I’m a little behind but last week was the 70th anniversary of the dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II. If I would have had time and if the GOP and debate was not such a circus I would have written something up on why what your third grade public school teacher taught you about why we just HAD to drop the bombs is flat wrong and unjustifiably immoral. Till then here is Scott Horton’s interview with Christian Appy, an author and professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, discussing the powerfully enduring myth of the US’s “merciful ending to the good war“. Read the article (you have to scroll down past the intro) or listen to the interview here or below(28 minutes long).
Here’s an excerpt:
“By 1945, most Americans didn’t care that the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had not committed Japan’s war crimes. American wartime culture had for years drawn on a long history of “yellow peril” racism to paint the Japanese not just as inhuman, but as subhuman. As Truman put it in his diary, it was a country full of “savages” — “ruthless, merciless, and fanatic” people so loyal to the emperor that every man, woman, and child would fight to the bitter end. In these years, magazines routinely depicted Japanese as monkeys, apes, insects, and vermin. Given such a foe, so went the prevailing view, there were no true “civilians” and nothing short of near extermination, or at least a powerful demonstration of America’s willingness to proceed down that path, could ever force their surrender. As Admiral William “Bull” Halsey said in a 1944 press conference, “The only good Jap is a Jap who’s been dead six months.” ”
I find this part interesting not just as a summary of 1945 sentiments towards the Japanese but in its similarity to modern day sentiments toward Muslims. For instance take out emperor and put in Jihad and it sums up the GOP base sentiments toward Muslims as expressed during the American Sniper movie social media buzz: “a country full of “savages” — “ruthless, merciless, and fanatic” people so loyal to the [jihad] that every man, woman, and child would fight to the bitter end.” It is an example of the collective thinking war engenders in us. Since I have now heard news hosts actually discuss whether or not a presidential candidate needs to be willing to nuke a Muslim country, and an ex-U.S. general has brought up internment camps, it seems we need to keep this in mind. The GOP field seems to be shaping into what appears to me to be the most hawkish election cycle in years. Many Christians seemed to have embraced a mindless hatred of all Muslims. They are all terrible fanatics or Islamofascists. The Muslims are the new communists. They are hiding are under every bush, they are behind every rebellion and civil unrest, and they are all hell bent on violently forcing to comply with sharia law. They are the hopelessly reprobate children of Ishmael. This is not only naive politics, bad morals, but terrible covenant theology.