“December 7, 1941 – a date that will live in infamy…,” so said Franklin Roosevelt 68 years ago today, in the wake of the horrific surprise attack by the Empire of Japan on US Naval forces based in Hawaii:
“The attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships (two of which were raised and returned to service later in the war) and damaged four more. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer, destroyed 188 aircraft, and caused personnel losses of 2,402 killed and 1,282 wounded.”
This attack by Japan awoke the so-called “sleeping giant” and forced the United States to declare war upon them (and eventually Germany and Italy) and enter World War II against the Axis Powers.
Have you seen the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor? Dorie Miller had his story immortalized in Michael Bay’s movie, as Cuba Gooding Jr., played the real-life Casey Ryback/ John Rambo killer combo, wielding a machine gun and blasting away the Japanese.
As the Michael Bay movie shows, had this Black seamen not engaged the enemy, World War II would have been lost from the start.
After this attack, a formerly isolationist nation would mobilize quickly and put forth one of the most impressive fighting forces the world has ever seen, in an effort to subdue the Japanese and the threat of Fascism in Europe for good.
It is important to remember that the United States in 1940 was a completely different nation than we are today. The nation was comprised of almost 90 percent white people, with Black people comprising roughly nine percent.
The United States had a segregated military up until 1948:
“African Americans have served in the U.S. military since the days of George Washington, but it took until July 26, 1948, for the country to begin living up the democratic ideals that they fought to defend.
As World War II approached, the United States found itself opposed to fascist regimes and their racist ideologies, yet it had to reckon with the hard reality that many of its own 12.6 million African-American citizens — about 10 percent of the population at the time — were denied basic civil rights and human opportunities. The bitter irony that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” (freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear) set forth as U.S. war aims were largely unavailable to African Americans did not stop 2.5 million black men from registering for the military draft. More than 1 million eventually served in all branches of the armed forces during World War II. In addition, thousands of African-American women volunteered as combat nurses.”
Why point this out? Well, to put it mildly, Black people didn’t have that much of a role in World War II and the defeat of the Axis Powers. An interesting United States government Defense website completely glosses over Black involvement in World War Two, save for the aforementioned Dorie Miller and the vaunted Tuskegee Airmen.
What Black people actually did in World War II is quite interesting, as the United States government decided to keep most of the Black soldiers away from the conflict (and thus, incapable of duplicating Miller’s Pearl Harbor exploits):
By this time, the War Department’s critical need for troops overseas helped to ease opposition to the dispatch of black servicemen to the European or Pacific theaters.
The number of African Americans serving in-theater jumped from 97,725 in 1941 to 504,000 in 1943. However, 425,000 black troops remained in the United States. The military claimed that allied foreign nations objected to the presence of black troops, but it was usually American commanders overseas who opposed their assignment.
17 July 1944
The worst home front disaster of WWII occurred when two ships, the E.A. Bryan and the Quinalt Victory , docked at Port Chicago, California, exploded one night while African-American sailors were loading ammunition for use in the Pacific theater. Both ships and the loading pier were destroyed, while many of the nearby town’s buildings also suffered severe damage.
Of the 320 men killed, 202 of them were black enlisted men; the blast also injured 390 men. The worst military loss of life in the continental United States during WWII, this one incident involved 15 percent of all African Americans wounded or killed in this conflict.
Despite the extensive casualties, however, sailors were ordered to resume loading on 9 August 1944, with no training or procedural changes to help safeguard against another such catastrophe. Because they were afraid of another explosion, 258 African-American sailors refused to comply with orders.
The U.S. Navy court martialed 50 men for mutiny and tried the other 208 on lesser charges. Those convicted of mutiny were sentenced to 15 years in prison, but after the war they were granted amnesty. However, their original convictions were not overturned. Ultimately, though, this incident did result in changes affecting racial relations in the Navy, because ammunition loading ceased to be a “blacks only” assignment. The Navy also adopted safer procedures for loading ammunition.
Only 708 Black people died in combat during World War II, in a war that saw 418,500 Americans die while defending freedom and democracy from tyranny and oppression.
It is important to remember that racial views in the 1940s weren’t as angelic as they’re now, and that prejudicial and ignorant views of Black people were the norm. Black people were second-class citizens in America, and decided to wage a war against oppression at home, while white people were slaying evil yellow and white people abroad:
“The African American community in the United States resolved on a Double V Campaign: Victory over fascism abroad, and victory over discrimination at home. Large numbers migrated from poor Southern farms to munitions centers.
