Thursday, August 6, 2009

forget the whiteness of the bomb

Personally, the writer of this book would rather see his race and his civilization blotted out with the atomic bomb than to see it slowly but surely destroyed in the maelstrom of miscegenation, interbreeding, intermarriage and mongrelization. The destruction in either case would be inevitable -- one in a flash and the other by the slow but certain process of sin, degradation, and mongrelization.

--Senator Theodore G. Bilbo (D-Mississippi),
Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization (1947)

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb named "Little Boy" on Hiroshima, Japan. On August 9, "Fat Man" destroyed much of Nagasaki. An estimated 220,000 people were killed by those attacks, about half of them on the two bombing days. On August 15, Japan announced its surrender to the Allied Powers. So far, no other nation has attacked another with nuclear weapons.

In 1964, Stanley Kubrick released Dr. Strangelove, a scathing cinematic satire about the effects on global politics of something new in the world: "The Bomb." In Kubrick's view, the fact that humanity could obliterate life on earth with the push of a button made the whole idea of life on earth sort of absurd.

Also absurd, he realized, was something especially white American about The Bomb. In Dr. Strangelove, he emphasizes this whiteness with the character of Major T. J. "King" Kong, the pilot who guides the crew that drops the bomb that sets off a nuclear winter.

Kubrick highlights American whiteness by having Slim Pickens play Major Kong as a cussing, cowboy-hatted, good ol' boy, who mispronounces "nuclear" the same way that George Bush, Jr. did, and who rides the bomb on its journey to earth as if he's riding a rodeo bull.

With the characterization of cowboy Kong, and with that of Dr. Strangelove as a trusted, Nazi-worshiping adviser to U.S. President Merkin Muffley (both played by Peter Sellers), Kubrick satirized the ironic whiteness at the core of America's identity during World War II and the subsequent Cold War period. The irony is that while this white nationalist core helped to guide American policy both at home and abroad, American propaganda during World War II had emphasized the racist ideologies of Germany and Japan as fundamentally evil features of their "evil empires."

As Ken Cooper explains in an essay entitled "The Whiteness of the Bomb," various features of the American mindset that led to the dropping of actual nuclear bombs, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, also reflected the general assumption that America was a "white" country. Because the Japanese were "non-white," dropping the Bomb on them wasn't as morally troubling to most Americans as it might have been. As it might have been, that is, if the question were instead whether to drop it on a "white" country.

In Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Bomb, Japanese American historian Ronald Takaki writes about the man who made the final decision to destroy two Japanese cities, President Harry Truman. This was the same man who, when he was younger, wrote the following in a letter to his future wife, Bess:

I think one man is as good as another, so long as he’s honest and decent and not a nigger or a Chinaman. My uncle Will says that the Lord made a white man of dust, a nigger from mud, then threw up what was left and it came down a Chinaman. He does hate Chinese and Japs. So do I. It is race prejudice I guess. But I am strongly of the opinion that negroes ought to be in Africa, yellow men in Asia, and white men in Europe and America.

Elsewhere in his book, Takaki shows that while Truman did not order the use of nuclear weapons for the express purpose of killing Japanese people because they were Japanese, the fact that America and other Allied nations considered their non-white opponents subhuman clearly played a significant role in that decision. And thanks to the dehumanizing depictions of Japanese people in war-time propaganda, most Americans found the decision to target the civilian populations of two entire cities easier to accept.

As Ken Cooper notes, though, not all Americans were blind to the racism of dropping the Bomb on Japan. For instance, an editorial cartoonist for a leading black newspaper, the Chicago Defender, found it significant that right after the war ended,

occupying forces aboard the Mississippi entered Japan with a Confederate flag flying and a band playing "Dixie." Langston Hughes wondered, by way of a conversation with his alter ego, Jesse ('Simple') Semple, whether America would have dropped the bomb on "white folks" like the Germans. Simple maintains that the United States has waited "until the war is over in Europe to try them out on colored folks."

