December 7, 2001
9:51 AM   Subscribe

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy
posted by Trampas (32 comments total)
posted by jpoulos at 9:57 AM on December 7, 2001

WWII happened
posted by Trampas at 10:03 AM on December 7, 2001

Ok, I answered a smart-ass question with a smart-ass answer. But I fail to see where any link commentary is necessary here.

I just felt that what happened on this day in history should be recognized here.
posted by Trampas at 10:09 AM on December 7, 2001

WWII happened

WWII was going on before Pearl Harbour...
posted by Gary at 10:12 AM on December 7, 2001

I'm aware of that. But I couldn't think of a historically correct smart-ass response to, "and?".
posted by Trampas at 10:24 AM on December 7, 2001

"and" America officially entered ww-2 by declaring war on Japan.
posted by tiaka at 10:30 AM on December 7, 2001

Since no one seems to have much to say on this posting, a reminder: After the japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, we declared war on them. But we did not declare war on their Axis ally, Germany, till Germany declared war on the U.S.
posted by Postroad at 10:31 AM on December 7, 2001

Okay, so I'll chime in with a relevant story:

On the morning of Dec. 7th, 1941 my maternal grandparents were in San Diego California, preparing for their wedding later that afternoon. Reports started filtering in over the radio in the middle of the day that something terrible had happened. A decision was made within the wedding party that nobody was going to tell my grandmother about the attack, since they "didn't want to upset her".

She tells me that the ceremony went well, if brief, and people seemed a bit subdued - but it was only afterwards at the reception that she noticed people clustering together everywhere talking in hushed concerned tones. She wanted to know what was going on, but nobody wanted to tell her. Finally, someone broke the news to her. She, of course, handled it like anyone else - except for the fact she was still in her bridal gown.

My grandfather died several years back, but I always find it easy to remember grandma's wedding anniversary - and I think she does too. This story just feels all the more real to me these days, considering the events of 9-11.
posted by kokogiak at 10:35 AM on December 7, 2001

Since no one has much to say about this I thought I'd inject a thought about the "everything has changed" meme that was weighing down the boards after 9/11. Many TV shows were about to premiere over the next couple of weeks and lots of people questioned whether or not it was appropriate to laugh or enjoy oneself again so soon after what had happened.

So how is that relevant here? Just a couple of weeks ago I was listening to the Fibber McGee & Molly show from Dec 9th, 1941!!! That's right, just two days after Pearl Harbor. It was of course preceded with a message from the sponsor explaining why they thought it was good for morale to go ahead and do the show anyway.
posted by johnmunsch at 10:53 AM on December 7, 2001

This reminds me that Bob Dylan's Love And Theft was released on September 11th. I can't say as to whether this helped or hurt its sales, but it did color a lot of the reviews.
posted by y2karl at 11:03 AM on December 7, 2001

kokogiak's story reminds me of my mother's recollections of both Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima--she remembered where she was and what she was doing when she heard about both. I know I had Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup for lunch November 22, 1963, and I remember 1968 all too well, where I was and what I was doing when I heard Martin Luther King, Andy Warhol (!) and Bobby Kennedy got shot. And I'll remember lying in bed Sept 11th and hearing the first report on NPR's Morning Edition, turning on the TV, seeing the second plane hit and all that followed. I listened to NPR last night and heard Art Spiegelman and his wife talk about being four blocks away from it all, running in a panic to their daughter's school, not knowing what had happened and experiencing the collapse of both towers in real time and space. Now that was a riveting recollection...
posted by y2karl at 11:22 AM on December 7, 2001

Yes, today is the day, and the question: is the date infamous and will it forever be remembered as such? The short answer is NO. We do not hold grudges for 60 years, and the national consensus has moved on a long time ago. I don't think 9/11 will hold the infamous date anywhere near as long as 12/7; all things considered, I expect 9/11s 'infamous power' to disappear within 18 months, maybe less.
posted by Mack Twain at 11:27 AM on December 7, 2001

