Friday, August 6, 2010

On the anniversary of Hiroshima

On the anniversary of Hiroshima Richard Fernandez reminds us that there were greater losses of civilian life in World War II — a war in which the just war injunctions about non-combatants were largely ignored. Hiroshima wasn't the Japanese city that suffered the largest number of civilian casualties, but it was where a nuclear weapon was dropped.
As the New York Times remembers Hiroshima, try this quiz. Name the two greatest losses of civilian life in the Pacific war. Hint. In both cases the civilian casualties were greater than Hiroshima’s. In one case the event took place on American soil.
Casualties:
Hiroshima 70,000–80,000
Battle of Manila 100,000
Nanjing 300,000
Historical memory can be selective. And the selectivity can serve a political purpose. Fernandez:
Hiroshima, Manila and Nanjing are tragic in their own ways. But one tragedy that continues even to this day is the selective memory in the capitals of nations who the inhabitants of Manila and Nanjing once called their Allies. Bravery and sacrifice is fine; but politics is finer. Hiroshima is remembered not only because of the suffering and loss that took place there but because it renews an ongoing narrative, and those Japanese dead can still march in its cause. ....
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