Nowadays, it seems that the American keepers of the largest nuclear arsenal on earth still think of the Bomb in racial terms. While some non-white nations now have the Bomb, it would be useful to see the racial composition of nuclear arms bearing countries -- how many are primarily white versus non-white? Who has been "allowed" to have them, and who has done the allowing?

Apparently, among the many economic and geopolitical "concerns" of (primarily white) American leaders is the non-whiteness of those who might acquire nuclear weapons. Japan has not been allowed to have a nuclear weapon, perhaps because America fears retaliation, and George Bush breathed fire at "evil" North Korea when it threatened to build one (his administration later turned down the heat on North Korea, apparently because it went ahead and built one anyway).

The non-white countries of India and Pakistan now have nuclear weapons, as does the somewhat less non-white country of Israel, but they're American allies -- perhaps that's why drumming up a racist perception of them as a nuclear threat was therefore deemed unnecessary. The latest perceived non-white threat in these terms is Iran, a country that American leaders have lately been threatening to attack for the (perhaps ostensible) reason that it might acquire nuclear weapons.

Americans during World War II were likely more accepting of a Bomb drop on Japanese people than they would have been on German people because Japanese people were racially "different," and thus easier to dehumanize in propaganda efforts. Does today's new racist propaganda -- the endless stream of swarthy, grimacing, cartoonish Arab "terrorists" -- contribute to America's discontent with the idea of an Iranian nuclear state, by again dehumanizing an "enemy"?

As Americans remember the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and their people, will many at all remember how racist the decision to do so was? And how ironic and hypocritical that decision therefore was?

How "white," then, does the Bomb remain?


(an earlier version of this post appeared here)


  1. Dropping those bombs on Japan was not necessary, for the Japanese, at that point in the war, were a stone's throw away from surrendering--not because they wanted to, but because they no longer had the resources to fight a war effectively. The Kamikaze pilots was a tactic taken because they had no more bombs or fuel to fly their planes out to the American ships to bomb them and get back. So what they did was fly suicide missions, wherein the pilots would fly out, to the American fighter ships, and use their planes as a bomb, by diving onto those ships.

    FDR was itching to get into WW2. Americans, at that time, were reluctant to get involved with the "old country" (a.k.a. Europe) and its constant fighting. (WWI ended in 1918. Only twenty years later, Germany was at it again, this time with Hitler at the helm.) FDR knew that the only way to end the Great Depression was to start up a war economy: increase production and get all those unemployed men to work fighting the war. He was pushing to get the US into the European conflict, supposedly, in support of England; but most Americans weren't even going for that.

    I really don't know all the "history", the inner-workings that went on, behind this, but FDR and his crew egged Japan on to attacking Pearl Harbour. Wham! Japan attacks Pearl Harbour (a military installation, by the way, on the forced to be a state of Hawai'i), and in to the war we go. The thing is, although Japan attacked us (and Germany only declared war on us; they never attacked us on our land), the US put 10% of its resources into fighting the Japanese, and the other 90% went to fighting in Europe. Europe was where FDR wanted to be; Japan was merely a blip on the radar screen, in comparison to what was going down across the Atlantic.

    Not only was the dropping of the nuclear bombs bad, but before that our response to Japan's attack on one of our military bases was to counterattack on their civilian population. Most of the structures, at that time, in Japan were made of wood. (Japan has a lot of beautiful wooden furniture and beautiful wooden homes.) The US was carpet bombing Japanese cities and towns for years before they dropped the atomic bombs. These bombs ripped through their cities and towns, and set structures and humans and animals ablaze. It was horrible.

    Also, short of the radioactivity of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan, the German city of Dresden was ripped to shreds and firebombed as if it had had atomic bombs set on it. What the atomic bombs did in a flash to the Japanese, the bombing of Dresden was equal in devastation, only it took weeks to accomplish and there was no radioactivity, which was the only positive about the Dresden bombing.

  2. so, do you think it's a good idea for north korea and iran to develop an arsenal of nuclear weapons?

  3. I'd expand this entry to say "forget the Whiteness of American history and politics" because White folks are always fond of saying shit about America like, "The US does this" or "The US did that" - completely forgetting the Whiteness of the people making those decisions. It's funny how White folks want to be seen as special snowflakes until you're talking about something really fucked up like giving folks smallpox blankets or vaporizing people from thousands of miles away. Then they start using this "we" shit.

