others didn’t.

So yes, the Japanese were different.  They approached war — and especially civilian populations — with a brutality equaled only by the Germans. War is brutal, and individual soldiers can do terrible things, but the fact remains that American troops and the American government, even when they made mistakes (and the Japanese internment in American was one of those mistakes) never engaged in the kind of systematic torture and murder that characterized Bushido Japanese interactions with those they deemed their enemies.  It is a tribute to America’s humane post-WWII influence and the Japanese willingness to abandon its past that the Bushido culture is dead and gone, and that the Japanese no longer feel compelled by culture to create enemies and then to engage in the systematic torture and murder of those enemies.

For Tom Hanks to try to create parallelism between the Japanese and Americans at any time between 1941 and 1945 is simply an obscene perversion of history that should be challenged at every level.  It wouldn’t matter so much, of course, if Tom Hanks was just a garden-variety ignoramus.  The problem is that he’s got a platform, a big platform, and he’s going to use it for all he’s worth to pervert the past in order to control the present and alter the future.

Remembering a day that will live in infamy *UPDATED*

One of the most emotionally charged experiences I’ve ever had was standing in the Hawaiian sunlight, watching drop after drop of oil rise up from the USS Arizona. The past was not past — it was there, in front of me, in the water, still moving.

Let’s remember today those who died on December 7, 1941, and those who lived and fought and bled and died in the ensuing years, all to make the world safe for democracy.

UPDATE:  Read about the last survivor Pearl Harbor Medal of Honor winner here.  I was about to say that they don’t make them like that anymore, and then I stopped myself.  They do, and they’re still in America’s military.  Fortunately, not all are called to serve under such overwhelming circumstances.

UPDATE II:  No surprise that some of my favorite bloggers haven’t forgotten what today is either:

Kim Priestap

Don Surber

Terresa at The Noisy Room

Radio Patriot

There won’t always be an England: Britain’s greatest generation bemoans the nation’s decline

Disillusioned members of the World War II generation state honestly that, had the England that now exists been the England in 1939, they would not have believed it was a country worth saving.  Most feel that their fellow veterans, those who died in the fight, are rolling in their graves as they look at the corrupt, non-Christian, EU centered, increasingly Muslim, angry, immoral, criminal, dirty country that is England today:

They despise what has become of the Britain they once fought to save. It’s not our country any more, they say, in sorrow and anger.

[snip]

‘I sing no song for the once-proud country that spawned me,’ wrote a sailor who fought the Japanese in the Far East, ‘and I wonder why I ever tried.’

‘My patriotism has gone out of the window,’ said another ex-serviceman.

[snip]

New Labour, said one ex-commando who took part in the disastrous Dieppe raid in which 4,000 men were lost, was ‘more of a shambles than some of the actions I was in during the war, and that’s saying something!’

He added: ‘Those comrades of mine who never made it back would be appalled if they could see the world as it is today.

‘They would wonder what happened to the Brave New World they fought so damned hard for.’

Nor can David Cameron take any comfort from the elderly.

His ‘hug a hoodie’ advice was scorned by a generation of brave men and women now too scared, they say, to leave their homes at night.

Immigration tops the list of complaints.

‘This Land of Hope and Glory is just a land of yobs and drunks’

‘People come here, get everything they ask, for free, laughing at our expense,’ was a typical observation.

‘We old people struggle on pensions, not knowing how to make ends meet. If I had my time again, would we fight as before? Need you ask?’

Many writers are bewildered and overwhelmed by a multicultural Britain that, they say bitterly, they were never consulted about nor feel comfortable with.

‘Our country has been given away to foreigners while we, the generation who fought for freedom, are having to sell our homes for care and are being refused medical services because incomers come first.’

Her words may be offensive to many – and rightly so – but Sarah Robinson defiantly states: ‘We are affronted by the appearance of Muslim and Sikh costumes on our streets.’

[snip]

The loss of British sovereignty to the European Union caused almost as much distress. ‘Nearly all veterans want Britain to leave the EU,’ wrote one.

