US History and actual History.

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I am starting to wonder if this should have been in Religion and Politics... Damn hindsight... If possible and if needed to. It can be moved there, if so Mods allow.

I hope this can be kept civil but after reading another thread it got me thinking. How much of the US History (involvement with other nations), is just censored to make the US look better? Now as a US Citizen who did good in my US history class, I didn't feel it was bias.

What I meant was that it never seemed to shy away from all of the bad things we did and how we were straight up wrong in situations and so on.

One example I heard in another thread was that even before we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, apparently Japan was already gearing up to sign a surrender and then after we dropped the bombs they were almost ready to fully retaliate.

Which is much different than I learned. What I learned was that Japan wasn't willing to surrender and a land invasion would have been more costly and ended more lives than dropping the bombs. After the first bomb was dropped, apparently they didn't surrender and the second bomb is what happened.

Now I just don't know which is the truth, I would like to believe what I was taught, at least if I am remembering my class correctly (it was a bit ago...), is correct but I can't be sure.

So can anyone kind of give me some examples of events that are alerted in US history to make certain events in the history book look more pro-US than what happened?

First off, some people contend that the empire of Japan was willing to surrender, it is by no means accepted fact, in the US or out.

Personally, I feel that the US perception of the war overall is skewed into the Uncle Sam and others show. Russia is neglected fairly often, the European allies show up only to cry for help and be rescued and the rest of the commonwealth is omitted entirely. This is a bug-bear for me, being Australian in that we, along with the Kiwis, Papuans, Indonesians and other islanders, were, for a fair while, the last allied powers actively fighting the Japanese and that gets completely ignored. Even after the yanks showed up, they tended to take the 'glory' assignments and leave the shitty, obscure jobs to the ANZACS. I mean, look at 'the pacific', to the best of my knowledge Australian soldiers only show up to show how ungrateful we are to our glorious fucking american saviours.

Leaving aside the nuclear can of worms (to which I will just say that there has been some serious post hoc rationalization going on about), one thing I would like to point out is Dresden.

Near 4000 tons of bombs dropped and well over 20.000 people killed in two days, about 40 square kilometers of the city basically leveled to the ground. Naturally, here, too, a lot of post-hoc rationalization came into play, and granted, it wasn't a "US bombing", since it was done by the British and the Americans both. Also, not the only case of carpet bombing of a German city in WW2, but the most historically known one...

Another thing that I believe is quite downplayed historically is wrecking up Nicaragua and subsequent refusal of compensation/reparations by the States.

But as they say, history never lies, but historians, on the other hand...usually after a war, historical interpretations are going to be rather one-sided, for obvious reasons. It takes some temporal distance to have a less biased interpretation of anything, really.

Edit: Also what clockmaker said, this perception that USA is the only country that ever "does" anything while the others are just "whiny brats hating on the glorious USA when they aren't crying for help" seems to be more prevalent than it should be.

Basically everything that's happened in foreign diplomacy to Latin America?

And also very few people seem to realise that America has propped up dictatorships & delivered weapons to extremist groups. I guess that this is quite recent history so it could be more sensitive to cover.

the clockmaker:
First off, some people contend that the empire of Japan was willing to surrender, it is by no means accepted fact, in the US or out.

Personally, I feel that the US perception of the war overall is skewed into the Uncle Sam and others show. Russia is neglected fairly often, the European allies show up only to cry for help and be rescued and the rest of the commonwealth is omitted entirely. This is a bug-bear for me, being Australian in that we, along with the Kiwis, Papuans, Indonesians and other islanders, were, for a fair while, the last allied powers actively fighting the Japanese and that gets completely ignored. Even after the yanks showed up, they tended to take the 'glory' assignments and leave the shitty, obscure jobs to the ANZACS. I mean, look at 'the pacific', to the best of my knowledge Australian soldiers only show up to show how ungrateful we are to our glorious fucking american saviours.

I agree that the Soviet Union's participation and sacrifice in WWII is often underplayed, but I think that may have something to do with them becoming the next major world threat immediately after the war. Stalin was an evil, evil man. As proper as it is to give credit where it's due, I understand the reluctance some have for portraying the Soviets as "helpful" in any way.

I also agree that the effects of US involvement in the war are often overstated by US citizens. But it was a huge turning point in the war, nonetheless, especially in the Pacific. I'm not saying other Pacific countries didn't struggle and fight and succeed throughout the conflict, but the US won the war in the Pacific hands down. I don't think anyone can really dispute that, though they can certainly argue about how ethical the end state was.

