U.S. Army’s “How To Spot A Jap” Pamphlet

This “How To Spot A Jap” comic was included in the U.S. Army’s 1942 “Pocket Guide to China,” which it distributed to soldiers who were being sent to fight in China. Milton Caniff, creator of the Terry and the Pirates comic strip, did the illustrations.

Instructing people on how to distinguish Chinese from Japanese people was apparently a common theme of World War II-era propaganda. For example, the December 22, 1941 edition of Life magazine ran a feature titled How To Tell Japs from the Chinese.


Henry Ossian Flipper

I had never heard of Henry Ossian Flipper until a Black Studies professor I know introduced me to The Trial of the Moke, a 1978 movie that includes one of Samuel L. Jackson’s earlier appearances.

Flipper was a former slave who became the first African American to graduate from West Point in 1877. Flipper was court martialed and drummed out of the military in a situation that appeared to many to have been set up to provide a pretext to dismiss him.

According to Wikipedia,

Colonel William Rufus Shafter assumed command at Fort Davis in March 1881. He had been the commander of the First Infantry Regiment at Fort Davis. Shafter had a reputation as harassing officers he disliked. While he tolerated black Buffalo Soldiers, he hated seeing a black officer. Flipper was dismissed without cause as quartermaster within days. Then Shafter “asked” Flipper to keep the quartermaster’s safe in his quarters. Being “asked” by a superior officer was a de facto order and Flipper complied. In July 1881, Flipper found a shortage of over $2,000.00. Realizing this could be used against him by officers intent on forcing him out of the army, he attempted to hide the discrepancy, which was later discovered, then he lied about it when confronted. In August, he was arrested by Shafter for embezzling government funds. Word quickly spread about the missing money. Many felt it was a setup and soldiers and the community came up with the money to replace what was missing within four days. Shafter accepted the money, then convened a court martial on September 17, 1881.

In December 1881, the court martial found Flipper innocent of the main charge, but another charge was added during the trial, and he was found guilty “of conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman”, and sentenced to be “dismissed from the service of the United States”. It was more than a harsh sentence. In two prior situations involving white officers who were found guilty of embezzlement, neither officer was dismissed nor dishonored. The letters exchanged between Mollie Dwyer (Nolan’s sister-in-law) and Flipper were used against Flipper. Relationships between whites and blacks were strictly forbidden in the viewpoint of the white officers on the board. Despite appeals, and denial of a lighter sentence from President Chester A. Arthur, Flipper was drummed out of the army with a dismissal, the officer equivalent of a dishonorable discharge, on June 30, 1882. For the rest of his life, Flipper contested the charges and fought to regain his commission.

. . .

In 1976, descendants and supporters applied to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records on behalf of Flipper. The board, after stating it did not have the authority to overturn his court-martial conviction, concluded the conviction and punishment were “unduly harsh and unjust” and recommended that Flipper’s dismissal be changed to a good conduct discharge. The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) and the Adjutant General approved the board’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations, and directed the Department of the Army to issue Flipper a Certificate of Honorable Discharge, dated June 30, 1882, in lieu of his dismissal on the same date. On October 21, 1997, a private law firm, Arnold & Porter, filed an application of pardon with the Secretary of the Army on Flipper’s behalf. Seven months later, the application was forwarded by the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) to the Office of the Pardon Attorney at the Department of Justice with a recommendation that the pardon be approved. Many pardon applications had been rejected in the past – as a matter of policy – because the intended recipients were deceased. However, President Bill Clinton pardoned Flipper on February 19, 1999.

Ohio Teacher Suspended for Racist Remarks

Sad that such an ignorant person would become a teacher,

Superintendent Paul Otten said the incident took place earlier this month when an African-American student expressed an ambition to be president. [Teacher Gil] Voigt allegedly replied, “We don’t need another black president.”Superintendent Paul Otten said the incident took place earlier this month when an African-American student expressed an ambition to be president. Voigt allegedly replied, “We don’t need another black president.”