Frank, a merchant navy sailor, thought of those who gave their lives ‘for King and country’, only for Britain to become ‘an offshore island of a Europe where France and Germany hold sway. Ironic, isn’t it?’

[snip]

‘I am very unhappy about the way this country is being transformed. I go nowhere after dark. I don’t even answer my doorbell then.’

A Desert Rat who battled his way through El Alamein, Sicily, Italy and Greece was in despair.

‘This is not the country I fought for. Political correctness, lack of discipline, compensation madness, uncontrolled immigration – the “do-gooders” have a lot to answer for.

‘If you see youngsters doing something they shouldn’t and you say anything, you just get a mouthful of foul language.’

You can read the rest here.

It’s very hard to imagine a Captain Freddy Spencer Chapman existing today

Extreme experiences produce extreme courage, this article, which summarizes the highlights of a book about Capt. Freddy Spencer Chapman, describes a level of courage and commitment that is well nigh unbelievable.  Capt. Chapman was a British army officer who, when trapped behind enemy lines in Malaya, launched a massive guerrilla warfare offensive that ultimately saw 4000 Japanese troops pursuing him:

In a new biography, historian Brian Moynahan recounts how the young officer successfully led a tiny resistance war that wrought such havoc on Japanese supply lines that local commanders were convinced they were looking for a 200-strong force of Australian guerillas and dispatched a force of 4,000 to catch them.

[snip]

Wading through swamps, hacking his way through dense vegetation, struggling to navigate when he could barely see the sun, let alone any landmarks, he became weak as his food supplies dwindled to nothing.

His original intention had been to rendezvous with another pocket of British resistance fighters.

But when he arrived at the prearranged point, he discovered that he had been left behind – assumed lost or dead.

Undeterred, Chapman unleashed his guerilla campaign.

In the ‘mad fortnight’ that followed, as Chapman later referred to it, he crept through the jungle night after night to lay charges on railway bridges and roads, derailing troop and supply trains, and blowing convoys of trucks high into the air before raking them with bullets and grenades.

Chapman estimated that, together with the help of two other British officers, he derailed eight trains, damaged 15 bridges, cut the railway track in 60 places, destroyed 40 trucks or cars and accounted for between 500 and 1,500 casualties.

It was, as Earl Mountbatten would later describe it: ‘more than a whole division of the British Army could have achieved’.

The risks were not Chapman’s alone.  The Japanese, like the Germans, enjoyed mass reprisals, so the death of Japanese soldiers would mean the mass slaughter, by bayonet, fire and more, of an entire Chinese village.  I think, though, that Chapman made the right decision not to allow this grotesque form of blackmail (for that’s what it is when an occupying army engages in mass reprisals against the local civilians).  After all, he must have known from the Rape of Nanking, and from the way in which the Japanese had conducted the war to date, that the Japanese would have done horrible things regardless of the attacks against him.  At least with the attacks, Chapman and his team were doing something that would result in the enemy’s ultimate destruction.  Chapman paid a price — suffering for years from nightmares the replayed those horrible deaths — but I doubt he ever questioned his own actions.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for that book if it ever hits American shores. What an amazing person he must have been.

The lessons about bullies that we seem determined not to learn

So often, there are what I call “matched sets” of stories in newspapers.  This happens when one article makes a point, and another article perfectly illustrates that point.  Today, Spiegel provided the perfect pairing of the way in which the modern Western (that is, Leftist) world refuses to learn lessons, but insists on repeating the fatal mistakes of yesteryear.  The first article, part of a collection Spiegel is running to mark the 70th anniversary of WWII’s beginning, points to the fact that Europe’s appeasement stance was like steroid juice to Hitler, spurring him on to ever greater heights of aggression:

In the years leading up to World War II, Britain and France underestimated just how determined Adolf Hitler was in his lust for conquest. The failure of Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement meant war was inevitable.

[snip]

Chamberlain, the conservative product of a family of politicians, was part of a large faction that sought to appease Germany by fulfilling its wishes, provided they appeared legitimate and were not enforced with violence.

