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Past opinions provide perspective

Pearl Harbor Day is Thursday. The following are Spokesman-Review editorials on the attack.

Don’t discriminate, Dec. 11, 1942

“Let us fight this war with high courage and unshakable resolve to win, come what may. But let us not sully our patriotic purpose with blind, intolerant persecution of native-born or naturalized citizens of Japanese blood.

“There is a reason for an outraged people to vent bitter scorn and hatred upon the Japanese government and military leaders who struck so perfidiously at our territories while pretending to seek peace. But we should remember the notable declaration of Edmund Burke, the great English statesman, in speaking to his countrymen of America during the Revolutionary War, that ‘I do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people.’

“In time of high emotion, wrongs are frequently done of which men are heartily ashamed when calm returns. But hysteria is a sign of weakness. Strong men keep their heads in time of danger. … It is unbecoming of free men to act with unjust discrimination and nothing could be more unjust or unbecoming of loyal Americans than indiscriminately to suspect or persecute their few fellow citizens of Japanese birth or descent.

“The patriotism of a citizen cannot be distinguished by the color of his skin, and many a Japanese, both native born and naturalized, is just as devoted to America as any white American of Revolutionary stock. In fact, many a Japanese, who has learned by contrast to appreciate the liberties and opportunities American affords, has a keener sense of the advantages of American citizenship than the native born.

“Let us not repeat the shameful cruelties of ostracism against these fellow citizens that was visited against so many loyal Americans of German birth or descent in the last world war.”

Japan’s disaster, Dec. 7, 1945

“Four years ago this morning the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor, caught our Pacific fleet at anchor and sank or put out of action the major part of its offensive strength. Nearly every reference since then to that stunning blow to our Pacific bastion has described it as the disaster of Pearl Harbor.

“It was disastrous in truth, one of the most disastrous military strokes in history. It roused a giant nation from the stupefying illusion that world aggression could be defeated by ‘measures short of war,’ and doomed the empire that delivered the blow to destruction.

“On this fourth anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Japan lies prostrate, her dreams of empire shattered, her conquests taken from her, her pride humbled, her spirit broken and her battered, rubble-strewn homeland occupied and ruled by her conquerors.

“The attack upon Pearl Harbor was a monumental blunder. There was error of judgment on our side in miscalculating where Japan would strike. … But the decision of the Japanese warlords to strike at Pearl Harbor was the fatal miscalculation. The bombs their planes dropped there set off an explosion that destroyed Japan.”


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