Skip to comments.Flags of Our Fathers: On Patriotism and Lies
Posted on 09/20/2008 10:38:37 PM PDT by Roger W. Gardner
On one fundamental maxim all professional propagandists would agree: It you repeat a lie often enough and loudly enough, sooner or later it becomes accepted truth. Considering the long ignoble record of relentless and vociferous attacks by the Communist-inspired left on our American history, it's a wonder that there can be any true American patriots left.
Immediately following World War Two, and up until this present hour, we have been, and are still being, assaulted with vicious and totally unsubstantiated lies and distortions about the history of our great nation. These outrageous falsifications have been repeated so often by so many that they have indeed become accepted truth. What is worse, however, is the almost total lack of counter arguments and effective rebuttals. The voices of truth, that is, the voices of dissent, have been so weak and limp-wristed that they have been all but useless against this cynical onslaught of manipulative slander. To be an unabashed patriot in this present atmosphere of self-loathing and eagerly embraced guilt is to be an extremist, an ignorant, chest-thumping redneck. The cynics hold the high ground now: they have raised their flag of anti-Americanism, and the knowledgeable world applauds.
The simple patriotism of even the most sincere and committed patriot amongst us is invariably tainted by these insidious lies. We love America, we say to ourselves, despite its failings, despite its long list of tragic and monumental blunders. None of us is perfect, we say. But America comes closer than most. And, besides, we have for the most part admitted our past mistakes and, where possible, made reparations, or at the very least issued heartfelt apologies to our purported victims.
This, my friends, is how deeply we've been penetrated by the enemy's successful propaganda assault. We have embraced their ingenious lies and incorporated them into our national narrative. Seldom, if ever, do we take the time to actually investigate them. After all, we have received these lessons from some of our most credible sources, our teachers, our politicians, our historians and our media. Why should we doubt them?
The tedious litany of America's bloody blunders, that well-publicized list of American mistakes and American atrocities is just too long to attack, item by item, here in this limited space. But perhaps by tackling just a few of the most popular lies in our anti-Americanist's propaganda arsenal we can hopefully raise some doubts about the veracity of some of the others. Maybe, with just a little research into this worthy subject, we can learn -- as I have learned -- to love America because of our history, and not despite it.
Let's start with that infamous and unconscionable internment of our Japanese-Americans in WWII. Was it really necessary? Were we wrong to do it?
In 1942, some 112,000 Japanese were living on the Pacific Coast. About 40 percent were resident aliens and the remainder, by virtue of U.S. birth, were American citizens. The citizens, however, were mostly children, and when the U.S. declared war on Japan, their parents became enemy aliens. Moreover the Japanese emperor claimed all Japanese, wherever born, as subjects. They were referred to as doho, meaning countrymen. Japanese residents in the U.S. sent their children to Japanese school on Saturdays. A teacher in one of the schools told his American-born students, You must remember that only a trick of fate has brought you so far from your homeland, but there must be no question of your loyalty. When Japan calls, you must know that it is Japanese blood that flows in your veins.
Resident Japanese also sent their children to Japan for schooling. By 1940, more than 20,000 American-born Japanese had been educated in Japan. Known as kibei, they were fluent in Japanese, steeped in Japanese history and culture, and supporters of Japanese expansion in the Far East. They could hardly be distinguished from young militarists in Japan. Lt. Cmdr. K.D. Ringle of the Office of Naval Intelligence had been investigating the kibei for several months when the Japanese perpetrated their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. In January 1942, he submitted a report saying:
[T]he most potentially dangerous element of all are those American citizens of Japanese ancestry who have spent the formative years of their lives, from 10 to 20, in Japan and have returned to the United States to claim their legal American citizenship within the last few years. Those people are essentially and inherently Japanese and may have been deliberately sent back to the United States by the Japanese government to act as agents.