Jack the Potato:

the clockmaker:
First off, some people contend that the empire of Japan was willing to surrender, it is by no means accepted fact, in the US or out.

Personally, I feel that the US perception of the war overall is skewed into the Uncle Sam and others show. Russia is neglected fairly often, the European allies show up only to cry for help and be rescued and the rest of the commonwealth is omitted entirely. This is a bug-bear for me, being Australian in that we, along with the Kiwis, Papuans, Indonesians and other islanders, were, for a fair while, the last allied powers actively fighting the Japanese and that gets completely ignored. Even after the yanks showed up, they tended to take the 'glory' assignments and leave the shitty, obscure jobs to the ANZACS. I mean, look at 'the pacific', to the best of my knowledge Australian soldiers only show up to show how ungrateful we are to our glorious fucking american saviours.

I agree that the Soviet Union's participation and sacrifice in WWII is often underplayed, but I think that may have something to do with them becoming the next major world threat immediately after the war. Stalin was an evil, evil man. As proper as it is to give credit where it's due, I understand the reluctance some have for portraying the Soviets as "helpful" in any way.

I also agree that the effects of US involvement in the war are often overstated by US citizens. But it was a huge turning point in the war, nonetheless, especially in the Pacific. I'm not saying other Pacific countries didn't struggle and fight and succeed throughout the conflict, but the US won the war in the Pacific hands down. I don't think anyone can really dispute that, though they can certainly argue about how ethical the end state was.

It is more a case that Australia and the rest of the pacific stopped the Japanese advance and the yanks were the fact that let the allies go on the offensive. Don't get me wrong, we would not have been able to drive the Japanese out of the Pacific without them, but the defensive war was not the Uncle sam show at all. Then, when the yanks did show up, they took all the high profile jobs and shunted the Australians off into quagmire shitholes like bouginville. I'm just so fucking tired of yanks ignoring their allies, in this war, in Korea, in Vietnam and in the war on terror. Yank soldiers tend to be pretty good about it, and so do yank pollies, but you try and find a yank civvie that has even heard of Kokoda or Bouganville.

Korten12:
I hope this can be kept civil but after reading another thread it got me thinking. How much of the US History (involvement with other nations), is just censored to make the US look better? Now as a US Citizen who did good in my US history class, I didn't feel it was bias.

Nationalism at its sweet, sweet best! /sarcasm

Anyway, I wouldn't get too upset about it... the generally feeling of 'US?! Always late, always taking the glory & doing what they like' is prevalent among most nations, primarily because the US is probably the only country that has sufficient foreign policy muscle to actually do it. And has some unfortunate elements within it to feel that they can justifiably do what they want.

However, historically, the US is no different from the British Empire, France, the Holy Roman Empire, Ottoman Turkey, the Roman Empire, the Archaemenid Empire etc. etc. of course, the effect is of different scale, but contextually, it's all the same shit. Those who can jostle, will jostle.

Slight tangent there, but every nation's history will always big up the involvement of their own. Take the Peninsular War, for example. In France, it's not really taught, for obvious reasons. In Britain, enthusiasts go on and on about Wellington, again for obvious reasons. And in Spain... Arthur who?! Castanos, de la Romana, Zayas, that's who won it!

In virtually every international antagonistic interaction, domestic good-feeling is always going to take the priority over telling the full truth. *shrug* Stalin's still a folk hero to a lot of Russians, even though the west vilifies him. Mao is still a folk hero to a lot of Chinese, even though the west vilifies him. Nguyen Sinh Cung has a bloody city named after him even though Americans try to forget who he is and the French are embarrassed by mention of his name. The British, Canadian and Americans all still claim that they won the War of 1812, the Americans still call it the Second War of Independence, while the British still consider it a side show to Giving Napoleon Six of the Best!

So, the US isn't the only country that does it. The problem the US has is that they're the most recent country to do it. Tough shit for living in this era, unfortunately... -_-

Jack the Potato:
I agree that the Soviet Union's participation and sacrifice in WWII is often underplayed

I'm not sure how it's dealt with in the US, but as a Brit I've never spoke to anyone who was taught in school an accurate view of how much the USSR did unless they did an A level in history. Admittedly most of my history of the period was focused on the build up to and causes of the war.

Ok there are two different questions going on here.

