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Ben Affleck Gets Pearl Harbor Wrong

Monday, 28 May 2001 12:00 AM

Should I?

I am not so sure. I understand that history has been deconstructed.

One version of the film doesn't explain how evil the Axis alliance was, and reportedly doesn't even mention Nazi Germany's role in the war! Apparently, Hollywood doesn't want to alienate German moviegoers.

Ben Affleck was on the E! Network Monday talking about, among other things, the dizzying success of his career.

He then went on to discuss his latest film, which he said had an important lesson. The lesson was the same as the one in "Saving Private Ryan," Affleck said: Both films showed how horrible war is.

Of course, that is not the lesson of Pearl Harbor.

Nor is it of the enormous struggle that took place at the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944, and the days thereafter.

No, the lesson of both battles was that if we don't act now to maintain a strong military, we invite war, which is horrible.

The generation after Pearl Harbor and Munich understood that our freedom comes at an enormous price in blood and treasure.

If we believe that war is evil, and should be avoided at all costs, we will surely get it or lose our freedoms.

Pearl Harbor should be a strong reminder to us of this lesson. I have known two people who were there in Pearl Harbor the day Japan attacked.

One was my late uncle Jerome Ruddy. I remember, after seeing the film "Tora Tora Tora," asking him what he did when the Japanese attacked.

"I jumped under a truck and hid there," he said, recalling that he was at the airport as it was being bombed. I remember he said there was nothing he could do. America was helpless.

The other person I know who was present at Pearl Harbor was a young Navy aviator named Thomas Moorer, who would later become a Navy admiral and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In discussing Pearl Harbor with Adm. Moorer, it became clear to me how close we came to perhaps a major national defeat as a result of Pearl Harbor.

Japan not only quickly seized the Philippines and swept through Southeast Asia, only a handful of American ships stood between the continental U.S. and Japan's massive fleet.

Only a miracle at the sea battle of Midway in June 1942 saved the U.S. There, off Midway Island, U.S. carriers struck a devastating blow to the Japanese fleet.

Under the extraordinary leadership of Adm. Chester Nimitz and Adm. Raymond Spruance, a vastly outnumbered U.S. naval force destroyed and sunk four Japanese carriers and a Japanese destroyer. The naval battle was considered the turning point of the Pacific war.

Had we lost at Midway, which was the probable outcome, Japan would have had complete control of the Pacific.

Adm. Moorer observed that if we had lost Midway nothing would have stopped the Japanese fleet from attacking the U.S. west coast. Japanese occupation of parts of California would have been likely.

Maybe if parts of Los Angeles – including Hollywood – had been occupied by Japanese troops, Ben Affleck wouldn't have had such a dizzyingly successful career, and a more honest film would have taught us that there is something more evil than war itself.

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Should I? I am not so sure. I understand that history has been deconstructed. One version of the film doesn't explain how evil the Axis alliance was, and reportedly doesn't even mention Nazi Germany's role in the war! Apparently, Hollywood doesn't want to alienate German...
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2001-00-28
Monday, 28 May 2001 12:00 AM
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