Yglesias

The Hard Question

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CREDIT:

nagasaki720.jpg

In an odd way, the most outrageous of Jeremiah Wright’s statements are also the easiest ones for an Obama supporter to deal with — it’s clear enough that Obama doesn’t believe those things, and rightly so. The difficult problem of Jeremiah Wright is really with his less outrageous statements, with things like “We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye.” This is too hot for US Presidential politics, and I certainly don’t think it makes sense to think of 9/11 as justified divine retribution for Nagasaki, but the attempted puncturing of the cult of American self-righteousness here is spot-on.

You just can’t say those sorts of things! Or of course you can easily say them on your blog, or even in your lefty magazine article, but when you step into the practical political arena in the United States, you enter the Self-Righteousness Zone where loving your country entails a staggering level of obtuseness. I hope Barack Obama does have some qualms about America’s WWII-era habit of directly targeting Japanese and German civilians for massive violence, and as a political realist I also hope he never needs to speak serious about them in public until sometime in the 2020s.

National Archives Photo of Nagasaki