SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- It was exactly 75 years ago Wednesday that Japanese fighters bombed Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base located in Hawaii. It was this unfathomable sneak attack on December 7, 1941, that propelled the United States into World War II. The gravity of the anniversary was not lost on President-elect Donald Trump. He spent the early part of the day appointing Scott Pruitt, the most rabid climate change denier he could find, to steer the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new direction. Afterward, Trump and newly anointed Security Adviser Michael Flynn met quietly in Hawaii. They commemorated the day by paying homage to the resilient Americans who rose up to protect the nation. Teary eyed, Trump and Flynn praised the ingenious men and women behind the construction of Japanese-American internment camps, the “unsung heroes in our hour of need.”
A Day That Lingers in Infamy and Now IronyToday, it seems particularly relevant to remember the casualties (2,350 killed and 1,347 wounded) and sacrifices made by Americans during that pivotal moment in twentieth century history. The events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent conflicts they have incited, also recall days of infamy that continue to linger in the minds of new and old generations alike, who had to endure the unconscionable reality of watching foreign invaders attack U.S. soil.
In some aspect, the day also recalls how easily history can be misinterpreted, revised and generally misunderstood. There is very little in the way of confusion when it comes to comprehending the events that provoked World War II, or this country’s involvement in it. And yet, there are still many Americans who believe we went to war against Germany. Although our involvement in the conflict eventually led to Europe and Hitler, the actual declaration of war was made against Japan.
Japan was the enemy, and Germany was an incidental byproduct of the Axis Powers alliance. Up until Pearl Harbor, the United States’ involvement in the European war had been a Cash-and-Carry arrangement with Allied Forces for munitions and equipment.
This is the point Trump wished to stress: that history has vilified Germany and exonerated Japan. “We’re very quick to blame Hitler for every atrocity this world has seen. Very quick. Very quick to point fingers at him. So quick,” Trump told a small press gathering in Honolulu, with several reporters expressing concern that the president-elect’s odd and repetitive manner of speaking may have been caused by a series of minor strokes.
“My family comes from Germany,” Trump continued. “We’re solid, salt of the Earth people. Good people. Just amazing people. The Germans didn’t come over here and blow us up. A lot of respected Americans supported Hitler, in fact. Prescott Bush, George Bush’s grandfather, financially backed Nazi Germany. The Bush family. Tremendous people. Tremendous presidents, all of them, especially Prescott. And Charles Lindbergh, an American hero, praised the Nazis for revitalizing the ruined German economy. No one in our great nation, however, was jumping on the Jap bandwagon. I don’t agree with the hugeness of Hitler’s actions, probably the result of fatigue and stress -- running a country, as I’m learning, is hard work -- but I agree with the principle. You know, that building camps and placing threatening immigrants in them is how leaders protect their people.”
Concentrating on Camps to Contain ThreatsTrump also pointed out that Hitler, while a bit of an extremist, was a devout Christian who did not send suicide bombers to American shores. Asian heathens, on the other hand, did.
“Who attacked America?” Trump asked. “Asians. Non-christians. None of them. Japs, Chinamen, Indians, the ones with dots not feathers, and Koreans, I think they’re some kind of Oriental too, they don’t worship Jesus. They pray to weird animals and elephant heads and fat guys and read their bibles backward. Think about that. Of course they read backward. They’re anti-American. And they invented suicide bombing. That’s not a coincidence.”
Trump also accused Japan of intentionally deceiving the world with “bogus climate change science” in an effort to attenuate American business interests. The objective, Trump claimed, was to increase U.S. reliance on expensive foreign oil. This would eventually force U.S. corporations to adopt alternative energy technologies, many pioneered by Asian companies. Through the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty spearheaded by Japan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Asian rulers sought to bolster their economies while keeping the United States in debt.
“And who holds our debt? China,” Trump snapped. “This is precisely why I chose Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. We need a man who understands the harm that foreign countries, like those in Asia, plan to visit on our great nation. And we need a man who doesn’t believe all that clean air bunk, so we can get our workers back to important jobs in steel production, manufacturing, coal mining and passing gas through oil pipelines, which a bunch of Indians just stopped.”
Completing his pilgrimage to Pearl Harbor, Trump lavished accolades on the minds behind the Japanese-American internment camps -- visionaries he referred to as “unsung heroes in America’s most desperate hour.”
Close to 130,000 people of Japanese ancestry living along the Pacific Coast were forcibly relocated and incarcerated, beginning in 1942. Trump photographed the sites and took copious notes, according to witnesses. He later announced plans to enhance his proposed Muslim registry to include “heathen and pagan Asians,” who have historically perpetrated the same horrors as Islamic terrorists. The internment camps, he stated, could become a blueprint for onshore detention facilities. Trump described the concept as “Guantanamo in Garden Grove.”
Critics challenged Trump’s misguided applause for the prison camps, referencing the investigation by President Jimmy Carter in the 1980s. The Commission’s report, titled Personal Justice Denied, determined that the camps were the offspring of xenophobia, nativism and racism. It found little evidence of Japanese disloyalty during their periods of incarceration.
“And that just proves my point,” Trump remarked. “Once you weed out the immigrants, show them who’s boss and lock them up, they start behaving like decent human beings.”
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