Why Didn't They Shoot the German?

I was watching a World War II movie in a theater, with an Asian immigrant friend, when I learned a lesson in culture that no university could have taught better. In one battle scene, there is a cease-fire order, and a German soldier approaches the British position, under a white flag of truce. The British commander steps forward, completely vulnerable, but the Germans do not shoot. There is a brief exchange of words, as the Germans demand surrender, and the British commander declines. Both men then return to their positions, and the deadly fighting resumes.

My friend in the theater leaned toward me, and quietly asked, why didn’t they shoot the German?

I was both amused and horrified at the question. It was unthinkable that one would shoot a man under a white flag, so unthinkable that it was literally laughable. I actually did laugh.

My answer was, they can’t shoot him; he’s under a white flag.

My Asian friend was perplexed for a moment, and then got it. So, this is how Western people fight wars.

This incident sticks in my memory all these years later, because it enlightened me to a profound truth. Not all cultures are equal. In that same war, the Japanese, for example, had utterly no regard for our white flags, unless it suited their purposes. Their concept of honor was utterly unlike ours. To them, it was the white flag of surrender that was dishonorable, and anyone who surrendered, friend or enemy, was a pariah. Suicide was preferable.

I will make no pretense of moral equivalency here. The Japanese leaders were evil. They deceived thousands of their own civilians to commit suicide, even causing them to jump from cliffs with their children, because they did not wish their people to see that Americans were merciful and benevolent. Instead, they told their people that the Americans would rape their women and eat their children. So, they jumped.

The American sense of civilized behavior, even in our treatment of brutal enemies, was not only a moral strength, it is part of what persuaded the Japanese emperor, eventually, to agree to surrender. When his emissaries returned to him from signing the surrender, Hirohito asked them whether they had been humiliated by the Americans. When they informed him that they had been treated with respect, it is said that Hirohito wept with relief.

One must assume that Japan today has become very much Westernized in its definitions of honor and morality. I lived there for three years, and had I not known differently, I could never have believed that just a few years before my residence there, those gentle and polite people could ever have committed the horrific acts which their nation did.

The lesson here apples to terrorism, particularly, radical Islamic terrorism. We must not regard Middle-Eastern culture as morally equivalent to ours. To them, the words, “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,” is utterly unlike our concept of those words. The concept of the sovereign individual is absent from their way of thinking. Free speech is punishable by death.

When Middle-Easterners take up residence in the West, they have no intention of adopting our values and morals. Quite the opposite, they seek to impose their will upon us, by force if necessary, by mass murder if it comes to that.

Is it really that bad? All the Moslem immigrants I have met, seem to be polite, friendly people. I doubt that any of those whom I have met would ever commit murder.

The problem is that while they themselves would not act violently, many of them seem to tolerate, even to condone, those that do. While there are laudable instances of Moslem leaders fully cooperating with American law enforcement, polls have repeatedly shown a disturbingly high number of Moslems who quietly admire terrorists.

I have long wondered why it is that the American left supports unfettered Muslim immigration to America. I am beginning to understand. The American left shares many of the cultural values of the Middle East, including the practice of brutalizing anyone who openly disagrees with them. Antifa is the glaring example of that.

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com