Theodore's World: Word From World War Sparks a War of Words

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February 22, 2009

Word From World War Sparks a War of Words

CAMPAIGNING FOR RETURN: Ronald “Bud” Albright, Whiteland, commandant of the local Marine Corps League chapter, said of the newspaper’s removal: “We feel it’s a slap in the face of the U.S. military.” - HEATHER CHARLES / The Star

Word from World War sparks a war of words

VA says headline slur offended, but removal of paper offends vets


Tom Mattice said he was trying to promote a "healing environment" when he removed the old, yellowing wall decoration from a hallway at the VA hospital.

But in doing so, the hospital director has opened an old wound -- and spurred debate about political correctness, free speech and how to be true to history without being offensive.

At issue is a framed newspaper front page from an August 1945 Indianapolis Times. The headline: "Japs Surrender."

Mattice, director of the Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said there'd been a complaint: A new employee was offended by the term "Japs," a commonly used slur during World War II.

So, Mattice took down the framed front page, which is now tucked away in the center's executive offices.

That decision, however, has riled a group of retired Marines who call it whitewashing history and akin to offering an apology that isn't due. They are campaigning to have the artifact put back on the wall, where it had hung alongside other World War II memorabilia for more than a decade.

Said Ronald "Bud" Albright, who as commandant of the local Marine Corps League chapter has started a letter-writing campaign among veterans nationwide: "We feel it's a slap in the face of the U.S. military. That newspaper is history, part of United States history."

Dust-ups over such public displays are common and invariably emotion-charged. Last month, Indianapolis International Airport altered a photo exhibit after fielding a complaint over a provocative view of Israel and American Jews expressed in one of the captions.

In 2002, some students at Indiana University fought for the removal of a Thomas Hart Benton mural depicting Indiana history in Woodburn Hall because it showed Ku Klux Klansmen. The mural stayed; the KKK is a part of Indiana history.

The term "Jap" is a part of American history, emblematic of the racial prejudice that was promoted during World War II.
"A precondition to fight a war is to dehumanize the enemy," said Guy Burgess, a co-director of the Conflict Research Consortium at the University of Colorado. "If you think of them as humans, you can't do the things war compels you to do."

In the case of Japan and Germany, Burgess said, it was an easy sell. "There was lots of real evil in the Axis countries," he said.

But that was more than 60 years ago. The Japanese, as well as the Germans and the Italians, have been allied with us ever since.

"The war's over, but if you're going to tell it like it is, then you tell it like it was, and that's the way it was, just like that newspaper said it," said John Gromosiak, a Korean War veteran and artist. Gromosiak's paintings of American warships line the VA's hallway near where "Japs Surrender" used to hang and where another newspaper, proclaiming "GERMANY QUITS," hangs still. "You cannot hide history, or you shouldn't."

Museums frequently must tread lightly, which they do by pairing controversial displays with detailed explanations. As part of the National World War II Museum's exhibit of propaganda posters, captions prepare the viewer for what they're seeing and put the grotesque images into context.

"You would never want to put up an object without interpreting it," said Kacey Hill, a spokeswoman for the New Orleans museum.
"But we are not a museum," said Mattice, the VA director. "A museum is where people go to understand the history. We are a medical center."
Mattice said he has contacted the VA's national ethics office for a ruling on how to proceed. "Should we as a nationwide organization have a stance on these kinds of materials?" he wondered. "Perhaps we should."

In the meantime, he searches for a compromise. Mattice has instructed one of his staffers to locate a different newspaper front page, one that carries the same news, of the war's end, but expressed more delicately.

"Something like 'Victory in the Pacific,' " he said. "Or, 'Japanese Surrender.'"
Albright is not calmed. "Oh, baloney!" he said. "To me, that's coming across with some smoke, some political smoke."

Wild Thing's comment.......

Hello, can we please stop re-writing history. Names were used, slang was used and it was a war for pete's sake. Every war has them and for a good reason IMO, we don't go to war to take out a friend but an enemy. And slang is used on both sides during a war.

Newspapers back then used the same words our soldiers used so the disagreement in this article is someone trying to be PC more then anything, but at the same time why flower it up and that to me is what it feels like.

I am no fan of PC as you all know, it is one of the tools used by the left and I am sick of it.

