September 28, 2006

"Orphans of the Pacific, you really are orphans now. How will you get home now that all your ships are lost?"

For saying that on the radio in 1944, Iva Toguri D’Aquino -- Tokyo Rose -- was convicted of treason. She died on Tuesday, at the age of 90. Read the whole obituary, here.

And -- to digress -- read this long Q&A with the NYT obituary editor, Bill McDonald. It's quite fascinating. Excerpt:
Q. Goodness. The Obituary Editor. What do people say when they meet you and you tell them your job?...

A. A range of responses. Sometimes it's "Oh, that's, um (long pause) interesting," accompanied by an anxious expression, as if I were wearing a black hood and cape. Others — usually among our millions of devoted readers — will say, "Cool!"
Personally, I think the obituaries are cool. Life stories, told when the story is complete, with each day's selection determined by fate (and editorial judgment).

So, for example, today we see Tokyo Rose along with Edward Albert, the son of Eddie Albert, who played the blind guy in "Butterflies Are Free." And speaking of fate, I see he was exactly my age, which is the sort of thing you notice when you read the obituaries.

Also on the obit page today: "Itsy-Bitsy Bikini, Big Mistake." The Times confesses that it erroneously reported that the man who co-wrote "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" had died.

There's something so assorted about the assortment of things on the obituary page. Something that I like about it is also what I like about blogging.

29 comments:

Jake said...

In WWII, the enemy had Tokyo Rose to spread defeatist propaganda designed to weaken our soldiers resolve.

Today, the enemy has MSM and the Democrats to do the same thing.

Goesh said...

She can't hold a candle to our generation's Baghdad Bob.

Jeff said...

Jake, well said!

The NYTimes obits, while good, don't hold a candle to the truly excellent obituaries published in The Times of London.

The Drill SGT said...

I'm unrepentant on the topic. I have no problem with having given her a pardon later and no problem with convicting her of treason for providing "aid and comfort to the enemy"

But then I feel the same way today about Hanoi Jane.

Tim said...

Today's American Left disproves the notion of treason; the word and its meaning has been consigned to the history books to remind us of a time long since gone.

Troy said...

Ironic about the Edward ALbert -- his Dad was a veteran of the US Navy and fought at Tarawa -- running landing craft.

Treason is passe -- one only holds true allegiance to oneself, it seems.

Troy said...
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Icepick said...

Sarge, I think you need to read the obituary. She didn't willingly provide aid and comfort, she was forced into it. Or do you think that POWs who 'confess' to their crimes should be tried for treason as well?

Troy said...

Jeff... Mark Steyn also writes great obits for The Atlantic -- they're on his website

reader_iam said...

I posted about this last night.

D'Aquino was "the" Tokyo Rose of Tokyo RoseS. There was no one Tokyo Rose.

She got accidentally caught in Japan, actually was in some danger because of her pro-American sentiments, and tried to ameliorate what she forced to broadcast.

She was RAILROADED--repeat--RAILROADED after the war, when she returned to the states. Thank you, odious toad Walter Winchell, among others.

Drill Sgt., no offense, but you are buying into the myth, as, I know, are and have many others. What's so incredibly sad about this is that the real story has been out there for decades and decades now, but the myth still persists, despite the strong efforts of some journalists and others. (This is one of the reasons why, for example, I will forever and always have a soft spot for Bill Kurtis, bless his heart.)

D'Aquino's situation and case is entirely different from, for example, that of Mildred Gillars, a.k.a. "Axis Sally."

I'm just sorry that D'Aquino went to her grave without ever really gotten redress for the injustice done to her.

reader_iam said...

And, Drill Sgt?

It's completely and utterly unfair to compare D'Aquino and "Hanoi Jane."

For starters, do you even KNOW what she was doing in Japan in the first place?

reader_iam said...

And the "The" part refers to the fact that while there were multiple Tokyo Roses, she happened to be the one that was RAILROADED through a treason trial.

The Drill SGT said...

OK, let's look at what we know.

1. She was a US citizen, not a dual national.
2. she was visiting Japan. So were maybe thousands of other US Citizens. I don't know if they were repatriated, or put into camps, But Ms D'Aquino clearly in my mind was treated differently than the rest.
3. She first went to work in wartime doing a job that would in todays world be located at NSA. She was monitoring US military broadcasts for intelligence purposes.
4. Later she volunteered to broadcast propaganda.
5. She was an Enemy National, free to move about a country at war, work and get married. She clearly reached an accommodation with the Japanese military that allowed her tremendous privilege.

I stand behind my view that she collaborated with our enemies. Would I have been upset if she hadn't been tried? no. But absent other info, and reading that obit, I can see things in there that I think point to some guilt.

Pardon her, fine. try her, fine as well

The Drill SGT said...

I should also have said,

don't try her. fine as well

reader_iam said...

Funny, your sources (whatever they are) don't square with ones that I can cite.

For example, two POWs who worked directly with D'Aquino in Japan flew into the U.S.--at their own expense, as opposed to some witnesses against her--to try and help her defense.

There was evidence, even at the time of perjury, and an outright recantation. Years later (which is a big reason why President Ford pardoned her), there was more evidence.

It's easily googled.

But this article
this article, which appeared back in 2002 in the The Weekly Standard (not exactly a publication that's soft on "aid and comfort to the enemy"; ahem) covers many of the basics.

Hatcher said...

Illuminating juxtapositions of obituaries is, indeed, a wonderful thing. But single-topic ones, are as well. My favorites tend to be in the British media; they can be crafty in their use of the dagger. They also tend to greatly exceed the line length permitted in American media, at least for anyone below the rank of President.

Papes like The Economist will take a full page to report on the life of figures who don't always dominate the headlines, but who always do shed interesting light on the world.

