The Statue of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Milwaukee’s Veteran’s Park

There is a statue of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Milwaukee, in Veteran’s Park next to the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center. It is a replica of the one at West Point.

The general stands there arms akimbo, in that memorable pose he assumed next to the diminutive defeated emperor of Japan in the famous photo soon after Japan’s surrender in Aug. 1945. (In it, Hirohito stood in rigid submission, hands at his side, in a formal suit; MacArthur towered above him, in informal dress, hands on his hips.) It was on the front pages of newspapers in Japan Sept 28, a statement of total U.S. domination. That’s the moment captured there.

As you perhaps know, MacArthur was born in Arkansas in 1880 son of Army captain Andrew MacArthur (1845-1912) who had fought in one of the “Indian Wars” against Geronimo before becoming U.S. military governor of the Philippines 1990-1. His career spans the genocidal efforts of the burgeoning U.S. state from the southwest of North America to Luzon and Mindanao.

In other words, Douglas was the son of someone obviously complicit in the slaughter of native people in this country and also in Filipino genocide. But let not the sin of the father be visited on the son! The guy on the pedestal himself embodies enough evil in his own bronze image.

Douglas MacArthur lived after the Indian Wars but was a general during the First World War leading troops in Eupoe in a meaningless fratricidal war. When unpaid U.S. veterans of that inter-imperialist war protested in Washington D.S. against their treatment, and non-payment of pensions, he led the charge against them–literally–in 1932.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor MacArthur was a major general, commander of US Armed Forces in the Far East, in the Philippines. He led the Pacific War effort, through Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Then he headed the U.S. Occupation of Japan (1945-1952) for a time, as it dismantled the fascist state apparatus. But then he moved to crush the Japanese Left after 1947. MacArthur threatened Communist labor leaders with death if they went ahead with planned mass strikes. He urged Christian mission societies in the U.S. to “send Bibles, Bibles and more Bibles” for the Japanese as he contemplated shutting down Shinto once and for all. He told U.S. troops to treat Japanese women as children.

After war broke out on the Korean Peninsula, MacArthur headed the U.S. forces that slaughtered millions of Koreans and Chinese in one of those many American wars based on lies. So bloodthirsty was MacArthur that President Truman (who had ordered the frying of Japanese by nuclear blasts) found impelled to order him home in 1951 due to his urging of a nuclear attack on China. Imbeciles in the Congress lionized him as he gave a speech to them in April, declaring famously: “I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.”

MacArthur should NOT fade away from our consciousness. On the contrary I’d hope everybody passing by that statue thinks about what it represents–a heritage of the Indian Wars, the suppression of the “Philippines Insurrection,” the racism of the Pacific War and Korean War, the legacy of butt-headed anticommunism–and wonders, “Should this be here?”

Was the Korean War–fought by U.S. troops to prevent the reunification of Korea after the Japanese defeat, and preserve the foothold that continues today, when 25,000 U.S. are stationed in the south–something to celebrate? In my opinion (not that we need compare) there’s more on his record to damn him than in Andrew Jackson’s “Trail of Tears.” MacArthur was an arch-imperialist. His statues anywhere are an affront to multiple communities. They too should fall as people in this country confront the past.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Gary.