August 6, 2015

Hiroshima+70 deserves honesty, not fear

Not so long ago, in the National Air & Space Museum’s massive annex behind Dulles Airport, I showed my son the Enola Gay – the infamous B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima 70 years ago today. I had never seen the actual plane myself, so naturally I looked closely over the information panel. 

There's an obvious argument to be made about the considerations at the time, despite the resulting catastrophe and chilling specter of nuclear apocalypse we still endure (see under: Iran deal). Absent any photos or description of the human toll, the curators focused on the bomber's crew and capabilities, and the tonnage of the blast, etc. 

I was left to describe, for my young son, just what happened, and why that plane is a dark symbol for our civilization, however justified we might claim its mission to have been. How can this artifact be displayed or even mentioned, without presenting its full context and implications?

It isn't just the Enola Gay; the ICBM missiles are also presented with no description of the strategy and the terror they inflicted upon generations of Americans, Russians, and Europeans. Unilateral disarmament may be impractical, but that doesn't mean we can afford to glorify our nuclear "necessary evil". Especially not to our children, and especially not while we're within reach of keeping another nuclear contender from crossing that threshold. 

That the region's only known (though undeclared) nuclear state is leading the opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the "Iran deal") is troubling on several levels. For today, I'm going to stick with the level of Hiroshima, and the duty we all bear to maintain the dignity of human life along with the value of strength through peace. Fear is a dangerous and addictive drug.

No comments:

Post a Comment