Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Racism in nuclear bomb testing, bombing of Japanese people, and nuclear waste dumping

Langston Hughes voiced the opinion that until racial injustice on home ground in the United States ceases, “it is going to be very hard for some Americans not to think the easiest way to settle the problems of Asia is simply dropping an atom bomb on colored heads there.”[25] While his statement was made in 1953, near the eighth anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, it remains equally relevant today, as we approach the 75th anniversary

Memorial Days: the racial underpinnings of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings  , Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Elaine Scarry, Elaine Scarry is the author of Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing between Democracy and Doom and The Body in Pain: the Making and Unmaking of the World. She is Cabot Profess…   By Elaine Scarry, August 3, 2020

This past Memorial Day, a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the throat of an African-American, George Floyd, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Seventy-five years ago, an American pilot dropped an atomic bomb on the civilian population of Hiroshima. Worlds apart in time, space, and scale, the two events share three key features. Each was an act of state violence. Each was an act carried out against a defenseless opponent. Each was an act of naked racism. ……….

Self-defense was not an option for any one of the 300,000 civilian inhabitants of the city of Hiroshima, nor for any one of the 250,000 civilians in Nagasaki three days later. We know from John Hersey’s classic Hiroshima that as day dawned on that August morning, the city was full of courageous undertakings meant to increase the town’s collective capacity for self-defense against conventional warfare, such as the clearing of fire lanes by hundreds of young school girls, many of whom would instantly vanish in the 6,000° C temperature of the initial flash, and others of whom, more distant from the center, would retain their lives but lose their faces.[2] The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki initiated an era in which—for the first time on Earth and now continuing for seven and a half decades—humankind collectively and summarily lost the right self-defense. No one on Earth—or almost no one on Earth[3]has the means to outlive a blast that is four times the heat of the sun or withstand the hurricane winds and raging fires that follow………

Centuries of political philosophers have asked, “What kind of political arrangements will create a noble and generous people?” Surely such arrangements cannot be ones where a handful of men control the means for destroying at will everyone on Earth from whom the means of self-defense have been eliminated……..

When Americans first learned that the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been collectively vaporized in less time than it takes for the heart to beat, many cheered. But not all. Black poet Langston Hughes at once recognized the moral depravity of executing 100,000 people and discerned racism as the phenomenon that had licensed the depravity: “How come we did not try them [atomic bombs] on Germany…  . They just did not want to use them on white folks.”[4] Although the building of the weapon was completed only after Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, Japan had been designated the target on September 18, 1944, and training for the mission had already been initiated in that same month.[5] Black journalist George Schuyler wrote: “The atom bomb puts the Anglo-Saxons definitely on top where they will remain for decades”; the country, in its “racial arrogance,” has “achieved the supreme triumph of being able to slaughter whole cities at a time.”[6]

Still within the first year (and still before John Hersey had begun to awaken Americans to the horrible aversiveness of the injuries), novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston denounced the US president as a “butcher” and scorned the public’s silent compliance, asking, “Is it that we are so devoted to a ‘good Massa’ that we feel we ought not to even protest such crimes?”[7] Silence—whether practiced by whites or people of color—was, she saw, a cowardly act of moral enslavement to a white supremacist.

Each of these three passages, and scores of others, are documented in Vincent Intondi’s brilliant history, African-Americans Against the Bomb, which chronicles the repudiation by the Black community of nuclear arms from the 1940s up through President Obama’s April 5, 2009 Prague speech: jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, composer and pianist Duke Ellington, civil rights and gay activist Bayard Rustin, poet-novelist James Baldwin, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, and sociologist and pan-Africanist W.E. B. DuBois are among those who spoke out decisively and often………….

three lists—the list of geographies where US presidents have contemplated launching a first strike, the list of geographies where the United States has tested its bombs, and the list of countries that the United States condemns for their aspiration to acquire nuclear weapons—may, like avenues of insight radiating outward from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, help to make the racial underpinnings of the nuclear architecture unmistakable……….

Like the countries US presidents have chosen for a first strike, the US selection of nuclear testing sites indicates a belief that people of color are expendable. The painful instance of the Marshall Islands is succinctly summarized by The Washington Post’s Dan Zak:“[T]he United States tested 67 high-yield nuclear bombs between 1946 and 1958, resettling whole islands of Marshallese people, exposing many to radioactive fallout and bequeathing exile and ill health to ensuing generations. …….

 The picture is not more heartening when one turns to tests carried out on US soil. On the arrival this summer of the 75th anniversary of the July 16, 1945 Trinity test in New Mexico, observers noted the racial distribution: “It should come as no surprise that the downwinders of Trinity were largely impoverished agricultural families, mostly Hispanic and Native.”[17] As in New Mexico, so in Nevada. ……

The third list is the sequence of countries we have condemned because their leaders and scientists have aspired to develop a nuclear weapon. The United States has treated these aspirants, in each case, people of color—Iranians, Iraqis, Libyans, North Koreans—as immoral, despite our own vast nuclear architecture…..

A recent article in The Atlantic reports new neuroscience research suggesting that people holding positions of power may suffer brain damage, the incapacitation of mirror neurons that ordinarily enable one to comprehend the position of another person or people.[20] ……..

When this soul-destroying asymmetry is pointed out, the United States says, “Yes, but they (i.e., those people of color) may use them, while we (i.e., we white people in charge of the United States) will not use them,” a manifestly incoherent statement since it is only the United States who has used them, and used them twice.[22] ……….

Langston Hughes voiced the opinion that until racial injustice on home ground in the United States ceases, “it is going to be very hard for some Americans not to think the easiest way to settle the problems of Asia is simply dropping an atom bomb on colored heads there.”[25] While his statement was made in 1953, near the eighth anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, it remains equally relevant today, as we approach the 75th anniversary: …………….  https://thebulletin.org/2020/08/memorial-days/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=MondayNewsletter08032020&utm_content=NuclearRisk_MemorialDays_08032020#_ednref20 

 

August 4, 2020 - Posted by | General News

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