Racial tensions were high in overcrowded cities like Chicago; Detroit and Harlem experienced race riots in 1943.The derogative name jig was coined during this time. The Pittsburgh Courier created the Double V Campaign after readers began commenting on their second class status during wartime.”
While the Double V Campaign was being waged in America, white American troops were busy engaging the enemy in the Pacific Theater and eventually in the German-occupied European continent.
The millions of white people who fought tyranny, nationalism and fascism abroad and the hundreds of thousands who died so doing, were working to ensure that the goals of the Double V campaign would come to fruition at some point, even if they didn’t consciously know it.
Pre-Obama America was a diseased land and needed to be cleansed of its boring whiteness. Sure, these overwhelming white troops defeated evil in World War II, and they even had the honor of being dubbed “The Greatest Generation” for their efforts:
“The Greatest Generation” is a term coined by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the generation who grew up in the United States during the deprivation of the Great Depression, and then went on to fight in World War II, as well as those whose productivity within the war’s home front made a decisive material contribution to the war effort.”
But these Real American Heroes fought World War II so that the world we currently live in could be birthed; could see its genesis. These white people defeated Japan, a people who have never had a lofty opinion of Black people, and the Germans (who treated Jesse Owens with more respect than he would receive in America).
The Greatest Generation returned home from WWII victorious, and would then wage a war upon racism within its states to ensure true equality to all people, of all races.
Black people owe The Greatest Generation an almost inconceivable and repayable debt, for they bestowed Black people equality after the war and handed the reigns of power to them completely.
The United States enjoyed an unbelievable epoch of prosperity after World War II, which saw an unprecedented growth of the middle-class that affected white people, as well as Black people.
White people fled the major cities, leaving them to be governed by Black people and inadvertently destroying the old identity of those cities and instilling a negative stereotype of the urban jungle for all eternity.
Untold billions would be spent – the hard-earned tax dollars of The Greatest Generation – on Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society programs, as every attempt to remake the average American Black person into your average white person would be undertaken.
Yet these members of The Greatest Generation sacrificed countless lives in the war (more than 400,000 white Americans gave their lives so this new world of equality could exist) to usher in the new America – which might never be absolved of white racism.
The greatness of the era right after WWII – some might call it Pleasantville – was but a glimpse of a country that could have been, but was to be sacrificed to the Gods of Blackness.
In retrospect, Black people owe America and The Greatest Generation absolutely nothing (as long as they continue to entertain us with their dazzling sports skills). The cumulative sacrifices of white people in World War II register barely a penitence for the historical stain of racism that Black people must constantly remember and put hardly a dint in bitter narrative of white supremacy that dominates the colored people of the world like a rampaging river.
Like Damocles Sword, white guilt is the bitter legacy of The Greatest Generation, for they extirpated a nation that seemed poised to preside over the world’s affairs and usher in an irenic era of continued growth and unabated happiness.
However, this misguided sense of destiny was supplanted by the work of disingenuous white liberals – who constantly repent for their whiteness – and the crusading white pedagogues – those poor souls who fight and try to undo nature – as they constantly maneuver to heap scorn upon this misnamed Greatest Generation as just an extension of Nazi Germany (whoops, that was by the books author).
These members of the The Greatest Generation represent one of the last links of the chain to an era of racism, oppression and evil, even though this group did more to ensure that Black people had a seat at the table. Don’t worry, they will soon be gone:
“In 2000, there were 555,974, WWII veterans in California, according to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. There are now 213,118. Ten years from now, just 30,370 will be alive. Across the nation, we lose 900 WWII veterans a day. It is urgent that we honor these heroes now, while there is time. Strangely, given the scope, magnitude and importance of World War II, America had been woefully late in acknowledging a debt we can never repay to those who defended the liberty we take for granted.”
With each passing of a veteran of World War II, the rapidity of the air coming out Pre-Obama America speeds up. Will an article one day appear in an America newspaper much like this one from England?”
“Nearly 400,000 Britons died. Millions more were scarred by the experience, physically and mentally.
But was it worth it? Her answer – and the answer of many of her contemporaries, now in their 80s and 90s – is a resounding No.
They despise what has become of the Britain they once fought to save. It’s not our country any more, they say, in sorrow and anger.
