By Tim Hughes
Mike Abate’s letter of Aug. 19, answering Stan Campbell’s column of Aug. 4, in which Campbell blames America in general and white America in particular for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, demonstrates the level to which passions continue to rule this historic event.
Campbell’s simplistic condemnation of the United States conveniently ignores the fact that under the Japanese warlords, Japan became an international outlaw of the first magnitude. Peace-and-justice Stan overlooks the fact that peace-loving nations were ruthlessly invaded by Japan and given no justice whatsoever, as proven by such atrocities as the Rape of Nanking, one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century, and that other slight delinquency known as the Bataan Death March, in which some 75,000 American and Filipino POWs were tortured, starved, summarily executed by beheadings, burned alive or run over by trucks and tanks where they fell from weakness as a result of starvation. Survivors were made slave laborers in violation of the Geneva Convention. Many were victims of live vivisections and other cruel medical experiments, and many civilian populations had bubonic plague dropped on them by Japanese aircraft.
Yup. Americans got needlessly worked up over all those little mishaps, according to Stan, whose legs must be aching by now from all that genuflecting he does before the altar of left-wing ideology when it comes to the dropping of the atomic bomb!
Even the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a result of Waspy American evildoers embargoing raw materials destined for Japan so the Japanese could not continue making war. That troublesome fact is also conveniently removed from the Campbell Canon of Condemning America for the world’s ills, as is the fact that even after the second atomic bomb, the Japanese War Council argued to continue the war. Only the Emperor’s intervention ended the debate.
But Mr. Abate doesn’t take into account a few facts in his summation of facts justifying Truman’s decision to drop the bomb. Abate is correct in asserting that military experts projected a million-plus American casualties were Japan to be invaded from the sea. Were the American public to later learn that the government had in its possession a bomb that cost the equivalent of $22 billion in today’s money to build and would have ended the war in a single stroke, and had not used it, the political consequences would have been devastating. It’s easy in retrospect to create alternatives to history, but the realities of the times dictated a different result, and it’s all too easy for those who come after to create their own demagoguery out of it.
Tim Hughes is a former teacher in Rockford School District 205 who coached debate and taught English at Auburn High School for 20 years. At Auburn, he coached three debate teams to first-place national championships.
From the Sept. 1-7, 2010 issue