Editorial: Faith in U.S.-led Filipinos alone in East to fight Japs (1-23-43)

Brooklyn Eagle (January 23, 1943)

Editorial: Faith in U.S.-led Filipinos alone in East to fight Japs

That the Philippines should have been the only country in the Orient where the natives fought on the side of the foreign power controlling it against the Japanese, in spite of all the Japanese propaganda to the effect that they came as liberators, not as conquerors, is a fact of the highest importance.

In the countries controlled by the British, the French and the Dutch, the only fighting against the Japanese done by the natives was by the very few enrolled in small specialized military and police forces, under officers drawn from their foreign masters. But in the Philippines, not only was the great bulk of the fighting forces actually enrolled against the Japanese drawn from the Philippine people, including their officers, but there the great masses of the people fought against the Japanese on their own account, and were, almost universally, immune to Japanese propaganda and produced no Quislings of any consequence.

But in French Indochina, British Burma and Malay and the Dutch East Indies, generally speaking, the masses of the people were either hostile or indifferent. Either they actively aided the Japanese, or at least preferred Japanese rule, even if harsh, to European rule, because outside control by people of an Oriental race was less humiliating than rule by white men whose whole policy seemed to .be built upon the dogma of the inferior status of the native races.

As the tide of war now turns against Japan, as in Europe it turns against Hitler, not only is the lesson furnished by the Philippine exception to the general rule in the Orient important as a factor in prosecuting the war to a victorious issue for the United Nations, it is even more important as a factor in the problems that must face us after the victory.

The explanation of the Philippine situation, as provided by men having the best possible right to testify such men as President Manuel Quezon of the Philippine Republic and his aide, Col. Carlos P. Romulo not only should be a source of legitimate pride both to the Filipinos and the people of the United States but it also provides the fundamental policy to guide the world when not merely their statesmen, but their enlightened peoples, turn from the tasks of war to the even more essential tasks of world reconstruction.

President Quezon’s recent speech In Baltimore before a meeting of the Bar Association and Colonel Romulo’s book, I Saw the Fall of the Philippines, both agree that it was because the United States alone among all the great nations controlling Oriental peoples succeeded in convincing the people under its flag, by deeds and not merely by words, that it truly intended to liberate them and uplift them rather than to exploit them commercially that the Philippine people fought for the Stars and Stripes and what that banner symbolizes as if it were their own.

President Quezon said:

When we fought for your flag, we were fighting for our own freedom. You did by us what no other colonizing power has done by the people who had fallen under its sway. For you have been our liberators and our benefactors, and the presence of your flag in the Philippines was the symbol of our freedom. It was there only to allow you to finish the work you had started to do to help set up an independent Philippine republic.

Not all the myriad races of the swarming Orient, it is true, possess that solid core of centuries-old Christianity enjoyed by the bulk of the Filipino people, who have been further instructed in the spirit and practice of democratic processes by decades of such extensive public education as we have provided, but all of them, as President Quezon points out, possess natural self-respect, and that instinctive belief that they:

…like any other nation, possess the right to determine their own destiny as part of the interlocking society that is the human race.

What the United States has achieved in the Philippines, therefore, points the way to the future peace and security of the world even as it throws bright light upon the otherwise somber tragedy of the Filipinos’ struggle, at the side of our American warriors, against the temporary triumph of the Japanese hordes.