In the Wake of Pearl Harbor

During the months that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor, detention camps were built and filled with Americans of Japanese decent. Furthermore, Japanese expatriates aided the Imperial Army’s takeover of Luzon, as those living in the area of Port Arthur had, 37 years earlier, aided the Imperial Navy’s bringing Russia to terms at the Portsmouth Naval Base in Kittery, ME.

I conjecture that, at this time, FDR twice applied his warning “The only thing to fear is fear[‘s distractive nature] itself”: first, by continuing to withhold any witness of what had occurred during the Imperial Army’s march to and occupation of Nanjing; and secondly, by withholding a newly acquired recognition that, not detaining those of Japanese descent living on the West Coast would have seriously risked a total loss to the Axis. That risk being unabated were even 100% of those being considered for detention known to be patriotic. Forget any active risk; there had been a far more dangerous passive risk in leaving them as they were.

My rational:

  1. The West Coast would have allowed for the ferrying by submarine of marines, attached to Japan’s Imperial Army and/or Navy, into secluded harbors.
  2. They could have been dressed as civilians and have made their way by bus or car into the mountains and forests of the West, so long as they were not conspicuous as the only persons of Japanese descent on the road. That is so long as Americans of Japanese descent had been left alone. Such a transit could have been facilitated, but not necessarily so, by a remnant of the of the German American Bund.
  3. Five to ten thousand troops, hiding in our western mountains and forests would have generated a fifth column able to have sucked needed resources at a time and to a point of bringing us, along with our Allies, to our knees.
  4. As for some could-have-been-handled-otherwise, I note that the Roosevelt administration would have done this even were Tojo’s awareness of said possibility uncertain; and for that reason as well as avoiding distractive fear, it would have kept this quiet until war’s end.
  5. Furthermore, a massive transport of those citizens to live unconfined on the East Coast may have drawn attention to its modest other intention.
  6. Was the plan for a war-end revelation never passed on to Truman or, more likely,  had Truman believed that defending a policy based on a mere possibility, one which may or may not have been thwarted, would have been understood by few, and have left America’s character unnecessarily muddied? There is a need and willingness among intelligence communities to keep a problem’s designed approach as well as its specific resolution to themselves.

I may have accidentally tripped upon a pair of defamations, but it is they that have gone flying. I am delighted in the partial redress of confiscated wealth, but am perplexed as to from whence the severity of detainment came. On this note, a true story: two years ago, a former Austrian soldier who had been stationed in D-day Normandy, visited me on his pilgrimage to the site of a Canadian prisoner of war camp. His time there had been the best of his war years. I cannot imagine any justification for the mistreatment of those detained by us, but my own apologetic attempts would be: “Nightmares are born of nightmares;” “Bending over backwards on the East Coast would have to do;” or “Go struggle a mile in Roosevelt’s braces.”

Finally, many Americans are blind to the fact that we can and do learn from our mistakes. For them,  no oversight could hold back the brutalization of those confined in deep secrecy; after all, doesn’t secrecy always conceal a forbidden action? For them, Guantanamo must be closed down, and their fellow Americans left to toddle forever on the next brink. Nor can we build a single refugee camp for embattled Syrians, a place of English lessons and vetting; after all, mustn’t what we think of ourselves defer to what others think of us, and isn’t an internment camp for Japanese, by any other name, just that.

Scariest of all, were we to break away from the tyranny of these inner and outer scripts, whom would we then discover ourselves to be.

One response to “In the Wake of Pearl Harbor

  1. Pingback: Mister In Between | Falling off a Twig

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