Today is the 75th anniversary of the December 7th, 1941 Imperial Japanese Navy’s (IJN) surprise aerial attack on the American Pacific Fleet’s “Battleship Row” at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. With this air attack, and air attacks in the following weeks on Clark Field in the Philippines, and on the British fleet off Malaya — sinking the new British battleship Prince of Wales and the WW1 era battlecruiser Repulse — the Japanese established unchallenged air and naval superiority across the Pacific and ran wild for six months.
The key failure that day leading up to the attack — A final point falure in a years long list of failures starting with the US Army Air Corps purge of fighter advocate Claire Chennault for his all too successful telephone-equipped ground observer air warning network that threatened the budget of the B-17 heavy bomber — was the ignored warning from the US Army SCR-270B radar at Opana Point, Hawaii as the IJN Strike Force flew in.
In 2012 I discovered the book ECHOES OVER THE PACIFIC: An overview of Allied Air Warning Radar in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to the Philippines Campaign by Ed Simmonds and Norm Smith that explained some of the reasons for that last failure. ECHOS is the story of Australian and wider Anglosphere efforts to field radar in the Pacific during WW2. This year I also found John Bennet’s “SIGNAL COMPANY, AIRCRAFT WARNING, HAWAII ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY” which expanded on and clarified the background to those failures further.
ECHOS has these passages regarding the bureaucratic and political failings of radar deployment at Pearl Harbor:
Page 18 —
The following is summarized from Radar in WWII by Henry E. Guerlac [link] and an article ‘The Air Warning Service and The Signal Company, Aircraft Warning, Hawaii’ by Stephen L Johnston 20.
The strategic importance of Oahu was recognized in late 1939 and the Air Warning Service (AWS) was to provide warning of approaching enemy aircraft using the newly developed radar.
Extensive negotiations were needed as the sites, for the three SCR271s received in Hawaii on 3 June 1941, were located on land owned by either the Department of Interior National Parks Service or the Territory of Hawaii. In addition access roads, power supply, water supply, buildings et cetera had to be constructed – which occasioned even further delay. The net result was that none of the SCR271s had been installed by 7 December 1941 !
Six mobile SCR270Bs arrived in Hawaii on 1 August 1941 and were shortly thereafter put into operation because very little site preparation was required. Extensive testing of the sets was carried out in the next few months on installations at Kaaawa, Kawailoa, Waianae and Koko Head, Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter.
On 27 September 1941 the SCR270Bs were tested in an exercise which, in retrospect, resembled to a remarkable degree the actual attack of 7 December. The exercise began at 0430 hours. Attacking planes were detected by the equipment at Waianae and Koko Head as they assembled near the carrier from which they had taken off 85 miles away. When they had assembled, the planes headed for Hawaii. The ‘enemy’ were clearly seen on the cathode ray tube and fighter aircraft were notified within about six minutes. They took off and intercepted the incoming bombers at about 25 miles from Pearl Harbour.
Under the control of the Signal Corps, Air Warning, Hawaii, the Schofield training SCR270B was moved to the site at Opana about two weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbour. The construction of a temporary Combat Information Centre (CIC) was in progress and training of the personnel at the centre was under way with reporting coming from six mobiles SCR270Bs. Ironically the program was to hand the CIC over to the Air Corps when the installation had been completed and the personnel had been properly trained – scheduled for about two weeks after Pearl Harbour.
And from page 38 of ECHOS—
A training period for operators of the SCR270Bs and the Combat Information Centre was scheduled for Sunday morning, between 0400 and 0700 hours, on 7 December 1941. There were two operators at the Opana site, George Elliot a recent transferee from the Air Corps,
and Joseph Lockard.23 Because the supply truck did not arrive on time Lockard decided to give Elliott some more training on the SCR270B.
At 0702 hours a huge echo, almost due north of Opana at a range of 137 miles, appeared on the screen. Lockard immediately checked the equipment to ensure that it was functioning properly since it was a maximum size or saturation echo. Having established that it was
indeed moving and needed to be reported, efforts were made to report it to the plotters at the Information Centre but these proved to be fruitless as the Centre had closed down. Eventually, on another phone, a Lt Kermit A Tyler was spoken to and he told Lockard not to
worry even though it was a huge echo and travelling towards Oahu – mention was later made about a flight of B17s being expected.
