Jewish World Review July 2, 2001 / 10 Tamuz, 5761

Bill O'Reilly

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Consumer Reports

What would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"? -- THE Disney people re-edited the film for Japanese audiences because of "emotional sensitivity issues." In other words, they softened what was already a cupcake of a movie because Disney wanted to do better in the box offices in the Land of the Rising Sun, which is the largest movie-going country after the United States.

So, I'm thinking to myself, what would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"?

Well, you would have heard a worldwide howl that would have curled Ben Affleck's hair. Demonstrations would have been ordered up, and protests would fill the air.

But there is very little outrage over the recut of "Pearl Harbor" for the Japanese. Why?

First the facts: Disney toned down "Pearl Harbor's" anti-Japanese slang and rhetoric. I guess it thinks the Japanese wouldn't accept the fact that some Americans may have been a bit peeved at them after the sneak attack. Disney also eliminated a Japanese spy scene. Of course there were no Japanese spies during World War II -- no way would that have happened.

The truth is that the Japanese military was brutal during World War II, and, unlike the atrocities committed by the Third Reich, this fact has largely been avoided by the media.

According to Congressman Michael Honda, in addition to murdering hundreds of thousands of Chinese, the fatality rate for American POW's captured by the Japanese in World War II was a revolting 38 percent. By contrast, only 1 percent of American POWs held by the German military died in captivity.

Want more? As of Jan. 1, 2000, only 16 percent of American POWs held by the Japanese were still alive -- while 48 percent of our military people held by the Germans were still living.

By all accounts, the Japanese were brutal to those they captured, both military and civilian. But you won't hear about that in the movie "Pearl Harbor," or in many U.S. public school history classes. Japan is now our staunch ally, and it is politically incorrect to scrutinize its conduct during World War II.

And that's fine with the new Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, whose spokesman actually had the audacity to say this about the Pearl Harbor movie: "It is quite fictitious and one-sided. Japan is portrayed as the enemy and wrong. The U.S. portrayed as right."

Well, yeah.

Will somebody please break the news to the new Japanese administration that invading most of Southeast Asia and attacking America without a declaration of war was not very nice? Could we put that on the table? I mean, I don't want to offend anyone, but come on!

There is even a movie playing in Japan called "Merdeka" that paints the Japanese military as saviors of the Orient. The director of that movie has reportedly asked: "Were we really so wrong? The rest of Asia is grateful to us for helping them toward independence. I think Japanese audiences will be disgusted by 'Pearl Harbor' for once again painting us as the bad guys."

So now the Japanese military -- responsible for the atrocities at Nanking, China, the Bataan Death March, and the wholesale looting of the Philippines -- are heroes? Hurry, somebody call those Disney executives. This is a movie they may want to make.

We are living in a world where profiteers and spinners-for-hire are getting away with burying the truth. In the name of expediency, we are allowing history to be rewritten by people who don't want to offend anybody. I don't hold a grudge against Japan or Germany. But I do expect the people in those countries to own up to the truth about their previous governments.

Don't hand me some bull story about heroism and noble intentions when millions of people died because of Japanese and German aggression. This is insulting to all of the brave men and women who died defeating those monstrous regimes.

The Disney company should be ashamed of putting profits before honor and for producing a film that makes romance more important than a signature event in American history.

This "Pearl Harbor" movie is a bomb, and I don't care how much money it makes. Some of us will always remember the sacrifice of all who fought against tyranny in World War II. And hopefully, that memory will stand, no matter how many goofy movies the Walt Disney company makes.

JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, The O'Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and The Completely Ridiculous in American Life. Comments by clicking here.


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06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate