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Posts tagged Jon Stewart

As Harsh as Truth and as Uncompromising as Justice

The Rally to Elevate Tone of Voice Over Substance. On ALLiance (2010-11-16):

So Jon Stewart had his rally the other day. From what I can tell, it was a great promotional event for his TV show and a great party for a lot of college-educated people. Don't get me wrong; I love Jon Stewart, love the Daily Show, and I love the…

As Jeremy puts it: “I suppose only a loudmouth boor would point out that these policies kill, maim, imprison, plunder, and deceive people everyday – but really, we should keep our voices down! For the country!”

The problem with the National Discourse is not extremism or severity, but thoughtlessness, and the Discourse is thoughtless because it has been Nationalized — i.e., corralled by the limits of state policy and electoral politics, and subordinated to the ends of a thoughtless power-play between entrenched political parties. Thoughtlessness can take the form of blowhard shouting; or it can take the form of blowhard mealy-mouthed “moderation” and compromise for the sake of political comity. The last is, right now, the primary rhetorical function of liberal discourse — to portentiously utter conventional wisdom, half-hearted excuses, and Beltway political nostrums, in Sensible, modulated tones, so as to establish a perimeter of acceptable opinion which falls roughly within the range of opinions among Barack Obama’s political advisors, with Sarah Palin or John Boehner as the only recognized outliers.

Fuck that noise. Real thoughtfulness means principled thoughts, and having principled thoughts means being willing to accept, and insist on, radical thoughts when they are called for. Hopelessly confused moderation is simply the political etiquette of the status quo, and a dare-I-say immensely privileged refusal to seriously confront the problem of the entrenched power and daily violence of the endlessly self-excusing corporate liberal state. Radical thoughtfulness has no special reason to accept those excuses or defer to the conventional idiocy that limns the boundaries of political liberal and political conservative discourse alike. The only way out is a discourse that is not nationalized, but humanized; and human discourse requires some real talk about what the imperial state — its armies, its wars, its laws, its police, its checkpoints, its borders, its political lies — is doing to real people every single day in their real lives, while bellowing blowhards argue about Reviews of Strategy, Comprehensive Reform, Border Security, Economic Recovery, National Security, National Priorities, and the rest of the utterly dehumanized talking-point discourse that characterizes politics in all of its nationalized forms. Sometimes that will look like rudeness. Sometimes it will involve calling a politician a liar — and a killer to boot. And all for the better: who are these assholes, that they would deserve anything more polite? Radical thoughtfulness requires, above all else, a will to honesty. And honestly, the truth right now isn’t very pretty.


Here is a pocket watch, stopped at 8:15am.

Donated by Kazuo Nikawa
1,600m from the hypocenter
Kan-on Bridge

Kengo Nikawa (then, 59) was exposed to the bomb crossing the Kan-on Bridge by bike going from his home to his assigned building demolition site in the center of the city. He suffered major burns on his right shoulder, back, and head and took refuge in Kochi-mura Saiki-gun. He died on August 22. Kengo was never without this precious watch given him by his son, Kazuo.

— Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Sixty three years ago today, on August 6, 1945, at 8:15 in the morning, the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb over the center of the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Hiroshima was the first target ever attacked with nuclear weapons in the history of the world.

The bomb exploded about 200 yards over the city, creating a 13 kiloton explosion, a fireball, a shock-wave, and a burst of radiation. On the day that the bomb was dropped, there were about 255,000 people living in Hiroshima.

The explosion completely incinerated everything within a one mile radius of the city center. The shock-wave and the fires ignited by the explosion damaged or completely destroyed about nine-tenths of the buildings in the city. Somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 people–about one third of the population of the city–immediately died. The heat of the explosion vaporized or burned alive many of those closest to ground zero. Others were killed by the force of the shock-wave or crushed under collapsing buildings. Many more died from acute radiation poisoning–that is, from the effects of having their internal organs being burned away in the intense radiation from the blast.

