It’s no problem here in the land of “political science fiction” to envision a Department of Homeland Security in 1941, except bigger, a lot more powerful. And the secretary of Homeland Security is apparently limitlessly influential. When President Roosevelt’s best friend, Harry Hopkins, can’t get through to him, and his most important military leader, Gen. George Marshall, can’t reach him, you can be sure Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s call zips right through to FDR himself.
And on the afternoon of Dec. 7, 1941, America’s “Big Sis” comes onto every single radio station in America (no TV yet!) and somberly announces the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii: “I cannot fully express my disappointment in the behavior of our Japanese friends earlier today.
“Yes, we lost our Pacific fleet and 3,000 of our valiant fighting men, but we have another whole ocean and another whole fleet, and I want to lose no time denouncing what we’re hearing now from our fellow Americans. The air across America crackles with hate, hatred of ‘those yellow-bellied Japs who, right in the middle of peace negotiations, launched a sneak attack on a Sunday morning upon the United States.’ I demand an immediate end to that poisonous racism. In the first place, they are ‘Japanese,’ not ‘Japs.’ And the color of their skin is no issue among intelligent people of good will. American bigotry will never win Japanese respect.”
It’s hard to imagine a Japanese surface ship armada crawling across the Pacific as a “sneak attack,” but let’s move on.
“I’ll admit,” Big Sis continues, “this attack rattles me to my core. I was expecting news about Japan, all right. I was expecting Japanese Ambassador Kurusu’s acceptance of my lunch invitation this afternoon, not this! As for the attack falling on a Sunday, most Japanese are adherents of the Shinto faith and, to them, Sunday is just like any other day. This low-class exhibition of American anger merely exacerbates tensions that obviously sorely need to be assuaged.
“I’m happy to report that, after dropping their bombs on legitimate military targets only, the Japanese planes returned to their carriers and made a U-turn, heading back to Japan. There was no attempt by the Japanese to land troops on our territory in Hawaii. There are reports coming in right now of massive Japanese troop landings throughout the western Pacific rim-land. These reports come to us from Malaya, Java, Indo-China, East Timor and Thailand. And, yes, it’s true the Japanese Army has also landed an invasion force in the Philippine Islands, which are a possession of the United States. But it’s important to point out that the attack on the Philippines cannot be viewed as a specific anti-American military act since the simultaneous Japanese invasions are upon territories belonging to England, Holland, France, Portugal and the independent nation of Thailand.
“Unofficial reports from Hong Kong, another Japanese invasion target belonging to England, tell of high-ranking Japanese officers ribbing the leader of the Pearl Harbor attack, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who took his higher education in the United States at Harvard, for having said, as the final bombs were falling, ‘I feel we have awakened a sleeping giant.’ ‘Not exactly, Admiral,’ the friendly teasing continued. ‘What we’ve awakened is more like a sleeping coward, or a sleeping clown.’”
But Big Sis is just warming up. “It’s normal for military men to exult with such chatter after what they perceive as a major victory. They have not yet felt the power of America’s response. We are, right this minute, preparing a detailed report on the damage inflicted upon our heroic garrisons in Hawaii and the Philippines, complete with authentic photographs. These reports will go to the foreign minister of every nation on earth – we won’t waste postage on countries like Nazi Germany and Italy – and Japan will then feel the full fury of the international community’s disappointment and rage. We understand our American diplomats are headed for imprisonment in highly distasteful and uncomfortable prison camps. Ambassador Kurusu and the entire Japanese diplomatic corps in Washington are being accommodated in luxury suites at the upscale Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. When the world sees and absorbs the difference between their treatment of our diplomats and our treatment of theirs, you can expect a tsunami of renewed indignation at the Japanese and admiration of our higher moral standards.
“Japan may, indeed, take the Philippines and the other territories I’ve mentioned. You all, however, may sleep this December night warmed by the assurance that you – an American – will occupy the moral high ground. Your flag will flutter unopposed in the holy wind of righteousness.
“In closing, I want to emphasize that, despite deplorable losses in American personnel and naval vessels, not one single Japanese soldier stands on American soil, either here in the homeland or in the Hawaiian Islands.
“And those in the Philippine Islands will be so ashamed of themselves they may well be unable to stand.
“So, let’s hear no more brainless talk about ‘sneak attacks’ and ‘yellow-bellied Japs.’
“Remember! Not one Japanese soldier stands tonight on the American homeland or Hawaii.
“In other words, the system worked!”