Monday, June 07, 2004

The Greatest Generation

That's an appellation that David Gelertner, Yale professor and Unabomber victim, despises. Why? Because it was coined by Baby Boomers who hated the military. In this editorial Gelertner discusses four World War II issues that should be taught in schools. The most notable to me are these two:

The bestiality of the Japanese. The Japanese army saw captive soldiers as cowards, lower than lice. If we forget this we dishonor the thousands who were tortured and murdered, and put ourselves in danger of believing the soul-corroding lie that all cultures are equally bad or good. Some Americans nowadays seem to think America's behavior during the war was worse than Japan's--we did intern many loyal Americans of Japanese descent. That was unforgivable--and unspeakably trivial compared to Japan's unique achievement, mass murder one atrocity at a time.

In "The Other Nuremberg," Arnold Brackman cites (for instance) "the case of Lucas Doctolero, crucified, nails driven through hands, feet and skull"; "the case of a blind woman who was dragged from her home November 17, 1943, stripped naked, and hanged"; "five Filipinos thrown into a latrine and buried alive." In the Japanese-occupied Philippines alone, at least 131,028 civilians and Allied prisoners of war were murdered.

The attitude of American intellectuals. Before Pearl Harbor but long after the character of Hitlerism was clear--after the Nuremberg laws, the Kristallnacht pogrom, the establishment of Dachau and the Gestapo--American intellectuals tended to be dead against the U.S. joining Britain's war on Hitler.

Today's students learn (sometimes) about right-wing isolationists like Charles Lindbergh [who eventually smartened up -- tkm] and the America Firsters. They are less likely to read documents like this, which appeared in Partisan Review (the U.S. intelligentsia's No. 1 favorite mag) in fall 1939, signed by John Dewey, William Carlos Williams, Meyer Schapiro and many more of the era's leading lights. "The last war showed only too clearly that we can have no faith in imperialist crusades to bring freedom to any people. Our entry into the war, under the slogan of 'Stop Hitler!' would actually result in the immediate introduction of totalitarianism over here. . . . The American masses can best help [the German people] by fighting at home to keep their own liberties."

Chinese-Americans whose parents were born in or before World War II know and remember the brutality of the Japanese and the Rape of Nanking, including the Japanese soldiers' practice of "catching" Chinese babies on bayonet points.

For more on the intellectual idiots who refused to confront the truths about Nazism, see if you can find a copy of Dr. Seuss Goes to War by Richard Minear. It's a compendium of Theodore (Dr. Seuss) Geisel's political cartoons in the 1930s and early 1940s as Dr. Seuss decried the Nazi regime, urged the US into World War II and derided the intellectuals who advocated isolation. Unfortunately, it's listed as out of print on

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