12/7/10

the Circle of war


Riding to class with my roommate in the Best Car That Has Ever Been Built**, we got behind a guy with license plates that said “Survivor—Bataan Death March” Since my roommate was an exchange student from Tokyo, I got pretty uncomfortable. Finally I blurted out something, he gave me a bland look and said “Never heard of it”. Came to find out that was typical: none of my Japanese friends knew what happened in WWII, they were taught that Japan was forced to defend themselves against Western countries taking their oil and stuff. Let's just say that's not accurate.
**Volkswagen: Baja Bug

OTOH ...

At the turn of the century 20,000 Japanese troops were part of a Western Alliance that ended the Boxer Rebellion and took over Beijing. Troops from the US and six other Western nations did a Rape of Nanking performance, murdering, raping and stealing everything in sight. The Japanese soldiers, though, were paragons of virtue, universally praised for their discipline and exemplary behavior, even giving sanctuary and protection to fleeing victims.  They were horrified by the actions of their Western allies.

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That was in 1900. The Bataan Death March was in 1942. In just one generation, during my father's lifetime, the Imperial Japanese Army went from being the best Band of Brothers possible, to being worse scum than the Nazis. Racism can't explain that. The atrocities of WWII were not due to some inherent flaw, and people who say it can't happen here are simply not paying attention. What happened there?  What else---Religion.

Don't ever forget. And don't do it again. 

It's Pearl Harbor Day.

2 comments:

Andy said...

Nice post. Wow, never heard of the Bataan Death March? Scary. I remember hearing that in the Boxer Rebellion the rebels believed they were bullet proof because of their faith.

uzza said...

At the time mostly all my friends were Japanese and none of them had heard of it.
That's true about the Boxers. Today in Uganda the (christian) Lord's Resistance Army teaches the same thing.