Let me try this again... [Has technology surpassed our humanity & was the Pacific war about racism?]

In the “General Questions” forum I asked two questions, apparently, I chose the wrong forum. I certainly apologize for my ignorance. I did consider posting my questions in the “Great Debate” but the questions didn’t seem particularly “great.”

Question 1:

Has our technology surpassed our humanity?

Context: This is an essence of a quote, I believe, from Albert Einstein. I don’t know in what he context he spoke. If he was speaking of humanity’s weapons while you could quibble w/the statement as humanity has used and continues to use low tec such as, starvation and machetes to annihilate masses of people, it is fairly true. If it’s in reference to our general morality and humanity, I would disagree however I’m no Albert Einstein, as I imagine is evident.

Question 2:

Was the Pacific war a war about racism and terror by the Americans against the Japanese?

Again, this is a partial quote, made by Tom Hanks. Hanks was involved in making a mini-series, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pacific_(miniseries) during an interview on some morning program he said in essence that the Pacific War was a war of “racism and terror.”

This remark has caused a minor furor but I am interested in his pov. I haven’t studied either the Pacific war per se or even WW2 and again I wondered what he meant.

To me, this quote, seems puzzling. I would disagree with it based on the little I know about the subject.

As to the general musings as to why I asked the questions, in the inappropriate forum, no, it’s not homework, just lazy curiousity

To respond specifically the Stormfront theory, (I had to look up Stormfront), no, I’m not a white supremacist looking to start a flame war on the Staight Dope forums. I’ve been on the internet for a while and that is a first.

That’ll just boil down to an endless discussion on how to define “humanity”.


I didn’t hear his original quote. Could he have been referring to the Japanese? AIUI, the Japanese considered themselves superior to everyone else; and they certainly committed atrocities such as the Nanking Massacre and ‘experiments’ similar to ones done by the Nazis. (They referred to their victims as ‘logs’; as in ‘Go get another log for the mill.’)

World War 2, in the Pacific and in Europe, was not a war of terror and racism. At least not from the Allies side or point of view. They fought against the aggression and outright racist tactics of the Axis. Germany was the self proclaimed “master race”, and had already shown it would not hesitate to exterminate “inferior races”. Japan at the time, seemed to view all non Japanese as either less human, or as something standing in the way. The Allies did not conduct the Holocaust or extermination of Gypsies. The Allies did not conduct the “rape of Nanking” or the butchery in Manchuria. It’s curious that Albert Einstein is mentioned, and therefore the Bomb. If the Bomb had not been used, the Allies were looking at a full on invasion of Japan (where many many people simply didn’t believe in surrender) at the cost of many more lives. Hitler himself was also working on a Bomb (lots of research, heavy water, etc) and had the first jet fighters also.

As far as Stormfront goes, they’re a pack of Nazis and they can’t pretend to be otherwise. Nazis are as racist as a person can get.

The only thing I can think of that could qualify as “racism and terror” would be the Japanese internment camps, but that was a knee-jerk reaction rather than a reason we were fighting.

Are these two questions related to each other? If so, you should explain how since it’s really not apparent.

If they’re not then they should get separate threads.

I’ve added the bracketed text to clarify the thread topic.

Even if you know nothing about WW2 they’re recurring accusations, such as, Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor in advance and allowed the attack not only to drag the US into the war but also the fleet was obsolete.

Dresden was an unnecessary act and it was bombed because Churchill was a pr*ck (Can I write the word without an asterisk?).

We bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki because we are racist bastards who wanted to test out our new toy and Japan had already surrendered anyway or was about to surrender. We also tricked/forced Japan into attacking in the first place.

The facts don’t seem to particularly favor any these statements.

I have been told by people who lived thru WW2 that a ground invasion Japan was estimated to cost over a million lives from both sides.

They’re racist depictions of the Axis by the Allies, certainly, but I don’t think it was the primary motivation of the Allies while as SteveG1 wrote, there seems a clearer connection to racism on the part of the Axis.

I’m not here to reduce this to the Allies were great and the Axis was horrible, I’m more interested is ascertaining why anyone would conclude that the Pacific war was based soley on racism. The terror aspect, I assume, can be attributed to ‘overwhelming force’ and ‘scorched earth’ policies.