1. US centred History. Every nation tends to focus on its own history and puts their own involvement centre stage. However because of US dominance in the entertainment market the rest of world sees the US version much more that they otherwise would do.

2. Political interpretations of History. To use the opening poster example of the use of atomic bomb on Japan, those that say Japan was willing to surrender tend to come from the left. Those historians are interpreting events through their own political views and in particular the Marxist Dialectic. If you believe that capitalist will stop at nothing to destroy the wonders of communism you tend to find things in history to support your view. This is not just a left wing problem but because of the dominance of left in the academic establishment its the one that gets to press more often.

Fundamentally, any history has bias in it. There is no version of history that someone, somewhere disagrees with on the basis of differing interpretation of the evidence. The only thing you can do is read more than book on the subject that interests you and make up your own mind up on events.

I apologize for any misspellings and so forth, its quite late and I don't spell check my posts especially when they are titanically large(as is my way.)

Korten12:

One example I heard in another thread was that even before we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, apparently Japan was already gearing up to sign a surrender and then after we dropped the bombs they were almost ready to fully retaliate.

If this is off of my post in the "Nuclear strikes and why I have a hard time being friends with some people." Thread, then I wasn't saying they were ready to retaliate. Their leaders were still continuing the war because that's what leaders do in wars. They try to motivate their people as much as possible(hence the we will fight you to the last man rhetoric Japan was putting out.) So it wasn't necessarily that it made them want to retaliate as much as it was they just doing exactly what they were doing before and after. Both with respect to fighting the war and with respect to Japan pushing for peace.

Another interesting fact with regards to leaders continuing the fighting comes from actions of the US government itself. They continued WW2 after a peace settlement had been agreed to; letting thousands if not tens of thousands more die, just so that they could end the war at the end of September 1st and the dawn of a new day. So that the war would be exactly 6 years long. Yes that's right, our government killed people so that a war would end on a nice round even number.

Korten12:
Now I just don't know which is the truth, I would like to believe what I was taught, at least if I am remembering my class correctly (it was a bit ago...), is correct but I can't be sure.

That is almost certainly what you were taught. Even really good AP level highschool teachers often gave woefully inaccurate information. As a matter of fact a lot of college professors can give some bad information depending on the school and the teacher. I got into a bit of a shouting match with a history of revolutions and revolts professor because he kept trying to say that Mensheviks and the SRs were the same party. Which is patently untrue. I shoved source documentation in his face that was directly contradicting him and he just kept saying "you're wrong." I finally just sat down and basically zoned out the rest of the semester. I talked with a sovietologist later who I trusted and who confirmed my point, I had to ask because I wasn't sure if I was going insane, or if the professor was really that bad.

Korten12:
So can anyone kind of give me some examples of events that are alerted in US history to make certain events in the history book look more pro-US than what happened?

Most common history taught to most US citizens who don't major in history is replete with lies that are directly contradicted by source documentation. And you should really examine history through a more broad spectrum than just US history. For example MLK held back the peace movement and even subverted it with the Kennedies; CORE and the SNCC could have done a lot better without MLK's interference. And Bayard Rustin was far more important to the movement but no one is taught about him because he was homosexual and a socialist.

But as for some examples of US history proper making the US look better than it is:

You were almost certainly taught about the Nat Turner slave rebellion. It was a tiny rebellion 70-100 people, and all they did was massacre any white people they could get their hands on before being shut down. That's the stereotypical slave revolt for US history. They were disorganized. They were few in number. They were madmen slaughtering anyone they could get their hands on. That is the heritage taught to every student about how slaves acted when they were rebelling. You will almost certainly not hear about the New Orleans slave revolt. You won't hear about it because it was politically sophisticated as they slaves intended to form a democratic republic. You won't hear about it because it had easily more than 500 slaves. You won't hear about it because it was a multicultural revolution, not limited to blacks. You won't hear about it because they wore uniforms, because they engaged in a line battle like an organized fighting force. And you certainly won't hear about it because in the aftermath, the survivors were treated brutally. They dismembered limbs, burned people alive, beheaded a ton of them and stuck their heads on spikes around New Orleans. It didn't fit into the narrative of US history of blacks as evil and stupid, who's only redemption could come at the hands of righteous white men freeing them and educating them.

