Bombing of Pearl Harbor jolts U

Justin Costley

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a 10-part series of stories highlighting each decade of the 20th century and how The Minnesota Daily covered them. The series will appear on Wednesdays leading up to the Daily’s 100th anniversary on May 1, 2000, and culminate with a special edition. We hope you enjoy this trip through time.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s stirring words described the attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, as “a day that will live in infamy.”
Like the rest of the country, the University fell into a momentary state of paralysis after the attack before bursting into action.
The Minnesota Daily followed the same pattern on account of a technicality. The attack occurred on a Sunday and the Daily did not publish on Sundays and Mondays at the time.
Throughout World War II, many of the major incidents took place during summer and winter breaks, so Daily staff consistently played catch-up.
Daily reporters began chronicling University reaction to the Japanese attack and the United States’ entrance into World War II with a letter from University President W. C. Coffey.
The letter, addressed to members of the University staff and student body, appealed for calm and determination.
“The preservation of our nation and our democratic form of government must have first place in all of our thinking,” the letter read.
The Dec. 9 edition of the Daily also included columns on the vulnerability of Japan, stories on students registering for the draft and a headline reading, “Jap Attack Brings Mingled Emotions.”
The Daily’s repeated use of “Jap” instead of Japanese came at a time when anti-Japanese sentiment swept across the country. Newspaper headlines were a precursor to eventual Japanese-American internment camps in California that held more than 120,000 people.
Erika Lee, a current University history professor, said the use of epithets such as “Jap” were common to other newspapers, the government and the public, adding that they signified how different the public viewed Japan and Germany as enemies.
“Americans tended to blame Hitler and misguided Germans who followed him only,” Lee said. “With Japan, it was really the Japanese people, the Japanese race, and you couldn’t differentiate, whereas with Germany and Italy, you’ve got misguided people, but as a race they’re not so bad.”
The racial dialogue was only a portion of the rhetoric printed in the Daily.
The Daily’s repeated use of “Jap” instead of Japanese came at a time when anti-Japanese sentiment swept across the country. Newspaper headlines were a precursor to eventual Japanese-American internment camps in California that held more than 120,000 people.
Erika Lee, a current University history professor, said the use of epithets such as “Jap” were common to other newspapers, the government and the public, adding that they signified how differently the public viewed Japan and Germany as enemies.
“Americans tended to blame Hitler and misguided Germans who followed him only,” Lee said. “With Japan, it was really the Japanese people, the Japanese race, and you couldn’t differentiate, whereas with Germany and Italy, you’ve got misguided people, but as a race they’re not so bad.”
The racial dialogue was only a portion of the rhetoric printed in the Daily