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August 11, 2015

EDITORIAL: The Day the World Changed

By Jim Rice

Pick any day on the calendar, and it most likely will mark the anniversary of significant events, from the profound to the puerile.

Aug. 6 is no exception. On that day in 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, intended to guarantee African Americans the right to vote (a right that, unfortunately, is still under attack). The day also marked the debut of cultural phenomena and figures from George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones (in 1996) to the births of Andy Warhol and Lucille Ball.

But it’s also the day the world changed. Seventy years ago, the city of Hiroshima, Japan, was obliterated by a single bomb. It was not only the first use of atomic weapons in warfare, but the beginning of the Nuclear Age — on which the world has spent, by some estimates, well over $6 trillion — that’s trillion with a "t." And plans to "modernize" the U.S. nuclear arsenal (which is a euphemism for continuing to build state-of-the-art weaponry for the next 30 years) will likely cost another trillion or so.

The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by any civilized standards, represented one of the moral low-points in human history. After all, by very conservative estimates, 135,000 people died from the atomic blasts — most of them civilians, the victims of the intentional targeting of cities. Think about that — these weren’t military targets, but cities full of men, women, and children, going about their lives, destroyed in seconds by the most destructive weapons ever invented.

But the point of memorializing isn’t about the past. It’s about ensuring such things happen "never again."

Which brings us to Iran.

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