Then there's the collapse of the USSR. Where you're told by history teachers who spent no time studying the USSR itself, that the USSR collapsed because we outspent them in the military and they struggled to keep up with our economy and because they couldn't, they eventually collapsed under their own weight. They had free labor and say what you will about 'communism'(In quotes because the USSR was never communist nor did they say they were, that's just a label the US put on them) they could produce a heck of a lot of a few things including wheat. They didn't collapse because their economy just "couldn't take it" and the US outproduced them so hard so they hung up their hats in shame. Nor did it collapse because Regan was so great they couldn't resist him. It collapsed because they were trying to rule over a large number of disparate groups who didn't want to be part of a collective union. It collapsed from the inside out, because the Georgians and the Ukranians and the Czechs wanted out, and even the Russians themselves(Boris Yeltsin shelled the freaking Duma with artillery.) Everything the US did had pretty much no effect on the USSRs ability to hold itself together whatsoever. Nationality and ethnicity tore it apart from the inside out.

And speaking of the USSR, the Cuban missile crisis is also a joke. Again we are presented with this great example of how the US won, and how JFK was the great president we are all assured he is, and how it was stopped with a blockade. But here's the thing, there were already missiles in Cuba when the blockade started. So how did we get those missiles out? Well we lost to Russia, that's how. At the outset of the Cuban crisis the US had missiles in turkey, right in Russia's back yard. So how did we solve that crisis? Was it by JFK not backing down and by showing those rooskies what's what? No he removed all the missiles in Turkey to appease Khrushchev. Start of the crisis USSR: no missiles in cuba US: missiles in turkey. End of the crisis USSR: no missiles in cuba US: no missiles in turkey. We gave ground.

Also while we are still on the subject of the USSR. Another fact you probably didn't know because it doesn't fit into the US narrative of communist being everywhere and we were all alone trying to stop them, is that the USSR and china fought a series of border skirmishes during the height of the Cold War. This of course long after the USSR had pretty much severed ties with China because Mao didn't listen to them during the great leap forward and he got a bunch of people killed. Then he demanded they give him nukes so he could nuke Taiwan and the Soviets went: "are you freaking crazy?"

So lets talk more about communists or rather people who weren't communists but who we killed anyways and called communists because France asked us to, and then we would have looked like idiots if we left just because France stopped caring. Ho Chi Minh(which is not his real name btw) came to Versailles at the end of World War one where he petitioned Woodrow Wilson among others for an independent Vietnam. They all ignored him, so he chilled out and learned from various people for years until WW2 when he joined with the US to fight against the Japanese occupying Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh was a big fan of US history as well, he loved the US revolution and he really liked the Declaration of Independence, so much so that he actually used a lot of the same language in a letter to Roosevelt asking him to help support an independent Vietnam which Roosevelt and Truman agreed to. However come the end of the war he immediately retracted his support and instead supported Frances rebid to retake Vietnam. His ideals for a Vietnam that was like the US were spurned so he had to turn to the USSR for support.

Also a couple asides on Vietnam as well as another shitty thing the US did that you are unlikely to have been told in your HS US history class:

China hated Vietnam as well, in fact only a few years after the fall of Saigon, the Chinese launched an invasion in which they had their asses handed to them by the Vietnamese.

Also the Vietnamese had way better pilots than the US did, despite being outnumbered heavily Vietnam ended up with way more aces at the end of the war and way more plane kills. In fact the Top Gun school was created to counter the Vietnamese pilots.

And when the Cambodian's under Pol Pot were committing genocide, who did they get support from? The US government. Who tried to stop the genocide? Vietnam.

And lets bring this back around to US histories beginning. George Washington was a mostly incompetent vain glorious asshole who screwed over Benedict Arnold in every way possible. Arnold was a way superior general who was capable of actually winning fights. The battle of Valcour Island saved the independence movement and delayed the British advance. Apart from the Battle of Trenton, Washington was mainly either excessively lucky, or just hid in the woods and refused to fight. Really the best thing Washington ever did was resign from the presidency.

Also while we are on the subject of asshole presidents: Lincoln blackmailed senators, threatened senators with outright force going so far as to show up on a senators lawn with a company of soldiers and in a word tell him to shut his fucking mouth, he jailed peaceful war protestors, and he suspended Habeus Corpus(overturned by the Supreme Court.)

Jack the Potato:

the clockmaker:
First off, some people contend that the empire of Japan was willing to surrender, it is by no means accepted fact, in the US or out.