Appeasement was a policy that fed on emotions as well as intellect, at least with Chamberlain. The British prime minister had lost his beloved cousin in World War I. From then on, he advocated the basic principle of all pacifists: Wars have no winners, only losers.

[snip]

Historians have since realized that the military situation for the Western Allies was far from hopeless. Hitler had exposed western Germany by moving troops eastward for the invasion of Czechoslovakia. In addition, Germany’s gasoline reserves were barely sufficient for a four-month military campaign. Significantly, senior German military officials feared a world war. A small group, which included Beck and Weizsäcker, even planned to stage a coup in the event that war broke out.

But while Hitler shrugged off his generals’ warnings — “I know that England will remain neutral,” he said — the worst-case scenarios being painted by British and French experts played into the hands of those politicians who wanted to avoid war at all costs.

There’s so much more (and I urge you to read the whole article), but the above certainly makes the point: “I know that England will remain neutral.” A natural bully can immediately tell when his victim is going to abase himself for good ‘n all.

One would think that Germany, of all countries, would understand that, once bullies get a head of steam from dealing with compliant victims, little can stop them short of the brutist of brute force.  Yet the same day saw this article about a judge’s supine position in the face of demands from a known terrorist:

In Germany, it seems, it’s okay to name children “Jihad.” A Berlin court has ruled that the name Djehad is neither denigrating nor offensive — even if the child’s father is a man considered by German intelligence agents and the United States to be one of the country’s most radical Islamists.

A Berlin court ruled this week that a man suspected of being one of Germany’s leading radical Islamists, can name his son “Djehad,” an alternative spelling of the Arabic word jihad. A city official had previously rejected the name because of its connotation of Islamic holy war.

A city official said it had rejected listing the name in the city’s birth registry because it could endanger the child’s welfare. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States, the term “jihad,” which in the West is usually regarded as meaning “holy war,” has had negative connotations in Germany. The child’s father himself, German-Egyptian Reda Seyam, is being monitored by German intelligence agencies and is known to have fought as a jihadist in Bosnia.

But this week a local superior court, following previous rulings in an administrative court and a regional court, said the name was unobjectionable.

In its ruling overturning the city’s decision, the court argued that “Djehad” is a common first name for Arab males that also evokes the duty of Muslims to promote their faith both spiritually and within society. The use of the word as a first name, the court argued, was in no way denigrating or offensive.

The court conceded that, in recent years, radical Islamists have used the term to express the idea of an armed struggle against people who don’t share their faith. But that could not justify a restriction of the right of the parents to choose their child’s name as they see fit, they said, adding that the parent’s motives for selecting the name were irrelevant.

Again, I urge you to read the whole article, but the cited material gives you a sense of the way in which the German intelligentsia is bound and determined to worship at the feet of its new overlords.

On the anniversary of the start of WWII, remembering when Hollywood supported Good Wars

Today is the 70th anniversary of Germany’s bombing campaign against Poland, the official start of World War II.  I thought, therefore, that this song from 1941′s Babes on Broadway was just right.  It is an explicit tribute to beleaguered Britain, which was, at the only time, not only the sole nation fighting the Nazis, but also on the receiving end of the Blitz:

My mom is a Hiroshima bomb survivor too *UPDATED*

Tomorrow is the 64th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, and you can expect the usual breast-beating about how unutterably evil we were to target Japan’s civilian population.  Here in Marin, a “Hiroshima survivor” is going to read poems and speak about her experiences.

I freely acknowledge that this survivor went through a horrific experience that I hope is never again repeated.  Still, I’d like to acknowledge the other Hiroshima bomb survivors.  My Mom is one of those survivors.

My Mom wasn’t in Japan when the Americans dropped the bomb.  She wasn’t anywhere near Japan.  She was in Java, a civilian in a Japanese concentration camp, on the verge of starving to death.  But for the fact that the atom bombs immediately terminated the war in the Pacific, she would have died.  She didn’t have another month or even another week.  She needed the war to end instantly.  It was the bombing at Hiroshima that enabled her to survive the war.

