Friday, August 6, 2010


ChangelingNobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe writes about Hiroshima, moral responsibility, outrage, and aging in today's The New York Times op-ed section. It's an oblique essay about the travesty of Japanese policy that allows the US to maintain a military base on Okinawa. It is also ostensibly about the bombing of Hiroshima sixty-five years ago--the event that forever links the ethical responsibilities of the US to Japan--when 30% of Hiroshima's population was immediately and without warning incinerated. Vaporized.

I can't understand such an event, or the thought processes and decision-making that led to it. I don't believe in the rational lie that claims the Japanese would have fought to their deaths regardless of the manner of those deaths. No society--even one under a totalitarian regime--would blindly follow a trajectory of such abject self-annihilation. Yet charging pure and simple racism diminishes the argument altogether.

In some regards, I "prefer" the Holocaust--a still-visible wound winding its way across Central Europe, where piles of ash and dust still remain. In Hiroshima, there's nothing left except perhaps a shadow permanently imprinted on a brick wall. And a broken clock ever indicating the end of time: 8:15.

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