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[Xmca-l] Re: Hiroshima and us
A few years ago, I took my sixteen year old nephew to Hiroshima. Unlike my
generation, Luc had no direct memory of Vietnam, but he was just beginning
to have a sense of what American imperialism had done to Asia. He also had
a vague sense that our own family was somehow involved: my father, his
grandfather, had worked on the Manhattan Project as a physics undergraduate
inducted into the army.
Dad didn't exactly defend the bombing. When I was sixteen, and rather
obsessed with the uniqueness of the Nazi Holocaust, he made me read John
Hersey's harrowing book "Hiroshima". Dad always claimed that the majority
of physicists supported Leo Szilard, who had demanded that the bomb should
be used on an uninhabited island with the whole world watching, but that
somehow they had been betrayed at the last minute by Robert Oppenheimer.
But Dad did say more people would have died in a ground invasion of Japan,
and so in the end he believed that the bomb saved more lives than it cost.
When Luc and I toured the museum in the Peace Park, he was struck by the
fact that the captain of the Enola Gay was only just thirty years old,
flying a plane he'd named after his own mother, and that he made the
decision to obliterate a whole city opportunistically, according to the
good weather conditions, less than an hour before the bomb was actually
dropped. A large number of those who died were sixteen year olds like Luc,
interested in the newly invented genre of manga, taking the day off from
school to clear fire lanes in case the city were fire-bombed as Tokyo had
We can, of course, discuss this or that comparison (who knows--perhaps some
day people will consider "old age" or "cancer" as responsible for similar
horrors, albeit on a more extended time scale). But I think Mike's right:
comparison is beside the point. This kind of opportunistic mass murder of
completely innocent people on an hour's notice was unprecedented and to
date unparalleled, and the reasons are technological. What my dad's
colleagues at Los Alamos had really done was to enable a rookie president
and a thirty-year-old colonel to throw one switch and plunge a whole city
into six million degrees of heat.
At the door of the museum, we saw a photograph of the men who loaded the
bomb onto the Enola Gay at Tinian. In the centre was my father's Ph.D.
supervisor, Phil Morrison. He wasn't smiling.
the. I had grown up with John Hersey's marvWhile we were touring the museum
in the Peace Park, I learned that
On Fri, Aug 7, 2015 at 6:51 AM, HENRY SHONERD <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Mike, Rafi and Francine:
> Thank you. This from the NY Times:
> The article profiles the commemoration of the victims of Hiroshima, but
> there are two “background” issues mentioned that are worth thinking on:
> 1) the efforts at remilitarization of Japan under the leadership of prime
> minister Shinzo Abe, something that must give pause in light of the the
> “Asian holocaust”, and
> 2) the fact that the memory of Hiroshima is fading even among Japanese.
> Shinzo Abe is probably counting on voters knowing even less about the rape
> of Nanking and the rest of what Japan did before Hiroshima.
> This CHAT is a constant reminder that we forget our history at our peril,
> especially the history that puts us in a bad light.
> > On Aug 6, 2015, at 10:30 AM, Rafi Santo <email@example.com> wrote:
> > It's hard to know which of the two instances being discussed here is more
> > disturbing in terms of what they say about organized societies. The
> > dropping of the atomic bomb(s) highlights the willingness of humans to
> > engage in specific decisions to engage in an act that they know will
> > in instantly decimating 10s of thousands of people in a fell swoop. The
> > asian holocaust highlights the willingness to engage in ongoing campaigns
> > of destruction of human life, actions which are too often both obscure in
> > moment as well as not nearly as highlighted in the historical record (at
> > least in case of the Asian Holocaust).
> > While not entirely parallel, the bombing of the World Trade Center one on
> > hand and resultant contemporary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and
> > loss of life) come to mind in that the events have similar qualities in
> > terms of the meanings that are linked to them.
> > On Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 12:10 PM, larry smolucha <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > wrote:
> >> Please post this on XMCA:
> >> Message from Francine:
> >> Reflecting on the bye gone days before an atomic bomb (or incendiary
> >> bombing) could kill
> >> 70,000 people at one day - yes it did take the Japanese in WWII six
> >> to kill 300,000 Chinese in 1937 in the Rape of Nanking, weeks to kill
> >> 100,000 civilian Philippine civilians in 1945 in the Rape of Manila and
> >> 100,000 civilian in 1942 in the Rape of Singapore. Total estimate of
> >> civilians and prisoners of war killed by the Japanese in WWII is from 3
> >> million to 10 million people (it is called the Asian Holocaust). This
> >> figure does not include those soldiers killed in combat fighting the
> >> Japanese Army.
> >> This does not diminish the tragic suffering and loss of life in
> >> Nagasaki, and Tokyo.
> >> When entire cities are 'raped' for weeks not destroyed in one day is the
> >> suffering any less?
> >>> Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2015 08:16:39 -0400
> >>> From: email@example.com
> >>> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> >>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Hiroshima and us
> >>> 70 years ago 70,000 people evaporated in Hiroshima, a few days after
> >> about
> >>> as many were killed by Dresden-style fire bombing in Tokyo and just
> >> before
> >>> like numbers were killed in Nagasaki.
> >>> It seems worthwhile pausing for a minute to think about those bye gone
> >> days
> >>> when we humans were not as skilled at mass extinction as we are now.
> >>> Mike
> >>> --
> >>> Both environment and species change in the course of time, and thus
> >>> ecological niches are not stable and given forever (Polotova & Storch,
> >>> Ecological Niche, 2008)
> > --
> > Rafi Santo
> > Project Lead
> > Hive Research Lab
> > hiveresearchlab.org
> > A project of Indiana University and New York University
> > Indiana University - Learning Sciences