Wednesday, August 27, 2008
If you are to read anything about the Pacific War during World War II I do very much recommend War Without Mercy written by John Dower. You may not agree to 100% of what he writes but it does really push a few buttons and make you think about the war in totally new perspectives.
John Dower explains that the Pacific War between Japan and the United States during World War Two carries the notion of a race war and that the brutality carried out by the opposing sides were due to racial hate and cultural fears. This was a war fought against a new type of enemy for the Americans, a powerful Asian Nation with such different culture and values that it also became nearly impossible for the Americans to identify them that as fellow humans.
The wars itself created a newly gained consciousness of racial belong to the countries involved in World War II. Germany regarded themselves as the master race and fought for an “Aryan” greater purpose. In America the African American minority was treated as second rated members of society and the discrimination against them were immense and open. Nationalist movements in the Allied colonies of Asia were supported by Japan and their Pan-Asiatic movement.
After Japans attack on Pearl Harbor and liberation of former western colonies a fear of the Japanese people and nation was established in the American mind. This fear was heavily fueled by the support of media who regularly published images of racial stereotypes picturing the Japanese as sub-humans, a racial menace, or a vermin that had to be exterminated. In addition to some popular writer even went so far as labeling the war a holy or racial war. It becomes clear how much race played a part in this war when the Japanese was so much more hated then the Germans when there was still the opinion of a good German but never of a good Japanese.
Japan itself made itself the virtuous leader of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and saw them as the righteous leader of Asia building on their own conception of racial and cultural superiority. Moreover they created and pictured the Europeans and Americans colonisers as beasts, demons and monsters that had prayed on Asian wealth for to long that had to be fought in the great liberation efforts of Asia. On the contrary the Japanese proved themselves to as ruthless or even worse to their Asian neighbours as the former western colonisers.
These stereotypical images were not created during the war but had originated centuries before the conflict on both sides. The western views of Asians as being lesser men, primitives, or childish are deeply rooted and can be traced as far back as to Aristotles. These are all racial stereotypes that the west had applied for centuries in their colonies and settlements to justify their actions against the indigenous populations. The dehumanisation of the enemy unquestionably justified the killing of combatants and civilians on both sides for the reason that one was no longer killing humans but something else and this racism may well have produced certain behavioural patterns among the soldiers justifying atrocities such the collection of bones of enemy soldiers and the killing of prisoners.
Even though the Japanese and Americans saw each other with very different eyes they did however have much in common. Atrocities actions were taken by both sides. Racial superiority propaganda led to create a great hatred towards what is different lead to the killing of hundreds of thousands people, innocent or not.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
For those interested in learning the Hiragana alphabet in a new and innovative way this new program was just launched in the itunes store. The program is priced at $2.99 and aims to teach you the full hiragana alphabet, including all the 46 characters, their 25 variations, as well as a full list of character combinations and features custom drawn flash cards with illustrations and mnemonics for each character.
Check it out at:: itunes HikaChan