Here's something we can all learn from December 7: Don't park all your battleships where an enemy can knock them all out at a single stroke. (It's only dumb luck that the U.S. aircraft carriers, etc., weren't there to be destroyed, too.) Yet with this historical example before us, we still insist on concentrating our important government, financial and communications functions within a few small blocks of New York City and Washington, D.C. A small nuclear device strategically placed in either city would cause havoc and economic chaos on a scale that would make 9-11 look like a neighborhood mishap. Why? Because we haven't learned the lessons of 12-7. The answer: Decentralize. This is a big damned country with lots of room. Let's use it.
posted by Faze at 11:41 AM on December 7, 2001

I think Sept. 11 was as big a wound on the American psyche as Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy Assassination, and there's no way it passes without a huge media orgy for at least 30-40 years. Especially if terrorists continue to be the most significant American security threat.
posted by rcade at 11:55 AM on December 7, 2001

Don't park all your battleships where an enemy can knock them all out at a single stroke. (It's only dumb luck that the U.S. aircraft carriers, etc., weren't there to be destroyed, too.)

My, yes, what a damned coincidence. Hmm...not a shred of premeditation there.
posted by Jongo at 12:07 PM on December 7, 2001

"We" do not hold grudges? Depends on whom you ask. My hometown paper, and others too, I'm sure, have the obligatory I-was-there stories of 12/7/41 survivors who'll never forgive Japan for the attack. Plenty of US veterans of the Pacific war also believe that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were militarily justified.

The later after the war one was born, no doubt the easier it is to forgive. Also, it's easier to understand the attack when one removes the cultural blinders of "they're sneaky, devious little slant-eyed bastards who don't believe in fair play" and remember that (a) war is not about fair play and (b)from Japan's point of view, war was inevitable and PH was to be a decisive preemptory masterstroke -- a centerpiece of military thinking in their culture. It partially worked, but of course the carriers weren't in port and there was no second strike against the tank farms -- and Yamamoto knew the entire time that all he was doing was buying a few months' time to "run wild in the Pacific" before the might of a focused American war effort began to overwhelm Japan's ability to deal with it.

Japan certainly isn't the same nation it was during Manchuria, Nanking, and the Bataan Death March. But plenty of people who are knowledgeable of their history and culture will tell you they still don't like us and consider us inferior.

It's really too early to say whether 9/11/01 is going to have the lasting cultural impact of 12/7/41; three months after Pearl Harbor we'd barely begun to figure out how we'd even wage war, let alone start doing anything. It looks like we're close to cornering OBL, but this may be Phase One of an ongoing effort to smack rats with a baseball bat.
posted by alumshubby at 12:10 PM on December 7, 2001

I thought this post was about two people going out for the first time, and there being absolutely no chemistry.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:20 PM on December 7, 2001

That second WashPost article is a very good read.
posted by acridrabbit at 12:46 PM on December 7, 2001

Shouldn't it be a day "that" will live in infamy?
posted by Outlawyr at 1:55 PM on December 7, 2001

To boldly go on a bad date which will live in infamy.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:00 PM on December 7, 2001

and a date that didn't May 17, 1927.

Should it have?
posted by DBAPaul at 2:00 PM on December 7, 2001

"A date which will live inconceivable!"

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

posted by ZachsMind at 2:02 PM on December 7, 2001

From Alumshubby's post: "But plenty of people who are knowledgeable of their history and culture will tell you they still don't like us and consider us inferior."

In all of my experience with Japanese folks, I've observed an unusual amount of affection for all things American, and if anything a sense that the USA is more "cool" than Japan. Who is this "they" that doesn't like "us"???

Sounds like wierd paranoia to me.
posted by mikojava at 2:57 PM on December 7, 2001

Miko: They like our stuff, yes, but they don't particularly care for Americans as a people. There are actually places in Japan where outsiders are not allowed. From what I've seen, they tend to treat Americans the way everyone likes to say the French do(Several people have told me the French are perfectly pleasant, for the most part).
There's is also some minor distinction between usage of the word gaijin as opposed to its proper form of gaikokujin that's somehow derogatory. I don't remember the details. Someone care to step in?
posted by Su at 3:19 PM on December 7, 2001

"Germany declared war on the U.S."

