Today’s blog is about the difficulty of showing simple facts to people who have a preconception about some particular event. Today, at my coffee shop, I found myself raising my voice in frustration at being unable to show an apparently intelligent person a simple historical fact. In fact I must confess I was yelling, although I had not screamed the words, “You IDIOT !” even if I was about to. I still had sufficient self composure to desist from that open insult, even if it was well deserved. Here is the problem, I as Apophenio with the ability to see simple patterns when face to face with them, when faced with an apparent prosopagnosia victim, whom I will name Prosopagnosio to protect his identity, was unable to communicate simple obvious facts. He doesn’t have that particular form of face blindness but what he does have is something very similar because he doesn’t have the ability to see what is clearly presented before his face. I have had this problem with him several times before.
The conversation had somehow devolved to the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 which I was arguing was anticipated by the United States before it happened. He was arguing that numerous “legitimate historians” had proved that the attack was unknown to President Roosevelt or the military men in the Pacific and so there was no reason for doubting. He several times dismissed my various proofs as unfounded and the mere ravings of a conspiracy theorist. Amongst my past friends was Duke Campbell, a PBY pilot who flew the Manila base commander on a secret mission to Singapore and back to Manila in the days immediately before the attack — arriving back in Manila only hours before the bombs were falling. Duke said to me personally, they clearly knew the Japanese were about to attack although he thought the main attack was going to be at Manila and not Pearl Harbor. Manila was hit but it was the secondary attack. Prosopagnosio said those claims were undocumented, and thus my claims were unfounded and I was full of male bovine droppings. More evidence for my argument came from an old friend of mine Wilson Ogg, whose father was the US military man in charge of tracking the Japanese fleet from radio broadcast using triangulation. He had been clearly told by his father that they knew of the impending attack and that it was going to be Pearl Harbor. Undocumented hogwash says Mr. Prosopagnosio. Well, maybe so, but do the click throughs on those people highlighted above to learn more about these facts I had referenced.
Then he said the American public was totally surprised by the “surprise Attack on Pearl Harbor”. Unfortunately for his argument, he had just suggested I go to Google Books to disprove my assertions. That I did on the spot with my ASUS eee, and here is what I found in only a few minutes and read the first paragraph aloud to the several people at the table. (These LIFE magazines apparently were pre-dated by about ten days so they would appear to be current when they arrived in their customers’ mail. It is two issues later when they actually offer a sketchy eyewitness report on the actual attack at Pearl Harbor. So these particular reports, which I show below, have already been in American homes for several days when the “surprise attack” occurred. Do the click through on the highlighted text below the picture and hit the ( + ) to read the photocopies of the original articles.)
For a nation poised on the precipice of a two-ocean war, the U.S. was extraordinarily complacent last week. Washington cocked tense ears for the first sounds of shooting on the wide Pacific. Congressional leaders—even isolationists—predicted that a declaration of war on Japan could be shoved through both houses with as little difficulty as a minor appropriation.
There was no question that the country was thoroughly aware of the situation. Newspaper headlines loomed heavy with portents. … The American people felt secure in the belief that America’s superb Navy could cope with all difficulties. Americans felt confident, rightly or wrongly, that the Japs were pushovers.
The main articles in that issue of LIFE were about US war preparations like this one on Navy aircraft carrier strength:
Another feature article was about General MacArthur, the US Army commander in the Pacific.
There were several more articles and there was considerable prescient detail on the strategy of just how the war would be fought with the Japanese in the Pacific.
All of this information was available to the American public and it was being supplied by the most popular news magazine of the day about two weeks before the so called “Surprise Attack” occurred. The war mongering by this major magazine was almost a declaration of war all by itself. If the responsible governmental authorities didn’t immediately denounce it, they would be considered complicit. They didn’t denounce it and so functionally it was a declaration of war. In fact the Japanese fleet had already sailed and were on their way to Hawaii. The people at all of the potential targets, but especially military targets, should have considered themselves at war and thus fair game for any attack. The fact that the US was “sleeping” can only be assumed to be “intentional sleeping” to lure the Japanese to attack and thus to further inflame the American public sentiment against them. That is what the Japanese did and that is how the prepared American public reacted to the attack and how Roosevelt got the cooperation he needed for the most economically massive military response in history.
When the facts are so glaringly obvious one would expect even Mr. Prosopagnosio to understand, or at bare minimum to admit that there was cause for suspicion. But NO! The historians claim there were no sleepy eyes in Washington and it was a complete and subtle deception by the Japanese that led to the American disaster at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
It is tiring to argue with people who refuse to see what is before their eyes but this is the world that I—as Apophenio with the ability to see simple patterns— am confronted with all the time.