In 1995, as an exchange student, I had the deep honor of touring Hiroshima. I saw the scars firsthand, the skeletal remains of the Genbaku Dome, the heartbreaking shadows of bodies and footprints burned into concrete as the people who made them were instantly vaporized. I've seen the displays of pathetic personal effects: cracked glasses, abandoned shoes. A smashed watch stopped at exactly 8:15.
The story of Hiroshima has been for me appalling, shaming, inspiring and instructive. Hearing and seeing it has in part made me who I am today. I believe in the mission of the people of Hiroshima, and will never flag in supporting their struggle for world peace. Because it is our struggle, as well.
This of course doesn't stop people -- sometimes the simply uninformed, but usually right-wingnuts and racists -- from being utter dickheads about it.
Among the apologetics I've heard, two seem especially pernicious and I never fail to take issue with them: One, that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to ending the war. This is a lie. Like the carpet bombing of Dresden, the A-bomb was a purely punitive and terroristic measure.
Even after I and my classmates bawled our eyes out to the story of Sadako in elementary school, I still believed for many years that not dropping the bomb would have resulted in greater destruction in Japan and more loss of American lives. It wasn't until much later that I found out I was wrong.
Apologetic number two is what I call the "But what about..." defense, which usually comes in the form of a reminder that the initial bombing of Tokyo was far deadlier and damaging, so we shouldn't get so worked up about Hiroshima. I do not deny that it was deadlier, but body count is not the point. I defy anyone to point to any conventional explosive that, once detonated, continues to kill and mutilate three or four generations afterward, especially in the way nuclear weapons do. Decades after the Japanese surrender, babies were still being born brain-damaged and missing limbs. Decades later, innocent people were still dying of cancer.
The people of Japan, bless them, have never forgotten. Neither will I. And neither should you.
It is with all this in mind that I was heartened to read that, despite all the pratfalls the current occupants of the White House have, with the assistance of the corporate media, dragged America's sorry collective ass into, a vast majority of us are still not batshit insane. (Via Atrios's Eschaton)
Still, I'd like to know who comprises this 27%. They have a lot to learn, and a lot of explaining to do.
I'd love to start by dragging their nasty carcasses, kicking and screaming, through the streets of Hiroshima.