Recently in the main forum here at CODOH, there have been several threads relating to the magazine The Christian Century
, which expressed early Holocaust Revisionist positions in the 1940s.
Here is a long editorial (2,180 words) in the same periodical on the atomic bombings of Japan, in which we see all the core aspects of "Hiroshima Revisionism" in place:
HIROSHIMA— and after.
August 29, 1945
America's Atomic Atrocity
AN EDITORIAL [appearing in The Christian Century]
Something like a moral earthquake has followed the dropping of atomic bombs on two Japanese cities. Its continued tremors throughout the world have diverted attention even from the military victory itself. Its effect in America is expressed in the letters which came spontaneously to The Christian Century following the publication of the facts concerning the extinction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. None of these letters was elicited by any comment in these pages on the moral implications of the use of the atomic bomb by our forces. These writers speak for themselves. Their letters underline the horror and revulsion, the sense of guilt and shame, the profound foreboding with which the impetuous adoption of this incredibly inhuman instrument has been greeted in this country. It is our belief that the use made of the atomic bomb has placed our nation in an indefensible moral position.
We do not propose to debate the issue of military necessity, though the facts are clearly on one side of this issue. The atomic bomb was used at a time when Japan's navy was sunk, her air force virtually destroyed, her homeland surrounded, her supplies cut off, and our forces poised for the final stroke. Recognition of her imminent defeat could be read between the lines of every Japanese communique. Neither do we intend to challenge Mr. Churchill's highly speculative assertion that the use of the bomb saved the lives of more than one million American and 250,000 British soldiers. We believe, however, that these lives could have been saved had our government followed a different course, more honorable and more humane. Our leaders seem not to have weighed the moral considerations involved. No sooner was the bomb ready than it was
rushed to the front and dropped on two helpless cities, destroying more lives than the United States has lost in the entire war.
Perhaps it was inevitable that the bomb would ultimately be employed to bring Japan to the point of surrender. (This, however, is contradicted by the astonishing report of the past few days that General MacArthur conveyed to President Roosevelt last January, and that the President summarily rejected, peace terms essentially the same as those finally accepted.) But there was no military advantage in hurling the bomb upon Japan without warning. The least we might have done was to announce to our foe that we possessed the atomic bomb; that its destructive power was beyond anything known in warfare; and that its terrible effectiveness had been experimentally demonstrated in this country. We would thus have warned Japan of what was in store for her unless she surrendered immediately. If she doubted the good faith of our representation, it would have been a simple matter to select a demonstrative target in the enemy's own country at a place where the loss of human life would be at a minimum.
If, despite such warning, Japan had still held out, we would have been in a far less questionable position had we then dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At least our record of deliberation and ample warning would have been clear. Instead, with brutal disregard of any principle of humanity we "demonstrated" the bomb on two great cities, utterly extinguishing them. This course has placed the United States in a bad light throughout the world. What the use of poison gas did to the reputation of Germany in World War I, the use of the atomic bomb has done for the reputation of the United States in World War II. Our future security is menaced by our own act, and our influence for justice and humanity in international affairs has been sadly crippled.
We have not heard the last of this in Japan itself. There a psychological situation is rapidly developing which will make the pacification of that land bv our occupying forces— infinitely delicate and precarious at best— still more difficult and dubious. In these last days before the occupation by American forces, Japanese leaders are using their final hours of freedom of access to the radio to fix in the mind of their countrymen a psychological pattern which they hope will persist into an indefinite future. They reiterate that Japan has won a moral victory by not stooping as low as her enemies, that a lost war is regrettable but not necessarily irreparable, that the United States has been morally defeated because she has been driven to use unconscionable methods of fighting. They denounce the atomic bomb as the climax of barbarity and cite its use to prove how thin the veneer of Christian civilization is. They declare that Japan must bow to the conqueror at the emperor's command, but insist that she must devote all her available energies to scientific research. That of course can mean only one thing— research in methods of scientific destruction. Some officials have openly admonished the people to discipline themselves until the day of their revenge shall come.
Vengeance as a motive suffers from no moral or religious stigma in Japanese life. In the patriotic folklore of that land, no story is more popular than that of the Forty-Seven Ronin. It is a tale of revenge taken at the cost of their lives by the retainers of a feudal lord on an enemy who had treacherously killed their master. Every Japanese child knows that story. Until 1931, when Japan took Manchuria, the sacred obligation of retaliation was directed against the nations which had prevented Japanese expansion in that area and then had expanded their own holdings. After that it was aimed at white imperialism which was held to be the enemy of all people of color in the world, and particularly those in east Asia. In each case the justification of revenge was found in a real weakness in the moral position of the adversary. Our widespread use of the diabolic flame-thrower in combat, our scattering of millions of pounds of blazing jellied gasoline over wood and paper cities, and finally our employment of the atomic bomb give Japan the only justification she will require for once more seeking what she regards as justified revenge.
