Editor's note: Longtime WND columnist and legendary talk-radio host Barry Farber died last week at the age of 90. This column of Barry's was published in the March edition of WND's Whistleblower magazine, "The Day the Earth Stood Still," and will be his final column to appear in these pages.
Have you ever belonged to a club you never intended to join, that never has meetings and never asks for dues or donations for annual banquets? Well, I do!
I belong to that elite corps of Americans who remember Pearl Harbor as vividly as we all remember 9/11. I'm frequently called upon to talk about the warlike similarities linking the two national disasters. This is the first time I've pushed aside the military activities and concentrated strictly on the peaceful activities – how Americans of all ages pulled together, on what we called "the home front," to make life easier for us all.
The first thing that struck me as a member of this "club" was the ubiquity of the word "together." Whenever politicians stood up to address a crowd you could be sure you were going to hear the word "together" dozens if not a hundred times. "We're all in this together." "We've got to pull together." "We can overcome our difficulties because we're Americans, and our nation is so great precisely because we've worked together. We of every faith, of every national origin, have learned how to work together."
I don't remember the word "color" in there alongside faith and creed and origin, but we went to work on that shortly after victory and never let go until today, when all Americans can proudly say America is not a racist nation. And not only are we not a racist nation, but we are a nation that bends over backwards to avoid the appearance and suggestion that we might be a racist nation.
TRENDING: Collateral damage
The second thing I remember is the instantaneous, unquestioning giddiness of falling into line behind our leaders and conducting our national lives utterly together. There was no such thing as "I wonder if so-and-so will support our bond drive?" I recall everybody supporting everybody's bond drive. We kids saved our dimes and quarters to buy war stamps. When we'd reach the astronomical sum of $18.75 we'd trade them for a war bond, which carried the government's promise that in 10 years we'd get a walloping $25 for that bond. Our togetherness was so bull-proof and pig-tight we could hardly breathe. That felt good. It felt good on the battlefield, in the factory, farm, mine and mill, and it felt good in our hearts. That experience taught me never to regard togetherness as an intangible. For those of us buying war stamps and war bonds, it was as tangible as a granite brick!
Of course, during World War II, we had Republican and Democratic parties and candidates. But never once do I recall any accusation or attempt by any party or candidate to spread lies aimed at destroying the candidacy and character of the opponent.
As a matter of fact, it was the reverse. In 1944, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for a fourth term as president (presidents were not term-limited in those days), his opponent, New York governor and famous crime-buster Thomas E. Dewey, obtained documents that proved that Roosevelt had prior knowledge about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Such a revelation would have inflicted unparalleled damage on Roosevelt and the Democrats. It may not have tilted the election in Dewey's favor, but it would have visited havoc upon every Democrat and done a great deal to rebuild the structure of the Republican Party.
One day before Dewey was about to release those incriminating documents, a messenger who identified himself as a Roosevelt aide knocked on the door of Dewey's hotel campaign suite and told the Dewey official there that he had a message for Gov. Dewey direct from President Roosevelt, urging Dewey not to disclose that Roosevelt had known of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor. "Thank you," said the Dewey aide, reaching for the envelope. "Sorry! My instructions are to give this only to Governor Dewey himself!" said the Roosevelt aide, turning away.
At Dewey's meeting that night with his campaign team, he staggered them all by announcing that he had decided not to use the information that would have been so harmful to Roosevelt.
Dewey's campaign team tore their hair out and then went after one another's hair, protesting that the evidence was the most important element in the entire election. How dare Dewey decide not to use it? "I've decided it would be bad for America," said Dewey (who of course went down to defeat much worse than if he had revealed that Roosevelt knew of the impending Japanese attack).
Looking back on our food supply, I suddenly feel a 79-year-old flash of shame from 1941 on behalf of any of us who complained about anything lacking in the national pantry. Woolworth's lunch counter had a wonderful lunch of luscious rare roast beef, pickled beets and mashed potatoes – a meal I would gladly offer many times its price to be able to enjoy once again. Men, women and even teenagers stood in line two and three deep, all patiently waiting for that 35-cent lunch! All families had been distributed ration cards. Can you guess what commodities we were whimpering about being in short supply? The answer: sugar, coffee and gasoline. A nation full of deprived children, right?
During World War II there was a little "war between the wars" that didn't get much media attention but was quite meaningful to those of us who spent those years on the home front. Whenever you wanted anything from an extra pat of butter in a restaurant to a better windshield wipe, any indication that you had waited long enough and you thought it was your turn to be served brought forth the sarcastic rejoinder of "Sir (or Ma'am or Pal), don't you know there's a war going on?" That phrase was uttered and heard many times each day among exasperated civilians trying to cope.
The great comedian Bob Hope was driving down Hollywood Boulevard on the afternoon of Aug. 15, 1945, and heard the announcer on the car radio report that Japan had surrendered, the war was over and gasoline rationing would be lifted immediately. Bob Hope was right at the entrance to a gas station when he heard that, so he pulled up to a pump and said to the attendant, "Fill 'er up, please."
"What do you mean 'Fill 'er up,' Pal?" railed the gas station attendant. "Show me your ration card!" Bob Hope thereupon said, "What do you mean 'ration card'? Don't you know there's a peace going on?"