Debra Sweet | July 31, 2023
Thanks to so many of you for responding to my query about the film
Make plans to mark the anniversaries of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Sunday August 6 and Wednesday August 9 with public protest and outreach.
We invite you to join us in a Zoom event on Tuesday August 8:
The film “Oppenheimer” & Lessons for Now
Tuesday August 8 8:00 pm EST | 7 pm CST | 6 pm MST | 5 pm PST
Here are some of the best resources I’ve found to deepen our understanding of how nukes were developed, and what this means for us now:
- The Day After Trinity, a 1981 documentary by Tom Else with many of the key scientists, running free now on the Criterion channel because of great public interest.
- Raymond Lotta speaking on “Robert Oppenheimer Served America’s Empire: We Have the Responsibility and Possibility to End This Horror, and Bring a Far Better World Into Being.” Event at Revolution Books on July 25, 2023.
William Hartung’s article, The Profiteers of Armageddon: Oppenheimer and the Birth of the Nuclear Industrial Complex.
The scientist who led the team responsible for creating the bombs that destroyed those two cities (and for the initial nuclear test in New Mexico that, as we only recently learned, spread fallout over 46 states, Canada, and Mexico), the 41-year-old J. Robert Oppenheimer, would later borrow a line from the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scriptures, to describe his mood at the time: “Now, I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” And eerily enough, the use of the weapon that would prove to be the second way humanity found to destroy our planet — the first, climate change, was already in effect but not yet known — would find all too few in the U.S. government hesitant to use it at that time. As historian John Dower would put it in his memorable book Cultures of War,
“The policy makers, scientists, and military officers who had committed themselves to becoming death… never seriously considered not using their devastating new weapon. They did not talk about turning mothers into cinders or irradiating even the unborn. They brushed aside discussion of alternative targets, despite the urging of many lower-echelon scientists that they consider this. They gave little if any serious consideration to whether there should be ample pause after using the first nuclear weapon to give Japan’s frazzled leaders time to respond before a second bomb was dropped.”
Almost all of you noted that the film avoided directly showing the horror of August 6 and 9, 1945, and entirely ignored the effects of the Trinity test on the indigenous and local population of New Mexico. A few other comments:
Amy: The fact that young people are seemingly unaware of the danger and would entertain any scenario for using nukes today has to be the height of social irresponsibility. It’s sociopathic on the part of our “leaders,” no hyperbole.
David: I’m of the belief that it was not needed to end the war. I believe the two bombs were dropped to stop Russia taking Japan. All the collateral damage, men, women and kids, meant nothing to the President [Truman]. Apart from the atomic bombs, poison gas in Vietnam, and the cluster bombs, why does the USA believe it is exceptional?
Phil: How is the “morality” of “might makes right” dealt with? I was a 12 year old kid in rural N. Dakota when we heard about this wonderful thing… it took the 60s to really find out the truth.
Ege: My name is Ege and i am a university student from Turkey. I’m writing on behalf of my group of friends who have all watched “Oppenheimer” and we have been discussing the themes of the movie, going through all the real lessons of history that are glossed over at the film and have been challenging ourselves to better understand the points we should be taking from what it means to have a nuclear crisis, especially at a time where the threat to use these weapons are at an all time high. If it is possible, we would love to expand our circle of people for discussions and debate together. Thank you in advance.
- Ege and everyone! Please join the discussion, or just listen, on Tuesday August 8.