    It's sort of like going to a restaurant with a group of friends, and one of them eats everything off the menu and even the food you ordered. Then when the bill comes around that friend gets all, "How do we split the bill?"

  4. The primary reason for dropping the bomb was to save Allied lives. In doing so, this act also saved many Japanese lives that would have been lost in the invasion. The Japanese were not even close to surrendering. Even though certain members of government were frantically trying to arrange a peace, the war party in the government held the upper hand up until after the SECOND bomb was dropped.

    The overwhelming mass of historical evidence, which I have done the best I can to research for many years, has supported the notion that the Truman’s action was the best of several ominous choices. Certainly as a newly-selected “President”, unaware of the background on the bomb until FDR’s death, he was in a bad position to overrule his military advisors, most of whom, with some very notable exceptions, said to drop the bomb. If Truman had instead decided to invade, the Japanese would have fought tenaciously; as a veterans counselor, I have interviewed many men who were in Japan right after the surrender. They confirmed the degree of preparation for invasion achieved by the Japanese Army and most civilians. Thus we avoided continuing a punishing blockade to Japan, more brutal fire-bombing, continuing death of more POWs.

    Yes, there was much racism (on both sides) before, during and after the war, and which was relevant to the conduct of WWII. Yes, some politicians and war-profiteers, etc had other motives for dropping the bomb. In these swirling horrors of the war, and with a “green” president, I am thankful he managed to make the best decision, despite all of the above factors.

    What would you have done if you were in his position then?

  5. I agree. It was a massive act of racism by whites to drop the bombs. But they didn't want to send in the war criminals into Japan and risk their lives completely ending the war. WW2's events in Asia were racist and we had no business there. Pearl Harbor was done by whites to get us into the war and take over Asia.

    BTW, i enjoy your blog. You're a lot like my teacher teaching us what we need to know about our own racist skin color and the behavior that comes with it. Thank you for helping me realize i'm racist and that i need to work to get over it.

  6. Please if there is anyone who is reading the comments to this post, do not swallow the lies that have been posted by ketamine [above].

    Lie #1: The primary reason for dropping the bomb was to save Allied lives.

    Lie #2: ...this act also saved many Japanese lives that would have been lost in the invasion.

    Lie #3: The Japanese were not even close to surrendering.

    Lie #4: ...certain members of government were frantically trying to arrange a peace

    Lie #5: They confirmed the degree of preparation for invasion achieved by the Japanese Army and most civilians. Thus we avoided continuing a punishing blockade to Japan, more brutal fire-bombing, continuing death of more POWs.

    ketamine stated: "The overwhelming mass of historical evidence..." Remember: It is the victor who gets to write the history books. And the "facts" that he has stated is just the regurgitation of the lies and untruths and propaganda taught to, and shoved down the throats, of Americans, who, unfortunately and sadly, on the whole do not think critically, and blindly believe whatever their "leaders" tell them is the truth.

    Do your own research. Keep an open mind. And don't lap up the propaganda, for often it is laced with poison.

  7. Actually the prevailing Japanese assessment as to why the Americans dropped the bomb was so that Japan would surrender to America and not also partly to Russia.

    While America was clearly racist towards the Japanese, they had some choice attitudes towards communists as well, as I am sure you remember.

    As a historian, I am constantly amazed at how many people believe that Pearl Harbor was somehow orchestrated by FDR. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and several other US installations in the Pacific in a well coordinated simultaneous attack across thousands of miles of ocean. They did this in an attempt to push America out of the Pacific. They didn't want a war with America.

    By pushing America out of the Pacific, Japan hoped to secure oil reserves in South East Asia, which Japan sorely needed to continue its war in China due to the American oil embargo.

    The Americans had stopped all trade of oil with Japan in response to the deplorable war crimes done by Japanese soldiers in mainland China.

    No conspiracy. Just international politics.