Plotting continued until 0740 hours when the supply truck finally arrived at which time the aircraft had disappeared in the Permanent Echoes (PEs) at a range of 20 miles. These PEs were the result of back radiation from the antenna as the mountains were behind the radar set.
The unit was closed down, the men boarded the truck and proceeded towards Kawailoa for breakfast meeting another truck travelling at high speed towards the SCR270B. On reaching the camp they learned that Pearl Harbour had been attacked by the Japanese thereupon they
realised that they had plotted the enemy approaching Hawaii for more than half an hour.
According to John Bennet’s “SIGNAL COMPANY, AIRCRAFT WARNING, HAWAII ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY”, between Thanksgiving and December 3, 1941, these SCR-270B radar stations had been operated for a period of 24-hours a day. Then on December 4th, the SCR-270Bs switched to a different schedule. So on the fateful day of Sunday, December 7th 1941, Opana only operated from 3:00 AM to 7:00 AM, per order of the Headquarters, Hawaii District.
In ECHOS Lockard summed up the situation:
The incident at Opana is one of those ‘what if’ footnotes in history… What if the attacking planes had left their carriers 15 minutes earlier?
“ECHOES OVER THE PACIFIC — An overview of Allied Air Warning Radar in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to the Philippines Campaign” also details the similar “misuse of radar” disaster that befell British air power in Malaya and the organizational failings of American radar units in the Philippines.
But for minutes of reaction time, effective resistance to the Japanese was lost across the Pacific for six months.
It is a lesson well worth remembering on the seventy fifth anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
28 thoughts on “Pearl Harbor, December 7th 1941 — Plus 75 Years”
Lt Kermit Tyler, shrugging off the obvious with his infamous Don’t Worry About It. He would’ve made a terrific national security aide in the Obama Administration.
The real failure was a command failure with Short and Kimmel. They did not cooperate and, even after a “War Warning” from Marshall two weeks before the attack, they failed to get the base on an alert status.
Like Tom Phillips who commanded the British “Force Z” from Singapore, they could not believe the Japanese were capable of what they did.
Pearl Harbor was “too shallow for torpedoes” so there were no nets, The British had sunk Italian battle ships at Taranto with obsolete biplane bombers. The Japanese Nell” and “Betty” bombers were modern, much faster torpedo planes. The Betty was later shown to be inferior handling battle damage but the Nell was a formidable bomber.
Much of the failures of the early war in the Pacific was due to the low level of training and the underestimation of the Japanese.
Torpedo bombers also played a key part in the sinking of the Bismarck. WKPD:
26–27 May 1941. … air strikes by torpedo bombers from the British aircraft carrier Ark Royal, which disabled Bismarck’s steering gear, jamming her rudders in a turning position and preventing her escape.
I can see why the woeful tale of Pearl Harbour has generated so much in the way of conspiracy theories. To adapt Arthur C Clarke: policy and action that is sufficiently inept is indistinguishable from conspiracy.
“Much of the failures of the early war in the Pacific was due to the low level of training and the underestimation of the Japanese”
This is why tin-foil hat arguments by Revisionists & Neo-isolationists that Roosevelt somehow tried to force Japan to attack us are nonsense. He was so preoccupied with Europe that he only saw the Pacific in terms of our plans there.
“disabled Bismarck’s steering gear,”
Something similar happened with Prince of Wales. A torpedo hit the #3 shaft and bent it. Before it was shut down, it ripped open the hull and flooded the engine room and the electrical distribution room and that shut off the antiaircraft turrets.
The stern damage was not recognized until divers went down on the wreck, which is in about 300 feet of water, and saw the torpedo damage. That was long after the war.
“Roosevelt somehow tried to force Japan to attack us”
Roosevelt put heavy pressure on them with embargoes of oil and scrap metal.
The concept was to force them to give up their occupation of China.
No one thought they would attack Hawaii. Guam and Wake were pretty obvious targets.
Had the Japanese gone to Malaya and Java, we might not have gone to war. Pearl Harbor was a catastrophic mistake.
Just as 9/11 was a big mistake.
