Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, Massachusetts) Dec 8, 1941
Who Was Asleep?
It is very much of a temptation to raise voices in denunciation of those who were to blame for the failure to be ready for the Japanese attack on Hawaii. But those who denounce are using hindsight. Who heard the news without a great shock of surprise? To tell the truth, none of us. So none of us have any right to pick up the first stone.
The fact is that the failure to see what was coming at Hawaii was only part of the failure to see the whole pattern of events as they were being drawn for many years. We have all been blind to what was going on right under our eyes, all but a few leaders and thinkers. And when they raised warning voices they were ignored or hooted down as war-mongers. The outbreak of Japan is not the result of Germany’s campaign of aggression. The Japanese ambition to dominate the east and drive us out dates back long before Hitler or Mussolini were heard of; in fact, it was the fact that the western democracies were not fearless enough to stop Japan’s first break that tipped off the dictators that it was safe to go ahead.
The Yellow Peril has existed on our back door for a great many years; it has only been held in check by the knowledge that we were the stronger. There has been no question at all that when the time was ripe and Japan felt strong enough, we would have to fight or get out of the Pacific. Volumes have been written about this. The pattern has always been clear. There was no excuse for not knowing it. It is true that we have had years of peace with Japan, but the Japanese smile has always been a hypocritical one, and masked a hatred and contempt that only waited for opportunity to come out in the open.
The strength that Japan needed to oppose us was to come through the domination of China. And we played right into her hands. We watched Japan eating into China, and even when the aggression became so raw that it shocked us, all we did was shake a finger at Japan and speak words of reproof. Then when the final assault on China came, it horrified us but still it did not make us think. We gave moral support to China, but gave immoral and stupid support to Japan by selling her the sinews of war. We know now that only the almost miraculous appearance on the scene of Chang Kai Shek prevented Japan from making good her conquest — leaving her ready to face us as soon as the digestive process was complete.
We were all blind. The blame cannot be placed on any leader or any political party. Any party that proposed an aggressive attitude toward Japan would not have been given support. Only three years ago, congress refused to allow Guam to be fortified for fear of hurting Japan’s feelings. That was the general attitude.
The Japanese plan was plain enough. In fact, they frequently flung it in our faces that the new order demanded that white men get out of the Pacific. It’s been stewing for a long time. The European war and the unexpected strength of China has brought it to a boil a little sooner than Japan wished, but it is a dish that Japan a long time ago planned to shove down our throats. That we did not foresee the attack on Pearl Harbor is not so surprising. We have been asleep a long time.
The Kingsport Times (Kingsport, Tennessee) Dec 22, 1941
The Kingsport Time (Kingsport, Tennessee) Dec 22, 1941