When my mother and I visited the Arizona Memorial in Honolulu last month, the museum there contained many glass-encased newspaper front pages. I read the prominent display of 4-inch headlines in amazement; most of them announced, in varying fonts of outrage:
JAPS BOMB PEARL HARBOR!
Having become indoctrinated to our nauseatingly "politically correct" world, I was more than a bit taken aback at the 1940's slang term for our modern Asian allies being used in metropolitan dailies across the USA. Adding to my consternation was the presence of a Japanese tour group close on our heels. They seemed fascinated by the dramatic headlines, elbowing each other aside to peer into the cases, snapping photos of the newspapers, pointing to them and whispering excitedly among themselves.
I felt a bit like a hostess who witnesses her ethnic guest overhearing a racial slur. As such, I kept a discomfited eye on the Japanese tourists. However, they showed no dismay or offense--simply a keen interest. I remarked on this to my mother, and she replied, "In those days, the papers came right out with it. They just said what happened and that was the end of it."
As I considered this frank analysis of media reports from a person of the Pearl Harbor generation, I could understand why the Japanese tourists were not offended at the headlines of December 8, 1941. They were stark statements of fact. The "Japs" had, indeed, bombed Pearl Harbor. What else was there to say?
I wish more of today's newspaper editors would tour the Arizona's museum and find a clue about how to present unvarnished facts rather than agenda slogans in headlines. If they did, we might find ourselves reading a headline stating that "Islamic Terrorists Murder Civilians."
I can dream, can't I?