The embargoes were really in response to Japan invading French Indochina in the summer of 1941. FDR wasn’t about to sell them the noose that it was going to use to strangle the rest of SE Asia and the Philippines. Japan was pretty open about the fact that they were planning on taking over the region. After being lulled into a tit-for-tat as Japan went slogging about through Asia for the past few years, a sudden attack on Hawaii must have come as quite a shock to FDR and his cabinet.
Granting what you say about the Brit. “Swordfish” and the Japanese “Betty” and “Nell”; the “Betty” and “Nell” were twin engined land based bombers and were used in SE Asia that day, but not at Pearl Harbor. The torpedo and level bombers used at Pearl Harbor were single engined carrier based Nakajima B5N2’s.
Your points are correct, just the plane used was different.
You mentioned Claire Chennault’s telephone warning system in 1933. In China, with the AVG, he used a variant of the same thing for early warning, although in some cases his agents were near the Japanese airfields and could give warning of strikes being launched. Primitive, but it worked.
“Your points are correct, just the plane used was different.”
Yes, I didn’t make clear that I was talking about the planes that sank the Repulse and the PoW.
The carrier based planes were not Bettys and Nells.
The range of the land based bombers was far greater and the British Force Z were reckless to get into their range, In fact they were at the limits of their range as they had gone farther south and t found the ships on the way back.
The carrier planes had much more limited range,
Japan had occupied the northern half of Indo-China, but then Occupied the rest in mid-July. This was on a weekend, and Dean Acheson was the man in charge. He announced a much tighter embargo including a further freeze of Japanese assets and a complete embargo on oil and petroleum. This was much more than Roosevelt had envisioned, but he refused to countermand this the following Monday. I read this some years ago, but cannot remember the author or the title of the book. Correct me if I am wrong.
The following link should clarify things a lot.
An old man’s memory is not completely reliable.
The Japanese hated the Americans, according to the book I just read, because of the “exclusion Acts of 1924.
For the next four years, until June 30, 1927, the 1924 Act set the annual quota of any nationality at 2% of the number of foreign-born persons of such nationality resident in the United States in 1890. That revised formula reduced total immigration from 357,803 in 1923–24 to 164,667 in 1924–25, whether 522,470 immigrants. The law’s impact varied widely by country. Immigration from Great Britain and Ireland fell 19%, while immigration from Italy fell more than 90%.
The Act established preferences under the quota system for certain relatives of U.S. residents, including their unmarried children under 21, their parents, and spouses aged 21 and over. It also preferred immigrants aged 21 and over who were skilled in agriculture, as well as their wives and dependent children under age 16. Non-quota status was accorded to: wives and unmarried children under 18 of U.S. citizens; natives of Western Hemisphere countries, with their families; non-immigrants; and certain others. Subsequent amendments eliminated certain elements of this law’s inherent discrimination against women.
The Japanese considered these laws racist although they don’t seem so in reading about them,
Lobbyists from California, where a majority of Japanese and other East Asian immigrants had settled, were especially concerned with excluding Asian immigrants. An 1882 law had already put an end to Chinese immigration, but as Japanese (and, to a lesser degree, Korean and Filipino) laborers began arriving and putting down roots in Western states, an exclusionary movement formed in reaction to the “Yellow Peril.”
It seems California was anti-Japanese immigration but the act as written was not.
Despite some hesitation from President Calvin Coolidge and strong opposition from the Japanese government, with which the U.S. government had previously maintained a cordial economic and political relationship, the act was signed into law on May 24, 1924.
How much this influenced Japanese policy is hard to judge but they were certainly hateful in war although that may have been cultural. Nobody could have treated the Chinese worse than the Japanese Army.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was the biggest strategic mistake Japan made. The whole point of the attack was to prevent the Pacific Fleet from interfering with Japan’s ambitions in Asia and the Pacific. In truth, the Pacific Fleet on December 7 was too weak to stop Japan even if they never attacked Pearl Harbor. At that time they did not have the carrier force that Japan had and, more importantly, did not have the logistics to wage war across the Pacific.
