Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day of Infamy

On this day sixty-nine years ago Japanese Zeros appeared out of the rising sun to attack the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, thus awaking a “sleeping dragon” and provoking the Pacific Theater of World War II for four bloody years. The militant voices of imperial Japan hoped such an act of aggression would weaken our resolve and give them ample room to spread their imperial reach and seize the natural resources of Eastern Asia. We know how things turned out. An awful racial war ensued, as Allied forces island-hopped their way gradually and painfully closer to the Japanese mainland. Imperial troops were absolutely brutal, and Nanking, the Bataan Death March, and "Comfort Women," are only a few concrete examples of this brutality. But American troops too often looked upon the enemy and treated them no less atrociously. To avoid what could have been the worst battle in world history in terms of casualties, the United States dropped its latest deadly toy on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The smoldering pile of towers from 911 is more vivid to us nowadays than Pearl Harbor, and the former was arguably a more audacious act. Interestingly enough, the same asinine responses to the tragedies have occurred. President Roosevelt allegedly knew about the imminent attack on Pearl Harbor but didn’t say anything about it in order to have a pretext to commit the United States to a war against Hitler and thereby help out his friend Churchill. You have whack jobs like Jesse Ventura claiming with no evidence whatsoever that the U.S. government staged the 911 attacks, making it look like Jihadists were involved to justify a war in the Middle East.  Some even further along on the hate wagon have suggested that the Jews are responsible for destroying the twin towers in order to garner support for Israel.

Some people are just by nature conspiratorial. They like to be a part of a small esoteric group of enlightened souls amid a sea of dupes, you and me.  There's nothing wrong with thinking outside the box, flouting convention, and having a healthy dose of skepticism.  But these conspiratorialists are not skeptics pure and simple.  They usually question the official interpretation of an event because of a deep-seated need to feel special and privilegedprivileged with knowledge in this caseor because of partisan animosity of some kind.  For the most part, those who claimed FDR knew about Pearl Harbor opposed his politics, likewise those who suspected George W. Bush or Dick Cheney of a cover-up.  Then again, some people simply can’t accept the official verdict on the matter, always suspecting duplicity in high places.  Others find it simply too difficult to accept a relatively straightforward answer for a painful occurrence.  Admittedly, the assassination of President Kennedy is rather sketchy. But the burden of proof must always reside with the conspiracy-mongers, not those who painstakingly use research methods and science that end up providing an officially accepted explanation. Nobody in our government knew about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor until the actual “date which will live in infamy” occurred.