THE BIGGEST Japanese-basher I've ever known -- even bigger than Lee Iacocca -- was Pfc. William Brinkerhoff who served with me in the Marine Corps on Enewitok during World War II.
One night in 1944 during an air raid I hugged one side of the foxhole and he hugged the other.
"Someday," he said, as one of the enemy bombs hit our ammunition dump, "the Japanese will turn on us."
"How can you say that?" I asked.
"Have you forgotten Pearl Harbor?"
"It was two years ago," I told him. "How long are you going to hold a grudge?"
As ammunition went flying in every direction, Brinkerhoff shoved his nose deeper and deeper into the coral. He whimpered, "I don't trust anyone who wants to blow me up."
"That's Japanese-bashing, Brink, and it's beneath you. Once we win the war you'll be sorry you ever had bad thoughts about these people."
Brinkerhoff said, "How can you call me a Japanese-basher just because I don't like them dropping shrapnel on my head?"
"They're only following orders from their Emperor Hirohito. Do you think that the pilot overhead likes bombing us any more than we like being bombed? If he had his druthers, he'd be in Tokyo making automobiles and television sets."
"I'm sorry," Brink responded, "I must have lost my head when the bombs hit our fuel dump."
"You're having a normal reaction to an uncomfortable situation," I assured him. "But we can't let a little bombing interfere with our future relations. In years to come when Japanese-bashing is fashionable again, you can tell your grandchildren about this experience. Until then you have to keep your mouth shut and your nose to the coral."
"If I can't bash the Japanese, can I bash the Germans?"
"You can now, but after the war it won't do you any good."