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The Editors | 03.26.08

Issues

Hiroshima: Has the ground zero of the nuclear age become too ‘normal’?

Ron Rosenbaum,The New Yorker [Read the Article]

...Hiroshima is still here to remind us of what happened when we first unleashed our "device" and how it can never happen again—supposedly. That's what everyone says after visiting Hiroshima, the statesmen and citizens who sign the guest book at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. We will never forget. But maybe we will. The very fact that Hiroshima is thriving with its KFC and Starbucks, with the carefully manicured lawns of its 'Peace Memorial Park'—the only evidence that hell was unleashed here—may have the opposite, anodyne effect. This is not John Hersey's Hiroshima, the Hiroshima of the horrific immediate aftermath, but is to a certain extent a Hiroshima that says a nuclear detonation is a transient thing, something that's eminently recoverable from with a little time and some good landscaping."

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TOPICS:    death | hiroshima | world war ii
(1) COMMENT

By jimcork AT 03.27.08 11:40AM

jimcork

This might have been an interesting article in the 1950s or 1960s, when Japan was recovering from the war and Hiroshima was rebuilding itself.  American visitors to Japan might have been surprised to see the first Japanese McDonalds open in 1971.  But to read this kind of condescension in 2008 is beyond belief.  63 years after the city was destroyed, why SHOULDN’T the people of Hiroshima be living normal lives?  Why shouldn’t they be getting married, having lattes, or eating okonomiyaki?  Would Mr. Rosenbaum prefer that Hiroshima remained a pile of rubble?

If he had actually talked to someone while he was there, he might have discovered just how people remember the atomic bombing.  When I lived near Hiroshima 8 years ago, I knew people who could remember the day the mushroom cloud appeared over the mountains.  They remembered the thousands of people who fled the city by walking along the river.  They learned the lessons of World War II very well, which is why attempts to rebuild the country’s military and adopt a more aggressive foreign policy are usually met with cries of protest, especially from the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


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