Sins of Omission

Clint Eastwood and Moral Equivalency

Since at least the late 60’s, there has been an effort in academe and in Hollywood to make all cultures morally equivalent.  More recently, there has been an effort to make “indigenous cultures”—whatever that means—morally superior to Western civilization.  I was thinking of all this when I read an interview with Clint Eastwood that appeared in the Los Angeles Times.  Eastwood was promoting his new movie, Letters From Iwo Jima, which, he claims, will portray the battle for the island from the Japanese perspective.  Drawing a moral equivalency between the Americans and the Japanese, Eastwood emphasizes that Americans committed atrocities.  “Well, that happened a lot,” proclaims Eastwood.  “I talked to so many Marines who were there, and I’d say: ‘What did you do with the prisoners?’  And they’d look at me and go: ‘We didn’t have any prisoners.’  And I’d say: ‘Oh.  OK.’”

Hold on here, ol’ Clint.  Aren’t you leaving something out?  Japanese atrocities were standard operating procedure, following a policy that was promoted and endorsed by the government of Japan and ran through the ranks from generals to privates.  On Guadalcanal, the beginning of the American island campaign in the Pacific, the Marines learned this the hard way. ...

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