This coming Sunday, HBO will present The Pacific, the long-awaited companion piece to, what I believe is the finest portrayal of World War II in any medium, Band of Brothers. It is unfortunate that even before one minute is aired, controversy has erupted because of a statement Tom Hanks made to historian Douglas Brinkley in Time Magazine (no link):
“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?”
Putting aside the typical knee-jerk idiot liberal reaction, his statement is so stupid and wrong on so many levels that I’ll let historian Victor Davis Hanson have at it:
Hanks may not have been quoted correctly; and his remarks may have been impromptu and poorly expressed; and we should give due consideration to the tremendous support Hanks has given in the past both to veterans and to commemoration of World War II; and his new HBO series could well be a fine bookend to Band of Brothers. All that said, Hanks’ comments were sadly infantile pop philosophizing offered by, well, an ignoramus.
Hanks thinks he is trying to explain the multifaceted Pacific theater in terms of a war brought on by and fought through racial animosity. That is ludicrous.
An innately racist society could not have gone through the nightmare of Okinawa (nearly 50,000 Americans killed, wounded, or missing), and yet a mere few months later have in Tokyo, capital of the vanquished, a rather enlightened proconsul MacArthur, whose deference to Japanese religion, sensibilities, and tradition ensured a peaceful transition to a rather radical new independent and autonomous democratic culture.
Read the entire piece here. and watch the Making Of video below.