75 Years After Pearl Harbor, There Is No Honor

President Obama is not at Pearl Harbor today to remember the 75th anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack. In May, the president went to Hiroshima, and issued the closest thing to an apology for America winning World War II using an atomic bomb.

Instead, the president will join Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Honolulu on December 27, two days after Christmas. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Obamas vacation in Hawaii every Christmas. It’s not a special trip, or even out of the way for them. It is, however a big deal for Abe and the Japanese.

No Japanese leader has ever visited the site of the attack that brought America into World War II. But don’t expect an apology.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won’t apologize for Japan’s attack when he visits the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor later this month, the government spokesman said Tuesday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that “the purpose of the upcoming visit is to pay respects for the war dead and not to offer an apology.”

Why visit if not to apologize? The Japanese are very big on the concept of honor. It’s why their CEOs resign rather than face dishonor for scandals. It’s why the Japanese have one of the highest suicide rates in the world (behind South Korea and Hungary, and only slightly ahead of Belgium, where doctor-assisted murder suicide has become a national obsession).

Visiting the place where the Japanese Imperial navy did so much damage without a legal declaration of war, and not offering an apology is trampling on honor. But that’s how most of the world operates three score and fifteen years after Pearl Harbor.

And shame on White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

“If I were a World War II veteran who was drafted by the United States military to go and fight for our country overseas in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, I might feel quite embittered,” Earnest said. “And I think it would be a perfectly natural and understandable human reaction to not be particularly satisfied with the words of the Japanese Prime Minister.”

But, Earnest said those people who feel “personal bitterness” should set aside their feelings for the greater good of the U.S.

“And so, yes, there may be some who feel personally embittered,” he added. “But I’m confident that many will set aside their own personal bitterness, not because they’re personally satisfied by the words of the Prime Minister, but because they recognize how important this moment is for the United States.”

If there was an award for being an insensitive ass to 90-year-old men who fought for their country, there would only be one real contender today: Josh Earnest. But it’s not for lack of trying.

Google is famous for “Google doodles” where they celebrate, or at least note, various events, like Finland Independence Day (Dec. 6), or Adb al-Rahman Al-Sufi’s 1113th Birthday (Dec. 7). Here’s what they did for Pearl Harbor Day.

Twitter is always adding neat little emojis to the end of popular or trending hashtags. Here’s what they did for Pearl Harbor.


Today, there’s nothing from Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. There’s a piece in the Washington Post titled “75 years ago, what if Japan never attacked Pearl Harbor?” I’m sure there’s a good way to honor the lives lost at Pearl Harbor, and historical hypotheticals like that isn’t it. Neither is Google’s deliberate ignorance, or Abe’s pointless visit, or Obama’s empty schedule.

Those men, a dying breed, who witnessed the carnage on December 7, 1941, are more and more forgotten by our society. When the president could not be bothered to change his vacation schedule, and the rest of the world acts as if the day is just another Wednesday, we’ve lost the honor due to those men and women who lost their lives 75 years ago today.

We owe them a debt of honor, and today, many of our leaders have defaulted on the payment.

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Jay Berman

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