Warning: War, Death, War Crimes, Atrocities
Recent discussion of bunkers [stderr] reminded me, over and over, about a horrible piece of propaganda I encountered as a child.
I don’t remember where I ran into it, probably Reader’s Digest – my grandparents had huge stacks of them that I used to trawl through.
There was a story set in WWII, about a young marine during the “island hopping” campaign toward Japan. In the story, the hero was a baseball player, a pitcher, who had enlisted. So, they encountered a bunker that was held by Japanese soldiers with a machine gun, putting up a strong resistance – they couldn’t figure out how to reduce the bunker. Then, the hero remembered his old coach telling him that “sometimes you gotta throw the ball slow” and the hero comes up with the clever idea of running a hose into the bunker’s air vent, and pouring several jerrycans of gasoline down it. As the Japanese in the bunker smelled the gasoline, and realized that there was nothing they could do if someone were to light it, they surrendered.
I don’t actually remember the ending of the story, so I’m going to say that the Japanese in the bunker surrendered and weren’t shot as they came out, or burned to death in their bunker. Let’s just say they surrendered, and everyone lived, and the Japanese went home after the war and started successful businesses and everyone ended up friends.
During WWII there were massive propaganda campaigns that the Japanese wouldn’t surrender – from both the Japanese government, and the US government. Why? Because the Japanese government didn’t want troops surrendering; it didn’t care if they died or not, it just wanted to get maximum mileage out of the lives it was using like handfuls of Kleenex. Why did the US promote that the Japanese wouldn’t surrender? Well there was some truth to it, but it was safer for US troops to just gun them down and it saved all that prisoner management. I remember reading a story about how brave the SeaBees – military engineers – were: they drove their bulldozers into battlefields and used the dozer blades to pile dirt over the front of Japanese pillboxes so that the people inside were trapped, and … I suppose they left them there, because the Japanese didn’t surrender.
Memories like that are why I am so sensitive to propaganda. The US has always been a horrific bunch of militarists, who are great at blaming others for their bad foreign policy, then attack and kill them, and blame them for that, too. It’s an essential part of American culture – the flip side of “we’re the good guys.” It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I started to realize that not only had I been lied to, I had been lied to constantly and, in fact, it was lies all the way down.
What kind of horrible propagandist lying sadist would glorify the terror someone in a bunker would feel when they saw gasoline come dripping down their air-vent? The same kind of horrible lying sadist who’d say that some poppy-farmer in Afghanistan “hates us for our freedoms” – that’s who.