Free Markets, Free People


Tom Hanks should stick with film making

I’m not going to go on a rant about Tom Hanks recent remarks about why we fought the Japanese during WWII, but I do have a comment or two to make.  He said:

Back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as ‘yellow, slant-eyed dogs’ that believed in different gods. They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different. Does that sound familiar, by any chance, to what’s going on today?

It is easy to make ignorant statements like that when you decide you need to make a political point. We see it everyday in the three-ring circus we call politics. Bending history to fit your ideological point of view is nothing new and there’s certainly nothing so special about Tom Hanks that he’s above such nonsense. But he ought to know better, especially after making this new HBO miniseries about the Pacific war.

My dad served in the Army for 36 years and was on Saipan, Leyte and Okinawa. Unlike Hanks, he actually fought the Japanese in some very tough battles – especially the last one. He never talked about it much when I was a kid, although when old friends would stop by at the posts where we were assigned, I’d hear some of the stories by getting myself in an unobserved position in the next room and quietly listening.

I don’t remember he or any of his friends ever reflecting the sort of attitude Hanks would have us to believe was prevalent then.  Sure, they referred to them as “Japs”, but not because they thought it was derrogatory or because they believed them to be “different”, but because, well, that’s what they were.  The story I remember most concerned Saipan.  As he told it, you could tell the memory had an effect on him.  He told about Japanese families – women, kids – jumping off a cliff to avoid capture (“Suicide cliff” in Saipan). You could tell he thought it was awful and it was clear in the telling that the memory was vivid.  They’d brought in Japanese speakers to try to talk the families out of jumping, but the indoctrination and the culture were so strong that they jumped anyway. 

If you want to “annihilate” someone, you don’t make that sort of effort to save them.  If you consider them as “different” in the way Hanks intimates, such things wouldn’t shake you as it obviously did my father and those he was with.

He said that the only Japanese captives they ever took were those who’d been either knocked unconscious before capture or were so badly wounded they couldn’t avoid it.  Certainly they were “different” in the sense that their honor and culture called upon them to do things American culture would never call on its soldiers to do, but that didn’t make them less than human to my father. He certainly wasn’t at all pleased with the way the Japanese treated prisoners of war and held a hell of grudge about that. But I got the impression that he considered the Japanese barbaric because of that, not less than human.  He held them responsible for that conduct because they were human beings.  And after the war, we shocked them with the most humane occupation imaginable and the rebuilding of their nation.

The reason my dad and hundreds of thousands of other Americans fought the Japanese wasn’t because they were “different” racially or believed in a different god.  Nor did they do it with the aim of “annihilating” them.  It was because the had attacked the United States, were the enemy and that enemy had to be defeated.  Period.  My father and his comrades would have fought the Germans with the same ferocity they fought the Japanese had they been in Europe.

Tom Hanks is a fine actor and an excellent film maker.  But he should stick with what he knows.  Deciding how those fighting the Japanese thought of  their enemy isn’t one of them.  Making a film about them doesn’t suddenly make him some sort of expert in that regard either.  And, pretending to know what motivates those of us who fight our enemies of today is just as mistaken.

~McQ

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38 Responses to Tom Hanks should stick with film making

  • I think Tom forgot that those “sneaky yellow … folks attacked Pearl Harbor” without notice.

  • Your right, we didn’t fight them because they were different.  But it sure made them easier to spot.

  • Hanks and Spielberg aren’t just idiots with weird ideas.  They are part of an effort to retroactively give WWII the Vietnam treatment.

    They’ll use their celebrity and the multi-million dollar investment to generate a subtle propaganda piece.

    Saving Private Ryan may have represented soldiers well or not, idk.  But it ultimately was an anti-war piece that could have gone with any war.  They picked WWII for reason.

    The want to take away the one ‘good war’.  And their audience isn’t the older public that knows better.  Its young adults and children who get more history from the media than they do school.  With them, they are a blank slate to rewrite WWII history at will.

  • Just another in a long line of ignorant a-holes in the fine arts community.
    It seems that if you are a creative person you might be drawn to left wing politics to begin with, and if everyone you encounter has the same views, then your occupation becomes an echo chamber and you are seldom confronted with alternative views except in caricature.
    But that does not excuse the many ignorant and classless statements of the celebrity left, because they seem so eager to believe the most awful things about their fellow countrymen.
    That makes me doubt whether they are nice guys at all. After all if you are ready to believe that your fellow Americans are evil racists and conspiracists, then there might just be some projection there.

