Saturday, May 07, 2005

Kent State and WWII Revisionism

The other day over at Wes's blog (I'd link but the Blogger dashboard isn't working right) someone commenting as the Voice of Reason dismissed the Kent State shootings with "Take it easy there, Skippy. Granted Jim Rhodes turned the ONG loose on those students, it was a MAJOR brain fart on the part of that trigger-happy Guardsman and all of those who follwed suit."

Couple of facts about the shootings via the Cincinnati Public Library:

Shortly before the shooting, James Rhodes denounced the war protestors as "worse than the brownshirts and the communist elements. . . the worst type of people that we harbor in America." He wasn't alone in whipping up emotions among the guard and public in general.

Just before the shootings, the Guardsmen walked away from the protestors, turned IN UNION, and opened fire. Even pro-Guard witnesses report that the movement was as a whole, not one "trigger-happy Guardsman."

Initially they claimed they were responding to sniper fire but no bullets were found (or witnessed) and the sniper excuse was retracted. However, even today, "Voices of Reason" claim they were being struck by rocks and bottles but no guardsmen were treated for any type of injury and photographs show that at the time of the shooting, no student was within 60 feet.

Even more disturbing in Nathan's A Prayer for Dawn forum, a poster opened a thread about China's protests of Japanese textbooks sugar-coating their role in WWII. I've seen conflicting statistics but the one I've heard most often is that the Nazis murdered 7% of Allied POWs but the Japanese killed 47%. (There are plenty of conflicting stats but all agree that the Nazis were the lesser of the two evils.)

One of the current arguments in favor of Japan is that the events happened over 50 years ago. Imagine if a killer murdered one victim in 1944 and was sentenced to life imprisonment-- maybe the "long-time-ago" argument would fly at a parole hearing, but the Imperial Japanese Army killed, raped, and tortured literally millions of victims. If we'd keep a killer in jail for 50 years for the death of one person, I don't think the Japanese school system should gloss over war crimes just yet.

I can't imagine German textbooks leaving out the Holocaust and shrugging it off with "aww, it was a long time ago" (and isn't this an absurd argument for HISTORY texts?)

I can understand the urge for both Americans and Japanese to white-wash our pasts but to dismiss either war crimes or the Kent State shootings as "brain farts" is disgraceful.

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