Talk to your average wingnut about Democrats, and he'll be most likely to tell you that the last great Democrat was Harry Truman, and all the others since have been tree-hugging fruitcakes like me.
Perhaps it's time we examined that claim, given that during a time where the cradle of civilization is imploding before the world's eyes, we have arrived at the 61st anniversary of Truman's greatest legacy. What did he have to say in the wake of his genocidal efforts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
The President said the atomic bomb heralded the "harnessing of the basic power of the universe".
We have never recovered from this statement of an unquestioned metaphysical belief, which was presented without evidence and accepted without criticism. In the sense that Truman distorted science by dressing it in the language of an ideology of destruction, we see no difference between his administration and the one now in office. I can today make an equally strong argument, grounded in the most recognized principles of relativistic and quantum science, that gravitation—the principle that I call Love—is the "basic power of the universe" as anyone could prepare to support the Truman hypothesis. Yet I am the tree-hugging, juice-chugging fruitcake whacko that hates science, and the wingnut crowd is the side that understands how to properly understand and harness the energies of Nature.
The most conservative estimates place the death toll of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at around a quarter million; more updated and reasonable figures place the number at around 400 thousand.
Truman, of course, was ready to continue his program of ethnic cleansing, if the Japanese failed to surrender:
The Potsdam declaration...called for the unconditional surrender of Japan, [and] was a last chance for the country to avoid utter destruction, the President said.
This was meant to be understood as follows: "give up now or the next one comes down on Tokyo." The message was not missed.
But let's be fair by noting where Truman's philosophy of murder parts ways with the Bush and Company spin on institutional destruction. President Truman never made any bones about the purpose of war, which is to kill as many of the enemy's innocent civilians, as well as their armed forces, as possible. The statements I have looked back upon do not include any Rumsfeldian guff about "surgical strikes" and "compassionate use of force." Bombs, as the two parties to the current unpleasantness in Lebanon are showing us once more, do not discriminate between soldiers and children. The innocents of a dehumanized nation are all dehuman by association. This is the way of war: you have to spray the whole orchard to defeat the vermin; if half the trees die in the process, then it's Mission Accomplished.
So the people of Japan drank black raindrops, from which their people still suffer to this day, 61 years later. But they were fortunate enough to have within them the means of recovery (my question to anyone imagining that American handouts and/or know-how alone made the Japanese recovery possible, is: why aren't we buying Vietnamese cars or Nicaraguan stereo systems?). The Japanese had, to my mind, the energy of clarity: there was no dominant ideological system, either social or religious, to obstruct their recovery and growth, once their armies had been disbanded. They simply drew upon what they had within them and gradually rejuvenated their nation.
What the Japanese discovered was what America has yet to understand: that a Trumanesque view of the universe as containing the building blocks of destruction is not only false and immoral, but more importantly, impractical. The Japanese built one of the greatest armed forces in history, and were very nearly wiped clean off the face of the earth for it. In other words, they squeezed out of the unimaginable horror of their holocaust the only lesson of growth it could possibly have contained: that every ideology of death is inevitably an act of suicide.
Thus, while we moved on from WWII to probe the depths of the metaphysics of carpet-bombing in places such as Korea and Vietnam, the Japanese dedicated themselves to restoring their economy and their natural culture. They have, so far, succeeded beyond anyone's wildest expectation amid the nuclear dust of late 1945; and we have, for our part, leaped from failure to spectacular failure.
The new Japan has defined itself by its prosperity—its dream of abundance, fulfilled within a single generation. Meanwhile, the same-old America has defined itself amid the recurrent failure of its militaristic nightmare. When, I wonder, will we awaken; and when we do, will it be too late to matter?
Site note: it's Monday, but Terry McKenna is still on the mend. We hope to have him back in this space soon.