The real shame of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is not that he full-throatedly levels hateful accusations against America every bit as irrational as the earth is flat, the sun rises in the north and two plus two is six. America has digested worse than Rev. Wright.
The real shame is that so many Americans, even well-educated Americans, could not effectively smash him down with rebuttal.
We've heard even stars of the media answer Wright's accusations by saying things like, "Look. A lot of countries have done some bad things but look at all the good we've done."
No! No! Please, no! Stop. Back up. That won't do.
Those who grew up sitting on North Carolina creek banks know you have to pull out each cockleburr one at a time. In this column we'll go for two.
The cockelburrs dart-thrusted into America's backside by Wright include the one about, "America nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killed all those civilians without batting an eye!" The truth is, many eyes in Washington were batting as the use of the A-bomb was pondered but President Harry Truman unbattingly made the correct moral decision to use the atomic bomb on those two Japanese cities. You heard me! It was the correct moral decision.
A superstar political consultant commented on TV that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved the lives of all the American troops, Japanese troops and civilians who would have been lost had the bombs not ended the war on Aug. 15, 1945 and we'd had to invade the Japanese home islands instead. At least he gets it, but only part way. Thanks to an unforgettable interview I had with a South African prisoner of the Japanese in Indonesia during that war I can make the moral case for dropping the bombs without invoking American troops, Japanese troops and Japanese civilians.
Laurens van der Post spoke Japanese. He'd even performed that difficult trick of "understanding the Japanese mind." He suffered unspeakable brutalities in that Japanese prison camp during the war. He wrote a powerful book entitled, "The Prisoner and the Bomb" in which he pointed out several things I'm confident would flit right through Wright's head without attracting his attention.
When Germany was in its last throes of defeat that nation had shrunk down to six city blocks in downtown Berlin. Not so with Japan. When the Japanese were in their final throes they still held over 93% of all that vast terrirory they'd conquered. They still occupied most of China, Manchuria, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, some of the Philippines and a bit of Burma. And Japan itself did not have the imprint of one single American boot. Japanese concentration camps in those countries much like van der Post's were jammed with millions of prisoners; all the white westerners they could find plus all the locals considered opponents of the Japanese occupation. And their numbers were huge.
Japan was losing the war. They hardly had enough food to feed their own troops. What effect do you suppose that had on the menu of their captives? Japanese guards would grab prisoners (including van der Post) and beat them insensate for no reason even when they were winning. Do you suppose the inevitability of their later defeat improved their manners toward their captives? Those prisoners all over Japanese-occupied Asia were dying at escalating rates as Japan's war fortunes collapsed, especially after the Americans took Okinawa in June of 1945 placing Japan within easy range of land-based heavy bombers.
Most Americans understandably assume the Japanese surrendered because they saw two of their cities eliminated with tremendous loss of life with one bomb apiece.
Wrong. Listen to van der Post. "The Japanese did not surrender after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki because of the power of the new weapon. That's the American and Western view. The Japanese were fully prepared to fight to the death for the emperor. The fact that the A-bomb was a radically different kind of weapon prompted Japan's surrender. The Japanese interpreted the atomic bomb as a "flash from heaven" that released them from their pledge to fight to the death and allowed them to surrender with honor; on grounds that the flash from heaven had changed the rules of the Japanese warrior code of Bushido. (The young people today would say, "The atomic bombs gave the Japanese military a paradigm shift!")
Bottom line: If the war had gone on merely six weeks longer, more of those prisoners of the Japanese would have died of starvation, disease and mistreatment than died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many times more. And the most optimistic estimates were that, without the bombs, the invasion and subjugation of Japan would have taken at least two more years! And if you see Rev. Wright, tell him the overwhelming majority of those whose lives were saved by the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were non-white.
As for the U. S. government cooking up AIDS to kill off black people. When questioned before national television the Reverend merely replied, "America is fully capable of doing such a thing."
He brings to mind the woman writer who chose to proofread her manuscript in the rowboat her husband used for fishing in the middle of the lake by their country home. The warden buzzed up in his police boat and took a look.
"Ma'am," he said, "I have to put you under arrest for fishing illegally on this lake at this time."
"But I'm not fishing," said she. "I'm reading over a manuscript."
"Well," said he, "You've got all the equipment in this boat for fishing, and I've got to take you in."
"If you do," said she, "I'll accuse you of raping me."
"But I'm not raping you," said he.
"Well," said she. "You've got all the equipment!"
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