  8. Cannot claim to be a WW2 historian, but I see an over the top act of racism when the U.S. decided to drop 2 atomic bombs in populated areas, within days of each other and killing close to a quarter million Japanese civilians.
    My understanding is that when the bombs were dropped, the Japanese were in a defenseless position. They had lost control of the pacific waterways. Their air force was all but grounded, and they did not have the resources to continue to wage war. It was over.
    So with a defenseless Japan, the U.S. decides to murder 220K Japanese?! Certainly at that point in the war Japan poses no threat to the U.S., None whatsoever! I don't see the U.S. killing 220K white people who cannot defend them self. Just don't see it!

  9. I made a post about the subject in my blog, which I will copy-paste here:

    This is obviously a personal subject for me. Both my grandfathers fought in WWII on opposite sides (grandpa on my dad's side for the US, and ojichan on my mom's side for Japan), and I have very conflicting thoughts about the war and that time period.

    I've had a few arguments with older Americans about whether or not bombings were necessary, and though I'm convinced that they were not, I've been pretty open to other points of view. Still, watching footage of the bombing, and learning about the experiences of hibakusha (the victims of the bombings) makes it increasingly hard for me to accept that POV. And seeing some YouTube comments on some videos didn't help either -- "well Japan massacred Nanking civilians too", "it is a necessary part of warfare", etc. Obviously they're YouTube comments, but it really reflected a lot of the defensiveness and hard-headedness of the people I've debated this with.

    I really wish they could go to Hiroshima and go to the museum there, or for them to meet some of the survivors and see if they could tell them that it was "necessary".
    It was necessary for them to lose their sisters, their brothers, mothers, fathers, daughters, or sons. It was necessary for them to see them die slowly, while suffering, in front of their eyes while they could do nothing about it. It was necessary for them to suffer for years with the effects of radiation; infertility, cancers, birth defects, infections...
    It was necessary for them to lose their homes and all their possessions, be famished, suffer for years from PTSD, and live in horrible conditions.

    The Fog Of War -- Lesson 5.

  10. How timely. I just finished watching "White Heart, Black Rain" (I think I'm screwing up the title). It's a documentary on this exact topic.

    I had a blow-up with my husband about this film as I was greatly pained at the destruction of these two cities and their residents. It was horrifying, tragic, and just unbelievably sad. I, for one, do not believe the bombs were necessary (My husband does).

  11. there is no color in war..
    mistakes will b made and be learned from,
    if it was africa that was a super power at the time and u did the same thing to japan to protect ur ppl then i guess it would be totally different because of skin color right? White people are just evil...
    everything thing they do is out of hate. Sometimes i wish things were the other way around,white folks were slaves {which they were} just not as late of a time frame,
    instead of just basing your knowledge around your liffelong grudge against white ppl maybe you should look up slavery in general and learn every race had slaves, plenty of times slaves of the same race. Learn that europe had the money therefore the technology to develop such a weapon and that if it was a different country that came up with that weapon like china or russia then maybe none of us would be alive, or maybe wed all be slaves. People that dweel on the past live in the past and never get out of the past just stay mad.Every race every country has gone through hardships...every person w/e.....
    its 2009....And another thing,
    if america didn't do the things it did, what would you be doing....
    answer that...Honestly, nothing if you were jewish,n. korea s. korea probably would be holes in the earth,
    china,most likely world dictaters.... w/e

  12. Ketamine said: >this act also saved many Japanese lives that would have been lost in the invasion<

    Ah, yes, of course. Go kill 220K ppl to save 'many' other enemy lives. Brilliant idea! Hey, we should go drop 2 of them on Iraq, 2 on Afghanistan, and oh, 2 on Indonesia, 2 on Pakistan, to save those terrorists hiding in those countries from dying, and oh, 2 on China to save us all from dying from pollution...hmmmm, where else? (yes, I'm being sarcastic)

    ketamine, your prank isn't funny. And how fitting that your username is a drug name that causes hallucinations, a dissociative state, depersonalization, and derealization similar to schizophrenia.

    honeybrown1976 said: I, for one, do not believe the bombs were necessary (My husband does).

