James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A terrible irony

During the evening of March 22, I was channel hopping, looking for something tolerable to watch on the tube while exercising, and happened on a program about the war crimes trial of Hideki Tojo after World War II. It was on one of the cable channels – the History Channel I think, though I wouldn't swear to it.

Tojo was largely responsible for creating the German-Italian-Japanese Axis. He served during the war first as war minister and then as prime minister. He was a bloody-minded, merciless fanatic who was ultimately responsible for many of the atrocities committed by the Japanese military in the 1930s and '40s.

One of the people interviewed on the program was a survivor of the Bataan Death March.

Tojo's trial and his execution in December 1948 were absolutely necessary, said the old veteran, because “we have to show the world that this country will not tolerate that kind of treatment of human beings (that is, what he and his fellows suffered on the march), and that we won't allow people to be tortured.”

The irony of that statement in 2006 America strikes like a punch in the gut.