Sunday, October 31, 2010

Today In History: Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?

On this day in 1941, the wicked Huns torpedoed and sunk the USS Reuben James, the warship of a neutral nation that was just minding its own business, innocently escorting the merchant vessels of a belligerent power while they transported a cargo of war materiel. The country still somehow managed to work itself into high dudgeon over the incident.

Woody Guthrie wrote a song about it, yet no matter how hard he strummed his guitar, it didn't kill a single fascist, not even the gimpy one in the White House at the time.

21 comments:

Ed Foster said...

I'd have classified the gimp as a pinko, given his willingness to buddy up with Joe Stalin (60 million murdered) rather than Adolph Hitler ("only" 20 million murdered).

I used to listen to my old man talking about being a teenager in the CCC, with all the jokes about work ethic, or the lack thereof.

"Why does it take 4 government employees to push a lawnmower? Here, lawn. There, outhouse. One coming, one going, one s--ting, one mowing.

Interestingly, all the dam building and rural electrification FDR put in came at a cost about 300% higher than if the job had been done by professionals, and prolonged the depression 5 years.

Check out Amity Shlaes amazing book, "The Forgotten Man". And she's not even a conservative.

We didn't have the gulags, so I guess we were socialists instead of communists, but the similarities between 1930's Russia and 1930's America were quite scary.

Crustyrusty said...

...We didn't have the gulags...

No, those came later after the Japanese were rounded up.

Anonymous said...

"We didn't have the gulags, so I guess we were socialists instead of communists, but the similarities between 1930's Russia and 1930's America were quite scary."

Give it a rest. FDR did not murder millions of his own citizens. And, yep, we interred our own citizens of Japanese descent; We didn't slaughter them. Most got their property back.

BRB

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Correct. FDR was just an ass, not a murderous ass.

Sendarius said...

Anonymous @ 10:01:

Please tell me that you meant "interned" rather than "interred".

The former doesn't have the earthy overtones of the latter.

Anonymous said...

Sendarius:
I did mean interned; usually when I'm not sure of a word, I just use other phrases, such as "confined to a camp". Should have looked it up!

BRB

og said...

I know a couple of those Japanese who were put in camps; both tell stories of being fed and treated reasonably well, and having contact with their families. It wasn't a picnic, but it wasn't usually fatal. One in particular, since he was a Gaijin, had a brother in Japan who also ended up in a camp- a Japanese one. He starved to death.

Woody guthrie's guitar killed no fascists, but his singing was sure painful. I guess he suffered for his art, and decided it was our turn.

JohnW said...

While shameful, the Japanese internment did have an elenent of protective custody to it. Also seldom mentioned is the role the "Battle of Ni'hau" played in the government's actions.

John A said...

Ah yes, The Neutrality Patrol. The theory: track and report any "warlike" activities - including English. The effect: at first, yes, but post-1939 and the invasion of Poland any sympathy towards Germany (less toward the Soviet Union, which did not so much invade Poland as gobble up the leftovers) was itself increasingly regarded as a warlike activity. With the invasion and fall of France
the used definition of "belligerent" rapidly turned from "threatening" to "initiating action rather than defending against it."

BTW, there were interment camps for Germans as well as Japanese, if to a vastly lesser extent.

Steve Skubinna said...

I always regret that nobody pressed Mr. Guthrie for clarification. How many fascists, in round numbers, did his lethal guitar dispatch?

And more to the point, why did we send thousands of our young men to Europe when perhaps we could simply have retooled our industrial capacity to produce copies of that guitar, and sent them instead?

Desertrat said...

Woodie went into the Merchant Marine during WW II and was on the Murmansk run. He may not have killed Huns, but he helped carry the stuff to do it.

His also-socialist buddy Pete Seeger was in the Army as an aircraft mechanic in the Pacific, although he was used more as an entertainer.

Woodie's Depression era songs were based upon observation. One was prophetic for many of us right-wingers of today: "The banks are made of marble..."

Roberta X said...

So, did Woodie an' Pete step up while Uncle Joe and Dolfie were all buddy-buddy, or did they wait 'til Mother Russia was on the receiving side of German schlock'n'awe before pitchin' in?

Camps, internment, United States: yeah, we didn't boil Japanese-ethnics down for soap, or work them to death in hellish factories; all we did with round up U.S. citizens and foreign civilians and imprison them without due process. A-OK.
So, if it ever comes your turn to go away to camp against your will and Gummint promises the same deal, we won't go lookin' to spring you, okay? Hey, it was good enough for the Japs!

Little evil is still evil. One more steady drip of the ol' acid on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Nathan said...

Ed Foster wrote: "Check out Amity Shlaes amazing book, 'The Forgotten Man'. And she's not even a conservative."

Most historians today are mere opinion journalists. Ms. Shlaes is a refreshing exception to the rule.

Nathan said...

BTW, there were interment camps for Germans as well as Japanese, if to a vastly lesser extent.

Also Italians.

Joe in PNG said...

First, Woody was on the Murmask run? Wow- full props for that one.

Note- one can be both a war hero and an idiot. See also McGovern, George.

Montie said...

Yeah, What bobbie said!

Oh, and Tam,
"not even the gimpy one in the White House...". Gems like that and your "Rosita" allegory a few posts back are why VFTP is set as my home page.

Anonymous said...

One thing not mentioned is the fact that people of Japanese decent did commit espionage against us in Hawaii. Perhaps confining them in camps did save a few lives.
Frankly I don't give a damn some people were confined. Compared to what others did we acted like bloody saints. I get real damn tired of people bitching on the US. Don't like your government, try another. Good luck on that.

Boat Guy said...

NO I don't like "my government" when it deprives CITIZENS of liberty and property WITHOUT due process based upon their heritage.
Ironically, the Japanese folks in HI were not interned as far as I know.
I'll "bitch on the US" whenever the government fails to "bear true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution. If that failure gets to be too egregious, I might do more than just "bitch"

Steve Skubinna said...

The Japanese and nisei in Hawaii were not interned because the entire territory was placed under martial law. So in effect they were already living on a giant military reservation.

Sigivald said...

John A: The "Neutrality Patrol" started in 1939, with the invasion of Poland.

So it was all "Post 1939 and the invasion of Poland".

Crusty: As others have said, while the Japanese (and German and Italian) internment camps weren't nice, they weren't gulags.

No forced labor, no mass death (either by straight murder or working-to-death or deliberately murderous negligence).

And, after a while, about a quarter left the camps to live and work freely anywhere outside the west coast exclusion zone.

So, there's plenty of room for civil liberties complaints, but a gulag?

Calling that a gulag cheapens the deaths of millions.

Beaumont said...

True, FDR did not kill Americans en masse in the Soviet style, nor
did he seize all business assets.
But he operated a cult of personality, and his policies did contribute to hardship, suffering, and malnutrition for many US citizens.
And businesses were allowed to continue to operate -- as long as business was done FDR's way, with FDR's approval. Sounds pretty much like the definition of "fascist" to me.