How Americans remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Tomorrow marks the 70th anniversary of the date the United States government/military dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  More than one hundred thousand people were killed in these bombings.  The vast majority of those killed in the bombings were civilians, including women and children.  Read that again: we dropped nuclear bombs on targets that included many innocent women and children.

In Hiroshima alone, “Some 70,000–80,000 people, of whom 20,000 were soldiers, or around 30% of the population of Hiroshima, were killed by the blast and resultant firestorm, and another 70,000 injured.” [Wikipedia]

In 1995, The Smithsonian Museum was unable to open an exhibit that intended to portray the events evenly, not merely discussing the men who flew the bomber and how it ended WWII, but actually presenting artifacts and images of the victims, many of whom were children, and non-military men and women.  Some people did not want the whole story, the entire narrative, to be told.  Think about that.

https://youtu.be/XMsg6I4rKSY

I’d just like to remind you all that there are certain narratives that we like to hold onto as Americans for sentimental or patriotic or other reasons that severely and detrimentally ignore or deny uncomfortable truths.  Many Americans seem to have a selective memory one might say.

Most people are comfortable with the common narrative: “America stopped Hitler by dropping “the bomb,”” and most are more than happy to let the story end there.  But such ignorance (voluntary or not) does a tremendous damage to the truth, and does not properly inform our current historical context as to how, when, or why certain military actions ought to be conducted, or not.

There are many such narratives alive and well in this country.  Narratives that shield us from uncomfortable truths.  Inform yourself, my friends.  Uncomfortable or not, truth is truth.

Let’s not forget the all-too-true maxim: “history is written by the victors.”

800px-Nagasaki_1945_-_Before_and_after_(adjusted)
(caption: Nagasaki before and after the bomb.)

“…and no one’s sure how all of this [war] got started, but we’re gonna make ‘em G**-damned certain how it’s gonna end…”

~ Bright Eyes “Road to Joy”

Lord have mercy.

“I tremble in fear for my country when I reflect that God is just…”  ~ Thomas Jefferson

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Most important read for Americans this year…

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Friends, one of the most important books I’ve read in years: The Divide by Matt Taibbi.  I highly recommend it.  If you read nothing else, the introduction to the book alone is worth the price of the book.

This ambitious book documents America’s unequal administration of justice to rich and poor.

Some quotes from the book:

“Obsessed with success and wealth and despising failure and poverty, our society is systematically dividing the population into winners and losers, using institutions like the courts to speed the process.

“For a country founded on the idea that rights are inalienable and inherent from birth, we’ve developed a high tolerance for conditional rights and conditional citizenship. And the one condition, it turns out, is money. If you have a lot of it, the legal road you get to travel is well lit and beautifully maintained. If you don’t, it’s a dark alley and most Americans would be shocked to find out what’s at the end of it.”

“Twenty-six billion dollars of fraud: no felony cases. But when the stakes are in the hundreds of dollars, we kick in 26,000 doors a year, in just one county.”

“Our prison population, in fact, is now the biggest in the history of human civilization. There are more people in the United States either on parole or in jail today (around 6 million total) than there ever were at any time in Stalin’s gulags. For what it’s worth, there are also more black men in jail right now than there were in slavery at its peak.”

“The great nonprosecutions of Wall Street in the years since 2008, I would learn, were just symbols of this dystopian sorting process to which we’d already begun committing ourselves. The cleaving of the country into two completely different states—one a small archipelago of hyperacquisitive untouchables, the other a vast ghetto of expendables with only theoretical rights—has been in the works a long time. The Divide is a terrible story, and a crazy one. And it goes back a long, long way.”

~ Matt Taibbi, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap

Response of first resort…

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Imprisonment has become the response of first resort to far too many of the social problems that burden people who are ensconced in poverty. These problems often are veiled by being conveniently grouped together under the category “crime” and by the automatic attribution of criminal behavior to people of color. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.

~Angela Davis, Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex

To confuse teaching with learning…

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” Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavour are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question. ”

Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society (1973: 9)

Prisons and people…

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” Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages ”

– Angela Davis