- Sep 9, 2009
I am by no means supporting the actions of the Japanese military during World War II -- their human rights violations were outrageous. It's important, however, to make the distinction between "Japanese" and "Japanese-American." Many (approximately 60% to 70%) of the interned Japanese-Americans were second or third generation immigrants, and, as a second-generation immigrant myself, I can tell you that my loyalties are closer to my nation of birth rather than my parent's nation of origin, and if somebody put me in a shitty camp for 5 years because of a war that I had no part in provoking, I'd be pissed. It's an unjust decision and a clear violation of the Constitutional rights of Japanese-Americans (even Congress admitted it later on).Treblaine said:On the other hand, put yourself in the shoes of John Q. Public circa 1941.thevillageidiot13 said:Well, it's a huge deal. From the moment it happened, the Americans treated it as an unprovoked act of aggression. People learned to *hate* the Japanese, because propagandists essentially left out the "embargo" stuff and focused more on the "Japanese attacked U.S. Naval Base," and the clear image the American people were left with was a barbaric, uncivilized, evil Japan that attacked bystander nations for no reason.Brown_Coat117 said:Well obviously I questioned because I took that time to know.C. Cain said:And noone questioned it? I mean it's kind of a big deal. Also, technically it is a lie, a lie by omission. oOBrown_Coat117 said:Well they really didn't explain the why just that it happend. So like I said not a lie per say
The thing about schools is that they have to start teaching from somewhere. Yes I would have liked if they would have mentioned the embargo on Japan. How do you explain the embargo on Japan when you don't explain their own brutal empire building, how they went from detaining German prisoners in WW1 to Nazi allies pre-WW2 and on and on, and how do you cram all that information into a limited time with many student who learn differently and at a different pace. I don't view it as a lie omission because because not covering the embargo didn't really change any of the fact that they taught about the attack or the result (US entering WW2.)
That's why the mass imprisonment (with no trial of any sort, I might add) of 120,000 Japanese-Americans (approximately half of them children) for a good 4 - 5 years went over so smoothly: because the American people were taught that the attack was unjustified, and, in turn, learned to hate Japanese and Japanese-American individuals with a passion.
I would argue that, by leaving out the fact that Americans (in a way) provoked the attack, the history fails to do the Japanese side of the story any form of justice. You could argue that the Japanese attack was a disproportionate retribution to a comparatively minor decision, compromising and satisfy both sides in a way. But omitting the embargo from your taught history isn't going to win you any points for being unbiased.
Also, people really, really tend to forget that it was a military base, not a civilian population. If you sign up for the Navy and don't acknowledge at least a SLIGHT possibility of getting killed during your time in the armed forces, then... I don't know what to tell you. The U.S. Navy isn't your private cruise liner with a complementary buffet. It's a war machine. They train you to fight and die for your country's government.
Then again, many historians understand that history is little more than a long chain-reaction of grievous offenses and attempted retributions, and which side you're biased towards depends on where you start the history, as you said.
Do they think they cover such boring details as trade embargo and Japan's overseas interests? No, it's a trivial matter to them - or at least they think it is trivial - so when the news comes to them: "American Naval base attacked, Three Thousand Americans dead" you understandably flip your ever loving shit.
So when FDR makes his speech to congress (and in effect, all of America) he doesn't mention the embargo even in a trivialising way. Who knows, maybe FDR had good reason for doing this. He did not want to give his new enemy the privilege of any kind of righteous attack and didn't want to leave the impression that attacking naval bases would be a good way for dealing with embargos for two reasons:
(1) it might make future efforts at getting embargos too politically frought as they'd say "this will bring another pearl harbor on us!"
(2) he didn't want to leave America's enemies the impression that such an attack would even be interpereted as such. If Japan was trying to manipulate America to remove the embargo by a sneak attack
Shortly after Pearl Harbor, US forces were overrun in the Philippines and those who were taken alive were monstrously mistreated. Only a handful survived in a pathetic shape from years of abuse, the Japanese Army REALLY WERE monstrous to their captives. The worst cases of human experimentation were committed by the Japanese Chemical Weapons division on captured POWs and any foreign civilians they could grab.