Nor was my mother alone.  Truman didn’t drop the bomb only to impress the Soviets or to play with an exciting new toy.  He dropped the bomb because he’d been credibly advised that the Japanese were not going to surrender, but would fight the war on their own ground — and this was true despite the fact that the Japanese knew as well as the Americans did that the Japanese could not win.  In July 1945, Truman was looking at the possibility of up to 50,000 more American deaths, plus all of the Japanese military and civilian deaths.  (And that’s not even counting the Marines already suffering unthinkable torture in Japanese camps and slave works, or American, Dutch and English civilians imprisoned all over the Pacific).  Given that the Japanese had started the war and then refused to end it (even though they were losing), one big bomb that would kill the same number of Japanese with no American casualties seemed like a very good idea at the time.

So as the media predictably inundates us with stories of Japanese Hiroshima survivors (or I assume it will based on past history), feel free to sympathize with their very real suffering.  Please, however, take a minute to remember the other Hiroshima survivors, those whose suffering at Japanese hands was ended because of that same bomb.

UPDATE:  Thomas Lifson, who was kind enough to link to this post, adds an important bit of information: D.M. Giangreco, a military historian who is one of the people most intimately familiar with the invasion of Japan, has written a book on the subject, Hell to Pay: Operation DOWNFALL and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947, which comes out in a month or two.  I’ve corresponded with Mr. Giangreco and can assure you that he knows the subject intimately.  If this subject is at all interesting to you, you should get the book.

Seasick warriors

Seasickness.  It’s an utterly vile condition, worse, I think, than any other type of motion sickness.  When you’re seasick, your entire body is rebelling against you.  Worse, there’s no escape.  You’re trapped in the middle of an endless ocean, feeling about as bad as it’s possible for a human to feel.

Add something to that seasickness:  fear, anticipation, exhilaration, worry.  Imagine yourself loaded down with gear and weapons, packed like sardines with other men, many as sick as you are, and heaving your guts out.  The worst part is knowing that, when the boat lands, you can’t just find a quiet place to sleep off the sickness.  Instead, the boat isn’t landing at all.  You’re going to be transferred to an even smaller boat (more seasickness), which will stop far short of the beach.  Then, weighed down with gear, dehydrated from vomiting, dizzy, and frightened, you have to wade through waist high water, all the while facing a withering hail of enemy fire.

When I imagine the suffering and horror of such an experience, I recoil.  It seems too dreadful to exist in reality.  And yet, 65 years ago tomorrow, on June 6, 1944, 160,000 men — Americans and men from all parts of the British Empire — did precisely what I described.  Seasick, frightened, and cold, they stormed the beaches of Normandy, and began the true end of the worst war in human history.

What few people appreciate is that, until June 6, 1944, the Allies had no ground presence in Western Europe.  [UPDATE:  As George reminds me, the Allies had spilled a lot of blood creeping up the Italian boot.]  Although the war had been fought bitterly in the Pacific against the Japanese, the only attacks the Allies had been able to make against the Nazis had been air raids and covert operations.  With the exception of Spain and Portugal, Western Europe was completely under Nazi control.  The air raids were ferocious, but they merely softened things up.  They could not displace Nazy hegemony.  It was D-Day that truly brought the war home to the Nazis.

Another thing that few people realize is that June 6 was only the beginning.  Those who survived that fearsome landing found themselves in horrific fighting conditions, trapped by hedges, lost from each other in unfamiliar terrain, and overwhelmed by long-term Nazi entrenchment.  Yet they kept on fighting, and fighting, and fighting.

All this fighting culminated in the horror of the Battle of the Bulge, during December 1944 and January 1945.  We remember that Battle today because of that Christmas in and around Bastogne, when a small group of Americans held out desperately against the Germans’ last big offensive, waiting for help to arrive.  I was in Bastogne more than 40 years after the event, and the smell of death still hung over the place.  The air felt sorrowful.  So many died there — but they did not die in vain.  Their sacrifices marked the true end of the German military.  From that point onwards, there was no going back.  The march onto Berlin was inevitable.