The Drill SGT said...

Funny, your sources (whatever they are) don't square with ones that I can cite.

No need to get personal. Read the Obit:

In 1942, she obtained a job with Japan’s Domei news agency, monitoring American military broadcasts, and late in 1943 she became an announcer and disc jockey for Radio Tokyo’s propaganda broadcasts, playing American musical recordings on the “Zero Hour” program beamed to American servicemen.

Let's analyze the first clause:

1. Domei was an arm of the Japanese government. Responsible for internal and external propganda and intelligence gathering via the news service.

2. Toguri didn't speak Japanese to start with. She did however speak idiomatic American dialect in common with US military personnel.

3. She "monitored US military broadcasts". To what end. She couldn't translate to Japanese well. She could not type in Japanese. What she could do is serve as an intelligence analyst and assist in the analysis of idiomatic American spoken by 20 y/o sailors into more common English for subsequent translation into Japanese.

4. She was what today at NSA would be called a Voice Intercept Analyst.

5. She worked indirectly for the Japanese military. There was no value of the intercept of US Military radio traffic to a legitimate japanese civilian news service.

reader_iam said...

I already read the NYT obit. (And the WaPo one.) I read that paragraph, which is fine, so far as it goes. I'm already aware of the information contained therein.

I had already read the article I linked to, too--when it appeared. I've known about the problems with D'Aquino's case--different from other treason cases of the era--for a while.

But, OK. Whatever. She's dead anyway, so who cares? There's nothing we can learn from old treason cases (including those--the majority--that got actual traitors, which is why the exception is so important).

If anyone's interested (probably not) a lengthy but thorough treatment of the topic, here a link to a pdf version of an article that appeared in Issue XXVII, Winter 2004-2005, of World War II Chronicles: A Quarterly Publication of the World War II Veterans Committee.

Here. If you Google it, you can read it online, in html.

And now I'll shut up and go away.

Too Many Jims said...
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Too Many Jims said...

Drill Sgt.,

The sole source you want to rely on is the NYT? Yeah, that should fly around here.

Seriously though, when I read about Ms. D'Aquino (admittedly a few years ago now) my sense was much like reader's.

Too Many Jims said...
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MadisonMan said...

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the meaning of a pardon -- doesn't it mean there was some miscarriage of justice that the President has recognized and rectified? It was my understanding that D'Aquino was convicted on false testimony. Drill, if you have no problem with that, well then I'm not sure what to say.

By the way Ann, you're the same age as my sister! My older sister, as I like to call her (to her face). Yeah, little brothers can be a pain.

The Drill SGT said...

MadisonMan said...
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the meaning of a pardon -- doesn't it mean there was some miscarriage of justice that the President has recognized and rectified?


Pardons can be done:
1. on a whim
2. to right injustices
3. because of extenuating public service before the crime
4. to recognize a redeemed life after release.
5. did I say on a whim?

It was my understanding that D'Aquino was convicted on false testimony. Drill, if you have no problem with that, well then I'm not sure what to say.

Damn it. I said I didn't have strong feelings one way or another about her conviction or pardon. I don't need my integrity impugned over my reading of an Obit.

Where does it say she was convicted of false testimony?

My substantive comments had NOTHING to do with her radio broadcast. I made two basic observations.

1. She was not treated the same as the hundreds of US citizens trapped in Japan. She was NOT a Japanese citizen as well, yet She was given apparently a huge amount of freedom in a country at war, when she was an Enemy Alien. Why?

2. She apparently worked " monitoring American military broadcasts" indirectly for the Japanese military. What did she do? why was it valuable to the Japanese? They clearly got military value out of it. She seemed to have little to contribute except as an analyst of idiomatic American dialect. That is "aid and comfort to the enemy" in my mind.

I have no problem with her pardon and make no statement about her trial and conviction, but there is more to that story. as I said before:

I stand behind my view that she collaborated with our enemies. Would I have been upset if she hadn't been tried? no. But absent other info, and reading that obit, I can see things in there that I think point to some guilt.

Pardon her, fine. try her, fine. don't try her, fine as well

The Drill SGT said...

convicted on, not of

reader_iam said...

One more, that's it.

OK, Sgt. You did say you didn't care one way or another. But as YOU just re-highlighted, you also said "absent more info."

Which is what I was trying to provide--and generally, for everyone, not just you. And why I didn't let it go as soon as I should have, here anyway.

OK, off to a party dinner.

Revenant said...

Where does it say she was convicted of false testimony?

She was convicted on one count -- that she made the "orphans of the Pacific broadcast". The only evidence tying her to that broadcast was the testimony of Kenkichi Oki and George Mitushio. In the early 70s a Chicago Tribune reporter tracked the two men down; they said they had perjured themselves under pressure from prosecutors.

Given that the FBI had earlier spent a year investigating D'Aquino while she was temporarily imprisoned after the war and found no evidence of treason on her part, and given that her trial was a McMartin-style media vendetta, it seems likely that Oki and Mitushio's story was true.

doctorfixit said...

Another example of double-standard justice for females.

amba said...

As my 17-year-old niece would say: "Random."

It's a word they say in a jadedly approving voice, the way you'd say "Cool," or "Weird."

It's certainly what's cool and weird about blogging and obit pages.

Anonymous said...

Over at Throwing Things, they notice this same Q&A, though take a very different tangent in commenting on it.

They speculate as to who is the youngest person with an already prepared obit.

(my guess, Lindsay Lohan)

Morbid, but instructive.

Also worth thinking about (or not), who has had a currently prepared obit sit around the longest?

(my guess is that either Liz Taylor or Gerald Ford would have had obits prepared for better than 2 decades now)