None other than the NYTimes’s Mark Bittman sounds like a vegan polemicist:
Most humans never tasted fresh milk from any source other than their mother for almost all of human history, and fresh cow’s milk could not be routinely available to urbanites without industrial production. The federal government not only supports the milk industry by spending more money on dairy than any other item in the school lunch program, but by contributing free propaganda as well as subsidies amounting to well over $4 billion in the last 10 years.
These aren’t new arguments, but Bittman presents them well, citing his own experiences. And of course it makes a difference that he’s a charming, high profile Times columnist.
The Smithsonian Museum in Washington has “reassembled the enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945”:www.nytimes.com/2003/08/19/national/19MUSe.html. Trying to avoid the controversy that accompanied a 1995 exhibition, the current museum director says this exhibit will:
bq. “focus on the technological achievements, because we are a technological museum… This plane was the largest and most technologically advanced airplane for its time.”
This continues the moral blindness that created the bloodiest century in human history. Instead of looking at how politics, war and technology intersected in an event that instantly killed 80,000 people, we shine up the metal and blabber on about technology. The bombing’s death count far overshadows the 3,000 deaths at the World Trade Center two years ago. If the sight of the towers collapsing is a horror we can never forget or minimize, then so too is Hiroshima’s mushroom cloud.
The only way militarism and nationalism survives is by abstracting war and ignoring the very real death, blood and tragedy. The Japanese people caught up in their country’s lust for war were victims as soon as the fighting started. Their participating in their country’s war was a result of propaganda and nationalistic fervor, the same mix that led so many Americans to support the war in Iraq.
The overwhelming majority of people killed on August 8, 1945 were people who never fired a gun. They were simply trying to stay alive in a world full of human-made terror. They were ordinary people who watched as their country’s leaders plotted and warred. Most were afraid to say no to war, to unite with pacifists around the world, or to denounce militarism wherever it existed and with whatever excuse it gave for its horror.
The roots of World War II were oil and terror: Japanese leaders attacked its neighbors to gain control of the industrial resources the home islands didn’t have. American leaders (industrial and political) had waged war against Hawaii and the Philippines for control of Pacific shipping lanes. The plotting for war started long before Pearl Harbor and involved the leaders in both countries. In a very real way, the war in Iraq is just the latest chapter in the century-long war over oil.
But history, truth and morality will all be stripped out of the Smithsonian’s new exhibit, as spokespeople for the American Legion and Air Force have declared:
bq. “As long as the enola Gay is presented in the light that it was used — to end the war and save lives — that’s fine.”
bq. “We are satisfied that it is in historical context this time and does not make comments about U.S. aggression in the Pacific.”
No, schoolchildren visiting Washington won’t learn the truth about the bombing. Another generation will be spoon-fed propaganda about its country’s greatness and goodness. Another generation will not pause to consider its country’s old sins and tragic mistakes. A typical blog entry about the Smithsonian exhibit that claims “no single plane did more to save lives in World War II”:http://www.hobbsonline.blogspot.com/2003_08_01_hobbsonline_archive.html#106130896137661056 . Abstract death and claim righteousness to your country, keep militarism going and keep peaceful people from uniting across national boundaries.
Today, August 6th, marks the fifty-eighth anniversary of one of the saddest events in human history: the use of weapons of mass destruction against a civilian population.
There’s much that’s been written about the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima. At the time, U.S. leaders said that use of such overwhelming force would prompt a quick Japanese surrender that would save the thousands of American and Japanese casulties that would surely result from an invasion. We have since learned the Japanese were secretly suing for peace even as the bomber planes took off.
We have learned that President Truman was looking ahead. He used the bombing (and the attack on Nagasaki a few days later) to demonstrate the weapon to the Soviet Union. In the post-war world emerging, it was clear the U.S. and the Soviet Union were on a collision course and Truman wanted to start the competition off with a bang. The lesson the Soviet leadership learned from the blast was that they’d better get their own atomic weapons and the arms race was on, straining the economies of both countries for the next fifty years.
Amazingly, those two bombs remain the only atomic weapons ever to be used against people in an act of war. Through all the years of the Cold War and the break up of the Soviet Union, and despite the multiplying members of the “nuclear club”:www.fas.org/irp/threat/wmd.htm, no one has ever done what the U.S. did all the Augusts ago. It is a fact that the world should be grateful for.
But there is no guarantee that the human race will go another fifty-eight years without mushroom clouds of human ashes. Or that development of super-bombs that pack Hiroshima-like charges won’t be used to equally-devastating effects. The U.S. is busy developing all sorts of low-yield exotic nuclear weapons to make their use more palatable to a queasy public. “As the current mayor of Hiroshim Tadatoshi Akiba said earlier today”:http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/news/20030806p2a00m0fp022000c.html :
bq. A world without nuclear weapons and war that the victims of the atomic bomb have long sought for is slipping into the shadows of glowing black clouds that could turn into mushroom clouds at any moment. The chief cause of this is the United States’ nuclear policy which, by openly declaring the possibility of a pre-emptive nuclear strike and by starting research into small ‘useable’ nuclear weapons, appears to worship nuclear weapons as God.
On the Nonviolence.org Board, there’s a lively commentary on this anniversary of “Humanity’s darkest hour approaching”:www.nonviolence.org/comment/viewtopic.php?t=3976