Tom Hanks Angers Conservatives, Comparing 'The Pacific' in World War II to Iraq

Producer of "The Pacific" draws fire for comparing WWII to Iraq.

ByABC News
March 16, 2010, 5:23 PM

March 17, 2010— -- It's no surprise that some conservatives love to hate Hollywood.

Michael Moore and Sean Penn are perennial favorites. But Tom Hanks?

The star of such flag-waving films as "Saving Private Ryan" and "Apollo 13" and producer of the World War II miniseries "Band of Brothers" has come under fire recently for remarks he made while promoting his current project, "The Pacific."

In an interview with Time magazine, Hanks, who is producing the HBO miniseries, compared the World War II conflict in the Pacific with the current one in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The Pacific" began airing March 14.

"Back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as 'yellow, slant-eyed dogs' that believed in different gods," Hanks told Time. "They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different. Does that sound familiar, by any chance, to what's going on today?"

Richard Pearle, former secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan, told that Hanks has got it wrong.

"What he is suggesting, that the coalition forces are acting out of racist motives, is preposterous," Pearle said. "We're there at the request of the Iraqi government, which is trying to put together a democracy, and we've lost Americans trying to help them do that. I'm not at all clear what Mr. Hanks has in mind.

"He's an actor. He ought to go back to 'Saving Private Ryan,'" Pearle said. "I think if personalities that have a big megaphone by virtue of their acting talent are going to make political statements, they ought to be careful."

Hanks an 'Ignoramus'

Hanks' remarks lit up the conservative blogosphere. Pajamas Media's Victor Davis Hanson did not hold back: "Hanks' comments were sadly infantile pop philosophizing offered by, well, an ignoramus."

Brad Schaeffer, writing on Frum Forum, took Hanks to task for making the comparison to the current war on terror. "To make the claim that we are waging war on Islamofascists because, presumably, we view Muslims as 'different' not only is an insult to the nation but betrays a stunning ignorance of contemporary history."