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Not only Japanese forget history

During the past week, every media outlet in this country, from college newspapers to Nightline, has spent copious hours on the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Every aspect has been covered in detail: the mechanics of the attack, the effect on the survivors and the role the attack played in bringing America into the war. One of the central themes is Japan's failure to pass on the lessons of Word War II. I don't question Japan's blinders toward their activities in the 1930s and 40s. We are right to be concerned that this generation of Japanese has not learned about Pearl Harbor.

Yet when I hear Americans complaining about this gap in another country's education, I cringe at the self-serving hypocrisy. Are we any better at teaching our children about our own atrocities? Is an American student more likely to learn about the "Trail of Tears" than a Japanese student about the "Rape of Nanjing"? Does the Smithsonian Institution teach about the near genocide of Native Americans with any less distortion than the Japanese shrine to the war dead teaches about World War II? Why is it so easy to explore another nation's faults while remaining blind to our own?

Andrew D. Silber G->