GrassTopsUSA Exclusive CommentaryBy Don Feder 12/06/2010
Tuesday marks the 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.
The surprise attack preceded a declaration of war. The Japanese sank or severely damaged 18 ships â€“ including 8 battleships. Additionally, 161 planes were destroyed on the ground.
The death toll exceeded 2,400, with more than 1,000 wounded.
The response was swift and sure. On December 8, Congress voted a declaration of war with only one dissent. In the global conflict that followed, Americans were more united than ever before â€“ or since.
Over the next 3 Â½ years, 16 million Americans served in our Armed Forces, out of a population of 133 million. On the home front, war production included 88,410 tanks and self-propelled guns, 257,390 artillery pieces and 324,750 aircraft of all types.
More than 292,000 Americans died in battle, and another 672,000 were wounded.
During the conflict, Japan lost 1.3 million people or 2.7% of its pre-war population. More than 100,000 died in the B-29 bombings of Tokyo, and twice that number were killed when atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By August 1945, Japanese and German cities were piles or rubble â€“ some still smoldering.
It was a victory of epic proportions that came at a terrible price. But Western civilization prevailed and the Japanese warlords and Nazi leaders were tried as war criminals.
What would have happened if we had fought World War II the way weâ€™re fighting the war on Islamic terrorism? What if political correctness guided America in the weeks and months after Pearl Harbor?
â€¢ On December 8, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt would have come before a joint session of Congress to apologize for the presence of U.S. Marines in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic earlier in the century, and the Spanish-American War. He would have offered to give the Philippines back to Spain and pay reparations.
â€¢ He would have referred to December 7, 1941 as â€œa day pretty much like any other and letâ€™s not make a big deal of itâ€ and cautioned that, â€œI think that at a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then fears can surface, suspicions can surface. We have to make sure that we donâ€™t start turning on each other.â€ To put the emphasis where it properly belonged, the president would have said that anniversaries of Pearl Harbor would be officially designated National Days of Service.
â€¢ Americaâ€™s slogan would have become â€œRemember, Pearl Harbor was no oneâ€™s fault.â€
â€¢ FDR would have threatened negotiations if Japanese aggression didnâ€™t cease immediately and sought sanctions from the League of Nations.
â€¢ Public officials would have taken to referring to Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March (more properly, the Bataan Relocation Program) and the Holocaust as â€œman-caused disasters.â€
â€¢ Reports of German or Japanese atrocities would have been accompanied by the requisite recitation of the sins of slavery and Wounded Knee.
â€¢ In 1942, a number of Congressmen would have complained that the fighting on Guadalcanal was unwinnable and unnecessary. The Marines would have been withdrawn and the island-hopping campaign discontinued.
â€¢ Actor Errol Flynn might have speculated that Pearl Harbor was â€œan inside job,â€ and suggested a Zionist conspiracy to push the U.S. into a war with the Axis powers.
â€¢ The President would have proclaimed Shintoism â€œa religion of peaceâ€ which had nothing to do with the â€œman-caused disasterâ€ of Dec. 7th, and explained that â€œBanzaiâ€ pertains to a spiritual struggle.
â€¢ Commentators would have urged us to distinguish between ordinary Nazis, who just want to live in peace, and Nazi militants. The later somehow had managed to distort their ideology of brotherhood.
â€¢ In his 1941 Holiday Message (which, coincidentally, would have come around December 25th ), FDR would have told the American people, â€œWe do not consider ourselves a Christian nation,â€ but that Japanese ancestor worship â€œhas done so much over the centuries to shape the world â€“ including my own country.â€
â€¢ A Shinto shrine would have been erected over the sunken U.S.S. Arizona. Those who objected to this free-exercise of religion would have been excoriated as bigots and racists by the media.
â€¢ Teach-ins opposing the U.S. war mobilization would have been held on college campuses across the country. At Columbia University, an assistant professor of anthropology would have said, â€œThe only heroes are those who find ways to help defeat the U.S. militaryâ€ and â€œI personally would like to see a million Pearl Harbors.â€
â€¢ The minister of the church FDR attended in Hyde Park would have said the Day of Infamy was â€œAmericaâ€™s chickens coming home to roostâ€ and â€œG-d damn America!â€
â€¢ Words like â€œJap,â€ â€œNip,â€ Krautâ€ and â€œJerryâ€ would have been banned as hate speech.
â€¢ Civil libertarians would have demanded that German saboteurs, captured in June 1942, be tried in civilian courts.
â€¢ J. Edgar Hoover would have announced that the FBI would not engage in racial or ethnic profiling in rounding up spies, and that the Bureau was specifically targeting Irish nuns and French pastry chefs.
â€¢ The German American Bund would have decried the arrest of German nationals in the wake of Berlinâ€™s declaration of war on the United States and suggested that they were victims of entrapment.
â€¢ Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall would have announced plans to have homosexuals serve openly in the Armed Forces. Thereafter, enlistment rates would have plummeted. Chaplains who opposed the policy would have been told to praise the lord and keep their mouths shut.
â€¢ Planning for D-Day, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight David Eisenhower would have said he didnâ€™t see why 110-lb. women, carrying 45-lbs of equipment and supplies, couldnâ€™t wade ashore in rough surf at Omaha Beach. But, just to be safe, canvas tennis shoes would be issued to the troops in place of combat boots.
â€¢ To teach tolerance, American school children would have celebrated Emperor Hirohitoâ€™s birthday, and role-played at being kamikaze pilots.
â€¢ Republicans would have repeatedly asked Roosevelt where Japanâ€™s weapons of mass destruction were and speculated that the war was FDRâ€™s personal vendetta against Tojo and Hitler.
â€¢ On September 2, 1945, the United States would have formally surrendered to the Empire of Japan on the battleship Kongo anchored in New York harbor. Thereafter, we would have had sukiyaki for Thanksgiving.
Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website, DonFeder.com.