In one letter in this collection, an RAF mechanic quoted a poem about comrades who fell in battle: ‘I mourned them then, But now surviving in a world, Indifferent to their hopes and dreams, I grieve more for the living.’
The Greatest Generation is a sickening reminder to the inhabitants of Obama’s America of a stain that no matter how hard it is scrubbed, can never be removed. The dreams, ambitions, sacrifices and goals of these brave men and women built the country we live in today.
Paradoxically, Black people cannot be to happy with this generation for they kept Black people from contributing fully in World War II. Yet, the dichotomy of this situation is equally a tragedy: this experience of divisiveness would ensure that Black people received full integration into America life.
Worse, The Greatest Generation is forced to undergo a Crayola Moment as the overbearing whiteness of this group is in dire need of a good 21st century revisionist coloring.
Where can this be found? Easy. Movies. People believe truth to be formulated by what they visualize and favorable impressions of historically inaccurate “truths” can be conjured through the magic of cinema:
“On February 19 1945 Thomas McPhatter found himself on a landing craft heading toward the beach on Iwo Jima.”There were bodies bobbing up all around, all these dead men,” said the former US marine, now 83 and living in San Diego. “Then we were crawling on our bellies and moving up the beach. I jumped in a foxhole and there was a young white marine holding his family pictures. He had been hit by shrapnel, he was bleeding from the ears, nose and mouth. It frightened me. The only thing I could do was lie there and repeat the Lord’s prayer, over and over and over.”Sadly, Sgt McPhatter’s experience is not mirrored in Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood’s big-budget, Oscar-tipped film of the battle for the Japanese island that opened on Friday in the US. While the film’s battle scenes show scores of young soldiers in combat, none of them are African-American. Yet almost 900 African-American troops took part in the battle of Iwo Jima, including Sgt McPhatter.The film tells the story of the raising of the stars and stripes over Mount Suribachi at the tip of the island. The moment was captured in a photograph that became a symbol of the US war effort. Eastwood’s film follows the marines in the picture, including the Native American Ira Hayes, as they were removed from combat operations to promote the sale of government war bonds.Mr McPhatter, who went on to serve in Vietnam and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander in the US navy, even had a part in the raising of the flag. “The man who put the first flag up on Iwo Jima got a piece of pipe from me to put the flag up on,” he says. That, too, is absent from the film.”Of all the movies that have been made of Iwo Jima, you never see a black face,” said Mr McPhatter. “This is the last straw. I feel like I’ve been denied, I’ve been insulted, I’ve been mistreated. But what can you do? We still have a strong underlying force in my country of rabid racism.”
Spike Lee accused the film’s director, Clint Eastwood, of racism, for not showing a single Black face in his World War II movies:
In round one, Lee came out swinging at Director Clint Eastwood’s WWII films, “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima,” claiming that Eastwood “erased the role of black GIs from history.” Lee tried on his self-righteous air of moral certitude and labeled Eastwood a racist. “Many black veterans who fought in Iwo Jima were hurt that there was no representation of them in both of those films,” Lee said in an interview in Rome last year.Round two began as the blow fell upon Eastwood in an interview with Focus magazine. Why was Eastwood such a racist, they wondered? Eastwood, momentarily rocked on his heels, came back with a knock out blow showing the world that, aging or not, he was still faster and smarter than the bespeckled, racemongering Lee.
“Does he know anything about American history?” Eastwood told Focus when asked about Lee’s criticism. “The U.S. military was segregated til the Korean War, and the blacks in World War Two were totally segregated. The only black battalion on Iwo Jima was a small munitions supply unit that came to the beach. “The story was about the men who raised the flag and we can’t make them black if they were not there. So tell him: Why don’t you go back and study your history and stop mouthing off!”
You see, the coming decades will see an erosion of historical facts and the inclusion of more Black faces into the tale of World War II so that Dorie Miller can have some much deserved colored company.
For Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes The Greatest Generation, as the war these white people fought was won without the help of Black soldiers and worse, in a period of time when Black people faced rampant discrimination at home. How can these people – The Greatest Generation – be the source of simultaneous pride and yet universal scorn for their racial chauvenism?
The answer is simple: they can’t. The Greatest Generation will fade into obscurity and memory as they leave this realm of existence and depart for the afterlife.
A new group will be awarded the moniker The Greatest Generation, for the defeat of Japan and Germany by white people no longer reflects the multiracial splendor that is 21st America. That title will be reserved Obama’s generation.