Apparently, Tom Hanks has amended his original remarks:

IRT Strinka - No, not particularly related. The questions didn’t seem to merit two topics or placement in the “Great Debates” forum for that matter.

Thanks, Everybody, for their interesting responses. My apologies, again for breaking forum etiquette.

Sure, but Stalin was far higher on the pruck scale.

First of all, even if we knew that the Pearl Harbor attack was coming and deliberately let it happen (a tenuous claim to begin with), that’s hardly the same thing as forcing Japan to attack. If they hadn’t wanted to attack, they wouldn’t have. Second, Japan certainly hadn’t “already surrendered anyway”, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that they were about to. Surely, if they were already about to surrender, they would have done so as soon as the first nuke were dropped?

Is there any reason you believe the two questions are related, except for the vague context you provided that links both to WWII?

Here’s a hint: we’re over 60 years past WWII. If the questions aren’t related - and it seems to me that they aren’t - putting them together in a single thread will only confuse and annoy.

As for your first question: I will go with “no”. If you have any reason to think that technology has surpassed our humanity, show some reasons why you think so, and maybe I’ll be convinced.

For the second question:

Racism: hell no. There were elements of racism in the US treatment of Japanese and vice versa during WWII, but as far as I can see at least from the US side of things military strategy and security were the primary concerns. I can’t speak for the Japanese side of things, but maybe you weren’t talking about that?

Terror: I suppose an argument could be made, but that argument would apply to WWII as a whole.

We’ve had a debate about the logic behind the atom bombs dropped on Japan just a few weeks ago. The consensus was that the Japanese weren’t nearly ready to surrender even after they understood the scale of the first bomb.

So yes, the facts aren’t in favor of that particular idea. The “we tricked the Japanese into attacking” idea is lunacy of the first order, and actually I’m surprised I’ve never heard of it before, given that I’ve been on the internet for over 16 years now.

I think the argument is more that, we deliberately strangled the Japanese with our embargoes and pushed them to act against us out of desperation. And that we shouldn’t have been so surprised that they would attack our fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Now, I disagree that this means we “tricked” them into attacking us. But I do agree that a cornered animal is dangerous, and we had backed them into a pretty tight corner. We just had hoped that they would decide to change their tune and pull back from their expansionism as a result of the pressure.
As far as the OP’s “racism” question—as others have said, ideas of racial superiority spurred both the Nazis and the Japanese onward in their campaigns; the Allies, not so much. The only time racism came into play was after the war was on, and the standard dehumanizing of the enemy (which makes it easier for your soldiers to kill them) came into play, as it has in every war. Then the racial stereotypes and epithets against the Japanese (and the Germans) began to fly. But that wasn’t what the war was about, from our side; it was just a consequence of propaganda and anger.

As I said in my post, racism was more prevalent back then. (Whether it’s ‘as prevalent’ now, only kept quiet, is a whole 'nother debate!) While White Americans may have felt they were racially superior to the Japanese, the Japanese and Germans also felt they were racially superior. But they acted on their beliefs.

I’d like to piggyback a question here.

I’ve heard that prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the majority of Americans sided with Japan in Japan’s war on China. Is that true?

I hardly consider embargoes of raw materials to be ‘backing someone into a corner’.

As a nation, the US and much of Europe (i.e. not Russia) had some admiration of Japan’s ability to put itself on the world stage in very short order. That is, when we cared.

We fought along side them in small numbers during the Chinese Rebellions, and they were Allies in WW2.

The Japanese invasion of Manchuria probably set off a lot of ‘hey, wait a minute’ reactions, and the Rape of Nanking definitely set us against them.

So no, I rather doubt what you have heard is true.

Just to address the other question for a moment, what does it even mean to have technology eclipse our humanity?

It just strikes me as one of those statements that seem very deep on first glance, and meaningless on the second. Whether it warrants a third look is a my question.

Just a side note Regulus, if you hang around you’ll find that many of our debates are hardly ‘Great.’ At least not in a Great Books Series sense of greatness. They may be protracted and even passionate while being rather petty in scope. Welcome aboard.

Sure, most of the GD threads aren’t “great” - they’re usually just inflammatory and the good threads are “just” interesting, but that doesn’t excuse the OP’s obscurity. I still don’t know what either question really means or how they relate to each other.