Tom Hanks has a more complete statement here:
When asked about his statements on MSNBC that the World War II in the Pacific was a war of “racism and terror” which he compared to what is going on today, Hanks said: “Well, I said it’s familiar with what’s going on today. You can walk into the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, in the Pacific wing, and Stephen Ambrose himself has made that very point. It’s up in black and white, that after Pearl Harbor, these people that were very, very different from each other, the Americans and the Japanese, who had different heritages, who had different theologies and different ways of government, had a different sense of society went at it tooth and nail.
“It would be naïve,” said Hanks, “to assume that racism was not part of the quotient of World War II and it’s historical fact by way of just simply suicide bombers from the air and as well as the terror that was visited upon civilian populations throughout the Pacific that terrorism was not part of the equation as well.”
This is just terrible, on several counts.
First, he is climbing down, as leftists often do when they say something stupid. First it was a flat out statement that the war was a war of racism and terrorism. This was a grave insult to WWII veterans. It basically says they were all racists, and engaged in terror.
Now he has modified it to “racism and terror were “part of the quotient”. So what he apparently meant was that there was some degree of racism involved in the war. There was some degree of terror involved in the war.
So now racism and terror now are not the reasons for the war, they are mere contributing factors. Whether they are 1% of the cause or 99% of the cause, Hanks does not say. But if it was a very, very small percentage, then it is meaningless to mention it. If it is a great percentage, Hanks would not have backed off. He could have made his case.
But he did back off, and that is a pretty good indication that “racism and terror” is just a catchphrase, a near-illiterate grunt made by an actor trying to sound trendy and meaningful.
Now, the fact is, Hanks is on to something. Racism was the reason the Japanese felt they could slaughter whole populations in the countries they conquered. The American response was primarily driven by pure disgust at a nation that seemed to turn civilization on its head. And while no doubt some Americans had racist feelings towards all Asians, their number was exceedingly small. Americans did not much care about the Japanese’ race. They cared greatly about unbelievable brutality, sneaky ways of fighting, and the fact they attacked us.
But Hanks says nothing about the Japanese. He pretends that Americans and Japanese were equally racist, equally brutal. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Japanese, quite bluntly, murdered millions and seemed to take bizarre delight in doing so. They used terror as a specific instrument through which to subjugate all of their newly subject populations. The Americans fought against that whole effort. They fought to free the subject populations and restore a semblance of civilization again.
Americans may have lapsed into brutality from time to time during the war, but never had policies specifically directing them to bayonet and vivisect and burn as many villages and civilians as they could. The Japanese did; in fact it was their standard operating procedure. The atomic bombings were not intended to exterminate the population, they were designed to end the war before a much greater number of lives could be lost – probably millions more.
Hanks seems to airbrush all of the atrocities away, in a vague reference to the fact that we had different heritages and theologies. So what? The Chinese and us had different theologies and heritages, and yet we did not fight the Chinese. Do you think Hanks has any understanding that the Japanese STARTED A BRUTAL WAR OF AGGRESSION against virtually everyone in the Pacific?
Did we go to war against the Nazis because we had different theologies and different heritages? No, we shared theologies and heritages with the Germans. Yet we went to war.
And so, Hanks’ comments are just bafflingly stupid, especially for a guy who thinks he knows some history.
There is a great deal of self deception going on here.