  • Yep.  We sure did want to annihilate them.  That’s why Japan is a desolate, uninhabited wasteland to this very day.

    Oh, wait…

    OK, well, it’s a sparsely-populated colony of the United States, with the few surviving Japanese living in perpetual, cringing servitude to their victorious, genocidal American masters who hold the power of instant death over them.

    Oh, wait…

    Er, it’s a run-down nation, a third-world sh*t-hole left to its own devices after never having completely recovered from being trashed by the US armed forces???

    Oh, wait…

    OK, now I got it: Japan is a wealthy, peaceful democracy, one of the largest of America’s trading partners with international companies that employ hundreds of thousands of Americans (including  me after I got out of university), an important military ally, and a friend to the United States.

    Not bad for a country that we were out to “annihilate”.

    Tom Hanks is a great actor who’s done fine work telling the story of our GI’s in World War II and reminding us of their courage, skill, and sacrifice.  Too bad he appears to have sipped a little too much liberal kool-aid.

    • Tom Hanks is a great actor who’s done fine work telling the story of our GI’s in World War II and reminding us of their courage, skill, and sacrifice.  Too bad he appears to have sipped a little too much liberal kool-aid.

      He supports the troops (greatly, to his credit), but doesn’t grasp the larger picture of who, what, how, where…

      • There’s a new anti-war narrative that soldiers are victims not unlike a civilian who has a bomb dropped on their head.  They subtly cast any heroics or sacrifice made by these men into victimization, exploitation, and/or pointlessness.

        So in that context, you don’t have to represent the troops negatively in their morals or personalities.  You just take away any meaning to their sacrifice.

        • jpm100There’s a new anti-war narrative that soldiers are victims not unlike a civilian who has a bomb dropped on their head.

          It’s not new.  Great War literature is rife with the idea of a soldier as a victim.  There was another spurt of it during and after the Vietnam War, though it was more popular to portray the GI and the vet as a psycho, completely unbalanced by the war and a menace to the society that used and then abandoned him.

          And why not?  The soldier DOES suffer.  He IS a victim.  It may be that his suffering is for a greater good that gives nobility and some meaning to his sacrifice, or at least nets him the thanks of a grateful nation and not the sort of mixture of scorn and pity that GI’s appear to have gotten too often when they came back from Vietnam.

          But I agree with your point that the left seems intent on trashing the image of our troops (past and present) by robbing what they did of any greater good.  Shall we reduce the men on the Arizona, at Wake or Bataan, on the Houston, Torpedo 8, at Guadalcanal and Tarawa and New Guinea, on the Johnston or the Wahoo, at Manila and Suribachi, into a pack of helpless pawns gripped in the maw of Wall Street’s war, fighting solely because of racism and because they’d been duped into hating other men who’d been similarly duped into hating them?

          Or do we wonder, “Where do we get such men?” and thank God that He sent them to us during one of history’s darkest moments?  I don’t fool myself that our men were (or are) saints, but they did our nation and the world a service when they put naziism and Japanese militarism into the garbage can of history.

          They deserve better than pity and “understanding”: they deserve thanks.

        • A woman who is raped and murdered is no less a victim because she resisted gallantly. At Gallipoli, to name just one example, the heroism of the combatants does not make them any less the victims of their commanders’ incompetence and indifference.

          • So there’s no difference between a woman killed by a rapist because he randomly chose her and a man who is killed by a rapist because he heard her cries and rushed in to stop it?

          • They are both dead. I submit that anything else is irrelevant to them or their next of kin. Dead heros are still dead, and now there are two victims  and two sets of grieving survivors.

          • Not all those attempts end in 100% death for the person helping and the victim.

            Say the rape victim escapes because of the man’s intervention.  We can tell the family that they should give a crap about whether the woman survived.  Or even if they both died, we can tell the family why the man died doesn’t matter.

            I’m not volunteering for that task.  Be my guest.

          • D’oh.  Fixed grammar/typo

            Not all those attempts end in 100% death for the person helping and the victim.

            Say the rape victim escapes because of the man’s intervention.  We can tell the family that they shouldn’t give a crap about whether the woman survived.  Or even if they both died, we can tell the family why the man died doesn’t matter.

            I’m not volunteering for that task.  Be my guest.

