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irregular times logoAmerica the Nuclear:
Our Bizarre Cult of Destruction Persists

Nuclear cult: That's the only way I can describe the recent behavior of the American nation. The signs are there that Americans have become irrationally obsessed with the power that nuclear weapons provide to their nation. It may be that the horrific weapons that made the United States a superpower are warping our minds away from a healthy view of the world.

Item 1: The U.S. invents nuclear weapons, and is the only nation ever to use them to destroy foreign cities

Item 2: The U.S. goes to war against another nation on the power of a forged accusation that that nation is trying to gain nuclear weapons.

Item 3: After going to this war, the American government approves a plan to develop a new kind of nuclear weapon that could be used to enhance "conventional" warfare

Item 4: The Smithsonian Institution creates a shrine to the Enola Gay, the airplane that dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan

There's a kind of self-blindness that has afflicted Americans on the issue of nuclear weapons. We perceive evil, threatening nuclear enemies everywhere, and we send our youngest to kill and be killed by these enemies, even when their nuclear programs are imaginary. In spite of this zealotry about others' ambitions to create nuclear weapons, we are blind to our own weaponry, the most dangerous arsenal ever created.

We forget that nuclear weapons are the enthusiastic creation of the American people. Nuclear weapons were necessary to destroy evil, we said, and now, America, the lone superpower on Earth, is at it again, trying desperately to find a way to actually use its nuclear weapons on the battlefield.

At the same time that we shield our eyes to the hypocrisy of bombing others because we accuse them of wanting The Bomb, we transform our nuclear weaponry into an object of worship. The Enola Gay is being celebrated in the National Air and Space Museum with a special exhibition.

Oh, the directors of the Smithsonian claim that their exhibit is all about the Enola Gay as an airplane, not about celebrating the nuclear attack that the Enola Gay took part in. When Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima attack requested that the display make some mention of the enormous amount of destruction and death caused by the Enola Gay and its bomb, the directors of the Smithsonian Institution refused. The director of the National Air and Space Museum, retired general John Daly, said, "We don't do it for other airplanes... From a consistency standpoint, we focus on the technical aspects."

This explanation sounds like a frail excuse. Technically speaking, there is nothing remarkable about the Enola Gay as an airplane. The only reason to pick the Enola Gay for a national exhibit sponsored by the American government is because of what the Enola Gay did: It delivered the first of two nuclear bombs to be used by the United States to destroy Japanese cities.

Destroy: I'm talking about much more destruction than occurred on September 11, 2001. The single nuclear bomb that the Enola Gay dropped killed 47 times as many people as the attacks of September 11, 2001. Imagine 47 attacks like those of September 11, 2001, happening all in one instant, all in one city, and you can get a picture of what the Enola Gay did.

Yet, we celebrate this plane, and with it the awful attack it took part in. Imagine how shocked and furious the American people would be if Saudi Arabia were to create an exhibit around some artifact of the attacks of September 11, 2001 as a celebration of "technical" achievement.

We celebrate the bombing of Hiroshima because nuclear warfare has become a part of what it means to be an American. We deny the way that we benefit from the constant threat of terrible destruction that we hold over the necks of every other nation on Earth. We say that our nation has become strong because of "the American spirit". We neglect to mention that at the core of this "American spirit" is the most terrible form of violence ever known to humanity.

Is it too much to say that Americans can so enthusiastically support crusades against imaginary nuclear foes because of some kind of pathologically misplaced guilt about exporting this violence across the face of the Earth? What other explanation can explain the massive irrationality of it all?

If you are an American, you are already a part of this dark Nuclear Cult. You benefit from the terror that America's nuclear arsenal inspires across the globe.

Will you go to the Smithsonian and join in the worship of our nuclear wrath? Will you heap praise upon the very violence we despise in others?

As America sweeps its forces across the Earth in a new Crusade of righteous fury, there is no better time to step away from the Nuclear Cult, and say no to the power of nuclear Weapons that destroys us and raises us above the rest of humanity.

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