Personally, I feel that the US perception of the war overall is skewed into the Uncle Sam and others show. Russia is neglected fairly often, the European allies show up only to cry for help and be rescued and the rest of the commonwealth is omitted entirely. This is a bug-bear for me, being Australian in that we, along with the Kiwis, Papuans, Indonesians and other islanders, were, for a fair while, the last allied powers actively fighting the Japanese and that gets completely ignored. Even after the yanks showed up, they tended to take the 'glory' assignments and leave the shitty, obscure jobs to the ANZACS. I mean, look at 'the pacific', to the best of my knowledge Australian soldiers only show up to show how ungrateful we are to our glorious fucking american saviours.

I agree that the Soviet Union's participation and sacrifice in WWII is often underplayed, but I think that may have something to do with them becoming the next major world threat immediately after the war. Stalin was an evil, evil man. As proper as it is to give credit where it's due, I understand the reluctance some have for portraying the Soviets as "helpful" in any way.

Helpful? If you agree with Geoffrey Roberts, and I tend to, they were the reason Germany was defeated. The Involvement of the US was 'helpful'.

OP: Most things you were taught in history were probably skewed to make the US look better and more self-important than it was but every country does that. There isn't one who doesn't.

Along withn WW2, anything I've studied with regards to the US's involvement in Vietnam has been pretty damning. I don't know how they teach that in the US though.

Korten12:
snip

From what I learned, The Emperor wanted to surrender but basically couldn't because of the military who basically held the power. It was only after the bombings that the military could accept giving up. Although even just before the surrender a group of generals tried to stage a coup to stop it.

Also the nuking could've been ALOT worse, the US military originally wanted to bomb Kyoto and Tokyo but they eventually changed their minds... So at least that's something.

SckizoBoy:
Snip

To be fair, regarding 1812 you can understand why the Brits/Cans claim the win. The US declared war, they failed to meet any of their goals. The first year especially was a disaster with 3 failed invasions of Canada. New England almost defected to Canada aswell because their trade relied on Britain.

However you can understand why the US could be proud, they beat the Brits at sea (although not really in any massive fleet encounters) more times than the French ever did. And they also did better on land in the second year.

But really the only real loser in the war was the Native Americans who got fucked over by the end.

Ilikemilkshake:
But really the only real loser in the war was the Native Americans who got fucked over by the end.

A point that everyone conveniently sweeps under the carpet. They were the real losers going back to the Nine Years' War, ultimately. In 1763, the wealthier colonialists got pissed off with the British Government because they gave guarantees to the Native American allies that their land wouldn't be expanded into. Granted, it was minor, but it was one of the most spurious reasons for underlying resentment among a certain subset of landowners that contributed to the WoI. As I say, minor, though...

Every country skews their history lessons to make themselves look better.

I read an article recently that said the Japanese usually spend very little time learning the history of WW2.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21226068

They never taught us about the Opium Wars here in the UK.

I dunno, I seem to recall US history getting down and dirty when I was in school. They told us that only one third of Americans actually supported the revolution, they said how the British moved down South to get support there and how Americans started killing Americans, how we got our asses kicked half the war, how the War of 1812 was just kinda pathetic, how we weren't exactly very nice to Native Americans, and how we took our sweet ass time joining both World Wars. Also they pointed out how we were kinda racist and sexist for awhile.

Despite majoring in history at university, I'm so glad I never did American history, because I instantly got the feeling that it would all be extremely biased...even though I didn't even attend an American university.

But the same goes for the West. History in general is sooooo Eurocentric it's ridiculous.

Americans are a bit weird with WWII, I think. I mean celebrating dropping those bombs on Japan is pretty fucked up, for a start. Some talk about it like it was no big deal.

Also, plenty of Americans think they won the war, that the allies had nothing to do with it.

But other than that, I don't know.

Jack the Potato:

the clockmaker:
First off, some people contend that the empire of Japan was willing to surrender, it is by no means accepted fact, in the US or out.

Personally, I feel that the US perception of the war overall is skewed into the Uncle Sam and others show. Russia is neglected fairly often, the European allies show up only to cry for help and be rescued and the rest of the commonwealth is omitted entirely. This is a bug-bear for me, being Australian in that we, along with the Kiwis, Papuans, Indonesians and other islanders, were, for a fair while, the last allied powers actively fighting the Japanese and that gets completely ignored. Even after the yanks showed up, they tended to take the 'glory' assignments and leave the shitty, obscure jobs to the ANZACS. I mean, look at 'the pacific', to the best of my knowledge Australian soldiers only show up to show how ungrateful we are to our glorious fucking american saviours.

