"The Pacific represents a war that was of racism and terror," the New York Daily News quoted him as saying on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe'."And the only way to complete one of these battles on these small specks of rock in the middle of nowhere was, and I'm sorry, to kill them all," he said.
Hanks had made similar comments in a Time magazine interview too, comparing the 60-year-old conflict to the modern war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as 'yellow, slant-eyed dogs' that believed in different gods," he had told the magazine.
"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 to what's going on today?" he added.
His comments attracted the attention of many conservatives, who believe he should not talk about things he has no idea about. "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," Richard Pearle, former secretary of Defense for President Ronald Reagan, told ABCNews.com.
And while some retorts were subtle, others were not. "Hanks' comments were sadly infantile pop philosophizing offered by, well, an ignoramus," Victor Davis Hanson of Pajamas Media wrote. Fox News' Bill O'Reilly went so far as to say that racism had nothing to do with World War II's fight with the Japanese or the current fight against terrorism.
"Why [does] Hanks want to inject racism into two wars, Japan and the war on terror, where racism clearly does not exist," he said on his "Factor" show. Hanks has since clarified his remarks, noting that his comments about racial bigotry applied to all sides, not just to Americans, and he agreed that the modern wars are far more complex.
"It would be naive to assume that racism was not part of that quotiant of World War II," he told CNSNews.com. "It's not clear cut, and it would be foolish to assume that it is. What's going on in Iraq is completely singular to Iraq. What is going on in Afghanistan is completely singular to Afghanistan," he said.
But he was quick to point out that while he has an opinion, he doesn't feel his thoughts on the subject warranted such an examination. "Look, I'm an actor. I'm not a politician. I'm not a statistician. I'm not a legislator," he added.
Buy Movie Tickets
Receive FREE Movie News & Gupshup
In Your Inbox
In Your Inbox