In addition, public opinion was still sharply divided about American entry into the war, such that if Japan avoided attacking American territory (Hawaii, Guam, Wake, Midway and the Phillippines), I doubt there would be popular support for the US to get involved in the Pacific. Even after three incidents involving the US Navy and German U-boats in the Atlantic in the fall of 1941 (one destroyer sunk, one damaged and men killed), it was not enough to sway public opinion in favor of involvement. U-boat warfare was one reason why Wilson declared war. FDR could have done the same. FDR truly believed Germany was a greater threat, and most likely wanted the US to get involved in what was then a European war. That he did not was due to the American public still sharply divided even after Hitler overran most of Europe. Does anyone really believe there would be clamor for war in the Pacific just so Europe could recover their colonial possessions if Japan never attacks American territory?
See my post here:
History Friday: Claire Lee Chennault — SECRET AGENT MAN!
Posted by Trent Telenko on December 20th, 2013
Which I put as a link at the beginning of this article.
It turns out that there at least two other major chances of making Pearl Harbor’s outcome different that missed the Pearl Harbor investigations.
The US Navy has a liaison officer with the British Fleet at Taranto. It was suggested that he be sent to Pearl Harbor afterwards to help with the defenses. This ran into a stone wall of bureaucracy and he was in _Iceland_ the day Pearl Harbor was struck.
The second last day chance was a Australian Radar physicist was returning from England via Washington DC and Hawaii and was in Pearl Harbor for a few days right before the attack.
He was given a “It’s classified” cold shoulder by General Short’s staff.
“although that may have been cultural”: something I’ve read recently contrasted Japan’s vile behaviour in WWII with her civilised behaviour in her war against Russia in 1904. He attributed the difference to a generation that had been subject to relentless propaganda advocating cruelty – much like the German soldiers of WWII who were so vile to Slavs and Jews.
The IJA used Korean and Chinese civilians for sword practice, etc., i.e. committed all the usual atrocities against non-whites during the Russo-Japanese War. They just didn’t do so against white prisoners and civilians. That might have affected the willingness of European and American financial markets to buy Japanese government bonds which was critical to the Japanese war effort.
That piece pulled together some of the pieces I already had and added to them. From the time I got my first library card [10 years old] I was in the Dewey 940.54 section and devoured anything I could get about WW-II and especially the war in China. As a Chinese-American kid, I kinda teared up at the sight of the “blood chits” on the back of the flight jackets [“This is an American who has come to help China fight . . .“].
Not far in a straight line from where I am typing [but considerably lower in elevation] is Pueblo Airport, which was Pueblo Army Airfield during the war. It was a B-24 training base, and there were Chinese airmen there learning to use the B-24. At that time, we Chinese were literally not human beings under American law, and were treated like excrement. The locals treated the Chinese airmen the same way they treated other Chinese, and the Nationalist government screamed like ruptured Bann Sidh. That motivated the US government to be the last country to give up Extraterritoriality with China, and made Chinese in this country legally human beings.
It all ties together. My dad was at the time, though not legally a human being, working in Denver at the first Lowry Army Air Force Base [in what is now the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver], before it was moved to what was then east of Denver by Aurora.
When we became legally people, he could enlist. So at age 30 and not a citizen, he joined the US Army, and ended up as one of the first non-white rifle squad leaders in the combat infantry. He earned his citizenship in Patton’s 3rd Army, his unit going the farthest east of any American Army unit in Europe.
“though not legally a human being”: can you explain that, please?
The relations between the US and China never have been what would be considered “normal”. Bear with an extended explanation please.
1) The framework for Western – Chinese relations was set in the treaties signed after what are called the Opium Wars. Just as real American history is not taught in our schools, neither American nor British schools teach about history vis-a-vis China.
The basis for the Opium Wars was that a) Britain bought a metric shit-ton of tea every year from China. b) Britain had no offsetting trade good that China wanted. c) China, in lieu of such a trade good, insisted on hard currency. Specifically silver, and of a purity above what Western nations used. Here in the US, if you look at our numismatic history you will find “China Trade Dollars” minted for use in the China trade that had more silver than the standard US silver dollar.
Under the Mercantilist theory that guided trade policy in those days, that was catastrophic.
