11 May 2012

Infamy Yes, Conspiracy No

Walked into the teacher's room  yesterday and someone was going on about how FDR and others knew about the coming Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor prior to December 7, 1941. It was, she claimed, a conspiracy of silence put into action so that the U.S. would have an excuse to enter the war.

I called foul saying that such a claim was contrary to the historical truth. No, I was told this is "an established fact." I countered that as a long-time student of U.S. History in general, FDR and WWII in particular, that it was no fact at all. But, I was told, the latest research revealed that such a conspiracy took place. Indeed it was in the New York Times. As a regular reader of the Times I contradicted that claim. Well, she continued, she had read it somewhere.

Say what you will about the Internet, you can at least count on it to tell you what has been in the news of late. So I did me some googling and found one story that appeared in the U.K. Telegraph that very day about how readings of recent documents in the FDR library revealed that the United States had significant intelligence indicating an attack was immanent in the days leading up to Pearl Harbor. Said information was included in a recently published book called December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World' by Craig Shirley. In the article, however the author of the book said:  "Based on all my research, I believe that neither Roosevelt nor anybody in his government, the Navy or the War Department knew that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor. There was no conspiracy. This memo is further evidence that they believed the Japanese were contemplating a military action of some sort, but they were kind of in denial because they didn't think anybody would be as audacious to move an army thousands of miles across the Pacific, stop to refuel, then move on to Hawaii to make a strike like this."

(Not a terribly sexy story.)

Established facts that are patently untrue are bandied about regularly these days (hell, they always have been) and it behooves us to correct them whenever possible. People will confidently spread some nonsense as the gospel truth and Joe Gullible will believe it and spread it himself. Fox News has made a cottage industry of such balderdash purveying.

Neither all facts nor all opinions are equal. Truth is relative. Be wary.

(Glad I got that off my chest.)

Coming this weekend on this very blog...a post about movies (or at least a movie)!

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