By: Luke Marshall
Nothing shows you just how effective the government's indoctrination of children is like your classmates justifying mass murder. And this is exactly the situation I found myself in not too long ago. I attend a small public school in a rural town where the people are pleasant and just about everyone knows one another. So when you think of people likely to justify the needless slaughter of over a hundred thousand people my classmates are probably not the first people who would come to mind. After all, only a complete psychopath could justify the murder of thousands upon thousands of people. Right?
The day was like any school day. I showed up to school at 8 o'clock and mindlessly did what my teachers asked of me before the bell dismissed me to show up to my next class and repeat the process. After going through the same old song and dance three times I arrived at my American History class. We had been going over World War II for the past few days and as usual, I found myself disagreeing with just about every conclusion my textbook drew. I am used to being the voice of dissent and most always manage to keep my cool, but even the most veteran libertarian debater would be taken back by what happened when we reached the section on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
My history book stayed true to the formula it always sticks to: Justify the aggression of America and her allies at all cost. So it didn't surprise me when the history book said that Truman had Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuked to put an end to Japanese Imperialism and save the lives of countless Americans by putting an early end to the war. I mean what else would you expect from the government provided textbooks? What I wasn't prepared for was my classmates willingness to accept the senseless dogma of the curriculum.
My teacher opened the class up for discussion after assigning us to write a page on whether or not we thought the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justified. In my essay, I had mentioned that the Japanese were willing to surrender as long as they could keep their Emperor who they believed to be of divine lineage, but due to Truman sticking to FDR's policy of unconditional surrender this made any peace negotiations impossible. When the discussion began, nobody had anything to say so I began to reiterate some of the points I had made in my paper and went on to say that killing one innocent person is never justifiable never mind thousands of them.
The room went quiet before a young man we will call Stephen said something to the effect of, “I think they had it coming considering the attack on Pearl Harbor.” Initially, I began to try and tell Steve about how we had waged economic warfare on Japan who was reliant upon imports to sustain its economy by placing an embargo on them and that this among other things provoked Japan to attack the US. Since most of that seemed to go over his head, I just asked him if it is okay to kill tens of thousands of innocent people just because of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Steve tried to explain to me how horrible Pearl Harbor was as if I had not just explained that the American government provoked the Japanese. I then mentioned that even Dwight Eisenhower was against dropping the bomb when he said, “Japan was at that very moment seeking some way to surrender with minimum loss of face. It was not necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” But before I knew it people began to take Steve’s side. For a while, I continued to spout off every possible reason I could think of for the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki being unnecessary, but it wasn't long before I realized I would not be able to win over the minds of my fellow classmates.
As I briefly mentioned earlier, I am used to being opposed to the teachings of our class' history book, but I still found it hard to stomach that my peers were not the least bit repulsed by the mass murder that took place at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In fact, some of them seemed giddy to read about how the good ol US of A stopped those evil Japs. That is when I realized how deep the government's indoctrination of the youth is. Our history books not only make perpetual war and military aggression seem justified, but paint it as a heroic and noble feat. The education system and various other forms of government propaganda have not only made the loss of human life that occurs in war trivial, but has made it something to rejoice about. As I sat in my history class and looked at my classmates I saw humans, but I couldn't see the humanity.