Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries. One columnist gets it right.

I rarely see eye to eye with Dana D. Kelley of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette but his column on August 6th was about as poignant and perfect a column as you can write about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Mr. Kelley doesn't condemn the bombings but he also doesn't rave about them as preventing tons of U.S. soldier deaths like so many do. He writes about the sheer destructive horror of the weapons and also takes a look at the lengths to which the U.S. government went to hide some of the truth of the attacks:

"Even two years after the war ended, U.S. officials were careful not to let truth interfere with public perception about the use, and the results, of atomic weapons. Authors Greg Mitchell and Robert Jay Lifton noted in The Nation that the 1947 film “The Beginning or the End?” was replete with White House-dictated revisions.

For example, in its earliest scripts, the movie raised questions about the use of atomic energy as a weapon and set out to show shocking images of the burned-up cities and casualties, including a baby with a scorched face. But by the time it hit theaters, it only reinforced the answers skeptics had already been given-and took a few more liberties with the truth for good measure.

Gone were any images of victims, as if an attack with no warning over a bustling city could be a victimless event. No detail was left unmanaged for effect. The name of the plane that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki, “Bockscar,” was changed to “Necessary Evil”; the city of Nagasaki was edited out altogether. The B-29 aircraft over Hiroshima, which in reality was ignored as it approached its target, is shown in the movie being pelted with heavy flak.

In perhaps the most egregious of factual misrepresentations, the movie propagated the myth that leaflets were dropped over Hiroshima warning of the attack. Leaflets had been dropped in advance over many of the firebombing targets, as well as many that weren’t targeted, for psychological impact, but Hiroshima’s residents received no warning at all.

In fact, the primary atomic targets, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Kokura, were all intentionally left unbombed to effectively gauge the destruction of the nuclear explosions."

Of course even merely speaking the truth about this deception of the American people, as well as accurately describing the destructive result of the bomb is enough to stir some people up. Today's letters to the paper include two writers who won't accept anything other than praise for the almighty bomb and its use. One even said Kelley "bordered on blaming America for starting World War II", which is total garbage and nowhere in Kelley's column. Not to mention that any regular reader of his columns would know that Kelley is fairly conservative and not part of what the right wing calls the "'blame America first' crowd."  Another letter writer moaned about Kelley's "hand-wringing".

Here was how Kelley closed his column, it doesn't sound like "hand-wringing" to me, just an acknowledgment of how tragic it is when innocent people of any side get dragged into the path of war:

"For the first time in the ensuing 65 years since the bombings, an official delegation from the United States government is set to attend the memorial service marking the Hiroshima anniversary. Nobody expects any sort of apology about the atomic bombing, and certainly the Japanese have plenty of atrocities for which their own apologies are long overdue. At least and at long last, if nothing else, maybe both countries can look upon that symbolic city and feel nothing but sadness."

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