How the tenth anniversary of Pearl Harbor was observed—or not observed
I’ve been wondering how Americans of 1951 must have commemorated the tenth anniversary of Pearl Harbor with teary ceremonies coast to coast, anguished cries over why God let it happen, and entreaties to hand-hold with our enemies so that it will never happen again. Oh, wait. According to this interesting AP piece, they didn’t:
Pausing to remember Pearl Harbor didn’t dominate the news, nor, according to anecdotal newspaper accounts, was it at the forefront for many Americans.
On Dec. 7 of that year , the top headlines told of the latest news from Korea.
Many newspapers put the Pearl Harbor anniversary on their front pages, but they squeezed it in among the dozen or so stories commonly crammed on a page in those days. Many relegated it to the bottom of the front page.
LIFE, a weekly magazine that was among the most prominent publications of the time, made no mention of the anniversary in either its Dec. 3 or Dec. 10 editions, said Emily Rosenberg, a history professor at University of California, Irvine.
The only mention of Japan, Rosenberg said, came in a story about American servicemen from the Korean War seeking respite at Japanese baths attended to by “‘plump Japanese girls in pale blue play skirts.”’ There were several ceremonies in Hawaii to remember the attack.
The one at Pearl Harbor was only for the Navy, which had recently installed a small platform and flagpole at the sunken wreck of the USS Arizona. Other memorials, including a Catholic mass at a cathedral and a ceremony at a national cemetery in Honolulu, remembered the Pearl Harbor dead alongside those killed in World War II and the Korean War.
Some even had trouble remembering Pearl Harbor at all.
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An attack on America which led immediately to all-out world war and American victory three and a half years later, was not particularly commemorated ten years later.
But an attack on America which led to a fairly minor U.S. military action in one Muslim country (which kept going on and became more and more problematic), and to a disastrous U.S. military occupation of another Muslim country; and which also led to large parts of American society being permanently locked down under anti-terror security shields and to Americans being treated as suspects in their own country in order to avoid discrimination against Muslims in even the slightest possible manner, such as checking young Muslim men more carefully in airports, is made the object of a vast industry of memorials, ceremonies, victimological monuments, 24/7 media brainwashing, etc.
Why the difference? The Pearl Harbor attack was made against pre-modern liberal America. The 9/11 attack was made against an America totally dominated by modern liberalism, including the cult of the self, the cult of victimhood, and the Prime Directive not to discriminate against non-Western peoples but to include and celebrate them no matter how alien and threatening they are.
Mark A. writes:
With regard to your comment on a pre-liberal America, allow me to provide two quotes to compare and contrast:
“Before we’re through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell.”
—Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, December 8, 1941
“If you think the terrorists would become peaceful if only America would stop provoking them, then it might make sense to leave them alone. This is not the threat I see. I see a global terrorist movement that exploits Islam in the service of radical political aims—a vision in which books are burned, and women are oppressed, and all dissent is crushed.”
—George W. Bush, December 18th, 2005
But the analogy between the two enemies doesn’t hold. One was a nation state that had attacked the U.S., leading to a conventional war against that nation state. The other was a shadowy group of terrorists. There was no way we could wage a war against al Qaeda similar to the war we waged against Japan. And there was no way that we could treat all Muslim countries as though they were all enemy nation states that had attacked us.
Further, we did not do what Halsey said we would do. We didn’t destroy the Japanese as a people and a culture. President Truman made clear to the Japanese in his demand for unconditional surrender that the aim was not the destruction of Japan or of the Japanese people, but the occupation and reconstruction of Japan so that it would not pose a threat to us again, at which point the occupation would end.
Tim W. writes:
I was vacationing in Texas about fifteen years ago and took a bus tour of San Antonio. The most important stop of the tour was the Alamo, of course. But the most unexpected was a stop at the Japanese Gardens. I never knew there were Japanese Gardens in San Antonio. But there they were. The tour guide told us that the area had been an abandoned quarry filled with unsightly rocks. But a civic leader back in 1918 came up with the idea of converting the dreary place into an Oriental garden. Rocks are utilized in such gardens to enhance an area’s beauty. The quarry was made into a beautiful garden in Japanese style, and became a popular attraction in the city.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the city residents demanded that the name of the gardens be changed. They wanted nothing associated with Japan in their city. So the place was renamed as the Chinese Gardens. Japanese style gardens are different from Chinese style gardens, but that didn’t matter to the people of San Antonio. They renamed the gardens even though the new name was technically inaccurate. The name wasn’t changed back to the Japanese Gardens until 1984 under Mayor Henry Cisneros (a future Clinton cabinet member).
The name given to some lovely gardens may seem trivial, but 1941 was a different world than 2001. People wanted nothing positive to be associated with Japan after Pearl Harbor. And no one even called them “Nippophobic” for changing the name.
Paul K. writes:
The attack on Pearl Harbor wasn’t commemorated on its tenth anniversary and it’s still rarely mentioned now. [LA replies: That’s overstated.] The anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima is stressed far more in the mainstream media than the event that started the war.
It might be suggested that the incessant commemoration of the 9/11 attack is due to the 24-hour news programs’ constant need to hype up interest, and that the public is only interested in events within recent memory, but that does not entirely explain it. There are certain events of decades past that the media constantly rehashes and keeps fresh in the minds of the public, such as the lynching of blacks in the 1920s, the assassination of JFK, the early Civil Rights movement, the anti-war protests of the 1960s, and Watergate. Other events, which do not fit the narrative, are allowed to be forgotten.
D. Edwards writes:
After Pearl Habor millions of men were drafted into service and many died on the battle field. After 9/11 many died but many were told to go shopping and also told that Islam is a “religion of peace.”
Another liberal stupidity.
Alexis Zarkov writes:
In 1941 Americans were not afraid to feel anger or fear towards a country or a race. We had the phrase “yellow peril” as far back as the 19th Century. In 1920 Lothrop Stoddard published the book, The Rising Tide of Color Against White-World Supremacy. This book was extremely influential at the time, read unashamedly by presidents, and it probably motivated the 1925 immigration quotas. Human beings are naturally prone to generalizations. They like to go from the particular to the universal imposing some kind of taxonomy on the world. I suspect this is a survival mechanism. If you see people die from green snake bites, it’s natural to fear green snakes. In 1941 few people were uncomfortable imposing invidious stereotypes on the Japanese. If anything it was a morale booster.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 10, 2011 07:56 PM | Send
Today everything is different. Americans are afraid to generalize in any way beyond the specific individuals directly responsible for an evil act. The attack on the World Trade Center was the product of Al Qaeda with Osama Bin Laden in command and that’s it. No further generalizations are allowed. Except for white people. I know white people who virtually look forward to the demise of the white race. A liberal I carpooled with back in the 1990s (of Scottish extraction married to a Japanese) made so many negative references to white people that one day I said to him, “Alan go look in the mirror. What do you see looking back at you?” He and many others seem unaware of their double standard. This is why the observance of the tenth anniversary has been so fraught with conflict.