But there will be others. The terms of the surrender rightly strip from Japan the empire which she has acquired by force in the past half-century. But the British, French, Dutch, Belgian and Portuguese empires, each created by the same methods Japan has attempted to employ, stand intact. Undoubtedly, Russia will recover some of the rich concessions in the Asiatic mainland which Japan gives up, and it appears likely that China will return to the condition of civil strife which made Japanese economic relations with her a constant source of intolerable confusion. American might, it will seem to the Japanese, is re-establishing this state of affairs in the interest of white imperialism. From that view it is not a long jump to the conclusion that any people which plots successful revenge against a nation that uses such methods to serve such ends is rendering Asiatic humanity a service.
The Japanese leaders are now in the act of creating a new myth as the carrier of the spirit of revenge. The myth will have much plausible ground in fact to support it. But its central core will be the story of the atomic bomb, hurled by the nation most reputed for its humanitarianism. Myths are hard to deal with. They lie embedded in the subconscious mind of a people, and reappear with vigor in periods of crisis. The story of the bomb will gather to itself the whole body of remembered and resented inconsistencies and false pretensions of the conquerors. The problem of spiritual rapprochement between the West and the Japanese will thus baffle the most wise and sensitive efforts of our occupying forces to find a solution. Yet our theory of occupation leaves us with no chance ever to let go of our vanquished foe until the roots of revenge have been extirpated. The outlook for the reconciliation of Germany with world civilization is ominous enough, but the outlook for the reconciliation of Japan is far more ominous.
The future is further complicated by the fact that the Christian Church, which holds in its hands the only power of radical reconciliation, has also suffered a heavy blow. The atomic bomb can fairly be said to have struck Christianity itself. Only Christianity has the required resources for the problem of reconciliation at the deep spiritual level where it must finally be resolved. The Christian people of this country have been looking forward to the revival of their mission in Japan on an unprecedented scale, and on a broader and more co-operative basis than in the past. The same bomb that extinguished Hiroshima and Nagasaki struck this missionary enterprise. It will take endless explaining to the Japanese to dissociate Christianity, the Christian Church and the Christian mission from the act of the American government in unleashing the atomic bomb. This act which has put the United States on the moral defensive has also put the Christian Church on the defensive throughout the world and especially in Japan.
For this reason the churches of America must dissociate themselves and their faith from this inhuman and reckless act of the American government. There is much that they can do, and it should be done speedily. They can give voice to the shame the American people feel concerning the barbaric methods used in their name in this war. In particular, in pulpits and conventions and other assemblies they can dissociate themselves from the government's use of the atomic bomb as an offensive weapon. They can demonstrate that the American people did not even know of the existence of such a weapon until it had been unleashed against an already beaten foe. By a groundswell of prompt protest expressing their outraged moral sense, the churches may enable the Japanese people, when the record is presented to them, to divorce the Christian community from any responsibility for America's atomic atrocity.
Without in the least condoning Pearl Harbor or the aggressive policy of Japan's war lords, such action will go far toward restoring the spiritual basis of community between the Christian Church and the Japanese people. Assuredly it will save the Japanese Christian community from the alienation which otherwise they are certain to feel toward their American brethren. It will save them from the embarrassment which they are bound to suffer in the face of their non-Christian neighbors as they maintain their loyalty to the Christian faith. It will thus assure a welcome in the hearts of Japanese Christians to the new missioners from the American church who will follow close upon the heels of the occupying forces.
Beyond all this the churches can take immediate steps to share the burden of suffering which now lies heavily on the Japanese people. The place to begin might well be to provide as many as possible of the surviving children and their mothers with food, medicine and clothes. It is now known that our fire bombs killed and burned out over eight million people. Every ship that goes out to the western Pacific to bring American soldiers home should carry relief supplies. Christian people will voluntarily fill the first of such ships if they are given the opportunity to do so. The American church is thinking in bold terms of its responsibility to Japan. It has no less a goal than the re-creation of Japan as a peaceful and democratic state through the regenerative power of the Christian gospel. It must not allow itself to condone any of the atrocities of the war or to seem to have been a party to the war itself.
With the ending of the war the time has now come for the Christian Church in this country to gather the fruit of its dissociation from the conflict. In no previous war has the church so boldly and generally seized the opportunity to be the church, and not a trailer behind the war chariot of the state. The widespread adoption of the concept that the church was not at war, and the almost universal conformity of its utterances and practice to this concept, should now come to fruition in the opening of the channels of ecumenical fellowship with the churches in all enemy countries, and particularly in Japan. But a church which condemns war and will not be a party to it has a peculiar responsibility to condemn those acts of war which trespass the limits beyond which the Christian conscience, though distressed by all the frightful dilemmas in which it is placed by war itself, will not knowingly go.
The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was such an act. The writers of the letters which appear in this paper have been profoundly shocked that their government was capable of such wantonness. Their protest will, we believe, be taken up by Christian people throughout the nation. And this protest will swell in volume until it reaches the shores and the people of Japan.
Source for this editorial is:
The Christian Century Reader: Representative Articles, Editorials, and Poems Selected from More than Fifty Years of The Christian Century
by HAROLD E. FEY and MARGARET FRAKES
ASSOCIATION PRESS: New York | Copyright © 1962 by The Christian Century Foundation