Truman, War Crimes, and Morality

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There is yet another sinister aspect lurking in the WSJ piece today (see here and here) celebrating Truman’s decision to incinerate innocent Japanese civilians, among them many Catholics (the latter fact is often buried by the cheerleaders, lest we begin to think of them as humans like us).

The author makes an unfounded assertion that also becomes the title of his piece: “Today, Hiroshima has become a Rorschach test for Americans. We see the same pictures and we hear the same facts. But based on how we view our country, our government, and the world, we interpret these facts in very different ways.” This glib jab is a raw, unproven, and patently false example of propaganda by threat: if you don’t agree with me, well, you must hate our country, because I, of course, love it –warts (Truman, Hiroshima, Nagasaki) and all.” In the liberal history lesson, the facts long ago gave way to ideology.

This annual exercise by the advocates of war at any cost typically suffers from the same omission: the entire piece never mentions a moral principle, because it can’t: it would collapse. Instead, it preens the bravado, bombing image of the patriotic warrior, and dares the reader to disagree — not so subtly threatening the dissident with the Thought Police (“we know how YOU think about your country!”) and abiding scorn. (And isn’t it interesting that he employs a symbol of psychiatry, modernity’s antidote to natural law morality). Walter and Laurence do us a service by supplying some of the pertinent facts.

Rorschach, indeed. This is nothing more than a banal epithet masquerading as an insight. On this anniversary, let’s just pray that the souls of all those involved, on all sides, may rest in peace.

8:38 pm on August 6, 2009