....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
VN 66-67

Posted by Wild Thing at February 22, 2009 05:48 AM


Obviously, the hospital director doesn't realize just how old that paper is and at that time, Japs was a commonplace name for the Japanese. We were pissed off mad at them. But it's a piece of history and should remain in plain sight. People need to get over the namby pamby pc crap. I get called names all the time by blacks, hispanics and orientals, so why is it okay for them, but if I utter some name they think is derogatory, I'm called a racist?

Posted by: Lynn at February 22, 2009 06:50 AM

This "new employee" needs to be terminated.
This "new employee" needs to be find a real life.

Posted by: Steve Gaston at February 22, 2009 08:44 AM

Hey JAPS - NIPS - SLANT EYES & MEATBALLS.... You attacked US at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 while our nation's were at peace with one another... Here's to HIROSHIMA and NAGASAKI and all out war and an UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER! GOD bless VJ Day 1945!! 'F' political correctness!!!

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at February 22, 2009 08:56 AM

When is this PC crap going to end. The 'new employee' who complained probably considers himself a Hyphenated-American. Again it is bash America time. These Marines, Soldiers, Airmen and Navy who served to defeat the 'JAPS' are dying at an alarming rate and soon will be a mere memory, as is, the last time American was allowed to win a War.

The PC pig who was so offended, can go to hell, this Newspaper with its headlines, is a reminder, that these men did something good for their country, at their age they have very few reminders left. To take this away is to steal their heritage.

Posted by: Mark at February 22, 2009 12:28 PM

Agreed, I hate this PC BS. It doesn't stop them from using derogatory terms against the rest of us, it only polarizes and divides, a characteristic overlooked by Communists and Democrats in their attacks against society but whipped out at a moments notice to enforce their agenda.

Yes, Lynn, Steve, Darth and Mark!!!

Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2009 12:32 PM

So, I bet the Japs had some derogatory names for Ameicans. I know they considered us inferior beings.

In Vietnam, my enemies were "gooks" and "slopes".

That idiot new employee obviously did not understand the nature of patients at a VA hospital. As Mark mentioned, this employee him/herself is probably a hyphenated American.

By the way, I am hyphenating my status now. I am an American-American. A Black woman at the VA was upset when I used that term. She said, "You cain't be no Mercan-Mercan, they ain't no such thing". I believe it bothered her for many days. She had no comeback for it.

Posted by: TomR at February 22, 2009 01:05 PM

"In Vietnam, my enemies were "gooks" and "slopes"."
That's right Tom and for those 'dinks' that fought an open battle we had respect for them, whether that name be "Charlie" or the "NVA", they didn't slink around terrorizing the populace like the VC did or like the frigging ragheads do, butchering civilians and their children. I really meant Sand Niggers you ragheads, sorry for the slip to PC.
I like the term Tom. Was at the American Legion office Thursday where two wonderful ladies helped me with some VA paperwork, none of that hyphenated BS and one of the girls was black, I was treated like an American-American, I'll bet those two are the offspring of real Americans too. Didn't see the politboro chief Obama's picture up there either.
Remember what the Japs told the people of Saipan that drove them to commit mass suicide, it was another label that the Political Correct history revisionists don't write about. We saw some of that same reaction from the muzzies in Indonesia when the US sent help after their Tsunami. I blame the press - OURS - for demonizing Americans!!! Murtha you are still a ratbastard!!!

Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2009 03:55 PM

Lynn, DITTO!

" People need to get over the namby pamby pc crap."

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 22, 2009 04:05 PM

Steve Gaston, I sooo agree with that!

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 22, 2009 04:08 PM

Darth, AMEN!
They attack us, anyone, I could care less who it is, or what country it is, they will have imo whatever nickname they are given into whenever.

Like with Vietnam, the enemy we had there are STILL the names they were called, that for sure has not changed.

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 22, 2009 04:16 PM

Mark, good call, I agree.

And I like how you said this, it really says it all. "To take this away is to steal their heritage."

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 22, 2009 04:27 PM

Jack, exactly!!

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 22, 2009 04:29 PM

Tom, see that is exactly right, I agree so much.

LOL oh gosh I love what you did Tom, that is so good!! Hahahaha Yes I bet it bugged her for days. haha

Posted by: Wild Thing at February 22, 2009 04:32 PM