Ignorance 007 — Part III (Lessons from Hiroshima)

I was afraid of the hypodermic bullet effects of the Time magazine’s story on Hiroshima. In an earlier post I was apprehensive that people may not have reasons not to believe the myth that bombings on “Japan led to end of war”, since the magazine had orchestrated the story so well (with a Japanese victim-model actually heralding the bomb on the cover and “eyewitnesses” inside thanking the bombs)!

For me, the reading was a macabre humor. So I was wondering how would readers react. Just hope against hope. M-pyre had a brave story. Apart from them, I did not discover much on the blogosphere either on the issue. Finally, the Aug 22nd issue of Time has published the readers’ views. And my worst fears have come true. Unlike other issues where readers are at least partially divided on a cover story perspective, this time, not a single letter writer feels disgusted! And everyone (all 8 of the published letters talk about Hiroshima and all of them are happy that the bombing was done) has congratulated and thanked Time for the efforts to educate us about why bombing was a good thing. Here are a couple of reactions (statutory apology: If you feel slighted, insulted, hurt, hold Time responsible for publishing them. I do not personally agree with the views on the letters):

I hope the US servicemen know they are heroes. They helped end WWII and ensured that my grandpa and millions of other grandpas would go home instead of invading Japan. It was estimated that an invasion might have caused 1 million Allied casualties. There would have a lot fewer dads and grandpas of ours around today had that taken place.

–says one officer candidate of Illinois Army National Guard.

How much longer do Americans have to feel guilty about Hiroshima? By dropping the atom bombs, the US delivered millions of people from the jaws of the Japanese war machines.

— says a reader from Hong Kong.

As a young Marine who would probably have played a role in the scheduled invasion of Japan, I cheered when I heard the news about the bombing. Since then, 60 years of reflection have tempered my enthusiasm

— says a reader from California.

Sounds incredible, but each letter is a reflection of the war-mongering selves of the highly educated yet such ignorant minds. As one observed that he believes that bombing saved “our dads and grandpas”. OUR? Our people’s lives have worth and not theirs? The undercurrent is there has been no war since then to have claimed a large number of lives. The other advocacy suggests that we did not have to invade Japan since bomb helped us committing from the act. One other letter even thanks the Japanese for living the horrible effects of bombs, which helped us never to use the bomb again.

Each of these is not mere opinion emanating from innocent observations. These are well cultivated attitudinal issues. I don’t blame Time for having planted these propaganda in popular minds. Indeed no form of mass media is capable of carrying out propaganda. We are socialized in fashions (along with family, peers, teachers) that make us vulnerable to thinking in a way that gets reinforced by the mass media we choose to play the role of mediators. So whereas the needle theory may have been misplaced, the effects cannot be completely overlooked.

For a fact, war was not ended because of the bombs. The so-called World-War II had ended well before that. Secondly, there is no difference between Our Dad and the Japanese Dad. When human lives are lost such recklessly because one political leader wants to have a good time, then only ignorant fools seek nationalities of the dead (after deaths anyway the body does not belong to a country anymore. Then why kill because someone is Japanese?) Thirdly, Japan was definitely the evil country. But to blame its innocent civilians for it would be to suggest the most fallacious assumption. The bombs were never aimed at the evil ruling class of Japan, it was aimed as an experiment of mass destruction (which caused generations of deaths of people who were themselves oppressed under authoritarian rule). There is absolutely no logic behind an assumption that because “x” country is evil (which is so grossly wrongly phrased and overplayed by our cautious media, that it’s pathetic), its citizens need to be taught a lesson.

What happens in effect is for everyone to note. The dictatorial rulers ably supported by the ruling class of America including to name just a few, Batista of Cuba, Bolkiah of Brunei, Botha of South Africa, Diem of South Viet Nam, Franco of Spain, Hitler of Germany, Marcos of the Philippines, Pinochet of Chile, or Videla of Argentina have all lived well. Its another matter, even their lands were not attacked. But when it was, in case of former allies like Saddam or Bin Laden (Afghanistan is one of his playing fields) they were never sent to gas chamber anyway. Actually none of these dictators were ever punished. Only the people of the countries they ruled were subjected to unnecessary deaths.

The end of war was a myth. The world was in fact divided up in blocs soon after the bombs. And in name of cold-war, millions were annihilated systematically. American invasions never ended. In fact, it quadrupled. Vietnam continued for 11 years. Several countries went for nuclear bombs to “safeguard” their interests. The world is much more dangerous a place today because of the misuse of bombs. Just because an atomic bomb has not been used for the second time does not prove a thing. 60 years in the history of world is a short chapter. Too short to conclude predictions.

Moreover the lives lost last century (continuing draconically this century too, as if it were a logic) because of wars after the 1940’s should serve reminders of the evil of wars and those who perpetuate them. Not feel glad that we killed them, when in effect all that people have done is play the cards of the motivated politicians (who never send their kids to war front ever—and even if they were—still it would not make any sense for the child to play by the dad’s whims), and kill fellow human beings who have had no role in creating the prejudices.

The fact is that Hiroshima bombing was the most dastardly act ever committed. And not all Americans need to feel guilty about it. Only those must feel guilty irrespective of the countries they come from, who think American leadership made the right decision by going ahead with the bombs. Those who support the people who do business with these military-corporate nexus should feel guilty too. Those who think harboring bombs is a effective tool for whatever reason should feel guilty too. Those who kill people in the name of faiths and nationalities should feel guilty. And those who support these people on principle must feel guilty too. In conclusion, that’s not many people, if you count. Spare the rest of us the pain. Guilt is the last thing on the minds of the peace-loving citizenry of the world. They must work towards rewriting the history of the world so that the future generations are not misled anymore into the web of misinformation, lies, and anti-people propaganda.

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Author: Saswat Pattanayak

Journalist, Generalist, Atheist, Poet, Lover, Photographer, Communist, Third wave Feminist, LGBT ally, Black power comrade, Peacenik, Anti-capitalist, Critical media theorist, Radical film critic, Academic non-elite…

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