    Hmmmm. I wonder what would help him consider other perspectives? For example, Japan obviously thought Pearl Harbor was necessary. Hitler thought the holocaust was necessary. The suicide bombers in the world obviously think it's necessary to bomb people up, and attack the WTC (to save their brethren in Afghanistan and elsewhere, I presume) - I mean, why in the world would they give their lives to these causes if they didn't think they were doing something good? Everyone is right in their own eyes.

    And then there are examples of those who didn't think bombs were necessary: Gandhi and Martin Luther King are a case in point. Look at how so many still talk about them with great respect.

    Is it ever really necessary to kill 220k people however good the cause?

    Those who went to the site after the bomb say the place glowed. It looked beautiful...until they realized it was the bones of the dead glowing.

    >It was an existence without electricity or food. All that was left were bleached skeletons. A faint glow could be seen in the evenings phosphorous emanating from the bones of the dead.<

    And here's an account of what it was like after. Pretty gruel.

  13. >if it was a different country that came up with that weapon like china or russia then maybe none of us would be alive, or maybe wed all be slaves<

    Both of those countries now have those weapons...and I don't see them using it. Do you, dannyboiii?

    >People that dweel on the past live in the past and never get out of the past just stay mad.<

    The reason it still matters is because people, like you, still believe in the inferiority of non-white people as established by social Darwinism.

  14. A dog is inferior to a human being, a human being is not, fromthetropics, I myself was in the army 3yrs iraq 15 mths, I worked with chamoros mexicans, koreans, I have a good friend in every race, brothers so to say. Blacks, whites. friendship is not dictated by color. The world sucks dude, it really does, I like to think that ppl want to change it for the better. In iraq, I seen what muslim extremists do to there own ppl, especially for following a different branch of muslim faith, not sure of the term but it would be like catholic vrs christian...but anyways just horrible things, which brings me to my point of iran having nuclear weapons that's a no no, ww3. Ppl ask why is it right for the u.s. to have ns and not iran iraq or n.korea, if u wanna racial profile it in away that white people feel they need to be on top and all others are inferior you could but you would be wrong, really its in the best intrest of the world. Poorer countries are the most dangerous because usually they are ran by tyrants who dream of obtaining nukes and firing them off at whoever. Main target probably the u.s.

  15. First:
    Your article references Professor Takaki’s book, which I will also read when the library copy arrives. Meanwhile, you may find some of the comments on to be informative of this discussion, such as that of Arthur Ishimoto, who says he was on Gen. McArthur’s staff. He has his own informed opinion with which you may agree or disagree. Mr. Ishimoto’s comments about Japanese preparation for Allied landings are compatible with the personal interviews I have conducted with several hundred survivors of the Pacific War, including many who were in Japan right after the war. Non-withstanding the many revisionist historical works that I have studied, suggesting the Japanese were about to surrender, the weight of evidence still seems to strongly support the conclusions of this historian: the probability was the invasion was going to be extraordinarily bloody, with estimates of 100,000 Americans killed and 1,000,000 wounded being proposed by responsible members of the Administration. If the decision was yours in 1945, what would you have done?

    Racism was one of the signature aspects of World War II, which began when China was invaded by Japan in 1930. Japanese racism against the Chinese resulted in over 100,000 Chinese civilians brutally murdered by Japanese before 1938. The US did not cut strategic shipments to Japan until 1941; that was not justification for Pearl Harbor. The old canard that FDR caused Pearl Harbor or was taking irresponsible foreign policy actions has been disproven by the vast majority of historians. Somewhere in excess of 10 Million Chinese perished due to that war.

    Nazi racism against Jews and Slavic peoples was a strong accelerant for Hitler’s involvement in WWII. The US and Britain eventually responded with brutal attacks on helpless German civilians by carpet-bombing their cities; morally and militarily indefensible, in my opinion, but not all historians would agree with me.

    By the way, the handle of “KETAMINE” was assigned automatically by the blog-site, when the password was not available during my earlier posting.

  16. @QuestRepublic - Your user profile says you are a 'Former Navy Pilot Amateur Musician Medieval Historian', since when did you become an expert at the Pacific War as you make it out to be with all the talk about 'historical evidences' and 'interviews'?