Not one of Hitler's smarter moves, from the vantage point of 20/20 hindsight (nor even myopic foresight for that matter).
posted by MAYORBOB at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2001

A day that will live in infamy? Just because this is Chomsky’s birthday doesn’t make him bad.
posted by raaka at 4:12 PM on December 7, 2001

"Plenty of US veterans of the Pacific war also believe that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were militarily justified."

I'd say that plenty of US citizens, veterans or otherwise, believe that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified.

I count myself among them.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:41 PM on December 7, 2001

It ended the war. It insured the success of the Allies against the Axis forces. The sacrifice of the populations of those cities meant any further bloodshed of World War II was put to a near immediate halt. It's possible that those tens of thousands of lives spared millions. It insured freedom would win over the tyrany and oppression which the Allies had been fighting for years. Had the Allies been able to kill only the people who meant to kill us, fine. We could not. So to prove to the Axis forces that we had the means to end the war once and for all, we aimed our bombs at those two cities, and set them as an example for the entire world to fear our wrath.

Was it necessary to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Did we have a choice? No. Not really. Not if our goal was to end the war. Was it justified? Was it right? Was it valid? Killing innocents to prove a point to the guilty? Benito Mussolini. Adolph Hitler. Hideki Tojo. These were the bastards who should have had a nuclear bomb dropped on their skulls. Not the people they professed to lead.

None of the people in those cities started the war. Those people were just living their daily lives. The loss of those lives was not any more justified than the loss of the lives at the Pentagon or the World Trade Center on 9-11-01. Bombing those cities killed innocent lives who were not fighting any war. The people behind the Axis powers, in Italy, in Germany and in Japan, put the men and women in those cities in harm's way.

We pulled the trigger. So you find such an action justified? Maybe you should ask Gen.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:10 PM on December 7, 2001

Just to clarfy for Su, Gaijin literally means "outside people" and Gaikokujin means "outside country people". The more colloquial translations might be "Barbarian" and "foreigner" respectively. The term gaijin was certainly more prevalent during the time depicted by James Clavell's "Shogun" than in modern Japan.

I'm a bit dissappointed by Alumshubby and Su's comments above who both seem to be trying to reinforce a stereotype using anecdotal evidence, especially in the inflammatory context of the remembrance of an attack against our country.
posted by mikojava at 10:25 PM on December 7, 2001

I certainly hope the day shall live in infamy. That is not, of course, the same thing as hating Japan. It was, and shall remain, one of the most notable sneak attacks in modern military history, and as a political event it was a watershed.

Similarly, for 9/11, I can't imagine how the death of 3000 people -- even if it's "only" the second largest hostile loss of life in US history -- will be soon forgotten. There are little ripples that keep eddying out. I just found out about someone at the restaurant where I went for a party having had a daughter lost at WTC.

I'm with mikojava -- those comments were really as parochial as they accused "the Japanese" of being. Hell, Japan just changed its constitution to allow warships to cruise the Arabian Sea in support of the war. This is not the action of a nation that, to a man, hates America.
posted by dhartung at 11:18 PM on December 7, 2001

Gaikokujin is the formal term for foreigner used in official documents, news shows etc. People also use it colloquially as a term for non-European foriegners, especially Asians.

Gaijin is the term for Westerners, particularly white westerners.

But plenty of people who are knowledgeable of their history and culture will tell you they still don't like us and consider us inferior.

In general, Japanese tend to fear contact with foriegners. Having never met one before most have no personal feelings of like or dislike.

They do however have a lot of mistaken stereotypical assumptions about Western culture.

Generally they have a favorable impression of American/European culture, and a generally unfavorable impression of other Asian cultures.
posted by dydecker at 1:12 AM on December 8, 2001

The 'respect' that Japan has is not from vaporizing two cities, but from the respectful(for the most) treatment given to japanese by her only occupier in her long, long history- The U.S. Some circles hate our ever-lovin guts. some think we are inferior. some like and love us. I have discovered that If one learns two much about ones culture and history that this can have an even more polarizing effect then ignorance."Not one of Hitler's smarter moves" this is debatable. yes, he should have waited BUT, it also helped push the Italians resolve. I think Hitler did this to frighten us and bolster his axis buddies into that cohesive fascist party machine he dreamed of.
posted by clavdivs at 6:54 AM on December 8, 2001

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