  • Japan did not attack us “because we were different” but because they had plans for East Asia and wanted us out of the way. We didn’t want to annihilate them “because they were different” or otherwise, until they attacked us. In fact, if they had attacked UK, French, and Dutch colonies and left us and the P.I. alone, do you think we’d have been in the war in 1942? I don’t.

  • I will go one further. If the Japanese had not invaded China, but had “liberated” the European colonies in East Asia, we might have even semi-condoned that. (We were very anti-colonial then.)

  • We didn’t want to annihilate them “because they were different” or otherwise, until they attacked us. In fact, if they had attacked UK, French, and Dutch colonies and left us and the P.I. alone, do you think we’d have been in the war in 1942? I don’t.
    No kidding, “Plan Dog” basically blows his statements to shreds, in 1940 we had made plans that if we entered the war to fight defensively in the pacific and take the fight to the Germans. Annihilation was not the idea. And from what i know most americans were for staying out of the war altogether before Pearl Harbour.

    • We didn’t want to annihilate them “because they were different

      >>> No, that was what Hitler wanted to do to the Jews actually, and I find hanks equating our motivations with that of Nazis highly offensive in it’s ignorance.

      He needs to let his head swell down a bit. He may be TOM HANKS but he also did Punchline and Joe vs the Volcano, you know what I’m sayin?

  • Perhaps someday Mr. Hanks will learn enough history to explain why the US provided a considerable amount of  aid to the victims of the Kanto earthquake in 1923, even though they were different and we wanted to annihilate them. Perhaps he may even learn, after a little more reading, that some of that ill feeling was caused by the subsequent Japanese barbarism in China, including the unprovoked sinking of a US naval vessel.

    Yes, they were different. And I personally feel we would have been justified in seeking  to annihilate ‘different’ enemies who used civilians for bayonet practice, and prisoners of war as experimental subjects for biological warfare testing. Not to mention the routine impressment of non-Japanese civilians for forced labor and prostitution. The full list of atrocities is much longer.

  • If the US invaded countries merely because they were different, we’d have invaded Mexico decades ago rather than the other way around.

     

  • How dare you all question Tom Hanks’ knowledge of WWII?! He starred in Splash after all. *snark*

    Hanks is a bonafide jackass. His comment clearly shows a strong level of anti-Americanism and idiocy. When will Hollywood pinheads learn to keep their mouths shut until they have something intelligent to say? (I realize they will never have anything intelligent to say. That’s the point.)

    Tom Hanks should stick with film making

    Considering The Terminal, The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, no he shouldn’t.

  • Tom Hanks does considerable research, and the studies of propaganda in war time, including stark racism in US propaganda and views of the enemy is clear and definitive.   To deny it is ridiculous.   The memories of one person who fought, or even atrocities committed by enemies, does not deny the point Hanks made.   Hanks, simply, is right.   The upcoming generation is learning about this in detail — whether in school or film — so that we avoid those errors in the future.

  • scott erb = FOOL

    • Sure, Greg, just as Rik Emmett (formerly of Triumph) describes it in the song “Only a Fool,” from his recent album Good Faith.
       

