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08/14/2005 Archived Entry: "Visiting Hiroshima"
I VISITED HIROSHIMA some years ago. I was on a business trip and had Sunday free. I spent a large sum on a bullet train ticket from Kobe to Hiroshima. (I found out later that day that what I thought was an outrageous fare was in fact only one-way, and had to pay it again to get back to my hotel.) A Japanese businessman on the train was very kind to me, spoke English with me, asked about my destination, and invited me to visit the resort hotel he managed in the mountains outside Kobe.
In Hiroshima, I saw, and felt, the most dreadful sights. They have erected a very tasteful, understated museum, and preserved a block or two close to ground zero. The Japanese seem to harbor no grudge, but all I felt was deep, burning shame. Standing in front of a gigantic mound that housed the ashes of those 70,000+ dead whose remains could not be identified. Seeing the blasted and burnt steel and concrete. Reading about the incredible suffering that followed, with no one knowing what had happened, what radiation sickness was, what to do. Gazing at the cenotaph, a monument with 79 volumes recording over 225,000 names of those killed by the bomb and its lingering effects. Reading the medical histories of people who have suffered for 60 years from our attack. (Glass shards are still being removed from the bodies of bombing survivors suffering from chronic pain.)
Knowing that my government did this evil in my name and is quite willing and able to do so again, on a much larger scale, at any moment.
The kindness of the Japanese was like hot embers on my scalp. I think I would rather they had spat on me and insulted me rather than simply forgiving while preserving the memory. I'll never forget that day.
Now, some 60 years after America invented a new class of war crime, we learn that the American government actively suppressed documentation of the destruction and its horrific aftermath. The intent was to mute American revulsion to death and destruction on a scale that is quite literally incomprehensible. The cover-up largely succeeded. Today we hold thousands and thousands of these ghastly weapons, each many times more powerful than the ones we used to murder several hundred thousand innocent women, children, civilians, and slaves.
If there is one thing that I would change, I would remove the power to repeat this atrocity from the lying monsters who infest our governments. Our language has no words to describe the crime and folly of giving this kind of power to any mortal. I want to live in a world where even if a crazy war-mongering fool incapable of admitting mistakes or doubt somehow gains access to the levers of power, they cannot destroy the entire world. The moral imperative of our time is removing this lethal threat from arrogant and evil people to our beautiful, precious planet.
Posted by Silver @ 11:25 AM CST