Monday, November 15, 2004


We’ll have to re-fight WWII, this time with rulers. Yes, it’s another easily-measurable case of historical revisionism in school textbooks.

This is another footnote to Thursday’s story about ‘’Farewell to Manzanar.’’ That’s the frequently-taught novel that distorts the truth about the World War II relocation and internment program for ethnic Japanese and other Axis-power people from the West Coast after Pearl Harbor. I plead for better perspective and accuracy in the way historical events such as that are taught in schools.

The Japanese camps got more than twice as much coverage as D-Day did in our daughter’s Advanced Placement U.S. history book. The book is ‘’America Past and Present’’ (Divine et. al., Addison-Wesley, 2003).

Let’s review:

The internment involved 112,000 people and no loss of life. It got 62 lines of text, plus a picture of an adorable Japanese family.

World War II resulted in the deaths of 56 million people, and its climactic moment, D-Day, involved millions of people and heavy casualties. D-Day got 32 lines in the textbook, and no picture.

So, in the eyes of the textbook publishers and the educators who bought this product and use it to teach our kids, D-Day is less than half as important as the Japanese internment program.

Riiiiiight. You’ll note there’s not a word in this 1,014-page book about the 300,000 people, many of them women and children, murdered by the Japanese in the late 1930s in the Rape of Nanking. That figured heavily in people’s minds after Pearl Harbor and the relocation a few years later. I mean, the death toll of 9/11 is only 1 percent of that event, and look at all the reaction and response in our country as a result of 9/11. Yet Nanking merits not a mention.

While the textbook does cover the Nazi Holocaust, it neglects to give any idea of the total death count -- more than 6 million. The only numbers given in the book were 3,000 bodies found at Nordhausen and 3,200 at Ohrdruf. So, to the average student, it was an aberration, but NOTHING like those terrible internment camps on the West Coast!

Meanwhile, there’s ample coverage of the A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with a gruesome after-bomb picture, and the immediate death count of 100,000 was mentioned in the copy and the caption.

So the impression left is that the U.S. was terrible and horrible to those 112,000 ethnic Japanese and foreign nationals on our West Coast, and horrible to the people of those two Japanese cities we bombed . . . ‘’horribler’’ than anybody else in that whole, wide world war.

You’ll also note there’s not a word in this textbook about the tens of millions of people thought to have been killed in the former Soviet Union under Stalin, and the 35.2 million death toll in communist China under Mao, nor about the 2 million slain by the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, nor the 1 million victims of the Rwanda genocides. . . .

But ohhhhhh, boy. Does this textbook let America have it for interning those 112,000 people, even though none of them died, and many of them said that, though it was deplorable, they totally understood why it had to be.

Sure does bolster the notion that schoolbooks today overemphasize racial conflict and ethnic alienation instead of telling the kids who, what, when, where, why and how.

Quick: what aspects of WWII would YOU include in a textbook? Famous generals and battles spring to mind, and yes, some are mentioned in passing. But there’s no Iwo Jima. No Bataan Death March. Nothing about kamikaze pilots or the brutal torture of Christians in Korea by the occupying Japanese.

That’s not the war the kids are being taught. Here’s what this book lists in the index under WWII:

African Americans and
Allies after
Atomic bombing of Japan
Decryption and
Division of Europe after
Economic aid after
In Europe and North America
Home front in
Impact of
Japanese Americans in
Mexican Americans during
migration during
in Pacific Ocean region
politics of winning
prosperity during
race riots during
recruitment during
reparations after
SAT tests in
U.S. entry into
Victory in
War aims of
Women in workforce during

See the agenda in action?

Makes you wonder if maybe renting a few WWII movies might be a faster, cheaper and more accurate way to help the kiddies study ‘bout the Big War . . . and keep it in perspective.

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