War Were Declared.
December 4, 2006 7:24 PM   Subscribe

It will always be known as the "date which will live in infamy," but this year - the 65th Anniversary - may mark the last time survivors can/will come together at the site to pay their respects to the fallen and to shake hands with their former adversaries. Hawaii affiliate KHNL News 8 has already started its 5-day long coverage of the ceremonies, which culminate on the morning of the 7th and will feature a live web feed and a keynote adress given by Tom Brokaw (@ 7:30am HST).

Some consequences of the attack inside...
posted by krippledkonscious (27 comments total)
Whether you believe that the Pearl Harbor attack was a surprise or anticipated, the ensuing wave of xenophobia and perceived threat of treason and/or espionage helped chart two extremely disparate courses for those of Japanese ancestry living in the US (plus some from other countries). On one extreme: as a result of E.O. 9066, 110 - 120 thousand Japanese immigrants and naturalized Japanese American citizens living near the coasts were "relocated" to internment camps, where even the venerable George Takei's family was forced to agonize over the notorious questions #27 and #28. On the other side of the spectrum, young Japanese American men were allowed to enlist in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (which included the 100th Infantry Battalion) and would become one of the most storied and decorated regiments in military history.

Have we learned the lessons of history? Hard to say. Yesterday's WWII type of internment was admittedly a mistake and would not be tolerated today. But if the small chips at our constitutional rights keep on coming, what might tomorrow's mistake look like?

Many previous posts/comments on MeFi regarding Pear Harbor and internment, but as a nissei that passes by the Memorial daily, this is something I need to bring up again.
posted by krippledkonscious at 7:24 PM on December 4, 2006

Sorry, posting too fast: I'm a yonsei, not a nissei.
posted by krippledkonscious at 7:26 PM on December 4, 2006

So your only concern regarding the Pearl Harbor Attack is the effects it had on Japanese Americans?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:39 PM on December 4, 2006

Someone had to get the US into the war.
posted by pompomtom at 7:41 PM on December 4, 2006

This makes me wonder...

How many Japanese-Americans were involved in treasonous actions against America? Were there any trials, or did we just lock them all up, "Just to be sure"?
posted by Balisong at 7:45 PM on December 4, 2006

Hmmmm.... that was a bit curt. To rephrase: I, and, I suspect, quite a number of citizens of the Commonwealth, find it hard to consider the bombing of Pearl Harbour entirely 'infamous', considering the large, measurable, positive effects that it had for the anti-Fascist effort.
posted by pompomtom at 7:46 PM on December 4, 2006

didn't we fight a war because of that? ... i could have sworn there was something about a war ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:46 PM on December 4, 2006

Balisong: Assorted bits in the various links claim there were absolutely none, and that the only cases of treason during the war were by two caucasians.
posted by nightchrome at 7:50 PM on December 4, 2006

My grandparents are in Hawaii this week. It's probably the last time, yes, that my grandfather will be able to make the trip. He lives for his PH Survivor duties/activities. Interesting post, thanks.
posted by carsonb at 7:51 PM on December 4, 2006

Perhaps Michelle Malkin could help us to discuss the internment of Japanese-Americans in a calm and reasonable manner.

Good post, by the way.
posted by papakwanz at 7:57 PM on December 4, 2006

OK, I know, I know, the WWII vets were the greatest people evar!!1! but for christ's sake can we stop fellating them. It's been 65 years already! Sure their service to the world was fantastic, but come on! We gave them the choicest spot on the national mall (despite the fact that the whole fucking point of the Vietnam and Korean memorials was to give them, for once, some credit for their sacrifices unlike the other war vets). We've built countless highways, schools, prisons and institutions in their names. We've indulged their obnoxious, self-righteous children for decades. We've elected them to the highest offices. What the hell more do they want from us? Isn't it bad enough that they proceeded to drive the US from the highest peak of honor, power and glory into what we have today in half a century?

/OK axe ground, thanks. Hooray for vets, yea.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:57 PM on December 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

Can you imagine the disaster if the Japanese had not attacked Pearl Harbor but instead had lured us into deep water as a reaction to their attack on the Dutch East Indies?

Lot's more dead, ships unsalvageable.

American public outraged that we suffered big losses reacting to attacks on European colonialists.

