Michael Matteo: To learn from history, we must teach all of it, PART 1

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

The narrative in many history classes today is that the United States is a country whose success has been built on the backs of those that elites, especially white males, have abused, and it’s time for America to publicly acknowledge its sins.  Woke educators will find any way of making the United States the imperialist aggressor and will justify the actions of other nations as victims, which is very much in line with the victim mentality that permeates their own personal lives.  This is especially true when the discussion involves the fact that the United States is the only nation to use atomic weapons on an enemy.

For decades there have been those who have condemned the actions of the United States for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  It is always tragic when innocent civilians are killed as part of their nation’s decision to engage in war, and one cannot make the claim that Japan was not the instigator against the United States in World War II.  However, those who make the argument that the United States, at the end of the war, acted in a barbaric manner by unleashing nuclear weapons on Japan have obviously left out some very important details, such as the monstrous battle tactics of the Japanese throughout WWII as well as glossing over the loss of American lives in the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor that caused the deaths of 2,403 Americans (including civilians).

Those who defend the use of the atomic bomb state that it saved lives because Japan would not have surrendered and the war would have continued.  They provide transcripts and actual statements made by Japanese leaders, who are recorded as actually rejecting the demand for their surrender after the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.  Yet, many others refute these claims, but offer only speculation as their argument.

Howard Zinn, the socialist author of A People’s History of the United States, wrote a biased accounting of history that leaves out key facts and serves the liberal agenda that America is an evil empire of racists and imperialists.  This book has been refuted by many notable historians, but it sold over 2.5 million copies and has been mandatory reading material in high schools and colleges around the nation for decades.  Zinn died in 2010, but the Zinn Educational Project is alive and well and a promoter of critical race theory, the 1619 Project and has been a source that is widely used by liberal educators to teach students history.  As part of his writings, Zinn denounced the United States use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and wrote the following in his book titled The Bomb, “I had no idea what was going on at the higher levels, and had no idea what that ‘atomic bomb’ had done to men, women, children in Hiroshima, any more than I ever really understood what the bombs dropped on European cities were doing to human flesh and blood.”

In a 2020 article written for the Institute for Policy Studies titled: The US Should Apologize for Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki the author, Olivia Alperstein, makes the case that the United States owes Japan an apology for the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ward Wilson, a senior fellow at the British American Security Information Council and the author of  Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons, stated that the idea that the use of the bomb would save lives was untrue and claimed that Japan would have surrendered because the Soviet Union entered the war. The issue with this supposition is that the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945 and sent 1 million soldiers into Manchuria, yet the Japanese didn’t surrender until August 15, 1945 after the Soviet invasion and atomic bombs were dropped on Japanese cities.

In retrospect, the rational position for the Japanese government would have been to surrender after the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, however, we know that Japanese tactics at the end of the war were anything but rational.  The tactic of kamikaze or suicide bombers is the height of desperation by a defeated nation that would rather see more of their soldiers die, rather than accept defeat.  Even after the emperor surrendered, pockets of Japanese soldiers continued fighting on the Pacific islands as well as in Manchuria.  Imperial Japan was not a Geneva Convention observing nation; they were an aggressor who wanted the same kind of world domination as Adolf Hitler, yet no one on the left says we should apologize to Germany for destroying so much of Germany and killing so many of their citizens.

To further confirm the idea that it was the dropping of the atomic bombs was the reason for the Japanese surrender were the emperor’s own words which were issued in a speech that confirmed the Japanese surrender, “… the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage, is indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. “  This statement is an admonition that the fear of future bombs and the total annihilation of Japan is the reason why the Japanese surrendered.  The emperor’s use of words like “cruel bomb” and “innocent lives” illustrates either denial or irony because of the tactics that were employed by the Japanese in how they fought the war.  It is possible that the dropping of the atomic bombs combined with the entrance of the Soviet Union into the war were collectively viewed by Japanese leadership to surrender, but to deny the impact of the atomic bomb on Japan’s decision ignores key facts.  The bottom line is that the war that had taken so many lives did end, yet there are many unresolved issues.

Since that time Japan has issued a general apology for atrocities committed, like the 200,000 comfort women, who were Chinese and Korean sex slaves who were captured and raped by Japanese soldiers.  They apologized for the Bataan Death March, where allied POW’s were tortured and died along a 65 mile march and over 100 soldiers were put in boxcars that were designed to hold 30-40 men.  They apologized for the rape of Nanking where estimates range from 200,000 to 800,000 women were raped by soldiers and many were executed after being raped which was part of their generic apology, but the most horrendous treatment of human beings was barely acknowledged by Japan and this is something rarely taught in history classes: the atrocities committed by Unit 731.  (This will be covered in detail in part 2 of this article.)

No apology was ever issued for the most barbarous actions committed on innocent men, women and children in this camp where civilians and POW’s were used to test weapons and many Japanese scholars, like Holocaust deniers, claim that it never happened despite testimony from guards and doctors who were there, as well as horrific archived photographs that documented the barbaric things done to innocent men, women and children by the Japanese army.


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