I've been watching Ken Burns' new documentary "The War" on P-B-S this week--and I want to say "thank you" to everyone who contributed to winning World War II--whether it be the soldier who fought in Europe or the Pacific--or those who sacrificed back home for the war effort. If you think paying three-bucks a gallon for gas is a "hardship" imagine not be able to buy any gas...or meat...or sugar...for four years.
Watching the old black and white newsreel footage got me to thinking, what if we fought World War II in our current 24-hour news culture? I'm guessing that in 1939 Fox News would have talking heads on demanding President Roosevelt declare war on Germany for invading Poland and parts of Czechoslovakia. CNN would update the European situation with their special "March to War" vidoe effect. Hitler would also be invited to speak in New York City. Historians would blame Woodrow Wilson for not invading Germany when he had a chance in World War I.
On December 7th 1941, Americans would watch in horror repeated video clips showing the explosion that sank the Arizona in Pearl Harbor. Congress would form several sub-committees and hold hundreds of meetings to determine who was to blame for Twelve-Seven and why the CIA and the FBI didn't prevent it. Moments after the attack, internet rumors would be spreading that Roosevelt knew about the bombing raid and allowed it to happen so that he could start a world war. Others would claim that it was US warplanes disguised as Japanese Zeroes that attacked the harbor. Professors would tour the country saying the US deserved to be attacked given our support for European domination of Asia.
As US troops arrived in North Africa to start fighting the Nazis in 1942, Senator Russ Feingold would introduce a measure to re-assign them to the Pacific--since it was the Japanese--not the Germans--who attacked us on 12-7.
Following the loss of the Phillipines, the Democratic candidates for President in 1944 would be demanding to know when Roosevelt planned to end this war.
In 1943, the New York Times would leak classified documents exposing the Manhattan Project--setting back development of the atomic bomb and creating further distrust with the Russians. General Eisenhower would be called before Congress to explain why we haven't won the war yet.
In 1944, Anderson Cooper and his camera crew would be on the beach greeting Allied forces as they came ashore in Normandy. The tv helicopters would also draw extra Nazi forces to the beaches. The New York Times would run out of ink trying to publish the names of all the soldiers killed on D-Day. Keith Olberman would be mocking Roosevelt wondering how many more lives would be lost. Mothers who lost four sons in the war would be protesting outside the home of Roosevelt's mistress in Warm Springs, Georgia demanding the troops be brought home immediately.
In 1945, Christian Ammanpour would be doing a series of reports on how the war has destroyed the happy lives of German citizens. Protesters would fill the streets of Washington demanding to know why so many were killed in the firebombing of Dresden. The New York Times would leak classified documents detailing the atomic attack on Japan. Candidates for the 1948 Presidential election claim they would never use the bomb against the Japanese. Keith Olbermann would mock those celebrating V-E day. Protesters would call for President Truman's impeachment after dropping the bomb. Keith Olberman would mock those celebrating V-J day.
In 1946, Congress would hold hearings to determine how long US troops would remain in Germany and Japan. Fox News contributing editor George Patton would be calling for the US to declare war on the Russians for control of Eastern Europe. Americans would get back to normalcy by worrying about what Mae West wore to a Hollywood nightclub and who is Clark Gable dating this month.