The notorious Kokuryukai (Black Dragon) Japanese espionage network had been operating since at least the early thirties throughout North America. They had successfully penetrated the Boeing Plant and stolen the blueprints for a new American bomber. Their extremely effective espionage operations in Hawaii had assured the success of the Pearl Harbor attacks.
Question: Given this known threat, how was our government expected to deal with the Japanese population on the West Coast? What possible tests could they have improvised to determine with any degree of certainty whether a Japanese-American's loyalties lay with the US or with their original homeland? According to the best statistics found on this subject, approximately 80-85% of the interned Japanese were actually loyal American citizens. But this still would have left us with the threat of 15-20% (or approximately 15-20,000) of those Japanese of questionable loyalty -- not to mention the unknowable threat from the Kokuryukai network. Faced with an extremely difficult situation, with major moral ramifications, our American government, rather than overreacting, did the best job it could do under the circumstances to protect Americans. We have been morally chastised by the universal Pacifist Left relentlessly for over a half century for having had the courage to make these difficult wartime decisions.
This of course would most likely be followed by the shameful reminder of the thousands of innocent Japanese civilians we slaughtered in Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945. It was, after all, the United States of America who used the first atomic weapon in anger.
This argument could be, indeed, should be, answered by a lengthy rebuttal, but let's just mention two or three verifiable, but conveniently ignored, historical facts. Almost all of the major players in WWII were working on an atomic bomb program. Britain, Germany and Japan all had programs in place, furiously driven to be the first to achieve an actual atomic weapon. Britain gave America its unequivocal approval to its reluctant decision to use the bomb to end the war. Can any America-bashing critic honestly believe that if Nazi Germany or Imperialist Japan had gotten the bomb first that they wouldn't have enthusiastically used it on America or Britain? Is there any America-bashing critic out there who would have wished for the Axis Powers to have won that particular arms race? Add to this the undeniable facts of the Nazi and Japanese chemical and biological warfare programs that were ongoing throughout the war -- and in Japan's case, were actually implemented in Manchuria, resulting in the horrible deaths of thousands of innocent civilians - an enormous atrocity about which we hear virtually nothing.
The atomic bomb was dropped to end the seemingly endless bloodbath of the War in the Pacific. And end it it did. I have personally talked with GIs who were on troopships headed for Japan for the planned great invasion of the Japanese Home Islands who heard of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the subsequent surrender of Japan, and were thus turned around in mid-sea, and instead of continuing on to what could have been their almost certain death (estimates of American casualties on the planned amphibious assault on the Japanese Homeland ran as high as 600,000, or even higher), they were heading back to America. Ask these GIs how the felt about America dropping the bomb.
Finally, a few words about our enemies. It is said that a man is known by the friends he has. It is also, I believe, possible to tell a lot about a person, or in this case, about a nation, by its enemies. Take just a moment to ponder that repugnant rogue's gallery of our most recent enemies and see if this tells you anything about our national character. Look closely at those faces, those historical adversaries of ours, and tell us what you see. There's our old friend Adolf and belligerent Benito, and savage little Tojo. Then there's Ho Chi Minh, Mao Tse-tun, and kindly old Pol Pot. I could of course go on and on, but is it really necessary? Is there anyone out there who would wish that any these fine fellows had been victorious against us?
Obviously, we have not the space here to go into any lengthy analysis of their respective evils. But what of our unwavering ideological enemies, what of those sworn enemies of democracy and freedom and capitalism? Those devious players on the world's stage, who are still, to this very day, adroitly manipulating the strings of the world's anti-Americanists? What of our proverbial and unrelenting adversaries, the Communists? Those indefatigable foes who have been behind virtually every leftist, antiwar anti-Americanist movement in the Twentieth Century, both abroad and on our own soil, all with the eager complicity of our very own homegrown useful idiots. What can we learn about their character? And what will it tell us about ours?
