“As the bomb fell over Hiroshima and exploded, we saw an entire city disappear. I wrote in my log the words: ‘My God, what have we done?’” -Captain Robert Lewis, on the tenth anniversary of the devastating atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
It has been sixty-seven years since 140,000 lives were abruptly cut short by the B-29 Bomber Enola Gay. The death toll included the men, women, and children killed instantly and those who failed died several months after the attack due unforgiving effects of radiation. It has been sixty-seven years, but the screams of children and the utter darkness of the burning hell of the once crowded city continue to haunt the world to this day.
My great grandmother recently passed away. It is only after her death that I have truly come to appreciate who she was an individual. On the brink of World War II, my great grandmother lost her husband and her family. When poverty, scarcity, and hunger were among the people of Japan, she had to raise her children on her own. She had to educate them, find ways to feed them, help them evacuate from air raids, and work in a time where women were discouraged from employment. Until the day she died, she had scars on her body , the lifelong consequences of living through the war and having to take on her husband’s responsibilities. I used to be apathetic towards the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but as I hear the untold stories passed down from my grandmother to my mother and now to me, I feel a great urge to speak against the atrocities committed by the state, the same atrocities which caused the ruthless hardship of my great-grandmother and so greatly impacted the lives of my ancestors.
Many desire to use this anniversary as a day to call for an end of nuclear experimentation. However, an end of nuclear experimentation does not necessarily equate to an end to terror. August 6, 1945, is a troubling memory of what is at stake when power is left to the state.
As a person of Japanese descent, it is sickening to see people justify the bombing of Hiroshima. The bombing has been justified with the overused claim that it shortened the war and saved the lives of many American troops. Indeed, I pay a great respect to all men – past and present- for their service to protect our country. However, the justification of saving men in war for the cost of Japanese children is no different than the justification of saving Taliban soldiers for the cost of American children. In actuality, the bombings of Hiroshima (and let’s not forget the bombing of Nagasaki that occurred three days later) is constituted as a war crime; the perpetrators of the Truman administration should have been tried in court and should have been punished for their crime.
Some say that bombing of Hiroshima was different from war crimes, but how so? There is no difference between dropping an atomic bomb in a city overpopulated with civilians than it is to look into a child’s eye before shooting them. Rape, pillage, torture and execution of prisoners, and the deliberate killing of civilians are all prohibited acts of war. If torture on civilians would shorten the war, would it be moral for the commander-in-chief to order it? The same applies to rape, raids, and pillages.
War used to be about armies fighting armies, but since 1945 that has not been the case. Others justify the bombing, claiming that Japan instigated the war and committed ruthless acts of brutality such as the rape of Nanking. However, nations do not have rights; individuals have rights. Unless there is evidence of every Japanese civilian affected by the bombings were involved in the atrocities committed by the Japanese empire, the detrimental effects of the bombing are indisputable. I find it offensive and immoral to belittle the lives of the Japanese people because of the aggression of their state. Human lives are not statistics. My ancestors had a home where they could go back to reunite with their families, they had careers, they had ambitions, and most certainly, they had souls. Their lives were not different than the lives of American people.
Since 1945, the United States has continued with drone strikes and dropping explosives on cities with the understanding that thousands would die instantly, yet they still pretend that their intention wasn’t to kill so many civilians. In March 2003, 1,500 bombs were used to attack Baghdad. Before 1945 that would be considered an outrage yet today, it would be considered progress. Now, the United States fears that Iran will one day wage a nuclear war. Besides the fact that there is no real evidence linking Iran to any nuclear weapons, Iran has not attacked a country in hundreds of years. In this day and age, nothing in this world can overturn good and evil, war and peace, and life and death but the state.
The day Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb was they day world cried. The world continues to cry, as we have not learned from history. On the same day of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, President Truman described it as the “greatest achievement of organized science in history” and stated that “atomic power can become a powerful and forceful influence toward the maintenance of world peace.”
If President Truman’s definition of peace was the wipeout of human existence, then he may possibly have been right.
Through the stories that were told by my ancestors and eventually passed down to me, I have come to fully appreciate the non-aggression principls of classical liberalism. As a libertarian, I understand that the individual is different from the state. As a libertarian, I understand that human life is equal regardless of what nation you live in. As a libertarian, I will continue to fight with my words and the stories of my ancestors to protect the people from the state.
Today, I can still see ungodly hands of death sculpt the mushroom cloud above the city of Hiroshima in a blinding flash. Today, I can feel the fierce, scorching heat rays and radiation bursting out in all directions evaporating hundreds of thousands of people and animals, the melting of vast buildings, leaving the city to apocalyptic ruins. Today, I still cringe at the thought of the mother incinerated instantly as she waters the flowers in her front porch or the child playing with his toy car slaughtered by the unforgiving atomic explosion, their internal organs boiled and their bones scorched into brittle charcoal. Today, I pay my respects and virtues to the victims of the state.