In 2004, my family traveled to Washington, D.C.  It was pure coincidence that, when we arrived at the WWII Memorial, a reunion of veterans of the Battle of the Bulge was meeting there.  They were no longer stalwart, upright young men.  They were frail old men, dragging oxygen tanks, clutching walkers, and being pushed in wheel chairs.  Nevertheless, they were still warriors.  They had fought in one of the greatest battles in the history of the world, and despite the scars, inside and out, each man there knew that he had done something of tremendous significance, and he carried that greatness with him.  As for me, I embarrassed my family dreadfully be weeping so hard they practically had to carry me out of there.

And so to those men of the greatest generation, whose travails began with the terrors of D-Day and ended with the triumph of taking Berlin, I say “Thank you.  Thank you so much.”

Torture, real and imagined

Paul Begala wrote an article at HuffPo contending that, following WWII, Americans executed Japanese as war criminals for water-boarding.  While I’m certainly willing to concede that water-based tortures numbered amongst the myriad tortures the Japanese used against POWs, it is absolutely ridiculous to believe that these Japanese soldiers were executed because of the water tortures.  In the grand scheme of things, that was nothing.

One of the Anchoress‘ readers forwarded to her a letter someone wrote (maybe as a comment to Begala’s own article) pointing out that actual historical documents put the lie to Begala’s claims:

Good Afternoon,

I have spent the better part of the morning reviewing the International Military Tribunal for the Far East’s indictment, trial, some testimony, the  sentences and the execution of sentences, e.g.; the Tokyo Trials.

What inspired me to get into looking at the charges and subsequent trial and eventual execution, was former Clinton hack and current Obama insider who manipulates information on CNN, Paul Begalia’s recent claim  that we executed individuals for waterboarding in 1948.  Here is Begalia’s recent column, note that he does not name who it is that we purportedly executed for this “crime”:

Yes, National Review, We Did Execute Japanese for Waterboardin

Instead of a mainstream publication, Mr. Begalia chose to go to a far left extremist publication, the Huffingtion Post, which shows the level of their journalistic skills, and what their reputation should be….I mean, if I can find this information in a few hours, so should any journalist be able to uncover Mr. Begalia’s lies, but I digress.

Begalia on CNN the other evening while discussing the alleged “atrocities” by the Bush Administration with former White House Spokesman Ari Fleicsher, stated that we had executed members of the Imperial Japanese Army for waterboarding, or water torture.  Fleischer called him on it, stating that he believed that Begalia has his “history mangled” and later, the National Review called him to task, believing that Begalia was referencing Yukio Asano, who was convicted of torturing Fliipinos by tying them to stretchers and drowning them, as well as burning them with cigarettes.  Mr. Asano was sentenced to fifteen years hard labor, and this sentence was hardly for waterboarding.

Begalia then goes into some song and dance, naming individuals who I have personally never heard of, that claims we did in fact execute indivuals for waterboarding.

Thankfully, Yale University has an excellent web site called the Avalon Project, which lists all of the documents, transcripts and pleadings from both the Nuremberg Trials and the Tokyo Trials.

Here is the actual Indictment:

There were seven individuals who were executed for war crimes stemming from the International Military Tribunal for the Far East:

General Doihara Kenji, spy (later Air Force commander) Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 35, 36, and 54

Baron Hirota Koki, foreign minister Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54 and 55,

General Itagaki Seishiro, war minister , Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 35, 36 and 54

General Kimura Heitaro, commander, Burma  Expeditionary Force Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54 and 55

General Matsui Iwane, commander, Shanghai Expeditionary Force found guilty of class B and C war crimes; e.g.; for his participation in the atrocities committed at Nanking.

General Muto Akira, commander, Philippines Expeditionary Force Convicted of Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54 and 55.