As I said, I could go and on. The true significance of the Korean War, our eminently justifiable and honorable mission in Vietnam. But this is not the proper venue for such an ambitious project. Hopefully, however, this small essay will help to contribute to the beginning of a new attitude toward our shared history. A new attitude of honestly founded love of country. A new sense of patriotism deserved. And perhaps some useful ammunition to fight back against those relentless detractors and devious propagandists. We've been taking it on the chin for six long decades now from self-appointed moralists and armchair generals. Our exhaustive record of uncommon generosity and human decency has been all but completely forgotten, and our fictitious evils have been wantonly glorified. Now more than ever, we must learn our own value and believe in ourselves. It's time to stop this self-immolation. Now more than ever, we must learn how to fight back against those who wish to shame us with their outrageous falsehoods and their cynical deceptions. We must learn all over again what it means to be a patriot, what it means to truly know one's country and to truly love it.
God bless America.
For Lenin: Lenin Robert Service (Macmillan 2000). For Stalin: Stalin -- And the shaping of the Soviet Union Alex de Jonge (William Morrow 1986); also: Stalin -- The Court of the Red Tsar Simon Sebag Montefiore (Alfred A. Knopf 2003). See also Radarsite's The Outrage of Patriotism in the Chicago Sun Times
This is the only thing in the article I would take issue with. Japan really had no program in place. As far as I know, a few Japanese intellectuals had theorized about the bomb, and uranium deposits were available in Manchuria. But there was certainly nothing that could be described as "furiously driven", and nothing remotely resembling the scale of the Manhattan Project. The odd thing is, the Japanese did developed almost no new military technology of any kind during the war. The weapons they had at the end of the war were basically the same as those at the beginning, which were more suited to colonial domination than fighting a major power. After we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, those Japanese scientists knew what had hit them, and urged the Emperor to develop them. But American submarines had virtually destroyed the ability to move uranium ore from Manchuria, and in any case it was far too late to start. The second bomb killed the idea.
Germany did make some more substantial efforts in the direction of a nuclear bomb, but again not on the scale needed, and nothing that could be described as "furious". For one thing, Hitler distrusted what he termed "damned Jewish physics", and preferred to see Germany's efforts put into bigger, better tanks, airplanes, submarines, and especially his "wonder weapons" the V1 and V2 rockets. What was done in terms of developing nuclear weapons was on a shoestring, and often went down dead ends. For example, a great deal of the effort was put towards fusion (hydrogen bombs), which first needs a fission bomb to set it off. In any case, allied bombing destroyed most of the facilities, and no major effort was made to build new ones.
Thank you Hugin for your thoughtful reply. However our seperate research seems to have unearthed different results. Here is just one report on Japan’s WWII Nuclear program:
The Japanese atomic program was led by Dr. Yoshio Nishina, who also was a friend of oratory at the Riken (the Institute for Physical and Chemical Research) in 1931 to study high-energy physics. He built his first 26 inch cyclotron in 1936, and another 60 inch 220 ton cyclotron in 1937. In 1938 Japan also purchased a cyclotron from the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1939 Dr. Nishina recognized the military potential of nuclear fission, and was worried that the Americans were working on a nuclear weapon which might be used against Japan. Indeed, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt started the first investigations into fission weapons in the United States, which eventually evolved into the massive Manhattan Project (the very laboratory from which Japan purchased its own cyclotron would become one of the major sites for weapons research). Dr. Nishina tried to match the U.S. research, and promoted the development of a nuclear weapon. In October 1940,
And on their advanced chemical/biologocal programs conducted by the infamous Unit 731:
The Japanese Army’s Unit 731,conducted Japan’s not-so-secret chemical-biological warfare operation in Manchuria before and during World War II.
Deliberately infected with plague, anthrax, cholera and other pathogens, an estimated 10,000 Chinese civilians and allied prisoners of war were made into human guinea pigs by Unit 731. They were vivisected without anesthesia and then dispatched by lethal injection. Other experiments involved tying victims to stakes and bombarding them with shrapnel laced with gangrene; inserting them in pressure chambers to see how much their bodies could take before their eyes popped; and exposing them, periodically drenched in water, to subzero weather to determine their susceptibility to frostbite. Three large incinerators disposed of the
corpses, which burned quickly because the internal organs had been removed.
