Roundup: Comments About Historians

Roundup: Comments About Historians

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 8th, 2005, 12:38 am #1

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Roundup: Comments About Historians

James Bradley: The Man Who Celebrated Iwo Jima Flag-Raisers Writes Like Howard Zinn

Michael P. Tremoglie, a free-lance journalist, writing in (Jan. 13, 2004):

Flyboys by James Bradley is supposedly about eight pilots who were captured and killed by the Japanese during WWII while trying to destroy the Japanese radio stations on the island of Chichi Jima. However, the book is actually an indictment of American culture, history, and foreign policy along the lines of Howard Zinn. Rife with the usual politically correct canards about American history, Flyboys mentions the "ethnic cleansing" of the Native Americans, the extermination of Filipino civilians from 1899-1902 and the annexation of Hawaii by "bayonet.” In addition, it claims that our policies towards Japan were actually responsible for Pearl Harbor. Bradley's book is not so much an account of events that took place during World War II as it is a forum for the author's views on the historical and cultural circumstances that caused them.

For example, Bradley recounts the atrocities of American troops in the Philippines but only tells part of the truth. He lists a cartoon about General Jacob Smith—who ordered Filipino civilians executed—forgetting to mention that Smith was court-martialed as a result. Tellingly, Bradley primarily uses only one book about the Philippine War for his source: Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines by Stuart Creighton Miller. This book condemned U.S. policies in the Philippines as despotic imperialism and suggested that the U.S. was a ruthless, imperialistic nation, no different from the Japanese who destroyed Nanking.

As a reference about the history of American involvement in the Philippines, Bradley could have used The Philippine War by Brian McAllister Linn. Publisher's Weekly wrote of Linn's book:

"Without justifying the annexation itself, Linn demonstrates that the Filipino nationalists enjoyed at best limited popular support and did as much as the U.S. commanders in the islands to provoke a shooting war as an alternative to negotiation…As Linn shows, however, military success was only half of the war. Civic action was the other element…The Americans built hospitals, opened schools and restored order. When necessary, they sustained that order with punitive measures…If the U.S. annexation of the Philippines was an exercise in imperialism, Linn makes a convincing case that by 1902, the U.S. government of the island was nevertheless legitimate both de jure and de facto. For an increasing majority of Filipinos, the Americans had become preferable to the insurgents."

But then this is the antipodes of Bradley's thesis. The truth is that while we inherited an empire after the Spanish–American War, it was a controversial inheritance to say the least. Indeed, Williams Jennings Bryan used anti-imperialism as a plank in his platform during the 1900 election. We were reluctant imperialists, who made every effort to dissolve the empire we inherited – that is, if you call paying $20 million of taxpayers' money to Spain for territory we captured from them an inheritance.

About the Native Americans, Bradley writes that we engaged in "ethnic cleansing." Has Bradley ever read the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the Supreme Court case of Worcester v. Georgia, or the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 whereby we established pensions, native control of lands, and funding of education, medical care, etc. for Native Americans? This is what Bradley calls ethnic cleansing?

Bradley also repeats the oxymoronic, liberal prevarication that we stole the Western United States from Mexico after the Mexican-American War. This claim is specious for two reasons.

First, the United States paid Mexico $15,000,000 cash and assumed some $3,250,000 more in claims of American citizens on the Mexican government. When one considers that Great Britain, France, or Russia might have taken California at any moment; and that the American troops were in possession of the Mexican capital, the terms offered Mexico were very generous. Indeed, then-President James Polk was urged by many to annex the whole country of Mexico to the United States. [1]

The second reason this claim is specious is the same reason that it is oxymoronic. If we stole California, New Mexico and Texas from the Mexicans, did not the Mexicans steal this land from the Native Americans? It certainly was not their land. They annexed it after declaring independence from Spain. However, Spain stole it from the Native Americans. So how could Mexico claim it was their land to annex?

As for Hawaii, The United States did not foment a revolution there. In fact, according to one source, " in 1893; there were simply subjects of the kingdom who objected strongly to the willful ways of their queen — she announced she was going to install a new constitution, take away the voting rights of certain taxpayers and appoint all the members of one of the two houses of government. They said no way and removed her from office in a virtually bloodless coup. The U.S. played a minimal role, pointing no guns, firing no bullets. And even that role was denounced very quickly by President Cleveland, making clear the U.S. itself was not interested in taking over the kingdom" [2] Yes, there was a Bayonet Constitution in 1887. However, the U.S. was not involved, and that government was replaced by a royal Hawaiian government and a new constitution.

