Friday, August 29, 2014

Revisionist history

My WWII story, still in progress VERY slowly, takes place during the last 9 days of WWII.  That includes the bombing of Hiroshima and three days later, Nagasaki.
I needed to look up the American reaction to the second bombing.  After Hiroshima, the American public was thrilled at the power and supremacy of our nation.  We were hot stuff, we'd probably gotten the Japs to their knees and were the leaders of the world.  Europe and some of Asia had been ravaged by the Japanese.  China had suffered the rape of Nanking, I think it was, where the people were slaughtered without mercy.  Hitler had done his own fair share of slaughtering innocents with a true purpose in mind. He liked it.  He was an animal.  He had no conscience, and apparently, neither did the Japanese military.
There are films of young schoolgirls training to fend off the enemy with sharpened poles.  They were told to hate us and they did.
If we were going to win the war, we had to do something drastic, not wait for Stalin to somehow get across the vast expanse of Siberia to join in the war and obliterate the Japs who were in Manchuria and Korea and other places.
So, we dropped a bomb...not just any bomb, but the most destructive force in the world.

The rest is history.
Or is it?

I looked up stuff today about the reaction to the dropping of the bombs.  I had seen photos of how the people reacted when they heard about the atomic bomb and Mr. Truman's speech that fateful day to all Americans.  But I wanted to find out if any fuss was made over the dropping of the second plutonium bomb, Fat Boy, on Nagasaki.

All I could find was second thought, revisionist history in which people born probably well after the war was over wrote about how big a mistake it was to drop either bomb.  How unnecessary it was.  How there was no need for a land invasion that would kill a million American forces.  It was, in their opinions, a bunch of lies.  The Japanese were on their knees already.  They had no army left.  They deserved to be treated differently.

Yeah.  It's easy to sit in the comfort of the future and say what an unnecessary, perhaps even evil thing we did.
How is it that, seen through the cataracts of time, it was a horror?
Yes, it was brutal and we wouldn't do it now because we've made our peace with our enemies, but then, when how many brave men died for the cause of freedom, it was justified.

War is hell.  Yes, it is a horror show and evil and bloody and destroys so many lives, not to mention property, because it's the lives we're concerned about.  There is nothing good about war--any war, whether a Crusade or Vietnam or this mess we find ourselves in today.  But it continues to happen and we continue to rise to the bait and use power against power to see who comes out on top.

What bothers me most is how these historians condemn what was done through the benefit of hindsight.  Give me a break.  There is nothing good about war, and absolutely nothing good about trying to excuse the outcome or what anyone does in a war.  Certainly words written 60 years later will not make anything better.  It won't make Hiroshima or Bataan or Burma or Saigon or any of those mud hut towns in faraway places better.

To change history is a mistake.  It's not 1984, we can't make up facts, but we can change how they are reported.  Facts are.  They can't be erased to make people feel less guilty.  No confession of evil absolves anyone. 
If you can find a veteran, ask him or her how they feel about putting their lives on the line so historians can try to change their reality.
Go ahead.


Just don't ask one from our more recent conflicts.  You might get decked.

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