Beyond the torture chambers of Unit 731, which occupied a
six-square-kilometer base that rivaled Auschwitz-Birkenau in size, the Japanese Army conducted germ-warfare field tests not only against nearby Chinese and Russian territory but as far away as Burma, Thailand and Indonesia. The death toll may have run as high as 200,000.
American occupation authorities in Japan, who after the war gave Ishii immunity from war crimes prosecution, were astounded by the scope of an operation that, in addition to producing lethal pathogens, manufactured 20 million doses of vaccine each year at just one facility.
Much of what you say of the German operations are basically true, but they did nonetheless have a continuous, if somewhat sporatic and diffused program on nuclear resarch throughout the war years, including the construction of some pretty major heavy water operations, the magnitude of which were not discovered until after the war had ended.
I will agree with your criticism of my use of the phrase “furiously driven” as probably not being the most appropriate description of their often confused efforts. But the programs were in place and were working toward their goal of nuclear weaponry. We just did it bigger and better. Thank God.
I would disagree with any justification for locking up all Japanese Americans during WWII. They were Americans and unless one could prove they were supporting Japan it was clearly unconstitutional to lock up a group of people because you think a few might be your enemy. In fact, the Japanese American soldiers proved they were as patriotic as anyone. It was clearly a dark chapter in our history.
Comments such as yours are precisely why I wrote this article. This is exactly the type of thinking I am referring to. You totally ignore all evidence that doesn’t fit into you Blame-America-First agenda. You offer no arguments to the conclusions of the article, you only continue with your blind assertions of our guilt. You are determined to find fault with America, despite any factual evidence to the contrary. You will not learn because you have chosen not to learn. I have no respect for your borrowed opinions. And, what is most disturbing to me of all, is that I bet you consider yourself to be a true patriot. Well, with friends like you -—
I rarely find fault with America. But I also don’t believe that always pretending we are incapable of making terrible mistakes during times of crisis is realistic. It does appear from your response to my point that you personally are unable to deal with disagreements since everything you wrote back was nothing more than a personal attack. Apparently, I am a blame America firster, I don’t learn because I choose not to, and I use borrowed opinions. Those are laughable, but I am offended by the suggestion I am not a true patriot. I don’t know exactly how you define a patriot, but I think having fought in two wars, and still carrying the physical effects from one of those wars allows me some small claim to patriotism, even though I believe fighting for your country is a privilege and not a sacrifice.
I guess you think putting innocent people in camps, taking everything they own, and then “allowing” their sons to fight and die for us is patriotic. I disagree.
Fair question. First of all, if I thank you for your service you’ll probably think I’m being insincere, but I’m not. I do thank you for your sacrifices. I too am a veteran and my son is a veteran.
As to your question as to what I consider a patriot, here’s the simple answer. A patriot does not look for ways to undermine the moral integrity of their country during a time of its utmost peril, during a time of war. No matter how you chose to rationalize this, to do this is undeniably aiding and abetting our enemies, and to me, that is simply unconscionable. And a patriot does not do this. Further, a patriot does not merely repeat popular opinions about the supposed immoral acts of their country, but does his own careful research to see how much validity these attacks might actually have, to see what the circumstance really were at the time, and — most importantly — what the alternatives would have been. In short, a patriot thinks long and hard before adding his voice to that chorus of American-bashing leftists.
A patriot’s main concern is in defending America against such disingenuous assaults on her character, not advancing them. And don’t use the excuse of your right to free speech, a right that you fought for. I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t wash with me anymore. Your right to free speech doesn’t oblige you to use it to the detriment of you own country. You consider that you are speaking for the truth, and in that way you are helping America. But you haven’t even bothered to do you homework before speaking out. I’m sorry, but I have no respect for this kind of intellectual laziness. You have, as I stated earlier, just totally ignored all of the carefully researched and substantiated facts of the arguments in that article and just continued defending your personal opinion.