When writing about World War II, Bradley is equally hypercritical of America, citing the usual liberal history. About the embargo of the Japanese, Bradley states that it was America's fault—ignoring completely the atrocity of Nan King and the invasion of China. He says that America committed imperialist acts; therefore, we should not have condemned Japan. Bradley also cites the usual canard of racism. But he contradicts himself on that count, because he then says we helped China.

Bradley loves to mention atrocities or barbarities by our military against the Japanese. He uses the standard liberal canard that this was unique to the Pacific theater because of American racism. In Bradley's view, the European theater did not have the atrocities committed by Americans because Germans were more like us. Bradley mentions on page 138 how American soldiers killed Japanese more enthusiastically then they killed Germans and Italians. He cites on the same page how one Marine was instructed at Peleliu that no prisoners were to be taken.

Apparently, he did not research such action in Europe, where there was the Biscari massacre of Italian soldiers and the Canicatti slaughter of Italian civilians. [3] There have been books written how 700 SS POW's were killed by American troops and at Dachau 300 German soldiers were summarily executed.

Bradley also claims Americans applauded Japanese internment (p. 137). He cites testimony of general who said that Italians and Germans could be trusted, but “a Jap is a Jap.” This was from the book Lewis and Steele Hell in the Pacific , which was written in 1992, when it was not commonly known that Germans and Italians were also interned. This point renders Bradley once again subject to his own liberal revisionist history. Germans and Italians were interned during WWII, and Germans and Austro-Hungarians during WWI. Therefore, Bradley's premise that there was a special or unique hatred of Japanese as evidenced by internment or not taking prisoners is bogus.

But in Bradley's world, the Doolittle Raid was a war crime. He claims schools and hospitals were bombed and innocent civilians were killed. He cites the elementary schools destroyed and the students killed. Pearl Harbor was a military installation, Bradley says, Tokyo was not.

As Japan's capital, there were military installations in Tokyo–not to mention military industries. As far as innocent civilians are concerned, there were many killed at Pearl Harbor. Among the innocent civilians were Nancy Masako Arakaki, age 8 and Robert Yo****o Hirasaki, age 3. They were by no means the only such casualties.

Our military did not conduct anymore ruthless, barbarous or deadly a war against Japan than it did against Germany. German cities, like Dresden, were bombed and incinerated. In fact, more civilians were killed in Dresden (135, 000) [4] than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. In addition, 2,000 Italian civilians were killed in the first air raid of Rome in July 1943.

All this was done for a purpose–to end the war.

Flyboys is the second book by James Bradley, whose first book, Flags of Our Fathers , about the Marines who planted the flag at Iwo Jima, was a bestseller. Bradley is the son of one of the flag-planters.

Originally from Wisconsin, Bradley holds a degree in East Asian History from the University of Wisconsin. During his college days, he lived in Japan with an 18-year-old Japanese woman. Bradley is also president of an eponymous nonprofit peace foundation, "which fosters understanding between America and Asia. The foundation sends American students to Japan and China to study."

One can understand Bradley's sympathy towards Japanese culture because of his experiences. And this is not to say that our country is not without sin. However, Bradley's version of history is tendentious and fallacious. The fact that the United States Navy awarded Bradley its civilian medal because of his book, and that Flyboys was endorsed by W.E.B. Griffin, who is not a “Blame America First” liberal, is rather odd.

Could it be that my perspective is skewed? Possibly, my experiences with public schools and colleges have made me aware of the liberal bias among educators–especially historians. As a result, I may sometimes perceive bias where there is none.

My wife, however, is apolitical. During those rare occasions that she does comment on a subject of a political nature, her Mount Holyoke/University of Pennsylvania education is apparent by the liberalism of her opinions. However, she read several pages of this book, and even she was appalled by its unwarranted and specious criticism of America.

When Bradley finally writes about the events on Chichi Jima and the pilots, the book is a good one. Unfortunately, his partisan perspective of history detracts from the book itself. Consequently it is neither enlightening nor entertaining, and does not accomplish what Bradley said he wanted to: tell why the execution of the Chichi Jima pilots occurred and why no mention was ever made to the men's families.


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Posted by Editor on Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 8:35 PM

* Response by Christopher Riggs (January 29, 2004 at 6:49 PM)
o Re: Response by Joe Doex (June 13, 2004 at 1:29 AM)
+ Re: Response by Christopher Riggs (August 1, 2004 at 11:01 PM)

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R.W. "Dick" Gaines
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Last edited by Dick Gaines on April 8th, 2005, 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.