General Tojo Hideki, commander, Kwantung Army (later prime minister) Convicted of Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54 and 55

http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/International_Military_Tribunal_for_the_Far_East_-_Sentences/id/1508175

http://www.trial-ch.org/en/trial-watch/profile/db/facts/akira_muto_82.html

None of these individuals were convicted for “waterboarding”!!   Although  some of the Defendants were convicted of Count 55, which was failing to observe and protect prisoners of war from the Allied forces as per the laws and customs of war, it is a far far, downright impossible stretch to conclude that any of the Generals who were convicted and hung were convicted and executed because of their involvement in anything that remotely resembles modern day waterboarding!

Do you think Mr. Begalia will offer an apology for his lie?  Do you think anyone from mainstream media will call Mr. Begalia to task for his lie?

I think not.

Shame on you Paul Begala!!

Keith In Tampa

In other words, while water-boarding might have been in these individuals’ repertoire, it was not the sum total of their acts.

As for me, I have my own reasons for doubting Begala’s history. My Mom was a 17 year old Dutch citizen living in Indonesia when Pearl Harbor took place. What a lot of people forget is that, after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese didn’t just take the Philippines, they also swept over Malaysia and Indonesia. My Mom ended up being interned for the duration of the war. She was shipped from camp to camp.

For reasons I don’t understand, the conditions the Dutch experienced were much worse than those that the American civilians experienced in the Philippines. The camp leaders treated these civilians with unimaginable brutality. This was separate from the “ordinary” horrors of disease and starvation.

The routine torture (that is, one that happened on more than one occasion) that lingers with my Mom, the one that still gives her nightmares so many years after the war, is when the prisoners were collectively punished by being made to stand for 24 hours in the tropical sun, without food, without water, without bathroom breaks — indeed, without any breaks at all. The weak, the sick and the elderly died where they stood. The survivors carried the memories. Her best friend’s father, imprisoned in a men’s camp, was beheaded for some infraction. This was routine.

There was one commandant who was worse than the rest. According to my mother, he had “moon madness,” and every month he went crazy and embarked on his own round of random torture directed against the women and children under his command. My Mom won’t even talk about what he did.

I mention all this to make a point: Of all these Japanese prison commanders who routinely inflicted the most horrible tortures on the Dutch civilians in their charge, the guy with the moon madness was the only one executed after the war. Just knowing that fact makes Paul Begala’s assertions absolutely ridiculous on their face.

Incidentally, if you’re interested in an incredible novel about the civilian experience under the Japanese during WWII, I highly recommend Neville Shute’s A Town Like Alice. Although it’s ostensibly about an English woman in Malaya, it’s actually based upon the true story of a Dutch woman in Indonesia.

All of this brings me to one more point about whether something is “torture” or not.  In a psychiatric, self-actualized, self-realized, navel gazing world, torture can be anything that makes you unhappy.

Many years ago, Wendy Kaminer wrote a wonderful book called I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help, in which she pointed out that psychiatry, especially pop psychiatry, needs psychic pain in order to exist. Without in any way denigrating psychiatry’s usefulness, Kaminer points out that its spread through popular culture in the 1970s resulted in a leveling, with all pains being equal.  She noted that women who had escaped Cambodia’s killing fields and women dealing with suburban angst were treated as sufferers of exactly the same magnitude in pop culture parlance.  Both felt pain, therefore both were victims and both deserved precisely the same amount of sympathy.

With this kind of leveling (a leveling, that incidentally takes place at the opposite end of the spectrum, where an athlete or actor is accorded “hero,” rather than merely “star,” status), how in the world can our culture reasonably differentiate between true torture, which is the infliction of immense physical or emotional pain, and mere high stress infliction, against self-styled warriors who have taken upon themselves the task of killing our own citizens in the hundreds, thousands or even millions?  If someone is made unhappy, it must be torture, right?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Smooth patriotic music from 1944 *UPDATED*

WWII was a dreadful time, with about 400,000 American military deaths suffered during those four years.  Just for perspective, we’ve been in Iraq for almost six years and, thank God, have sustained only 4,200 deaths.