    >as a veterans counselor, I have >interviewed many men who were in >Japan right after the surrender. >They confirmed the degree of >preparation for invasion achieved >by the Japanese Army and most >civilians. are basing part of your historical judgment based on interviews with your patients? And who were these people you interviewed? Japanese civilians? Or members of the US army? If the latter, are you telling me they all spoke Japanese and were thus able to interview the Japanese civilians they met on the streets?

    If your interviewees were from the US army, then have you ever reflected on how your own background as a former navy pilot and the background of your patients as members of the US army may carry biases in favor of the bomb?


    You ask some thoughtful questions; I’ll respond as best as I know how:

    I absolutely have biases; colored in part by:

    -A number of years serving as a “Nuclear Weapons Delivery Pilot” for the Navy

    -My post-grad civilian History studies, which were not limited to Medieval/Renaissance; in fact much of it involved Cold War Politics and analysis of Revisionist Historical Theories Post-WWII. Undergrad historical work at the Naval Academy included close work with two civilian professors who published books focusing on in the War in the Pacific. My First Class Paper at the USNA was on War Criminals in WWII. Another big research paper was on the House Un-American Activities Committee, especially concerning their censure of Pete Seeger, with whom I have since played Banjo and Guitar.

    -The fact that all of my clients (not patients, by the way) are either veterans or dependents of veterans.

    None of this background however, changes historical facts. Japanese preparation for the Allied invasion is very well documented, included intercepts of Japanese Diplomatic and Military Top-Secret traffic.Hearing the stories first hand however, even after having read all of the tomes on the war, is still useful verification. I recall one Navy Dentist, who was the first Naval Officer to treat survivors in Nagasaki, describe the level of preparation that he saw while ministering to his patients. No, he did not speak Japanese, but he is very credible.

    I do reflect on the tragedies of that war and many other wars, on a regular basis. Annually, my wife and I place stones on the local Hiroshima/Nagasaki memorial plaque and tree, that she help install a number of years ago; not because that tiny act changes things, but just because I hope that by understanding and remembering the past, in its totality, good and bad, that people will be better prepared and not make the wrong decisions.

    Most military vets absolutely hate war and especially do not want civilians to be killed. Just because some members of the Truman Administration had lousy reasons for dropping the Bomb, does not mean Truman’s decision was the wrong one.

  18. How can you reconcile Truman being a racist with the fact that Truman issued the executive order to desegregate the military?

  19. Rhobes, who wrote that Truman was a racist?

    It seems obvious to me that one person can do something racist, and also do something anti-racist.

    Truman's early letter to his future wife, and his decision to drop the bomb on Japan (a decision I can't imagine him making about a "white" nation) suggest that he harbored and enacted racist tendencies. As for integrating the armed forces, perhaps he really did overcome some of his white supremacist feelings and beliefs to do that, but perhaps military and political expediency played their parts as well.

  20. @ketamine or QuestRepublic or Tom: Thanks for sharing the story about stones at the memorial. That helps me see you in a slightly different light.

    However...or shall I say, HOWEVER, I do not see how justifying the killing of 220k people benefits us as humans. So long as the US feels justified in it given the situation at the time, so long as the US is willing to spend resources (time & money) on research which justifies their action, it means, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the US is prepared to repeat it. This in turns justifies others in fearing the US. And so the vicious circle continues.

    The Japanese thought they were justified in colonizing Asia - they believed they were doing this to save Asia (including Japan) from the West. The Nazis felt they were justified in using humans for medical experiments - which after all, they thought would help save Aryan lives. The suicide bombers feel justified in what they do. What is the difference?

    And there's also the issue of 'why two bombs?' What was the second one for? Why was it dropped a mere 3 days after the first? It took us days in 2006 with all our modern technology to get an estimate of the how many were killed in the Boxing Day tsunami, after which we reeled in shock. And yet in 1945 Japan was given a mere 3 days to logistically and psychologically process the impact of the first bomb? (Btw, were they given warning as to how deadly the second bomb would be?)