  • Hank and all these other aholes are just self hating bigots  promoting destruction of our way of life by the most accelerated means possible. It’s a way of marginalizing Western civilization through racial hatred of whites; if you get a people to hate themselves, their civilization will surely fail.
    You can no longer bring up something good about white people or Western civilization without being a target of backhanded or overt smears and hate by the left wing.  There is no act by white people that is too small for a fool like Erb to claim racism about and then blow themselves up into being monstrously outraged, just like Hanks did.
    It wasn’t the Germans who were the monsters in WW2, the real savages were the Japs.  Brown people. They were the ultimate racist fanatics who commonly used a slur meaning pigs to refer to the Chinese, fascist thugs committed to atrocities on such a grand scale and regularity by its rank and file, that it’s probable if  someone were a Jap soldier during this time that they were a virulent  racist and committed a war crime.
    It’s not enough for someone like Erb or Hanks that these people were much more racist than whites, where racist to whites, experimented on humans like Mengele in secret hospitals, used poison gas and biological warfare that killed millions, had concentration camps and forced labor on a greater scale than the Germans that worked millions to death, while not offering any apologies and whitewashing the barbarity of their crimes in their schools; someone using a slur or making an offensive poster means that those awful white people are the ones to hold accountable. We did have to kill them and Germans and Italians were rounded up and put into internment camps too and characterized in bigoted ways on posters. They also faced hatred and bigotry, German Americans in both wars. Particularly Germans in WW1.
    One of the common favorites of the Jap troops was to take  Korean women as comfort, being that they were considered dogs, raping them so many times that they would go crazy or die , but even more fun for the imperial finest was to rape a women, strip her and put her in no man’s land during battles. They collectively reveled in torture, often capturing their enemy for no other reason than to torture them over a sustained period, while fighting. Hey got to have your priorities, not that big of a deal if you get over run if you get the fun of  torturing a few of your enemy. Even with the concentration camps and killing of millions, they were a clear cut above the Germans in barbarity.
    Why don’t you and Hanks “act ” outraged Erb about the Jap’s lack of contrition or some people who were truly racist and barbaric? Is it because they aren’t whites? Of course it is.  Hanks has no point, it’s just that he’s a racist who hates white people. He’s not outraged by muslums who’s book tells them to be brutal bigots, misogynists, haters of art and culture, warmongers, freedom destroyers, frankly all the things Hank and Erb probably claim to hate ?  Careful what you wish for.
    Hank and Erb only notice white wrongs and anyone of them, no matter the triviality or unlikeliness of guilt  is always the most heinous thing they’ve ever come across. And don’t try to pass some bullshit that you were talking about  Americans “collectively”, we know who you are trying to smear. Nice hidden agenda. The parallels between what is happening now and what happened to the American Indian is striking.
    Regardless I wanted to address  this last part to the author of the article, it was a well thought rebuttal that makes Hanks look foolish. You so clearly generated the flavor of the era and irrefutably demonstrated the basic kindness and decency of the American soldier. Maybe if you could get it published in an editorial for a major newspaper and Hanks reads it, he will see the error of his ways. Maybe you could send it to him even if it is unlikely to get through? Hopefully Hanks hasn’t become one of these brain dead, hate filled zombies. He doesn’t seem like the type.




     

  • “stark racism in US propaganda”

    I am sure you can supply evidence.

    (sarcasm)
    And of course there should be proof that any ‘racist’ portrayals of the Japanese are different from the negative portrayals of the Germans.

    And so what? Wartime propaganda is really not supposed to portray the enemy as warm and cuddly philanthropic milquetoasts. This is true of all countries, not just the US. I think if anyone takes an objective look at US wartime anti-Japanese propaganda and some of the US, French, and British wartime anti-German propaganda in WWI they will find little significant difference.

    It is a convenient hook, if not a totally accurate one,  to depict the US as peculiarly racist.

    And I think it bears repeating that portraying the Japanese as barbaric and different was not innacurate.

  • “ We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different.”

    That is still a stupid remark, and neither Hanks or Erb can supply any evidence to prove it.  That is not why we went to war with the Japanese. Had we wished to annihilate somebody ‘different’ there was, and is, no lack of candidates, all of them easier prey than the Japanese. Why did we only choose to annihilate them? And the Germans and Italians, of course.

  • Racism?  Do you doubt it’s been in US propaganda?
    I strongly recommend Michael Hunt’s book “Ideology in American Foreign Policy,” complete with racist posters, cartoons, and speeches throughout history.    I mean, without racism how can one justify stealing the continent from the tribes and nations that occupy it?   And the examples Hunt gives from WWI and WWII are pretty strong.    Americans have acted pretty barbarically in our past as well, and the history of the West has been one of the most violent of any civilizations.
    Of course it is true of all countries.  But dehumanizing the enemy does make inhumane and evil acts seem acceptable.   Perhaps it’s something to work to avoid?

    • So I assume upon your death you have your property willed to the local native American nation(s)?

      • Acknowledging the evil done in the past doesn’t mean it’s necessary or even possible to undo it.  We need to learn from it, acknowledge it, and not be afraid to admit error.   That’s why the whole thing about “never apologizing” makes no sense.  A strong person can admit error, apologize, acknowledge past mistakes.   Only a weak person lacking confidence feels a need to never show that weakness, never apologize, and pretend that he or she has not made mistakes.   If our country has strength of character, we should act like it.

        • Fine. Apologize if you must. Once. Then move on. As you say, what is done cannot be undone, so why wallow in it? I know you savor this so-called  uniquely American/European propensity of violence, hatred , and racism, but do try to stop drooling.

    • “ I mean, without racism how can one justify stealing the continent from the tribes and nations that occupy it?”

