Iva Toguri is Tokyo Rose to most Americans, a World War II traitor. Born in America in 1916, she died here in 2006. She was the victim of one of the most horrific injustices in American history because Harry Truman wanted re-election.
Iva Toguri traveled to Japan in the weeks preceding Pearl Harbor to visit her seriously ill mother. The last ship for the States departed without her on the eve of war, and she was stranded in a land in which she had never lived and toward which she felt no loyalty. The Kempetai – the Japanese secret police – forced her to renounce her American citizenship, but permitted her to work for a radio station as a secretary. They later insisted she begin a regular broadcast as Orphan Annie; Tokyo Rose was bestowed by American servicemen. Toguri did what she could to undermine the Japanese propaganda effort. She read her scripts with tongue-in-cheek, refused much she was told to include, and – by some accounts – managed to pass coded strategic information to American forces. She was promptly arrested by the US Army following the Japanese surrender.
She was held and investigated for a year before the army released her because they found no evidence she betrayed her country. When syndicated columnist Walter Winchell heard of her release, he launched a months-long tirade against her and those who were “soft” on traitors. President Harry Truman, fighting an uphill battle for re-election, ordered her re-arrest and transport to the United States – as a stateless person. Her whole political arrest and trial got Winchell off Truman’s back and Truman back into the White House. She was convicted of treason in 1949 and sentenced to ten years in prison. The jury was denied access to transcripts of any of her wartime broadcasts. Every witness against her admitted to perjuring themselves years after the trial, and the prosecutor committed suicide. She was released in 1956, and President Gerald Ford pardoned her in 1977. She never again saw her husband because he was unable to come to America.
What about her constitutional rights? What about the presumption of innocence and the right to a trial free of government misconduct? Reality is that when the entire weight of a government – even a supposed constitutional government – is hell bent on making a scapegoat, there is nothing one or a few can do to stop it. The juggernaut can only be stopped – and reversed – by the application of equal force. That equal force comes about in a democracy only when an informed, alert, and relentlessly skeptical public remains on watch and demands integrity from officials – and from a media that is supposedly anointed itself for integrity. There is no room for “growing weary in well doing,” as the Bible puts it. There is no room for a “we fought the war; now leave us alone” mindset because the war for what America stands for is never over until we lose our freedom, or King Jesus comes back and His Kingdom comes with Him in power.
But why bring Tokyo Rose up now? Because we are living in a time of public exhaustion now. We live in a time in which Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby, and Congressman Tom DeLay are convicted in federal court, not of criminal wrongdoing, but of insisting they were innocent after the government decided they were guilty. In DeLay’s case, it took seven grand juries to indict; the prosecutor kept impaneling new juries until he got one to say what he wanted to hear. Delay’s conviction was thrown out by an appeals court ordering a not-guilty verdict rather than a new trial. But the years lost to these people, and their shattered reputations and careers, are unrecoverable.
The Word of God says that when – and only when – we acknowledge Him Who is Truth before men, He acknowledges us before His Father, teaching in that very hour what we are to say and do. He says when we seek Him first, He will supply all we need in this world and the next.
In practical application, that means we are relentless in seeking truth regarding government agendas from Benghazi to IRS persecution to NSA spying and the assaults on the First and Second Amendments. It means we recognize and repudiate the insanity of polls showing 68% of us applaud as good and necessary the revelations of Edward Snowden about the NSA while 56% want him tried for treason. It means we seek an anointing for integrity for ourselves and demand – relentlessly – that persons in power seek it for themselves before prosecuting Snowden for the “crime” of exposing them.
James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships and The Holy Spirit and the End Times – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at