Further thoughts on the Massacre of Japanese Civilians, August 1945

Thanks to Winston Elliott III for reposting my three-year old piece on American crimes against Japanese civilians.  I must admit, I never cease to wonder at the responses that come as a defense of U.S. actions.  The only possible defense is utilitarian, a calculation that sets Americans against Japanese civilians.  The biggest defense is that “we had to do it; my dad (insert any person–uncle, brother, grandpa) would’ve been one of the 1,000,000 soldiers who would die on the beaches of Japan.”  Well, this is quite possible.  Lots and lots of good men died in World War II.  Checkout the invasion of Normandy beach.  I can’t confirm or deny that some person important to you wouldn’t have died.  But, I can say two things.  1) No major ethical thinker (Socrates, Hillel, or Jesus, to pick three somewhat haphazardly) in western civilization would ever condone the intentional slaughter of innocents, preemptively or not.  If you do condone the slaughter of innocents, you can’t consider yourself civilized in any meaningful way.  2) I’m not a pacifist at all.  I would (I hope) have stood with Leonidas at the Gates of Fire, Cato the Younger against Caesar, Alfred the Great against the Vikings, Harold of Hastings against William the Bastard, the Anglicans at York singing the Te Deum as the Roundheads bombarded them in the cathedral, John Dickinson and his militia in Delaware, Crazy Horse at Little Big Horn, and William H.L. Wallace at Shiloh, and next to Maximilian Kolbe at Auschwitz.  But, murdering women and children with insane superweapons.  No, there is no human or humane defense of such an action.  Ever.  Anywhere.  At any time.

From TIC:

Today is the Feast of St. Edith Stein, martyred in the modern Golgotha of Auschwitz.  The National Socialists executed her sixty-eight years ago.

Exactly three years later, sixty-five years ago today, the United States B-29 bomber, the Bockscar, under the command of Charles Sweeney, dropped the atomic bomb known as the “Fat Boy” on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.  According to estimates, the bomb created winds of over six hundred miles per hour and heat at close to 4,000 degrees fahrenheit.  Somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 persons died either instantly or over the next two months from injuries sustained from the bomb.

It is difficult for any thinking person–American or otherwise–not to consider this one of the greatest crimes in history, given that so many of those who died were civilians and innocents.

We can make all of the excuses we want: the United States would have had to have invaded the island with 1,000,000 men, resulting in an untold number of casualties.  Or, perhaps, more callously, some casualties are merely the result of war; besides, the Japanese bombed us first.

All of the above–and more–is true, of course.  One might even take the argument further and still be within the realm of truth–no country treated its captured enemy POWs more brutally than did the Japanese.

Does any of this really justify not only the development of the bomb under President Roosevelt (certainly, no fan of Asians as witnessed by his countenance and encouragement of the vile internment camps for American citizens of Japanese ancestry) or dropping of a weapon of mass destruction (yes, the Americans knew how powerful this thing was, though they didn’t quite realize the extent to which radiation would continue to affect the population) on innocents?

Is what we did to Japanese innocents in August 1945 that different from what the National Socialists did to Edith Stein and so many others in August 1942 (and until the end of the war)?  I would argue it was not.  It all comes down to state-sanctioned murder of the innocent.

Then, let’s add some other interesting but patriotically-inconvenient information about Nagasaki.  It did possess considerable manufacturing and war-production abilities, but it was also one of the older cities in Japan, one of the most intensely pro-Western and Christian (yes, thousands of practicing Japanese Christians) cities of Japan, feared and distrusted by the Japanese mainstream.

Sixty-five years ago, the United States not only committed an evil, it did so with grand stupidity.  It blew up the one city in all of Japan that might have actually supported the United States and the West.

Those “Made in America” six-hundred mph winds and nearly 4,000 degree heat almost instantly provided the Christian church with one of the single largest groups of martyrs in the entire century.

To keep reading–from three years ago.

University Bookman, Summer 1965 (Full Issue)

IMG_0001Edited by Russell Kirk, this issue of the University Bookman features articles by Thomas Molnar and Bill McCann.  The lead article, “Albert Camus,” by Molnar is especially good.

Scanned and posted by permission of Annette Y. C. Kirk.  Full source: The University Bookman: A Quarterly Review v. 5, no. 4 (Summer 1965).

Enjoy.ub summer 1965 full

University Bookman, Autumn 1968 (Full Issue)

IMG_0001Volume 9, No 1, full issue of University Bookman.  Features pieces by Peter Stanlis and M.E. Bradford.  Edited by Russell Kirk and posted here by permission of Annette Y.C. Kirk.

Enjoy.ub autumn 1968 v9 n1

Kirk Against Conscription, Part III

untitled11Kirk’s 1967 editorial against conscription, in THE NEW GUARD (May 1967): 11.

rak 1967 archaic draft copy

Kirk on James Fenimore Cooper, 1946

A fine early article by Kirk on one of his heroes, James Fenimore Cooper.  Source: Russell Kirk, “Cooper and the European Puzzle,” COLLEGE ENGLISH 7 (January 1946): 198-207.


rak jfc euro puzzle 1946 copy

pathfinder cover

Russell Kirk on Thomas Jefferson (full article), 1941

3tj_header_smOne of Kirk’s earliest published writings, a good, effective look at Thomas Jefferson and the literature around the third president.


rak jefferson 1941 copy

Russell Kirk Against Conscription, Part II

Russell Kirk’s second published attack on conscription.  Source: South Atlantic Quarterly (July 1946).  Enjoy.

rak conscript infinite 1946

Russell Kirk Against Conscription 1945

Near Dugway, Utah.

Near the entrance to Dugway testing grounds.. Kirk was stationed here, 1942-1946.

One of Russell Kirk’s earliest articles, an examination (and attack on) of conscription.  Source: South Atlantic Quarterly 44 (1945): 82-99.

rak conscript on education 1945

University Bookman Summer 1979

IMG_0003As I’m finishing (well, getting close to finishing) the main draft of my biography of Russell Kirk, I’ve had the chance and privilege to explore Kirk’s magazine, University Bookman.  Kirk founded it in 1960 and edited it until his death in the spring of 1994.  It’s a treasure trove.  In this issue, critical academic and literary figures Jerry Pournelle, Anthony Kerrigan, and W.T. Couch contribute.  My friend, Gerald Russello, now holds the prestigious position of editor.


ub summer 1979

Skyberia (1952) by Russell Kirk

Short story, but not a ghost story.

Source: “Skyberia,” Queen’s Quarterly 59 (Summer 1952): 180-191.

skyberia 1952

America, I love you–Russell Kirk (1949)

This is Russell Kirk’s first published short story–“America, I Love You.”  It appeared in QUERN (1949), pp. 7-11.  Autobiographical, and very depressing cultural criticism of the America of that day.

rak america i love you 1949

Uncle Isaiah by Russell Kirk (1951)

My favorite Kirk short story, Uncle Isaiah.  Originally in London Mystery Magazine (August-September 1951).  Enjoy.

uncle isaiah original

Remember, it’s 1951, so some of the ethnic stereotyping was par for the time.

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