The Brits discovered that they could grow opium as a cash crop in their Indian and Burmese territories, ship it to the “factories” [read that in today’s terms as “trading post” run by a “Trade Factor” or agent, not a manufacturing facility] in Kwangtung Province outside Canton on the Pearl River where they bought tea. This was before Britain got Hong Kong, where the Pearl River meets the sea.
2) Over the years, the trade in Opium grew, and drug addiction spread widely. Think about the brown tar heroin pouring over our Mexican border now. It spread to the lower Mandarinate and the associated corruption to the higher. The Emperor himself became concerned.
3) Under the Ch’ing [also called Qing or Manchu] dynasty, each province had a governor, and two or three provinces were under a Viceroy who reported directly to the Emperor. Viceroy Lin was sent to put an end to the opium imports in 1839.
Lin went to the “13 Factories” and gave them a deadline to get rid of all opium on pain of death. At the end of the deadline, he led Chinese troops [note that this was Chinese and not British territory] to the factories. 2 1/2 million pounds [weight, not money] of opium were seized. Despite the threats, no Westerners were harmed, but the Chinese merchants who were partnered with the Brits were shortened by a head. The opium was disposed of by burning, with the ashes being sluiced into the Pearl River. It is said that the birds downwind flew funny, and the fish swam funny for quite a while.
4) The British government, while not denying the right of China to control imports and trade on its own territory, declared war because it could. And they kicked Chinese butt.
Each Western power had previously cut its own deals with the Chinese Empire, but they rallied around the British when the 1842 Treaty of Nanking was being negotiated. The Treaty of Nanking was the first of the “unequal treaties” imposed on China, started the process of dismantling Chinese sovereignty over their own country and cession of territory to Western Powers. This is how the Brits got Hong Kong and various Chinese cities ended up with “quarters” ruled by Western powers. That, and Western navies controlled Chinese foreign trade and inland waters. Westerners kind of “forget” all that, and Chinese haven’t, even today. I believe you are British, and probably the Opium Wars are not taught in your schools either anymore. Not PC enough.
5) America considered itself more moral because it did not directly seize Chinese soil, but they did insist that any concession granted to any Western power applied to them too. During the negotiation of the Treaty of Nanking, American Ambassador Caleb Cushing was friends with the British negotiators and invented the concept of Extraterritoriality, which the Brits and all Western powers demanded from China.
Short form: Western and Chinese legal systems were so different that by treaty it was granted that it was not possible for any Westerner to get a fair [or comprehensible] trial under Chinese law. Therefore, China lost all legal jurisdiction over the actions of any Westerner in China. In theory, if they committed a crime in China, Western authorities would try them when they got home. Any attempt to prosecute a Westerner for crimes in China was an act of war by China. To “make it fair” all Chinese subjects/citizens who were not diplomats were barred from access to the legal systems of the Western Powers who signed the treaties. They had no legal rights. They could be murdered with impunity. They could be robbed with impunity. Native Americans off the reservation had some legal standing as people. Chinese did not. Under American law, Chinese were not people, and actually had less standing than animals.
I won’t go into all the details of family history, other than my dad came to the US at 12 years old, alone, not speaking English, and was not counted as an illegal immigrant, because he was not a person and could not be a citizen. By the way, he got here just before the Depression. More details foregone, but I will note that one reason that so many Chinese males came alone was that the arrival of Chinese females was absolutely forbidden. Even with Extraterritoriality, any children born here were citizens [and therefore people] under the Constitution.
My dad grew up and learned the restaurant/food service business from the bottom up. In 1943 when the US was the last foreign power [including Japan] to give up Extraterritoriality, he was one of the top food service supervisors at old Lowry AAFB in Denver. He was too old to be drafted, was not a US citizen anyway so could not be drafted, and held a war-critical job. He voluntarily joined the Army, and fought to get into the Infantry. They wanted to make him a cook. Across the room from me now is a picture of him taken by my uncle when he got back, in uniform, with medals and qualifications. You figure in an Army full of white supremacists, you had better be an expert in everything and be able to beat them down behind the barracks if necessary if you are going to be a Chinese squad leader [Sgt.].
Upon return to the US, he was granted his citizenship for his services in Patton’s 3rd Army.
I had it easy. I was born here.