Nevertheless, there’s a tendency to look back with nostalgia on America’s time during WWII, and that’s in part because the entertainment world and the news media were so completely on board with the war effort.  More than 60 years after War’s end, the historic record is bathed in a golden glow of national unity, with the conscripted troops the stuff of admiration and romance.

The era is also refreshing in that, in those pre-PC times, Americans felt no compunction about calling the enemy an enemy.  The movie makers didn’t need to pretend that Germans and Japanese were basically good people under bad leadership.  This freed them from the obligation modern movie makers feel to create only pretend enemies or, even better, paint America itself as the bad guy.  Instead, in those old movies, you knew who the bad guys were (them) and who the good guys were (us).

I’ve been watching some of those old movies, which TCM played for Veterans Day and, in lieu of any news about which I wish to comment, am including here two of my favorite clips.  The first is from 1944′s Hollywood Canteen (which is a surprisingly awful movie), and the second from Irving Berlin’s 1943 show This is the Army, which is one of my favorite wartime movies, not least because it stars a rather charming Ronald Reagan:

Reagan is in the beginning of this next clip, but the song, which Frances Langford sings, starts at 1:10:

UPDATE:  While we’re on the subject, at least one town in England has figured out that its troops do matter, and the townspeople and the troops put on a show suitable for any 1940s movie.

Der Fueher’s Face

In a comment to my earlier post about talk with an ideological foe being dangerous, Gringo mentioned a classic anti-Nazi piece of Hollywood propaganda (made when Hollywood viewed America as the ally, not the enemy).  I found it at YouTube (of course), and share it with you.

And for those of you who are I Love Lucy fans, I think you’ll enjoy William Frawley assuring Americans that they will win the war:

Another door to the past closes

I didn’t know about it, but in 1945, a celebrated dogfight occurred over Germany, with an American pilot, James Finnegan, shooting down Germany’s top ace, Gen. Adolf Galland.  Here’s what happened in the air 63 years ago:

In an interview Mr. Finnegan gave 12 years ago for a Web site devoted to Galland’s career (members.aol.com/geobat66/galland/galland.htm), Mr. Finnegan said that on the day he shot down Galland, he was escorting some Allied bombers when he “saw two objects come zipping through the formation, and two bombers blew up immediately. I watched the two objects go through the bomber formation, and thought, ‘That can’t be a prop job … it’s got to be one of the (new Messerschmitt Me) 262 jets.”

He fired off a 3-second burst, then hit the throttle on his P-47 and found “I was going so fast, I went right through everything, and guessed my speed at about 450+ mph.” Mr. Finnegan figured he had hit one of the German jets, but wasn’t sure, so he “recorded it as a probable.” The “probable” turned out to be Galland and he was indeed shot down.

It was only much later that Finnegan learned that he had shot down Germany’s top flyer.  And it was even later, in the 1970s, that the two met and became friends, reminiscing about their war time experiences.

This is news today because Mr. Finnegan died on Tuesday, aged 85.  The war may have been the reason he made the newspaper upon his death, but I find equally newsworthy the fact that he went on after the war to live a good life and raise a family that extends far into the next generation:

During the war, Mr. Finnegan met an Army nurse named Frances in France. They married after the war and began a family.

He worked as an engineer for Pacific Telephone & Telegraph and during his off-hours he kept flying planes until, at his wife’s urging, he grounded himself until the 1970s, when their children were all grown and he could take to the skies again.

“She was fine with it,” Dennis Finnegan said. “She used to fly with him all the time.” Frances Finnegan died three years ago.

By 1977, Mr. Finnegan was working as the San Francisco liaison between Pacific Telephone & Telegraph and law enforcement agencies. When he retired from that position, he got a job as an investigator for the Marin County district attorney and later became chief investigator. He retired from that job in 1987 and opened up a private investigator business, which lasted until he had a debilitating stroke in early 1998.

Mr. Finnegan is survived by two daughters, Michelle Sabourin of Santa Rosa and Kathleen Willmers of Kenwood; three sons, James Finnegan of Fresno, Dennis Finnegan of Novato and John Finnegan of Long Beach; 12 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

R.I.P., Mr. Finnegan.