Hanks, Hollywood, and history
By Bruce Walker
Tom Hanks has said that our war on Islamic terrorism has the same flaws as he perceives our Pacific War against Japan had seventy years ago. America, in both conflicts, made crude racial stereotypes of our enemies, feared the strange gods they worshipped, and sought to annihilate them. Hanks' comments reveal, for those of us who still needed evidence, the appalling ignorance of Hollywood and its performers.
The propaganda of virtually all nations involved in the Second World War was exaggerated and intense, America included. This did not reflect a special bias against the Japanese: Hollywood often portrayed the Nazis as actual devils and invariably presented Germany, during the war, in the worst possible light. The Nazis reciprocated with a constant flow of abuse directed at Churchill and Roosevelt.
Japan had a propaganda machine as crude as any combatant in the war and Japan went beyond mere propaganda: Japan instituted a massive national indoctrination as pervasive as any, perhaps, in history. This included the "Thought Police," an organization more Orwellian than anything in Stalinist Russia or Hitler's Germany. This not only dehumanized American and British Imperial soldiers, who endured ghastly abuse much worse from the Japanese than Nazi treatment of POWs, but this indoctrination also dehumanized other Asian peoples, who Japan presumably was "liberating" from Western Powers.
Official Japanese policy was to addict as many Chinese as possible t to narcotics as a means of weakening the Chinese people. The medical experiments performed by the Japanese on Chinese (and Allied POWs) equaled the worst crimes of the Nazis. The Rape of Nanking – before the Second World War even began – was one of the worst atrocities in modern history. Perhaps no major power in the last century was as xenophobic and self-centered as Japan during the Second World War.
Imperial Japan, like Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, behaved in the Second World War with savagery and sadism seldom seen, even in war. Over the top propaganda against the Japanese and the Germans may have been improper, in the hindsight of antiseptic analysis, but surely ending the demonic reign of these powers was more important.
Victory brought a very different attitude toward the Japanese people. American occupying forces learned quickly that the Japanese were civilized, intelligent, and humane, although in different ways than the West. The American occupation of Japan was vastly more benign than, say, the Japanese occupation of China or Singapore.
How does this relate to our present war on Islamic terrorism? Hollywood has hardly demonized our enemies, as it did in the Second World War. It has, instead, demonized our troops and our political leaders who wage this war. Is there a major motion picture describing the nightmarish rule of the Taliban and the magnificent liberation of the Afghan people from these nasty goons? Has Hanks or any of the rest of Hollywood produced a film showing the plague of honor killings in Europe and North America or the odious "female circumcision" which some versions of Islam require? Surely even Tom Hanks can grasp the pure evil of Saddam Hussein, who had children tortured in front of their parents – why, I wonder, does Hanks imagine that the Iraqi people pulled down the giant statue of Hussein after they were free from his rule? The crimes of our enemies in this present conflict are brilliantly clear for anyone with vision and guts: So why has Hollywood failed in the moral duty to expose these crimes?
Hollywood's minions, Hanks included, are moral cowards. The uncreative minds and unfeeling hearts of Hollywood are dead to the suffering which radical Islam brings to peoples our forces are trying to liberate, just as they are dead to the holocaust of the Gulag or the liquidation of the Kulaks in Russia, which has never been shown in film, even after the Soviet Union fell. These dull, self-centered souls have never made a movie depicting the Hell on Earth which is North Korea or Cuba – even though thuggish regimes torment lives this very day and a movie showing that might end or mitigate the malice of those regimes.
There was a time when Hollywood made films which attacked evil force in the world. These films painted this evil with an overly broad brush, but those films still had the theme right: Nazis were terrible; Japanese imperialists were terrible; ending those terrors was the first priority. Now Hollywood picks on the good guys, the soldiers who volunteer to protect the people once enthralled to tyrants and mullahs and the political leaders with the courage to pursue even a long and unpopular war against these enemies of mankind.
Hanks is dead wrong if he believes that Americans are incited to view our enemies with racial or religious animus. President Bush, very quickly after our nation was attacked, called Islam "a religion of peace," which was just what Hollywood would have wanted him to say. Our troops in Iraq and in Afghanistan view themselves as deliverers of enslaved peoples from vicious overlords, and ordinary soldiers behave that way toward average Iraqi or Afghans.
America, which is a nation of citizens who chose to migrate here from all over the world, views the whole of mankind as its friends. Americans overflow with generosity to the poor and the persecuted throughout the world and many Americans travel at their own expense to dangerous places to bring hope and help to wretched peoples. Does this sound like the actions of a people poisoned by racial and religious bigotry? Only in that odd and isolated colony called Hollywood.
Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.