Subotai Bahadur, I hope you have saved all the comments you’ve made at PJ, Insta, here, anywhere I don’t read. I’d like to ready the blog of your biography and the contextual comments you’ve made.
A smart blog would ask to you join the group, then cross-post (after some revision) the comments made on other blogs to the smart blog.
Subotai Bahadur, “Just as real American history is not taught in our schools,”. I am afraid that I must broadly agree with you on that point, although it greatly pains me to admit it. There have been many suggestions from the Chicago Boyz (and Girrlz) over the years, of books to offset the leftist KulturSmog and MissEduSmog. To those, I would add anything and everying by David Hackett Fisher, anything and everything by the late T. R. Fehrenbach, and many or even all of the series, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to __________”. Now, I’ve probably read all or at least most of your comments for about a decade, so I have reason to trust your judgement. So, the Big Question: what other books would you recommend, not just to me and other Chicago Boyz, but to any parent who is taking a cold, beady-eyed look at the current state of American history and social studies teaching? You might make a full blog post of it, not just a comment, with the idea that it might become a chapter of the book that ErisGuy asked for just above.
I may take you up on the idea, as a comment if not as a full post. For one thing, I don’t know if our Gracious Hosts would be interested in a full post from an outsider like myself, but I’m thinking about it.
One of the things that I have been thinking about doing is a family history as far back as I know, to give a copy to my kids so that they will have them to use to teach their kids. Your idea would tie into that.
Chicago boyz has taken blog commentors and made them authors before.
I’m an example of that.
So am I. I would suggest one simple guide to the Opium Wars would be James Clavell’s novels about China and Hong Kong.
Plus of course his novels about Japan.
He was a young RAF soldier in 1941 Singapore when it fell and spent the war in the Changi prison. He survived and wrote a novel about it called “King Rat’
It is said that his attempt to understand the Japanese led to the Japanese novels,
He was also a very successful screenwriter who wrote the original screen version of “The Fly.”
I wonder if Subotai has read any of his novels about China? I have recommended Rafael Sabatini’s novel “Scaramouche” as a primer on the French Revolution.
I got interested in Geek history from reading Mary Renault novels.
“all Chinese subjects/citizens who were not diplomats were barred from access to the legal systems of the Western Powers who signed the treaties. They had no legal rights. They could be murdered with impunity. They could be robbed with impunity. Native Americans off the reservation had some legal standing as people. Chinese did not. Under American law, Chinese were not people, and actually had less standing than animals.”
Good God: are you saying that that applied within the borders of the USA? Or within the borders of China? Or within parts of China? What happened about the Chinese there when the US made the Philippines a colony? What happened about the Chinese there when the US seized Hawaii?
P.S. ” I believe you are British, and probably the Opium Wars are not taught in your schools either”: they were when I was a laddie. The Scottish schools were much less prone to whitewashing our history than American schools were theirs, judging by the laughable accounts of American history that I see.
“the laughable accounts of American history that I see.”
Growing up. I read my cousin’s “World History” book from his 1938 high school course, at least twice. It was so well written that it read like a novel.
It began with the Doric invasion, went on to the Punic Wars and ended after World War I.
My recollection was that it was “Whiggish” in its emphasis on progress but I have not learned of any falsehood such as has infested US school textbooks since I graduated from college.
The falsification of US History is, to the best of my knowledge, a recent phenomenon. It has coincided with a strong rejection of traditional mores and culture.
I actually think elementary school students believe the US was the only nation that practiced slavery.
Within the borders of then 48 states of the USA? Yes, absolutely.
Within the borders of China? Functionally outside the areas that were granted as Concessions to Western Powers as Westerners were immune from Chinese law. Within the Concessions, Chinese had no real standing under Western law, with some variation among the Western Powers. The US did not have its own Concessions in China, but claimed every privilege granted to the other powers.
In the Philippines and Hawaii, legally no standing, but numbers and status as the merchant class gave them some unofficial standing. And being distant territories which were not really “American”, there was more than a little leeway.
Even though the laws changed, it took society a while to catch up. When my birth parents divorced, in Wichita, Kansas in late 1952-early 1953; my dad got full custody. It was unheard of for the man to get child custody in those days. But I am given to understand that the judge said something to the effect that “it was not fit for a White woman to be raising one of that kind”. Mind you, I think I came out very well ahead in that deal.