Of Course They Let Bigots Vote

Politico carried an interesting analysis of an AP-Yahoo news poll which is one of the examples of why I’m so ambivalent about voting,

More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can’t win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for [Barack] Obama than those who don’t have such views.

Ah yes . . . even bigots get to vote. Of course that’s hardly the only irrational views held by those who will determine the next leader of the free world. Depending on the poll, 40 to 50 percent of Americans believe God created the world in just 6 days — and presumably, those people also go to the polls to vote.

Which is not to say that I have any particular sympathy for Obama (or McCain for that matter) knowing that people who hold irrational views hold the futures of the candidate in their hand. After all, both of the candidates not only hold irrational views but go further and espouse views they clearly do not personally believe in but nonetheless feel they have to make public displays of fealty in order to curry favor with this or that cross-section of voters.

I see ads about the importance of voting, civic duty, the ideals of democracy, blah blah blah, but our presidential elections have always struck me as more like episodes of mass delusion and hysteria that rock the country every four years. Modern political campaigns are simply social versions of ergot poisoning that induce hallucination and madness in true believers.

Ron Paul’s Racism

One of the frustrating things about being a libertarian is that almost by definition any libertarian who actually makes a serious run for a national office also tends to be a complete nutter. The Libertarian Party remains a bad joke and the Republican Party give us libertarians like Ron Paul.

Since the late 1970s, Paul had published a monthly newsletter under a number of different titles including The Freedom Report and The Ron Paul Investment Letter. The New Republic’s James Kirchick’s wrote an article, Angry White Man, on the eve of the New Hampshire primary that documented racist content that appeared in the newsletters beginning in the late 1980s. Among other things, the newsletters accused Martin Luther King, Jr. of being a pedophile, referred to blacks as “animals”. In light of Paul’s support of the paleo-conservative view that the single worst event in U.S. history was the Civil War, there’s no reasonable doubt that the newsletter intentionally advanced racist ideas as part of its appeal.

The newsletter also contained explicitly anti-homosexual statements such as this gem,

Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.

There is also plenty of conspiracy theory nonsense about the Trilateral Commission, allegations that AIDS was intentionally created by WHO researchers, etc. Paul was running ads in Michigan claiming that NAFTA was part of some grand conspiracy to create a single North American state.

Paul clearly understands that the newsletters are a problem, but has dissembled over them. When his Democratic opponent in his 1996 House race brought up some of the racist quotes, Paul accused his opponent of taking the quotes out of context. By 2001, Paul had a completely different explanation — he hadn’t written the offending passages, nor had he actually been aware of them at the time they were written, even though the newsletter was published under his name and he benefited greatly from the income the newsletters generated.

So you can either believe a) that Paul is a racist, or b) he’s not a racist, but he allowed others to write racist articles that he did not approve or read even though the newsletter went out under his name. Either explanation renders Paul unfit for public office, period, much less for President.

Yet his supporters don’t see it that way. To Ron Paul supporters this is old news being dredged up by a conspiracy designed to bring down Paul’s revolutionary run for the White House. Many attack Kirchick for being a lousy reporter or repeating this “old” story. Even the normally rational writers at Reason magazine, many of whom have been very supportive of Paul’s candidacy, have certainly not treated this story in the same way they would have if it came out that, say, John Edwards had been publishing a newsletter in the 1980s and 1990s filled with racist and homophobic invectives.

Libertarianism is such a fringe movement anyway, that it is hard to say that this episode will damage it. But it will certainly offer a very high profile example for liberals and left-wingers who already argue that libertarianism is an ideology whose subtext would be to preserve white, upper class privilege. The fact that so many of his supporters are able to so easily dismiss writings that Paul distributed under his name certainly doesn’t bode well for the possibility of a genuine libertarian political movement either independently or within the Republican Party.