I agree that the Soviet Union's participation and sacrifice in WWII is often underplayed, but I think that may have something to do with them becoming the next major world threat immediately after the war. Stalin was an evil, evil man. As proper as it is to give credit where it's due, I understand the reluctance some have for portraying the Soviets as "helpful" in any way.

I also agree that the effects of US involvement in the war are often overstated by US citizens. But it was a huge turning point in the war, nonetheless, especially in the Pacific. I'm not saying other Pacific countries didn't struggle and fight and succeed throughout the conflict, but the US won the war in the Pacific hands down. I don't think anyone can really dispute that, though they can certainly argue about how ethical the end state was.

Remember that Stalin was also against North/Western Europe during the Cold War as well, yet in history lessons in the UK, the role of the Soviets isn't downplayed at all. We learned about Stalingrad and Leningrad as well as D-Day and a bit about the war in the Pacific.

HoneyVision:
Despite majoring in history at university, I'm so glad I never did American history, because I instantly got the feeling that it would all be extremely biased...even though I didn't even attend an American university.

But the same goes for the West. History in general is sooooo Eurocentric it's ridiculous.

To be fair, Europe is a big place. Given that our written history dates back quite a few thousand years, there's a limit to what you can teach.

Given the sheer amount of "America is the greatest and everyone else is just jealous" attitude that comes out of American politics, culture and media, I've learned to ignore them until they try to make the rest of the world do what they want. And I still find it creepy how much they seem to big up killing tons of Nazis/Japanese/Soviets/Arabs. To me, it gives the feeling that the only way they can feel on top is by putting a bullet in everyone else.

the clockmaker:
First off, some people contend that the empire of Japan was willing to surrender, it is by no means accepted fact, in the US or out.

Even without that nugget, the reality is what Americans are taught in school is frequently far far away from the reality of the situation.

ninjaRiv:
Americans are a bit weird with WWII, I think. I mean celebrating dropping those bombs on Japan is pretty fucked up, for a start. Some talk about it like it was no big deal.

Also, plenty of Americans think they won the war, that the allies had nothing to do with it.

But other than that, I don't know.

No one celebrated the murder of thousands of innocents. They celebrated VJ day, Victory over Japan aka the END OF THE WAR. Who the hell wouldn't celebrate that?

Esotera:
Basically everything that's happened in foreign diplomacy to Latin America?

And also very few people seem to realise that America has propped up dictatorships & delivered weapons to extremist groups. I guess that this is quite recent history so it could be more sensitive to cover.

One day you might research a little thing called the THE COLD F#cking WAR, and then you may understand, but probably not. People never seem to look at the past through the lenses of those that actually lived it.

Capitano Segnaposto:

ninjaRiv:
Americans are a bit weird with WWII, I think. I mean celebrating dropping those bombs on Japan is pretty fucked up, for a start. Some talk about it like it was no big deal.

Also, plenty of Americans think they won the war, that the allies had nothing to do with it.

But other than that, I don't know.

No one celebrated the murder of thousands of innocents. They celebrated VJ day, Victory over Japan aka the END OF THE WAR. Who the hell wouldn't celebrate that?

I didn't say all, of course some are going to celebrate that, just like they celebrate a lot of things they shouldn't.

And, to be honest, I think that was a terrible, dirty victory and shouldn't be celebrated in any way. remembered, yes but celebrated? No.

Lee Quitt:

One day you might research a little thing called the THE COLD F#cking WAR, and then you may understand, but probably not.

Because "understanding" equals "agreeing", right?

People never seem to look at the past through the lenses of those that actually lived it.

People also never seem to look at places through the lenses of those that actually live in them.

For the bomb aspect, I'm not sure if that's a US history thing or not. Canadian here, and we were taught the same thing in high school, that is that Japan would've been unwilling to surrender and that the bombing was done as a means to prevent having to perform anymore costly efforts that could have led to more deaths (again, so we were told) The only issue came down to whether the Nagasaki bombing was done because the Japanese wouldn't surrender or because they were still unsure as to what had actually happened. It's possible that the story may be just an "Allies Version", but it's definitely not just a "US History" thing.