When I was going to kindergarten [5 years old], older kids would throw rocks at me because I was Chinese. If I finally go bald, there should be some interesting scars on top of my head from that.
The first place I ever had to carry a gun concealed was as a Junior [16 years old] in high school in the dismal town of Hastings, Nebraska because being a straight-A student whose career goal at the time was the US Naval Academy polluted their school because I was Chinese. I convinced them that 7 fewer would reach me than started out, so they left me alone.
Growing up, it was common for my generation of Chinese here to be told by our parents that you had to be 3 times as good and work three times as hard as a White man to get the same rewards. In fact, it was not quite that bad, but the advice was good for our generation. It always is for immigrant groups.
One thing I inherited from my dad when I was working was a willingness to work harder, longer, and better than anyone else. It stood me in good stead.
Fortunately for my children, the SJW Millenials do not understand the relationship between work and results, so it is easier for them. But there is more than a little jealousy between the “Special Snowflakes” and those who work for success.
One of the things that the West does not understand about China is how raw the wound of the 1800’s-1949 still is. And it is kept raw by the Chinese government.
Imagine, if you will, that your culture has literally been the center of the universe in your part of the world; for several thousand years. And that your culture is both inward looking, and focused on the past. Neither entrepreneurial activity nor science is smiled upon. Occasionally foreign barbarians will take over, but they will fall into your cultural pattern and eventually be overthrown.
Now imagine that you are ruled by some of the local foreign barbarians. And suddenly you are literally invaded by some VERY foreign barbarians who do not even think like rational beings as far as you understand, and who have weapons that you cannot duplicate or understand. The country, your country and the center of the universe, is torn to shreds internally from domestic strife, invaded by the outsiders, and the outsiders teach some of the nearer barbarians [Japanese] the secrets of warfare. All sorts of foreign barbarians are lording it over you on your own soil and seizing chunks of it.
That leaves a wound. Now I don’t mean that we owe China anything because of it, but having some idea of what reaction that they are going to have to us might be a good thing.
Life, and history, is always more complex than it is taught. And today it is not taught for Scheiss. My house has more books than some libraries. Among them are some elementary schoolbooks used in the late 1800’s to teach kids in one room schoolhouses in Colorado mountain mining/ranching towns. I’m pretty sure that a lot of modern college graduates could not pass the quizes within that were used by 3rd and 4th graders [9-10 years old today]. They were well into Latin, starting Greek, and into basic algebra and geometry. And they had a grasp of American history, constitutional theory, and yes the European history our culture descended from.
We have forgotten more of our history, than we know.
Subotai makes good points.
The Chinese have fared little better in other parts of Asia, however, as they were often considered “The Jews of Asia.”
In the US, there were “Chinatowns” where they ruled themselves. One of my medical school classmates was a Eurasian from Hawaii who was named Hollis Chang,
Hollis was a very handsome guy and had his choice of the pretty girls around. He was eventually captured in matrimony by a gorgeous Chinese-American model named Linda. Linda set her sights on Hollis early and we all had small bets on whether he would escape her plans. They were very happy and she made him a very good wife, especially later as he was ill.
Hollis is survived by his loving wife of 47 years, Linda Leong Chang and their two sons:Hollis Blair Chang and Brent Christopher Chang; siblings :Lennig Chang MD (Adele), Rowena Shriber, Sheryln Goo; brother-in-law Robert Wong; and preceded in death by sister Jocelyn Wong and brothers-in-law Richard Leong and WilliamShriber MD. Also survived by 12 nieces and nephews and many other relatives.
Linda has almost single handedly populated San Marino, a very upscale suburb of Los Angeles, with very upscale Asian homeowners as she went into real estate early and, when Hollis became disabled, did very well as the bread winner. Sadly, Hollis was not alive to attend our 50th reunion in September.
Maybe California has less prejudice against Asians although it was the location of the Japanese internment in WWII.
I don’t know how much the Chinese closed society and the influence of the tongs had on their isolation. In small towns there was probably much more prejudice.
Just as an example, there was considerable resistance to the Mayo Brothers choosing a Catholic religious order to run their hospital in Rochester Minnesota in 1880.
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