The Japanese addiction to martial audacity did them in.
posted by wrapper at 8:23 PM on December 4, 2006

We've indulged their obnoxious, self-righteous children for decades.

we even let them have grandchildren ... with net connections
posted by pyramid termite at 8:32 PM on December 4, 2006

The anticipation theory is ridiculous. It's like claiming you let Joe break your arm with a baseball bat so you'd have an excuse to go fight Bob out in the parking lot.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:34 PM on December 4, 2006

Wellll.... I don't put anything in the anticipation theory myself, but there's no denying that the attack on Pearl Harbor was beneficial, in the long term anyway, to US interests, and I'd argue for the interests of any modern person who appreciates freedom. The Japanese Empire was not a nice government, and neither was Hitler's Germany.

There's also no denying that the US had a powerful isolationist streak back then (come to it, it still does today and its even dumber today than it was in the 1940's), and without the Japanese attack on America it is quite possible that we wouldn't have gotten involved in the war until after Hitler managed to take the British islands. I think the war would still have been winable, but it would have cost more.

Japan never really had any chance in the war, something all of its strategic planners knew perfectly well. They were hoping for a repeat of the political maneuvering following Admiral Togo's victory at Tsushima, and they got something else entirely.
posted by sotonohito at 9:40 PM on December 4, 2006

My grandfather went off to fight the Japanese... because of this I have a deep love of history and appreciation for what that generation did. In my eyes, we could never do enough to repay them.
posted by rfbjames at 10:11 PM on December 4, 2006

In case you're wondering on how we rounded up the Nikkei Japs, we first made it illegal for them to leave the sensitive areas. Then we required all said Japs to report to transit centers forthwith. Quite clever, I forget now but one of the more inspiring SCOTUS dissents covered this.

n.b.: why is 'brits' not derogatory but 'japs' is? Guess history trumps intent.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:46 PM on December 4, 2006

it is quite possible that we wouldn't have gotten involved in the war until after Hitler managed to take the British islands

and/or the Russians taking Berlin.

Japan never really had any chance in the war, something all of its strategic planners knew perfectly well.

I dispute this. Here is a picture of what the world looked like to the expansionists. That the US would spend billions of dollars and solve dozens of impossible challenges to build both the atom bomb & the B-29, not to mention slip into the theretofore inhuman of mass-murdering bombing strategies on their population centers -- and that Germany would fail at taking out Russia (Germany was seemingly ready to invest Moscow when the decision to go to war was made), was quite unimaginable in November 1941 I would think.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:56 PM on December 4, 2006

"...Some consequences of the attack inside..."
posted by krippledkonscious

One continuing consequence is that 65 years after she was sunk, USS Arizona continues to leak oil into Pearl Harbor, at the rate of a couple quarts a day. With something like a 1/2 million gallons of heavy fuel oil still thought to be in her bunkers, serious work has started to try and figure out how much longer the hull will last, and how the oil might be removed before being released by hull breaches.

And in the meantime, she continues to gather her dead.
posted by paulsc at 11:01 PM on December 4, 2006

After Mom passed, I sat with Dad a lot in the afternoons and evenings when I could get out their -- his -- place. With her gone, he started to talk more. Of us boys, I think he talked to me a bit more than the others anyhow, ever since I was an adolescent and he noticed that I seemed to listen.

A little vague on this, but the anecdote as I remember Dad's telling of how he remembered it:

Dad was 21, already a journeyman tool-and-die maker at Picatinny Arsenal, where he was helping turn out howitzers for the rearmament effort. He knew damned well that the US was going to be sucked wholly into Big Mistake #2 even as his products were being Lend-Leased over. He still lived at home on the farm and did chores too. (Six farms in rural New Jersey, everybody related; sort of a loose communal arrangement -- cousins pitched everywhere, wherever and whenever.)

So...Sunday after lunch on a chilly late-fall day, out in the dairy barn. Dad was ... trimming one of the milk cows' hooves? I think that's what Dad said. My grandpa walks into the barn and says, "Well, junior, it looks like you were right; it's started."

"Oh? What happened? Did 'Delano' get us to sink a bunch of submarines?" (Like a lot of folks in that time and place, my dad cordially hated FDR's guts.) Dad remembered that he didn't even look up from what he was doing. (Yet.)

"No, but some ships got bombed."

"Oh? Where?"


