Sunday :: Aug 7, 2005

Pieces With Onner

by pessimist

I learned an interesting lesson with the comment threads of yesterday's posts: too many Americans revel in hatred and bigotry. It shouldn't have come as much of a suprise considering our recent history.

Consider one of the more common 'rebuttals' I had hurled at me yesterday - "They bombed Pearl Harbor!" I've probably read more about Pearl Harbor than some people ever read in their lives, and I know well what happened there and why. And, despite the implied and explicit ad hominems and numerous other epithets and derogations, I even understand the feelings of revenge being satisfied where Hiroshima is concerned.

But I also understand from historical records that Japan more than paid the debt due for the Pearl Harbor attack. Repeatedly.

News flash! The United States defeated Japan in the Pacific War 60 years ago! Get over it!

Since these two wartime events are forever linked, let's take a look at a few facts in compare the US cost of Pearl Harbor and the Japanese payment of Hiroshima for incurring that cost:

The US suffered the loss of 18 ships, hundreds of mostly obsolete aircraft, and approximately 3,000 deaths. Of those 18 ships lost, 15 were rebuilt and reentered the war, some enacting their own measure of revenge in the Battle of Surigao Strait in 1944. So, the non-regenerable cost of Pearl Harbor was three ships and 3,000 lives - certainly not losses to be made light of - were limited.

But the bombing of Hiroshima alone cost Japan 140,000 lives, 70,000 of these almost immediately with the explosion of 'Little Boy'. For all intents and purposes, the city was destroyed, with buildings and infrastructure damage more than equalling the replacement costs of 18 US Navy warships.

And that bombing alone - as far as I'm concerned - more than repaid the deabt of Pearl Harbor. The account opened in Oahu should have thus been closed.

As John Belushi used to say - "But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Instead of following the advice of President Zachary Taylor - "It would be judicious to act with magnanimity towards a prostrate foe" - Americans to this day, especially those who weren't even alive at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, still maintain an incredible hatred toward the Japanese. There will never be enough revenge repayment to be extracted from Japan for some people! Not with the bombing of Nagasaki, nor the firebombing of Tokyo, nor any of the other tremendous costs Japan incurred as a result of its rash plan to contest control of Asia with the United States against the advice of those military officers like Admiral Yamamoto who strongly advised against war with the United States! Can anyone make the believable claim that repayment for the war in Japanese blood and loss was not made?

And we Americans don't understand how the Balkans could have erupted into a violent and ugly war among the Serbs, Croats, and other ethnic and religious groups over incidents that happened hundreds of years ago!

I have several theories as to why this is:

1. Japan certainly learned many lessons from the United States, especially how to be successful in business. Their economic success rankled American 'true' facts that we are unsurpassed in everything we do no matter what the statistics reveal.

2. Rather than face up to the fact that the King of the Hill has to remain better than all cometitors combined, we Americans followed the path of the Roman empire, delegating the dirty work like farming and military duties to foreigners while we basked in our self-important glory. That is, we're too good to lift a finger on our own behalf, choosing instead to impose our will upon those we deem inferior to do it for us.

3. Blatant jingoist racism.

Just try to tell me that America doesn't to this day still harbor blind haters and racists. Just last Thursday, a man killed his friend over a disagreement involving the Oil War. That, for those of you who refuse to figure this one out, was a case of blind hatred. James Wolcott, in an article asking about King George's assessment of the occupation of Iraq now that so many more of our troops are dying daily at the hands of the 'Hadjis' (the popular expression of hatred of Iraqis among our troops these days):

I can't help but think of Bush and Cheney and the neocons and the war rooters at The Weekly Standard and The National Review and the liberal warhawks and all those loudmouths on talk radio and at Fox News, who have been spouting their WWII battle cries and analogies and vilifying an antiwar movement that barely exists and spotting traitors wherever they train their bloodshot McCarthyite eyeballs and cheerleading for rendition and torture, and wonder as the memorial flags are planted in the grass in Ohio: How do you like it now, gentlemen?

I'm sure that our Kentucky murderer made some sort of a similar remark watching his friend die. But that outrage won't register with the wrong wing, and neither will the fact that, as Edmund Burke once put it, "a great empire and little minds go ill together."

And then there is the willing expression of racism by Americans, as long as it is covered by the politically correct posture of Homeland Security, to use racial profiling as a way of capturing terror suspects. As the author of this article acidly suggests:

Here's one way to take the guesswork out of terrorist spotting. All young Muslim men of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, as well as those who look like London's Jamaican suicide bomber, could be required to register with the government.

Oh, yes, one more thing: To help commuters and authorities who are hopelessly unable to recognize the difference between good and bad Muslim men of color, how about making those possible terrorists wear some kind of identification -- say a patch on their shirts with a crescent moon? That way, travelers will immediately know a threat when they see one.

Just like the good citizens of Hitler's Germany could immediately tell those 'evil Zionists' from the good German volk! If author Colbert I. King were truly serious, and some wrong-winger in Congress were to propose this, is there any doubt that it would pass? Are we as a nation not already facing the likely imposition of national identity cards once Judge Roberts' 'confirmation' is concluded?

It is a time-honored tradition throuoghout history to look for someone to blame when times are tough and the solutions are not popular. Howard Dean sees this, and warns that the GOP will use immigrants as scapegoats, yet the GOP is also actively planning to attract black votes - maybe by running Condi-liar in the next election despite of the fact that Republicans have been very friendly toward racial bigots. Such facts have been overlooked in favor of 'true' facts, described by John Aravosis thusly:

Regular facts are the inconvenient stuff of naysayers, such as expert advisers, scientists, courts of law, or one’s own eyes. 'True' facts, on the other hand, are a pure reflection of desire, a kind of wishing makes it so — like when Peter Pan exhorts us to clap our hands and let our belief in fairies save the dying Tinkerbell. Chalk it up to a poor grasp of reality, incredible hubris, or even outright deception, but 'true' facts always trump the truth ...

And we are supposed to swallow such 'true' facts whole!

The wrong-wing in this nation persists in attempting to persuade those of us who aren't convinced of their greatness and the correctness of their actions around the world, but I'm sure that the 'patience' of the wrong-wing will eventually wear out, considering that certain sensibilities toward those less economically fortunate than themselves are exposed in comments such as these:

When the mob stormed Versailles, it would have taken a republican heart of stone not to shed a tear for Marie-Antoinette’s fineries ending up in the hands of the great unwashed.

Worse was the case of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. The grease monkeys climbing all over the Tsarina’s beautiful furniture must have been as awful a sight as anyone can imagine.

Not to mention the sack of the Summer Palace in Peking, where western barbarians ran riot.

The intrusion of the rabble has always been shocking, starting with the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Black Tuesday. ... the Turks jumping all over the gold and purple elegance of Byzantium was an aesthetic outrage, a barbarism to end all barbarisms.

Kill them all and let Dior sort them out?

Considering many attempts to convey the wrongness of attitudes such as these, I have to wonder if there is any way to get through to such people that the 'true' facts they believe are generally very wrong. There may not be. William James once stated:

As there is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it, so reasonable arguments, challenges to magnanimity, and appeals to sympathy or justice, are folly when we are dealing with human crocodiles and boa-constrictors.

How else to describe those who still seek after 60 years "To crush your [Japanese] enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women" as revenge for Pearl Harbor?

Especially when they declare you're wrong, and don't offer traceable evidence as to the 'true' facts of their claim?

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pessimist :: 1:57 PM :: Comments (19) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!