As for other possible examples? Speaking of being from Canada, I remember hearing talks that the war of 1812 was considered on being edited in textbooks (if it hadn't already though, reports seem to be varied) to make it seem like the US had the war in the bag (that is, rather than it being that the US declared war and were unable to actual gain territory or change boundaries, that the US had a more righteous reason or result or something like that, again, it seems to vary to what extent) Although again, to what extent this is true doesn't seem to be consistent, and I'm not entirely sure if this is an active undertaking to alter history or if it's just the perception taken from conversations/over-hearing from select Americans.

ninjaRiv:

Capitano Segnaposto:

ninjaRiv:
Americans are a bit weird with WWII, I think. I mean celebrating dropping those bombs on Japan is pretty fucked up, for a start. Some talk about it like it was no big deal.

Also, plenty of Americans think they won the war, that the allies had nothing to do with it.

But other than that, I don't know.

No one celebrated the murder of thousands of innocents. They celebrated VJ day, Victory over Japan aka the END OF THE WAR. Who the hell wouldn't celebrate that?

I didn't say all, of course some are going to celebrate that, just like they celebrate a lot of things they shouldn't.

And, to be honest, I think that was a terrible, dirty victory and shouldn't be celebrated in any way. remembered, yes but celebrated? No.

A Dirty Victory, who cares? I certainly don't. We have laws to prevent us from using the bombs again in such a manner. We learn as we go, basic thought process of humanity as a whole.

Shouldn't be Celebrated? It was the 1940's. We were in war for over four years, prior to that we were going through a terrible drought and depression. When the American public heard that the war was over, they celebrated. Why shouldn't we? Somehow I have a hard time believing the British didn't celebrate when the war was over, or various other countries when the War in Europe was over.

Regardless, it isn't like we celebrate VJ Day today, so what does it matter?

Da Orky Man:

Remember that Stalin was also against North/Western Europe during the Cold War as well, yet in history lessons in the UK, the role of the Soviets isn't downplayed at all. We learned about Stalingrad and Leningrad as well as D-Day and a bit about the war in the Pacific.

HoneyVision:
.

To be fair, Europe is a big place. Given that our written history dates back quite a few thousand years, there's a limit to what you can teach.

Not a big place. An old place.

Certainly not as old as civilization is in china, inda or the middle-east, but definitely when compared to any part of the americas. Because all old civilization america had has been pretty much wiped out to the point where we just fuss over some ancient calendar. None of its thinking, philosophy, politics and little of its art subsists today.

And to further sollidify your earlier point: In Germany kid are taught pretty obsessively how bad their nazi history was, whereas in Japan the kids hear very little if anything about the bad things Japan did.

I find that comparison interesting.

Capitano Segnaposto:

ninjaRiv:

Capitano Segnaposto:

No one celebrated the murder of thousands of innocents. They celebrated VJ day, Victory over Japan aka the END OF THE WAR. Who the hell wouldn't celebrate that?

I didn't say all, of course some are going to celebrate that, just like they celebrate a lot of things they shouldn't.

And, to be honest, I think that was a terrible, dirty victory and shouldn't be celebrated in any way. remembered, yes but celebrated? No.

A Dirty Victory, who cares? I certainly don't. We have laws to prevent us from using the bombs again in such a manner. We learn as we go, basic thought process of humanity as a whole.

Shouldn't be Celebrated? It was the 1940's. We were in war for over four years, prior to that we were going through a terrible drought and depression. When the American public heard that the war was over, they celebrated. Why shouldn't we? Somehow I have a hard time believing the British didn't celebrate when the war was over, or various other countries when the War in Europe was over.

Regardless, it isn't like we celebrate VJ Day today, so what does it matter?

I was only giving my opinion on the matter, I'm not trying to argue anything. I felt the same way when Saddam and Bin Laden were killed; that it's a good thing but not something that should be celebrated. I see how taking lives is necessary at times but I don't see the need to celebrate. I see that the death of thousands of people, and the suffering of hundred more after the bombs were dropped could have been necessary but again, I don't see why it was celebrated.

And it IS still celebrated. Not in the jumping for joy, drink champagne way but in the "that'll teach those Japs not to cross us" way.

You know what they say.
"History is written by the victor"
Or in the U.S.'s case it written to make themselves more awesome and make everyone jelly.

I've been quite satisfied with university-level US history, or at least what is available in the university I attend. It is quite a sobering contrast to the garbage that is taught in high school (which is not only biased, but incomplete in many ways).

BUT...