You are, as I said earlier, exactly who this article was written for.
Let me try this. I think we should not use torture as a government policy. I don’ think there is any doubt that some of the terrorists we captured were tortured (assuming waterboarding is torture). I was even one of those who thought it was perfectly legitimate, and given the reasonable fear we had of further 9/11 attacks it was totally understandable. But now that we have had a chance to look back I think we need an honest debate about it. My problem with torture is that if it is done to our POWs we will lose a great deal of our moral right to denounce it if we have done the same thing. I also think, and many interrogators agree, that there are better, albeit slower, means of getting information. That does not mean that if a US soldier puts a gun to prisoners head and demands information to save his men, he should be found at fault.
My point about the Japanese internment camps is not to condemn those who did it or supported it. It’s to simply point out that in hindsight it was most definitely unconstitutional and should not have been done. The only time a president has a right to suspend habeas corpus with a US citizen in the US, is when he declares martial law. Roosevelt didn’t do that. If he had deported all non us citizen Japanese in the US, it would have been a totally different issue.
I feel the same way about treatment of the American Indians. American Indians were not all spiritual people always acting in self defense, but that doesn’t justify what was done to them after 1876.
I agree with everything else you wrote in your article. I get truly fed up with people finding fault with things we have done in the past simply because based on today’s more pacifist views some people might consider them wrong. I think it is one of the failings of our teaching of history in high school and college.
Anyway, I thank you and your son for your service as well.
Was it a great decision? No. Was it a necessary decision? Yes, given that they had neither the abilities nor the manpower we have today to monitor suspected subversives.
Today, even that is derided by the PC groups who think everything and everybody is okay.
As the article mentions, 80% to 85% were loyal to America, but again, that is in pure hindsight. Also ignored, and not a good reason to have interred them, was the very real possibility of what we call today “Hate Crimes” against them for their ancestry.
Those that fought in Europe distinguished themselves in ways rivaled by few.
In the early 80’s I worked with one who was in the camps and went on to fight in Europe and who was severely wounded in battle. He expressed no anger at the country for being interred, held no bitterness for his wounds. He understood it as a security measure, as nearly any Veteran would.
When the talk of reparations was beginning, he would just shake his head at it all.
If an argument about this should continue, it should be done from the prospective of the times with full consideration given to the abilities and the very real threat we faced then, not looking back from today upon every misstep of it. We cannot change it and should not use it as an example to allow potential or known subversive groups free reign throughout the country today.
Our freedoms are being distorted to seek the end of our freedoms by some groups and too many bleeding hearts place an impossible task upon those who protect us by burdening them with unnecessarily restrictive and dangerous delays in acting against or even monitoring those with known intentions of destroying our society.
**putting soap box away now**
Well, thank you Yazoo for that courteous reply. I don’t think that this comments thread is an appropriate venue for us to engage in an argument about the American Indians or our use of waterboarding, although I have strong opinions on both subjects.
As for the original subject of the camps, I think I’ve said pretty much all that I can say.
I agree completely. I have debated with people who think we should not have dropped the bombs on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Forgetting the fact that it was 100% justifiable as a military tactic and strategy, I get terribly frustrated with people who can't place themselves in the shoes of the people of the time. We had fought 4 years of horrible war, the Japanese had done horrendous things to our troops, and the Japanese had refused to surrender despite fire bombing which killed more people than the two atom bombs. We also knew that a ground war in Japan would cost hundreds of thousands of American lives. Even if believed (which I don't) that we should not have dropped the bombs, there is no way I could condemn anyone for making the decision to use them. My soap box is now under the bed.
Thank you Dakota Red for your calm and thoughtful response. I couldn’t agree more. The people that I am fighting against are often some of the nicest people in the world. But they are nonetheless wrong. Very wrong. And they do hurt us. And they don’t even see it.
Thank you Reid Folly. I agree.
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