By December 1945, thousands more had died from their injuries, from radiation poisoning, or from cancers related to the radioactive burst or the fallout. It is estimated that the atomic bombing killed about 140,000 people, and left thousands more with permanent disabilities.

Almost all of the people maimed and killed were civilians. Although there were some minor military bases near Hiroshima, the bomb was dropped on the city center, several miles away from the military bases on the edge of town. Hiroshima was chosen as a target, even though it had little military importance, because It is a good radar target and it is such a size that a large part of the city could be extensively damaged. There are adjacent hills which are likely to produce a focussing effect which would considerably increase the blast damage. 1. Hiroshima was also one of the largest Japanese cities not yet damaged by the American firebombing campaign. Military planners believed it strategically important to demonstrate as much destruction as possible from the blast.

Thomas Ferebee, a bombadier for the United States Army, was the man who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. His commanding officer was the pilot of the Enola Gay, Paul Tibbets. Tibbets and Ferebee were part of the XXI Bomber Command, directed by Curtis LeMay. LeMay planned and executed the atomic bombings at the behest of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and President Harry Truman.

Kengo Nikawa died on August 22nd, 1945 because of the bombing. This is his pocket watch.

We will never know the names of many of the 140,000 other residents of Hiroshima who were killed by the bombing. We have only estimates because the Japanese government was in a shambles by this point in the war, and countless records, of those that were successfully kept, were consumed by the flames, along with the people whose lives they recorded.

The late, great Utah Phillips called this one of the first songs he ever wrote that ever made any sense. It’s certainly one of his best.

Enola Gay

Look out, look out
from your school room window
Look up young children from your play
Wave your hand
at the shining airplane
Such a beautiful sight is Enola Gay

It's many a mile
from the Utah desert
To Tinian Island far away
A standing guard
by the barbed wire fences
That hide the secret of Enola Gay

High above the clouds
in the sunlit silence
So peaceful here I'd like to stay
There's many a pilot
who'd swap his pension
For a chance to fly Enola Gay

What is that sound
high above my city
I rush outside and search the sky
Now we are running
to find our shelter
The air raid sirens start to cry

What will I say
when my children ask me
Where was I flying upon that day?
With trembling voice
I gave the order
To the bombardier of Enola Gay

Look out, look out
from your school room window
Look up young children from your play
Your bright young eyes
will turn to ashes
In the blinding light of Enola Gay I turn to see
the fireball rising
My god, my god all I can say
I hear a voice
within me crying
My mother's name was Enola Gay

Look out, look out
from your school room window
Look up young children from your play
Oh when you see
the war planes flying
Each one is named Enola Gay.

–U. Utah Phillips (1994), on I’ve Got To Know

As far as I am aware, the atomic bombing of the Hiroshima city center, in which forces acting on behalf of the United States government deliberately targeted a civilian center and killed over half of all the people living in the city at the time, remains the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of the world.

— GT 2008-08-06: 8:15am

The man who ordered the massacre, the war criminal Harry S. Truman, is now revered and ritually invoked by the official leadership in all U.S. government political parties as one of the U.S. government’s greatest presidents. High school and college textbooks commonly reprint Truman’s post-war claims about the hundreds of thousands of military casualties supposedly avoided by deliberately targeting civilian city centers and burning about a quarter of a million civilians alive — apparently on the presumption that massacreing civilians is an acceptable means to prevent military combat deaths, and even though Truman’s post-war claims about the lives supposedly saved have, in any case, been publicly revealed as complete fabrications after-the-fact. Earlier this year, when professional satirist Jon Stewart argued on national television that Truman should be considered a war criminal (as part of his response to a One Man’s Reductio from an apologist for the Bush administration’s own war crimes), he faced a furious pressure campaign from both statist liberals and partisan Republicans, each sanctimoniously outraged on behalf of the memory of The Good War. Stewart quickly caved under the pressure and issued a public apology. The name-calling and outraged complains that were directed at Stewart would often be called, metaphorically, a firestorm of criticism. But, under the circumstances, the metaphor seems inappropriate.

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