Thursday, January 21, 2010

The first rule of holes
Oliver Kamm and William B. Shockley

Quite a lot of special in the comment thread of this piece, but I think there are 2 points to address:

[1] OK writes:

"T Tsikas of Media Lens, excuse me? In what possible respect is William B. Shockley a racist? How is it racist to make an estimate of possible casualties in a conventional invasion? What is notorious about him? Did he steal the Nobel Prize from someone else?"

I expect the reason that William Shockley was described as a racist is because he was, in fact, a racist. It hardly takes away from his achievements, but it is still true. It is dealt with in every biography of Shockley I have read. One might even describe it as notorious.

[2] A commenter posts a link to the Economist obituary of Yamaguchi Tsutomu (link here, more here from Mainichi, which leads to OK's remarkable response:
"Paul Hutton, as you raised the issue of Tsutomu Yamaguchi - let me add that one of my historian correspondents has pointed out that, however much in bad taste it may sound, Yamaguchi's account of having seen both A-bombs cannot be right. Even if he'd been totally uninjured, there is no way he would have been able to travel the 290 miles by sea or the 310 miles by rail from Hiroshima to Nagasaki. That of course doesn't obviate the sufferings of the civilians of both cities." [enphasis mine].

I don't know if Mr. Kamm's correspondent is a historian; he is certainly not a geographer.

PREDICTION: You know, one day, when the last hibakusha has died, there will be an entire industry devoted to denying the Americans ever dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

1 comment:

pj said...

Of course there will. Holocaust denial shares so many features - 'it was justified', 'it wasn't as bad as people say', 'it didn't happen', and bizarrely the same people will hold all 3 positions because we're talking about cognitive dissonance here.