Many Americans, past and present, who endorse, if often uneasily, the use of an atomic bomb to destroy the city of Hiroshima almost 75 years ago, have little problem raising questions about the second bomb. On August 9, 1945, three days after the Hiroshima blast, the second atomic bomb was dropped over Nagasaki, killing another 90,000, almost all of them civilians (or Dutch POWs), the vast majority women and children.
My new book, The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood--and America--Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, covers the Nagasaki bombing (among other things) but also raises important questions about how even today few media commentators feel free to criticize the use of the bomb back in 1945.
After he got a good deal of flack on social media overnight, he offered a rare
on-air, and abject, apology. (He could have at least said, Yeah, war
criminal for Nagasaki, not so much for Hiroshima.) As I've documented in three books, this shows how the use of the bomb against Japan remains a "raw nerve" or "third rail" in America's psyche, and media. Here's the
"The other night we had on Cliff May. He was on, we were discussing
torture, back and forth, very spirited discussion, very enjoyable. And I
may have mentioned during the discussion we were having that Harry
Truman was a war criminal. And right after saying it, I thought to
myself, that was dumb. And it was dumb. Stupid in fact.
"So I shouldn't have said that, and I did. So I say right now, no, I
don't believe that to be the case. The atomic bomb, a very complicated
decision in the context of a horrific war, and I walk that back
because it was in my estimation a stupid thing to say. Which, by the
way, as it was coming out of your mouth, you ever do that, where you're
saying something, and as it's coming out you're like, 'What the f**k,
"And it just sat in there for a couple of days, just sitting going,
'No, no, he wasn't, and you should really say that out loud on the
show.' So I am, right now, and, man, eww. Sorry."
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