Monday, November 2, 2009

Black Day in June/July/August - the summer of '43

The Summer of 1943 was exactly* half way through 'The Good War' (if you were American); if you were European or part of the British Commonwealth, it was exactly 2/3 of the way through the not-so-good-war.

(And to the Chinese it was half way through a twenty year terrible war; to the Vietnamese, the beginnings of a 50 year endless war, etc etc - but I do digress....)

Take a moment and try and recall what you remember of that summer - either because you were there the first time - or from what you have read or watched on TV since then.

A bit of a blank ?

How about this : the military-led 'Zoot Suit' (anti-Latino) Riots in LA.

Strikes and riots over blacks being allowed to work in Mobile Alabama shipyards coupled with white riots against black soldiers stationed in Deep South or South Western Army camps.

The Detroit race riots in the Arsenal of Democracy/Arsehole of Democracy - with a death toll of 34 dead.

The embarassing Harlem riots (& resulting curfew) of August 1-5th in the city that was by far the best of bad bunch for civil liberties in 1940s America .

A riot that occurred exactly one week before the Baby Patricia media-puffed 'good news' story emerged from the same riot-damaged neighbourhoods.

The feel good emphasis on World War II as America's one good war has led most historians - popular or academic - to ignore the origins of the moral nadir of that most moral of all American wars .

Hiroshima 1945 was foretold in the way that mainstream America responded to the pressures Total War Mobilization efforts put on a society a few years earlier.

Like its opponents in Germany and Japan, America in the 1940s was organized around a culture determined not to let most of its citizens to participate fully in anything.

And like Hitler and Tojo, Mr WASP America wasn't prepared to change those rules , even at the cost of perhaps losing a Total War.

The clash came to a head in the summer of 1943 and it didn't really play out ( if in fact it yet has) until a child of miscegenation became the President of the United States early this year....

* If like many Americans, you date the start of WWII for your country from the September 1941 USS Greer incident - the first shots fired by Americans on the Axis forces.