High school US history is not inaccurate in the way many of you posters believe it is (though it is understandable you might make those assumptions based on what you know about US culture, and our WW2/Cold War triumphalism). High school history is awful, but in different ways. In high school...

World War 2 is barely mentioned. It gets about 5 pages in textbooks, and wars in general don't get much attention. World War 1 gets about the same attention. The US' "we saved the world twice in two world wars" attitude comes more from movies and games.

History apparently ends around the Vietnam War. Maybe it's because the AP exams don't have post-Vietnam questions, so teachers feel they can just skip everything after. The Vietnam War itself has almost nothing taught about it, though my textbook amusingly blamed the South Vietnamese for losing the war.

Almost nothing is taught about the Cold War. It's not a bias here; there's as little about the "good" things (reconstruction of Germany/Japan, Marshall Plan, etc) as there is about the "bad" things (Vietnam, Guatemala, Iran, Cuba, Congo, Chile, etc etc). They just don't teach shit about it.

So, US history is criminally incomplete when taught in high school. Where I feel the BIAS comes in is the turn-of-the-century history (19th -> 20th), where high school teachers happily neglect to teach anything about the Philippines or Cuba occupations (you think water-boarding prisoners is bad? Check out the water torture US marines used on Filipino POWs), or our hand in the Panamanian Revolution. The rush into China and Open Door is also neglected, as are Woodrow Wilson's punitive invasions of Mexico. And of course American Revolution history is pretty biased, but I guess one can expect that because it's our founding story or w/e. They do, however, teach about how we wiped out the native Americans and how that wasn't very nice.

Also, my teacher hilariously tried to defend the Monroe Doctrine as protecting our neighbors from European meddling, but I don't think that's a general trend among US history teachers here.

So yes, US history is biased in high school. But no, not in the way you might assume it would be. Also, university level history in the US does fill in the gaps and clear the biases.

ninjaRiv:

And it IS still celebrated. Not in the jumping for joy, drink champagne way but in the "that'll teach those Japs not to cross us" way.

That just sounds like racism to me from some old 90 y/o man.

As for the celebration, I always thought of it as this: They are celebrating the end of the war. Not the death's of thousands, but the hopeful start of some amount of peace.

Also, people celebrated Bin Laden's death? Around here the most celebration you would get is, "Thank god we don't have to worry about him anymore, now the government can focus on the important things."

I dunno, do they teach you guys about Japanese American Internment?

Not like we're clean of blood either, Canada did the same thing.

hmm, American here and I never got that impression from WW2 at least. When I was taught history, Britian was glorified for basically holding the line against seemingly impossible odds, without which the US would probably not have gotten a foothold in Europe. Russia was credited for providing one of the major turning points of the war. In fact, US involvement was pretty much downplayed in the European theater other than our generals. Pacific theater is another story.

Truth be told though, what you learn in history in the US during 1-12 is criminally incomplete. They give you the footnotes of the footnotes of history.

Korten12:
stuff

Alright for the Hiroshima/Nagasaki thing.

Yes, Japan was prepared and had already tried to surrender, but because the surrender was conditional (The emperor would get to stay on the throne) it was refused by the US. The land invasion would have cost more Japanese lives I am almost certain, since even though most of the population would not have taken up arms, the American troops proved that they saw nothing wrong with gunning down unarmed civilians and children throughout most of their wars. Hell the rape and murder figures for Japan during the American occupation are still downright staggering. Now as for the idea that it would have cost hundreds of thousands of American soldiers their lives to take Japan, those numbers are largely inflated so that Americans don't feel as guilty about dropping the bombs in the first place imo. The original estimates for the cost of land based invasion was between 30,000 and 500,000, though the later figure was based of the death tolls at Okinawa and Peliliu, which would have been very different battlefields compared to attacking the main islands.

As for the reason for the second bomb, well Japans infrastructure was demolished by firebombing for months leading up to Hiroshima, so it took a while for the news to get out. Even then, most of the military communiques were talking about the Soviet invasion of Manchuria that had just steamrolled all Japans troops in the area and was moving towards the coast with over a million troops.

The nuclear bombs were not necessary to defeat Japan, what they did do however is provide a nice example of why nuclear warfare is insane. Without the example of Japan the cold war may well have become hot, especially seeing as Japan would be in largely the same situation as Korea, split between a Soviet controlled north and an American held south.

There are so many what if scenarios around those bombs,

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