JG - Nuking a terrorist memory
published: Thursday August 11, 2005
Nuking a terrorist memory
"Let all the souls here rest in peace, as we will never repeat this mistake."
- Inscription in Hiroshima Peace Park
ON SATURDAY morning, Jamaica's 43 celebratory day of highly theoretical Independence, the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) television service carried the entire memorial of the 60th anniversary of America's atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, live.
On that day, 60 years ago, at 8:15 a.m., the Enola Gay dropped the innocuously named atomic bomb 'Little Boy' over the city, instantly killing an estimated 80,000 civilians. And it is not an estimated murder figure in the same way as today's Iraq, where the U.S. simply does not bother to count the civilians it murders, but when an atomic bomb falls no one can count all the dead.
Some simply vanish.
That was just the start, as by the end of the 1945, 60,000 more people died from radiation poisoning, making it 140,000 people.
And even then that was just the beginning, as up to the 59th anniversary of the bombing city officials put the total death toll at 237,062 - and counting, as over 2,000 more residents of the city died before the 60th anniversary.
At 11:02 on August 9, 1945, it was the turn of Nagasaki, which had the unfortunate advantage that day of better weather than the designated target, Kokura. The airplane Bockscar was used to drop 'Fat Man', with 75,000 people killed instantly. That figure doubled with deaths from radiation sickness.
These, the second and third exploded nuclear devices, can hardly be surpassed as weapons of mass destruction.
The Hiroshima commemoration was moving not only in its simplicity, but also in its position on peace. There was none of the bitterness that anybody could reasonably expect, simply an extended statement in ceremony that this thing was atrocious and should never happen again.
None of the U.S. news channels available to me carried anything about the Hiroshima commemoration while it was happening. And Fox had footage from Japan, as they ran a clip about two National Football League (NFL) teams training and playing in Japan as they tried to expand the game.
There were stories on the bombings later, but not about the commemorative services (another took place in Nagasaki yesterday). Instead, there were justifications for the mass murders and explanations of why it was done.
In a world situation where the U.S. is leading the charge to keep nuclear weapons within the nucleus of the white dominated countries which already have them, pointing to the devastation of a nuclear explosion is a perfect opportunity to justify putting pressure on Iraq and North Korea. But the U.S. finds itself in the unhappy position of being the only ones actually to have used the ultimate weapons of mass destruction that they claim are so dangerous to world security.
So, what has happened in news and popular American culture is the nuking of the memory of Little Boy and Fat Man, certainly in terms of the murder rate of civilians. Think about all the American-made movies that you have seen centred on a nuclear explosion or a nuclear holocaust.
Is there any mention of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the mushroom cloud from the explosion went 60,000 feet (18 kilometres) in the air? Nope.
For just as Saddam's handshake with Donald Rumsfeld and the U.S. support of the Taliban was severed from the attack on Iraq (where they have no chance of subduing the people, by the way), the world's only two nuclear attacks on civilians are separated from the drive to restrict the possession of nukes to the few.
Or, in another scenario, how Blair separates Britain's role in the savagery perpetrated on Iraq from the subway and bus bombings in July.
So they convince themselves that their selective amnesia is genuine memory and ask, "Why do they hate us?"
Mel Cooke is a freelance writer.