Monday, December 7, 2020

Dec. 7, 1941 and 2020: days that will live in infamy

     “December 7th, 1941,” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt told an emergency session of Congress, “a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
     The date lives in infamy, still. At least among older Americans, who not only know what happened but will complain if a newspaper lets what has turned into a somber if minor patriotic holiday — think Arbor Day for burnt trees — pass without mention of the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that drew America into World War II.
     Consider it mentioned. What’s next?
     We might ask why the attack is memorable, you know, for the kiddies, who just joined us and might only be vaguely aware there was a World War II and that we fought ... somebody.
     The day lives in infamy because the surprise attack was carried out even while negotiations continued to work out our differences in a peaceful manner.
     Why do we remember? Well, 2,400 Americans were killed that day. The death of Americans demands our attention.
     Or did.
     Now, I’m not so sure.
     Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, is a day that will not live in infamy. But maybe it should. Because 2,400 Americans, or more, will die today. About the same number died yesterday and will die tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that.

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  1. Only one member of Congress voted against the Declaration of War. That was Janet Rankin, who also voted against declaring war in 1917. But her reason for not voting for it on December 8, was absurd. She said that she didn't believe the attack on Pearl Harbor actually happened!
    She was deservedly voted out of The House in the next election!

    1. Where did you read that? She was an unshakeable pacifist, and she was wrong, but I never heard she didn't believe the attack happened.

    2. I read that a long time ago. She also believed that FDR wanted a war with Japan & caused Pearl Harbor to happen.
      Many pacifists serves as medics during the war & were unarmed.
      It's not that she was a pacifist, she was a loony pacifist, who when attacked unprovoked, didn't want to defend the country, which was in fact a violation of her oath of office!

    3. "I read that a long time ago." I read a lot of things a long time ago. They weren't all true.

      She was a pacifist. During WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam. One needn't wonder why she voted against going to war. She was vilified for that 1941 vote, but never backed down. I'm not agreeing with her vote, but I believe she was honorable in standing up for it. Unless you can offer proof of the bold contention about her saying that she didn't believe the attack happened, I think it's a cheap shot.

      Lots of people "believed that FDR wanted a war with Japan." They may be wrong, but it was not a loony proposition.

  2. I suppose we would have entered WWII without Pearl Harbor but the loss of those lives did somewhat unite us as we went to war. A Godsend? Maybe.
    I remember asking a rabbinical student many years ago why God allowed so many Jews to suffer and die during the holocaust. His response was we were given the State of Israel. I accepted that but still with wonder.
    Maybe some believe so many have suffered and died from COVID-19 so that Trump would lose the election. Who knows?

    1. That's why so few of us believe in God.


    2. I thought Trump was punishment for the Cubs winning the World Series. A deal with the devil was made somewhere...

    3. The Cubs victory violated the laws of nature, tore a rend in the fabric of reality, and we were all sucked through it into an alternate universe. I believe that.

    4. There was one line in the contract that stated if the Cubs win, the world would completely change. Silly me, I thought it was figurative not literal. I apologize and will never do it again. That World Series was still awesome.

    5. There's a way to undo the damage and return the planet to normalcy. But it will only happen if the Cleveland Indians win the World's now 72 years and counting for the Tribe (can I still call them that?) My patient and long-suffering wife has been waiting a lifetime.

      Sadly, I don't see that happening anytime soon...they just aren't quite good enough. So every day is now a Pearl Harbor Day, and soon every day will be another 9/11.

      Try to hang on...vaccine! It's almost here! Trouble is, there will never be any innoculations for either ignorance or stupidity. All those goddam anti-distancers and maskholes will also be die-hard anti-vaxxers. Which means they'll be dying--hard. And instead of dying by inches, on ventilators, they can all be placed outside to die by the yard.

    6. As for the Cubs, "That World Series was still awesome," but it was most definitely not worth getting sucked into this alternate universe, IMHO.

  3. Excellent column and great comparisons.

  4. Historic events affect us all differently. At seventeen I knew about Hitler and the Holocaust, but not Zionism. That summer I was surprised by the elation of a Jewish co-worker to the Six Day War. In my defense I had also failed to learn about the oppression of my Irish ancestors. In 1967 the Vietnam war was a real danger I faced, recovery of a homeland didn't register right away. For my parents generation Pearl Harbor was their 9/11. For my mother it was real, as Dad was transferred to Hawaii shortly after they married in August 1941. They didn't know for weeks that he was not among the casualties. My sister was born in June and named Victory. Clerks and computers still assume Victoria. I exist because my Father survived that day. Being a solemn day doesn't preclude it teaching us lessons about the present. Colonialism in Asia accepted by America without consideration of the locals, was a sore spot for Asians. Japan was still brutally aggressive but we weren't necessarily angels. Roosevelt's opponents to this day floats rumors about Pearl Harbor conspiracies, despite history's judgement that their isolationism hurt preparation for war in Europe. Dec. 7 casualties just short of 9/11 and today's Covid toll. Two days of Covid more dead than in the War to Kill Saddam. And the first year of American Covid deaths will be more than 420,000. That is the total American deaths in all theaters of World War Two. Most Americans didn't doubt the cause and made sacrifices, today half the country is in denial, fawning at the feet of their god, Donald. Rex Stout chronicled the idiotic ravings of congressman in denial about Hitler and the threat he posed, calling them Illustrious Dunderheads. Todays version of that Republican Party is as ignorant, but more craven as their denial is deliberate in lust for power and money before country, in thrall to their new party, The Illustrious Dunderhead Republican Redundancy. They seem less respectful of American Exceptionalism the Hitler and Hirohito.


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