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U.S. Entering WWII: Pearl Harbor
The job of any newspaper is to make sure that truth as they get to know about it reaches all individuals in the form of their subscribers at the earliest possible time. It does not matter whether the newspaper is big or small; the task is to make sure that the news reaches at the earliest.
The definition of truth for a newspaper is very difficult to agree on and this is what gives newspapers the opportunity to keep writing on a matter where they feel readers still have interest, even though it may not have any news value.
Let us first remember that the incident we are referring to happened more than 63 years ago. At that time the relative position among different media for newspapers was much stronger. There was no Internet or satellite TV for news to spread at the speed that it travels today. At the same time, it gave a sort of monopoly on news to newspapers of the area and the only other groups which also gave news were the radio and the local TV stations which were also very few in number. Thus news which were thought to be important had to be given front page coverage, and immediately after the incident happened, Pearl Harbor was not given the importance that it may have been given otherwise. Let us see the front page as was printed in that time as given in Appendix I. (Front Page) This is a comparatively small newspaper of that time, Winton Salem Journal. There is a clear report of the Japanese attack, the determination of the President to go to War with Japan, the support that United States was to get from Latin America, and even in cities within America that are close to the readers of the newspaper. Thus the general support of the war is there, but nothing really much more.
The question is why there are no details? The answer is obvious as the details would have been quite gory or it may be that the details were not known. While individuals like to talk about the glory of war, they do not like to know how many persons have died. This is one of the main reasons why the support from different Presidents keep shifting away when the war gets to a situation causing a lot of deaths for Americans. This was seen during the Vietnam War and ultimately the President had to come out of the War. The same process is likely to take place in Iraq as we are already hearing of withdrawal of 30,000 troops as the war does not seem to be going America's way. Thus what matters is not victory or defeat, but what the President thinks will be the best for United States. Ultimately there has to be a ruler and the decision of the ruler for whatever he thinks will have to be accepted by the people and popularity with the people will determine his policies. Newspapers cannot determine policies, they cannot even report on them as if the report is very close to the truth, it will be suppressed. The real situation of the world is often not according to our dreams, but they exist.
Now let us get back to the real situation that existed that particular day -- 7 December, 1941. A person fighting in that war, and stationed in Hawaii, Percy John Fulton got up early on that Sunday morning. He was to raise the flag on USS St. Louis that day as a bugler played the call to colors at 8 AM. He was a man accustomed to getting up early, being a person from a small town and thus managed to be early for his duties at his position below the post on the cruiser's stern. The dress was khaki and he had to carry a 48 stars banner -- the reason is that number of states in the country was less then. At that time, many were still sleeping as the previous night had been spent by them at Waikiki Beach enjoying. There were two other marines with him also, and they had to stand at attention with their M-1 rifles while the ceremony was on. The situation for United States was felt to be one of peace and the soldiers did not carry any bullets in their rifles, thus they were incapable of fighting. (Haunted heroes)
At that time, there was a sudden noise from a 14-cylinder radial Mitsubishi engine, and all turned to see an unfamiliar plane. This was coming in low over the waters. The plane had a large circle painted in red between the wings and a thin silver torpedo hung under its belly. This was the beginning of the attack and the attack went on and on. In the entire process, 19 ships were sunk or damaged very severely, 347 aircraft were destroyed and a total of 2,403 individuals were killed and they had both soldiers and civilians among them. The losses to the Japanese were 29 planes, six small submarines and had at least 64 soldiers. The report is from a soldier who had fought in the war, and was stationed at that time in Pearl Harbor, and thus it is certainly the truth of the matter. (Haunted heroes) The story cannot change in content whoever talks about it -- ultimately truth is constant irrespective of the pleasure of the describer of truth. At the same time, on the day immediately after the attack, truth was not known and not even described fully in the newspapers, as can be seen from the newspaper report attached. There are many reasons for this, and the main reason is the restriction on truth due to censorship on news during wars.
From the report, it may seem that United States forces had no idea that an attack was imminent, but one of the ships, USS Ward had sunk a Japanese submarine and did not provide any warning to the ships at Pearl Harbor. The ship was a destroyer and passing on no news to the ships at the port was certainly irresponsible. The incidents were many and even around Pearl Harbor, there were other soldiers who also got hurt. Some were trying to get news from United States on the radio, and were coming back, down the mountain when the attack took place. Some of the soldiers managed to get three planes into the air and they shot down some six planes as per reports. There was also a lot of confusion and a flight of American B-17s came from United States and soldiers fired on them, thinking that they were Japanese planes. Overall it may be said that the lives of all the soldiers were changed due to the events on that day, and most of them did not even talk about Pearl Harbor, even within their own families. The few who are still alive wanted to talk about them, wanted to pass on the information to the younger generations so that they could learn from the incident. (Haunted Heroes) Thus it is clear that there was not much news that was available about Pearl Harbor at that time, irrespective of the size of newspaper, and like the soldiers they do not want to talk about the shame of United States. The important question for us today is however to try and understand why Pearl Harbor took place.
At the beginning itself, let us be clear that there is no such thing as absolute truth, it is only truth from a certain point-of-view. What will be seen as truth from a United States point-of-view will not be seen as the truth from a Japanese point-of-view? The Japanese are very polite and may not even clearly state that they disagree with the point-of-view that is being presented. The situation will become when we talk about what New York Times reported on 8 December 1941. According to this report, U.S. fascists had been opposing President Franklin D. Roosevelt right from the beginning and the statements are quite clear. Roosevelt had decided to organize a large redistribution of wealth and this had to be stopped at all costs according to this group. They first wanted a secret military group financed and organized by the leading managers of the Morgan and Dupont groups of companies. According to the conspirators what the country required was a fascist government in United States and this was to save the country from being taken over by the communists and take over all the benefits. What it clearly meant is that they did not want to lose their wealth and that is a normal human emotion. (1941 World War II)
There was a committee on Un-American Activities, and that clearly said that important business families like Rockefeller, Mellon, Pew, Pitcairn, and Hutton and along with them the managers of the large companies like Morgan, Dupont, Remington, Anaconda, Bethlehem, Goodyear, GMC, Swift…[continue]
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