      Oh, maybe using the same justification used to steal Poland from the Poles, Alsace-Lorraine from whoever, Gaul from the Gauls, etc. If you learn a little history other than what fits your “Amerika is racist” meme you may find that stealing land from others has quite often been done by those of the same race. And not just the white race. Stealing land is not proof of racism. 

    • ” Americans have acted pretty barbarically in our past as well, and the history of the West has been one of the most violent of any civilizations.”
      Show me an example of a civilization east, west, north and south acquiring territory that didn’t do it pretty much the same way.  Our history is no worse than anyone else’s.  On the whole I’ll stack it up to most others, especially in light of the last 100 years of our existence with regards to activities in the world.
      “Stealing” – there was as deed to this ‘property’ eh?  Was it perhaps lost?  The evil white racists burned the hall of records where such deeds were kept?

      We are all (and that’s a global ALL) descendants of groups of people who wandered around from continent to continent until they got smart enough, and the climate kind enough, to figure out how to farm.  Suddenly the land became ‘ours’.  That is, until another group wandered in and drove us off that which was ours and into the hills, where we lived until someone drove THEM off the property into the hills to live with us, until there were enough of us in the hills that we poured down to drive them off OUR land, and then they….etc etc etc ad nauseam.   You act as if Native Americans had some peculiar claim to the continent that was different than the claim the Celts had to Cisalpine Gaul before the Romans showed up, or the  Alans, or the Vandals,  or the Ostrogoths, or the Visigoths, or the Burgundians.

      Grow up – it’s an unfortunate fact that land is possessed by those that showed up “firstus with the mostus”, and I’m not going to apologize for being a member of the group who’s ancestors did so most recently on this continent.   I’m sure my DNA was shoved around Central Asia and westward out through the Isles of Northern Europe until it landed here on this continent to be blended with the DNA of other shovers and shovee’s past.  When, and from whom, can I expect my due apology and possible recompense for the injustices surely suffered by my ancestors?
      Absence of records is not license to assume, or to pretend, there is an absence of history.

  • I acknowledge that you are a racist Erb who only recognizes the racism of one group of people and is incapable of any type of fairness or proportion. You need to learn from your errors and not be afraid to admit them. Only an insufferable, bigoted idiot would not be in able to put things in a historical context or always judge one group harshly and let others off. If there was any racism to be outraged about it was the Japs belief that their race was divine and the atrocities they committed because of the racist nature of their culture.
    A strong person can admit error, apologize, acknowledge past mistakes.   Only a weak person lacking confidence feels a need to never show that weakness, never apologize, and pretend that he or she has not made mistakes.   If you have strength of character, you should act like it. A life unexamined is not worth living. Why is it you are unconcerned with the proof of the underlying decency of the American soldier and government? The lack of retribution after a sneak attack by a racist and wholly vicious, barbaric and genocidal enemy? Is it OCD that you can only come back to some trivial point that you are stuck on, repeating it over and over? Are you so intellectually stunted that you think the opinions in one book represent an entire history or have never figured out that a book sometimes at best scratches a shallow history?
    If you were half intelligent and less partisan, not a flaming bigot trying to marginalize whites,  you’d realize the true historical insight the article attests to, the decency of the American troops, unlike the book you allude to.  You get a compelling root perspective based on a range of collective actions and personal thoughts of servicemen and the American government in a brief article that any logical or fair mind would realize has the depth and substance to understand the question at hand, unlike your condemnation of Americans (why don’t you just say whites) and the book author on some fantasies about whites being hateful racist monsters based on posters that were part of the times and trivial at best.  Let me help you get unstuck from finding white racists under every stone, around every corner and under every bed or thinking that all history is to be put into that context and that it is the most important and only consideration to make about history, simply put, it makes you a bigot.  What a sane mind understands after reading the article is that there is very little there to dislike about how Americans handled themselves in WW2 and how stunningly charitable and decent this nation has been, as well as the exceptional nature of the people and culture.

  • Just read an article in the frumforum that The Pacific, Tom Hank’s latest project, will probably be a delight to novice historians. Though, history based docu-dramas have their place, I believe they can be misleading, even if unintentionally. For instance, after watching the Ten Commandments, Moses, in my mind, now looks like Heston and even has some of his mannerisms. Isn’t that something of a distortion of historical fact? We must always understand that the purpose of these movies is entertainment and not education.

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