    It's great that you got a first class honors. But that doesn't necessarily mean you are 'right'. You may have done a great job in writing an academic work and backing up your argument, but at the end of the day it is still an argument, not fact. And even facts can be interpreted in a myriad ways depending on our biases. It would be naive to assume that a First Class honors makes your argument more 'objective'. This would be the same as white male judges assuming that they are more objective than Sotomayor.

    The biggest question though is this: Why do we need to find ways to justify the killing of 220K people? Finding reasons for how such atrocities (because it indeed was an atrocity) can be stopped may benefit us from future atrocities. But I do not see how justifying such atrocities can benefit us in the future except to leave the way open to more justifiable atrocities.

  21. Dear “FROM THE TROPICS”:

    You are correct when you say that academic studies done in the ‘60s and ‘70s are not necessarily indicative of the merits of these arguments. You did, however ask about my background.

    BTW, first-class does not indicate any particular merit; the “First-Class” refers to the Senior Year at the Naval Academy, a place where the Midshipmen are divided into 4th Class through 1st Class through the four years of instruction. The First Class Paper was the BIG academic issue of our Senior Year. I choose to do it on the “morality of war”, not mainly on war as a cosmic issue, but on specific acts that could be tracked down to a particular individual or groups of people, much as the central issue for this original blog post.

    So the original post here seems to posit that Racism was central to dropping the bomb. Since I believe that is not established by well-known historical facts, I disagree with the central premise of this blog.

    In this case, hanging the blame for the Bomb on Racism strikes me as approaching an intellectual and moral laziness. Accepting that verdict says to me “If someone else (who lived two generations ago) is so evil as to incinerate hundreds of thousands of people for motives of Racism, why should we folks need to REALLY study what happened? Let’s blame it on people who were moral Neanderthals.”

    Right now in this country, the corporate media, on a daily basis, twists and distorts important issues by using Racism and other simplistic hot-button memes. I suggest that the decision to drop the bomb is much more complex than indicated in this blog.

    But please do not take my word for it; may I suggest you study “Downfall” by Richard Frank: It is replete with solid historical examination of primary texts and carefully reasoned and footnoted explanations.

    Once again, what would you have done in July 1945, if you were President Truman?

    Best wishes,

  22. Once again, what would you have done in July 1945, if you were President Truman?

    Not to answer for fromthetropics (whose answer I look forward to), but how about detonating the bomb in the ocean, somewhere near enough Japan to demonstrate its awesome power, and THEN threatening to use it on a Japanese city if Japan still refused to surrender? Or how about somewhere more rural in Japan, which would again be demonstrative, but without the cost of so many civilian lives? I suspect, but don't know for sure, that one reason cities were chosen was to study the aftereffects on people, and on an urban setting. Again, I have no doubt that because the victims were not white, that reason was easier for American leaders to contemplate.

  23. Dear "MACON D"

    The Bomb was originally developed because of Nazi atomic research. We would have used it on the (White) Germans if the Nazis were still fighting then.

    As it was, the US & UK deliberately killed more (White) Germans through brutal carpet- bombing of civilian women and children living in non-military targets than were killed by The Bomb. As indicated previously, my opinion is that was morally indefensible.

    The Atomic Bomb Demonstration scenario was discussed by the Americans; we had only two bombs left after the test in the US; one of them was using untested technology. Even after TWO devastating Atomic bomb attacks on large civilian populations, it was a close call for the emperor to pull off the surrender.

    It is only in the last few years that most of the secret radio intercepts of Japanese government have been fully declassified. These reveal that Truman’s Administration knew the war Party was holding out for the continuance of their domination of Japan’s military and government system, as a prerequisite to a peace deal. They also reveal alarming build-ups of military and civilian “home-guard” defense forces that would resulted in a catastrophic blood-bath for the Allies and the Japanese in the planned invasion.

  24. And regarding my other two possibilities for where to drop the Bomb. . . ?

  25. So if the Bomb was dropped on "demo", in a safe unihabited place, the effects could have been minimized by war Party as unimportant; or, the horrible loss of lives in a city-attack would hopefully, in American minds, force the war party to finally cave-in.

