The Problem with Team Spirit

Team spirit is why we are driven to see only black and white. I love a football game when my first wife and I choose opposite sides. She graduated law school from the Ohio State University, so she cheers Ohio State. I enjoy the bickering, so I root for anyone else. Team spirit is not always fun. Consider the allied war crimes of World War II.

Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy were easily hated by democratic nations. But the so called free world was not the ‘good guys’ in the conflict. They were just not as horrific as the bad guys.

Racist nationalism abounded in the United States. Racism dictated the level of persecution administered by the U.S. government against it’s own people. Jobs and homes were systematically denied based on nothing more than race. American citizens of Japanese ancestry were rounded up and held in concentration camps with no sense of due process, equal protection, or other constitutional safe guards.

The United States was not the only allied nation to trample human rights during World War II. Operation Catapult was prosecuted by the British navy against the French fleet. Without warning or declaration of hostile intent, the British attacked the French navy. Why you might ask? For the same reason the Japanese did the same to the U.S. navy. Because the U.S. navy might one day fight for the enemy. Why is it many believe the Japan attacked was unprovoked evil? Because U.S. politicians left out the fact that at the time, U.S. bombs were being dropped on Japan from U.S. planes, by U.S. airmen. Because U.S. politicians used poli-tricks to stimulate team spirit. Why else would Japan’s sneak attack be thought evil while the British sneak attack was said to be a justified necessity?

Maybe the worse of the allied authorities were the rapes. I am not debating the severity of rape vs. murder. Rape can not be defended as a military or tactical necessity. Killing unarmed sailors in the water can be argued necessary to prevent those combatants from returning to combat. The same argument can be made of sinking hospital ships and destroying the military of non-combatants thinking they will become combatants. One can even argue the killing of civilians involved in war time production serves a tactical purpose. But rape?

While all allied forces participated in the raping of European women, historians have started to acknowledge the Soviet military was a rape machine. A few have documented the treatment of Japanese women by war time China. Of course historians are admitting it now. Today, Russia and China are on the other team. So is China. Today, the other team includes former members of our team. I am still wondering where the cheese eating surrender monkeys fit into today’s roster.

Right about now, some readers will claim I am playing ‘What-about-ism’. I am. But not to diminish the horrors of what the other team has done. I am asking what about our team to illustrate team spirit is flawed in that it causes both sides to focus on the other’s short comings and ignore their own. Fun for football, but not international politicking.

The lessons of a 70 year old war are important today because politicians continue to distort and confuse. Before the coupe in Ukraine, the country was on the other team. Western media documented the Ukraine corruption as the worse in Europe. Film of Nazi militia participating in ethnic cleansing were widely shown. After the coupe, Ukraine started leaning West. They joined our team. The Ukrainian flag became a popular profile picture on social media.

The result, thousands upon thousands of deaths funded by and cheered on by the citizens of a nation that should have learned it’s lesson 70 years ago.