"Hawaii? What the hell?" Dad said he was genuinuely startled. Like a lot of people, all he knew of Hawaii was pineapples. He had only the vaguest idea that there was even a naval base there.

Grandpa told him, "You might want to stop what you're doing and come into the house and listen to the radio." And so ended the last (relative) normalcy in Dad's life for a long while to come.

Being initially classed as essential to the war effort, Dad wouldn't get drafted until '43. He didn't get to do much in the way of farm chores again until '47.
posted by pax digita at 6:49 AM on December 5, 2006

"Today, you remember -- I wonder how many Americans remember -- This is Pearl Harbor Day. 47 years ago to this very day we were hit and hit hard at Pearl Harbor."
George H.W. Bush addressing the American Legion in Louisville, Kentucky, on Sept 7, 1988
posted by Floydd at 6:56 AM on December 5, 2006

@wrapper: That's exactly what the Japanese naval strategy was -- they wanted to win Tsushima Strait all over again, against the USN this time. By eliminating the carriers, they hoped to lure the battlewagons out and finish them.

People haven't studied naval history often fail to reflect that the Imperial Japanese Navy was superior in quantity and quality to the US Pacific Fleet at the outset of the war. Yamamoto Isoroku, who'd studied eco at Havard, been a naval attaché in the Japanese Embassy, and had traveled throughout the US, knew perfectly well that the US could and would build a massive navy and come after them. He even said he'd run wild in the Pacific for six months, but after that he had no expectation of success, and sure enough, about six months later, the Nihon Kaigun suffered its first really major and irreversible defeat at Midway.

On preview: Floydd: Oh, my G*d. His infamous fratboy son, I'd believe, but...this, from a brownshoe who got shot down over the Bonins and had to go swimming?...That's a pretty rare lapse -- I hope.
posted by pax digita at 7:00 AM on December 5, 2006

One continuing consequence is that 65 years after she was sunk, USS Arizona continues to leak oil into Pearl Harbor, at the rate of a couple quarts a day.

I must say I was rather surprised by that when I visited this summer -- both that the ship continued after 65 years to leak oil and that in all that time nobody much wondered if there might be a way not to maybe get some of that stuff out of there.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:30 AM on December 5, 2006

Thanks for the story, pax digita. My family who were alive that day almost never talk about it; hardly any nissei I know ever do. I hope to get more stories from them before it's too late, but old japanese people... you know... shikata ga nai is all you'll get.

As for the reasons for the somewhat narrow focus of this post: Hell, I'm not trying to retell the entire story of WWII... I was pretty sure the title of the post suggested there may have been a war or something prompted from all the exploding herabouts 65 years ago. But I don't think a single MeFi post can do justice or attempt to encapsulate the war, what with entire courses and libraries of documents attempting same. This is not my "only concern." It just happens to be a facet where I thought I could contribute some interesting, possibly new, info.

As for relevance, something that strikes a chord with me is the effect the Pearl Harbor attack had on creating a dichotomy within a particular ethnic group. This post isn't slanted towards the JA experience because I'm pissed off at what happened to them specifically, but for the fact that it happened at all; where racism, xenophobia, and economic turmoil justified scapegoating a particular race. I won't deny that I am proud of the resiliency of that generation of JAs. I owe every freedom I have to their response to an almost untenable situation, managing not just survival, but reclaiming their dignity and place within this country. With that in mind, while we are remembering a world war and with the current "war" still underway, where certain races are under intense scrutiny and civil rights are always under fire, I thought this might be a good time to present this.
posted by krippledkonscious at 12:16 PM on December 5, 2006

Crap. The KHNL site is actually posting their coverage to this page now. Hope they don't move stuff around too much more, sorry for the confusion.
posted by krippledkonscious at 1:11 PM on December 5, 2006

kk, belatedly, I do thank you for posting this and hope you'll excuse my derail riffing. What you're saying echoes why I wondered in another thread if there'll ever be a Kristallnacht in Dearborn.

shikata ga nai is a lot like nichts zu machen* -- the sounds are different, is all. (Or as a Limey friend once shrugged, "There's no help for it really, after all, is there?")

* Mom's maiden name started with "von." Ahem.
posted by pax digita at 1:44 PM on December 5, 2006

The bombing of Hiroshima was orders of magnitude more despicable. These are military losses we're mourning.
posted by tehloki at 10:57 PM on December 5, 2006

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