  26. From what I hear, Hiroshima was targeted for maximum impact. The hills nearby was to produce a 'focusing effect'. They wanted to kill as many civilians as they could.

    re 'first class paper' - apologies for the misunderstanding.

    You mention that there was racism on both sides. Indeed. In fact, wars cannot function without racism. Wars stem from the belief that 'our' lives and lifestyle are more worthy than 'theirs'. Racism is inherent to wars.

    >hanging the blame for the Bomb on Racism

    Not quite. The bomb was not dropped solely due to racism. But it is still important to understand HOW racism contributed to the dropping of not one, but two of the deadliest bombs mankind has ever seen. Something that still leaves us in shock and disbelief. (In fact, the whole WWII is unbelievable – 60 million dead???) What is at issue is that ending the war was not the only reason behind the Bomb. There were other reasons too.

    Reasons which are still at work today in every war and every conflict: racism and prejudice. The issue is: how do we stop this? How do we own up to the ugly truth that we are racist? So we won’t have to put people in Truman’s position in the future.

    Failing to recognize that there were other reasons behind the Bomb in addition to ending the war, and spending effort on justifying the act accomplishes nothing but an assuaging of our guilt. Guilt is worthless. If Truman had no choice, then let’s together look at how we can create non-deadly choices for future Trumans, instead of harping on how he had no choice. One way to do this is to work towards eradicating racism.

    I appreciate that you are trying to steer us away from getting carried away with racism, since we can and do. That’s fair enough. (I've learnt that I know very little about the war itself.) But, I think the premise of your argument is inherently flawed. I think you’re fighting the wrong battle.

    As for me, what would I have done? I don't know. I'm not Truman. I'm not male. And I'm not American. (Yes, after observing male youths trying to establish their masculinity through fights, I now think war is also a very male thing.)

    But here's who I am. Born in Canada. But father is Indonesian, but ethnically Chinese. Mother is Japanese. But I went to an American school. But now I'm based in Australia. Yes, lots of but's. So whose side am I supposed to fight on? As a teenager, I once saw on the news some Chinese on a boat and Japanese on another boat in a yelling match over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. One Chinese guy died. I was angry. If they ever go to war in the future, what do they want me to do? Cut myself in two and let each half fight the other?

    And then there are my very close friends. I have an Argentinian Korean friend, now married to a Shanghainese and lives in Japan. What are their kids supposed to do? And a British African Caribbean friend married to a Scot who was born in India. What are their kids supposed to do? And so on and so forth. I can go on and on with the list if you want.

  27. I am truly grateful for the dropping of the atomic bombs, a humanitarian act. The bomb saved millions of lives in Asia from any further atrocities caused by the Japanese. Just to give some perspective, more civilians (250,000) were brutally massacred in the hunt for Doolittle's men than both atomic bombs combined. Yet I do not hear any protest or feeling towards these atrocities.

    Is it because Chinese are expendable? Have we dehumanized them so much that we don't feel at all when 30 million Chinese dies in the holocaust and we let the Japanese off the hook over "white guilt"?

    If it weren't for the bombs, I would not be here today. My family was rescued from the concentration camps before the Japs could commit any more crimes against humanity, all thanks to the US, Chinese and Allies.

    Never again. Let those two bombs serve as a horrific reminder of what it took to get the Japanese to stop their racist policies and programs of genocide.

  28. I don't know, Americans and British had no problem napalming German cities full of civilians killing, in some cases, more then in the atomic bombings. A town didn't have to be non-white to be obliterated by the Allies.

    Also, Japan used chemical and biological weapons against China (and probably Korea) because they felt that those were "lesser races", so the Atomic bomb is as "White" as weaponised plague is "Japanese"...

  29. My problem with this particular blog was the generalising of Iran as Arabs. They are not. They are Persians. Furthermore, the possibility of Iran having nuclear arms is an extremely dangerous one, due to the hatred shown towards Jews by their leader Ahmedinejad. However, Iran is a long way from nuclear arms just yet. It's not a racist thing to be wary of Ahmedinejad and his cronies. Most Iranians do not share his insane views.


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