As recently as 15 or 20 years ago, it was common in the United States for the national news, both print and broadcast, to take the time to commemorate the mass murders of Japanese civilians committed by the United States in August, 1945 at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The news annually broadcast an obligatory item including a brief mention of the “regrettable necessity” of dropping the bombs in order to end the war in Japan. The horrifying video of the bomb exploding, along with a couple of images of shadows on walls and a woman’s back showing the pattern of her dress stenciled onto her skin by the searing heat of the world’s first wartime use of nuclear weapons were always shown to illustrate the terrifying power of nuclear weapons.
Now, it seems that the US government – and the citizenry – have “gotten over” their moral pangs of regret for committing two of the most terrible war crimes in world history: the deliberate annihilation of a quarter of a million people, the vast majority, civilians. The US news media was largely silent about the commemoration of the 67th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing yesterday.
On August 5th, CNN posted a video of an interview with “the last surviving crew member” of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. This is how Hiroshima looks through the twisted lens of the CNN editorial team: “how did the Hiroshima bombing affect the crew members of the plane that dropped the bomb?”
The video is typical of the current genre of Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorials broadcast in the US the past 20 years or so. Where once there was an obligatory weak showing of anguish over whether it was acceptable that the US government dropped the bomb on a nation that was so close to surrendering anyway or if it had been a terrible miscalculation. Many commentators once made the point that if the Hiroshima bombing was a regrettable necessity, certainly there was no excuse for Nagasaki.
Nowadays, however, the memorials revolve around a single, long-disproved myth: that if the A-bombs hadn’t been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war would have continued for a long time and the US would have been forced to invade Japan as it had invaded Normandy, taking massive casualties and causing far more than 300,000 deaths.
The myth gets a full retelling by Captain Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk in the CNN video. “”It would have been another… years before the war had have been over. The point is: We dropped the bombs and saved a lot of lives. We… and the Japanese… would have had a bloodbath if we had invaded Japan. And they knew we were coming; they knew where we were gonna land; and they had their guns waiting for us.” [Source: CNN, “Crew member who dropped atomic bomb on Hiroshima shares his story”, 5 August, 2012].
“Dutch” Van Kirk’s rather strikingly passionless version has all the elements of the original government version. And like another famous American nicknamed “Dutch”, Van Kirk seems to have forgotten a few details over the years. He remembers turning “on a westerly heading” as a map shows the Enola Gay’s trajectory heading north-northwest almost all the way from its takeoff on Tinian Island and then turning turning north to north-northeast ; he also doesn’t emphasize that his plane wasn’t the only B-29 to fly across the Pacific to Hiroshima that day: 2 other bombers had made the same run. One,“The Great Artiste”, was carrying instruments to measure the effects of the blast; another,Victor 91 carried photographers and scientists who were to document and observe the explosion. He is also either not a student of history at all or he’s a liar when he revoltingly says that “we dropped the bombs and saved a lot of lives”.
No, Mr. Van Kirk, you didn’t “save a lot of lives”. You murdered almost 300,000 people in cold blood – most of them civilians. And it is quite absurd to state that by killing 300,000 people you “saved lives” that would have been lost if the war had continued. The US military, racist to the core against Japanese and Chinese people had chosen four targets – all of which were selected due to their large concentrations of industrial workers and civilians.
What every schoolchild and every adult in the United States must know, and what the US Government and the capitalist press will never tell anyone is that the story about the “need” to drop the A-bomb on Japan in 1945 is pure horseshit. To make that claim back in 1946 perhaps could have been excused due to the massive secrecy surrounding the two attacks; but to tell that story in 2012 when everyone who takes 5 minutes to look into it can quickly find out what a bald-faced lie it is, well that is nothing short of making an attempt to falsify history.
The proof that the US did not “need” to drop even one A-bomb on Japan – and that the US Government knew this in July of 1945 – is manifold, extensive and easy to find on the Internet. And we will present as much of it as we can right here as part of our commemoration of two of the worst US War Crimes ever: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The working class of the United States must never forget the fact that the US government – run at the time by the so-called “friend of labor” Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt – did everything it could to whip up extreme racist hatred of the Japanese people during WWII. From racist children’s cartoons to disgusting propaganda posters; from radio shows to the round-up and imprisonment of over 100,000 US citizens of Japanese descent, racist US policies were imbued throughout the society from bottom to top for the duration of the war and beyond.
This systematic dehumanization of the Japanese people paved the way to a whole series of savage war crimes committed by the government of the United States of America in which hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were wantonly slaughtered in massive firebombings cities known to be composed largely of non-military targets. All the racist propaganda had one aim: to prepare the workers of the United States to allow the US Government to commit any kind of military atrocity anywhere in the world so that the racist US ruling class could emerge from the smoldering ruins – of other people’s countries – victorious at the end of WWII.
It is the responsibility of those who would lead the long-overdue struggle to overthrow the racist U.S. capitalist class to always remind workers of the long and bloody history of the US bourgeoisie. From the Salem Witch Trials and murders to the genocide of the Native Americans; from the horrors of the slave trade to the betrayal of Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow; from the Ku Klux Klan to the Japanese Internment; from Hiroshima to the Korean and Vietnamese Wars; right on down to today’s anti-Muslim hatred and the continued racist treatment of African-Americans and immigrant workers; racism is like a blood-red thread running through American history. For people of color, there never were any “good old days” in racist America. And all that racism leads, inexorably, to savagery like the mass-murders at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
That is why the Independent Workers Party says today: “Workers of the World, Unite!” We can either fight for a future in which we have a civilized world where all the working people of all lands, ethnicities and creeds can live in harmony and mutual respect and love, or we can have a world like we have had for the past several hundred years: one in which racist hatred has led to barbaric acts being committed again and again against the “enemy of the moment”. Which future, fellow worker, will you choose to bring into existence for your great-grandchildren to live in?
[to be continued]