I don’t myself think much of science as a phase of human development. It has given us a lot of ingenious toys; they take our attention away from the real problems, of course, and since the problems are insoluble, I suppose we ought to be grateful for distraction. But the fact is, the human mind, the individual mind, has always been made more interesting by dwelling on the old riddles, even if it makes nothing of them. Science hasn’t given us any new amazements, except of the superficial kind we get from witnessing dexterity and sleight-of-hand. It hasn’t given us any richer pleasures, as the Renaissance did, nor any new sins – not one! Indeed, it takes our old ones away. It’s the laboratory, not the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world. You’ll agree there is not much thrill about a physiological sin. We were better off when even the prosaic matter of taking nourishment could have the magnificence of a sin. I don’t think you help people by making their conduct of no importance – you impoverish them.
–Godfrey St. Peter in Willa Cather, THE PROFESSOR’S HOUSE (1925).
This issue–Vol. 20, No. 4–is reprinted here with kind encouragement from Annette Y.C. Kirk.
Historian John Lukacs wrote the lead article. Other pieces deal with the intelligentsia, political novelists, and western science.
The whole issue is a treat, to be sure. Humane and wise.
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.
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. http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2010/08/made-in-america-massacring-innocents-of.html
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