In time for the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the leftist National Catholic Reporter treats us to an entirely conventional rendition and defense of that awful episode in U.S. history, a rendition I might have expected to read in the neoconservative Weekly Standard. (Thanks to Laurence Vance for the link.) My comment, which is “awaiting moderation,” ran as follows:
I am shocked that this kind of jingoism and raw collectivism would soil the pages (so to speak) of the NCR. I would expect this in the Weekly Standard. The use of formulations like “Japan started the war” helps to evade all the relevant moral questions; if “Japan” started it, can “Japan” be laid waste? Their political class makes an idiotic and suicidal military move, so every single three-year-old in the country becomes subject to bombing, poisoning, being burned or buried alive, etc.? At what point do we start questioning the logic of this, instead of formulating all our arguments as if this were simply an obvious moral given?
Instead of asking these hard questions, the kind of questions we are trained from early childhood not to ask, indeed not even to be intellectually equipped to formulate, NCR gives us a collectivist propaganda piece. Anyone who criticizes the decision to drop the bomb is trying to “defame our country” (again, in classic neocon style, conflating the decisions of a small circle of officials with “our country”).
I guess the editor of the Paulist Catholic World was trying to “defame our country”? Or how about L’Osservatore Romano, which also criticized the bombings? Or the great Catholic philosopher G.E.M. Anscombe? Or even Pat Buchanan, who denounces the bombings as acts of barbarism?
Oh, but “we” had to burn all those kids alive, comes the reply. Why, that’s all the fanatics in Japan would understand! (What if the author had said the police needed to kick in the heads of certain races of people because that’s all they would understand? Would you thoughtlessly nod your head at that?) Completely left out of the discussion are the genuine alternatives that existed to dropping the bomb, alternatives that could have worked even with the incorrigible Japanese. (Of course, whenever someone mentions “alternatives” to a decision made by the U.S. military, he is instantly derided as some kind of leftist dreamer.)
For what these alternatives were, and for something a little more significant than mindless, knee-jerk cheering of the U.S. military, as if this group of government employees were sacrosanct, I recommend this short piece by historian Ralph Raico.