I couldn't even read about all that happened with Unit 731
It gave me nightmares and I'm not the sort to get nightmares over nothing, I'm the sort who like horror movies. But this. Uuuuhhh.
Japanese internment is a tricky issue, and Americans even in the immediate post-war era certainly feel very guilty for it, however it was known to the government that Japan did have a very effective spying network on the West Coast of the United States while German Espionage in America was almost non-existent. It was a secret as they had broken's Japan's cypher for spy communication, but they couldn't just announce this discovery or they would just change the cypher and the advantage would be lost.
Then there is the contrast between the war in europe. There, America was clearly able to say that they were fighting against Nazism, Hitler's Germany. Many German citizens had fled from (or been forced out of) Germany with the new regime, and it was a new and scary regime not like Germany before. But how could the Americans say "no, we're not fighting all of Japan, just, err, the part that... no"
The thing was Japan was united in its war with America, it was not some new crazy regime, it's the same establishment as since generations ago. The issue was of loyalty, if a relative turns up from Japan would you report them to the police? The German Spy ring was broken by visiting German relatives and being reported, the FBI were worried the same was not happening here.
Make no mistake -- I perceive myself as an American first, and everything else second, and, because I am a second-generation immigrant myself, that is why I especially take offense to Executive Order 9066.
And, on your comment about John Q. Public, don't you think that the public SHOULD know about these things? Sure, they should be shocked by the headlines, but it's also their duty as responsible citizens to dig deeper, which they really didn't at the time. And, by leaving out facts critical to the situation in his address to Congress, isn't FDR committing a lie of omission? As horrible as the Japanese were during World War II in terms of their treatment of the Chinese and certain POWs, the fact of the matter is that many historians argue that they did, indeed, have the privilege of righteous attack and it's a fact that embargoes *are* political statements which can be met with aggression. There's no point in being a little sissy about it. By imposing an embargo on somebody, you're basically getting in their face and being like "Yeah, I just took your lunch money. What are you going to do about it?"
And if the schoolyard has taught me anything, it's that, sometimes, the little guy works up the courage to hit the bully first.
Plus, Japan wasn't trying to eliminate the embargo -- they perceived America's decision to cut off Japanese access to vital war resources as a clear message: "We (America) haven't joined the war yet, but we're definitely on the Allied side, and when we *do* join the war, we're going after you and your Nazi buddies." Japan *KNEW* that the American Naval fleet had superior force in the Pacific, and their objective in launching the Pearl Harbor attacks wasn't as an act of terrorism or anything. It was simply an attempt at leveling the playing field and striking first -- both of those are very sound military objectives.
Also, by committing his lie of omission, FDR fails to provide the American public with the whole picture, and is clearly trying to skew public support in favor of war. Whether or not those motives and objectives are noble are irrelevant to my argument -- my argument is that he (and the rest of the media) failed to provide the public with the whole story because he wanted public support for the war, and Pearl Harbor was the perfect excuse to jump in.
In case you didn't know, in the post-World-War-1 era, American isolationism was in full effect. WWI was a little bit like Vietnam in the sense that the soldiers being sent in didn't fully understand their reasons for enlisting, and after seeing the horrors of trench warfare, they came home disillusioned. While at-home propaganda had kept the civilians sheltered from the horrors of the war, as soon as the veterans came home with their stories of bloodshed and death, there was a sense of frustration in the post-WWI period. For many Americans, all they wanted from that point onwards was for the US to stay out of international politics and, most importantly, stay out of more wars. But it was clear from the beginning of WWII that FDR absolutely, positively wanted to intervene, but he basically couldn't, because there'd be Hell to pay from the voters.
The Pearl Harbor Attacks were a Godsend for FDR, and when the opportunity arose, he seized at it. He wasn't going to let petty details like embargoes or right of aggression get in the way of his objectives. But the fact of the matter is that America was largely non-interventionist and isolationist between the World Wars, and, if FDR had told the whole truth, public opinion may have drastically swung the other way. Instead, he manipulated the truth to get public support for his political objectives, and THAT is what frustrates me about his role in this whole thing.