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response to evil

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I was reading Christopher Hitchens lastest piece up on Slate and wondering what the proper response to evil in the world is. Hitchens believes that in some situations the most Humane response is "what the fuck." The article is about Tsutomu Yamaguchi who recenlty died but was a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Hitchens contrasts the response of a religious person who might describe Yamaguchi as being protected with the hands of God with a response of just uttering WTF. Now I don't want to sell religion short here because it does seem that there are plenty of confused Psalms and Lamentations in the Hebrew bible that closely resemble the sentiment of WTF. Even while this is true they suppose God must come and rescue them from their current situation to defend them from their oppressors or whatever the case may be.

All this to ask what is a person's rational response to evil in the world. Is it sometimes just too incomprehensible that we can't explain it and are reduced to uttering WTF?

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Evil isn't a force to be considered by man, unless it is actually in the form of force against him. The evil is the stupid, the unable, and the second-hand. Evil is impotent in the face of the rational man.

Edited by Q.E.D.

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Well after Mondays and Tuesdays even the calendar says WTF... sorry, not funny.

To answer the question seriously though a rational person should fight evil either physically or intellectually depending on the context and/or their motivation. Most importantly, a rational person should never sanction what they know to be evil.

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To answer the question seriously though a rational person should fight evil either physically or intellectually depending on the context and/or their motivation. Most importantly, a rational person should never sanction what they know to be evil.

I totally agree. In my experience, I find that to not to volunteer your values, either physical or intellectual to people who would use them against you, and hold you ransom as a result, is an appropriate response some of the time.

When people who are evil don't receive the values that you might have volunteered, notice how they are 'stopped in their tracks'. They thus don't have the fuel to proceed further, and as a result are disarmed.

Edited by Dynamite

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Off topic - - - What exactly about Hiroshima and Nagasaki was evil?

Not a damned thing. And it got the Emperor's attention.

After Pearl Harbor, we owned Japan's a**. First we burned them to the ground and then we finished it up with nukes.

Bob Kolker

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Not a damned thing. And it got the Emperor's attention.

After Pearl Harbor, we owned Japan's a**. First we burned them to the ground and then we finished it up with nukes.

Bob Kolker

Agreed. It is a conclusion someone is trying to piggy-back on the original question.

Getting back to the original question, there is nothing evil in the scenario, the man survived two cataclysmic events that’s it, that’s all, so his response could very well be WTF. Random happenstance does not warrant deep philosophical examination.

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Off topic - - - What exactly about Hiroshima and Nagasaki was evil?
If you're interested, this was my reply in a discussion that was going on at another discussion board I frequent. I posted it after reading pages and pages of misinformed/brainwashed children condemning the United States for using the bomb in WWII:

The use of the bomb in World War II saved more lives than it cost. If you found yourself interested in the time period and wanted to learn more than what you were taught in school and Hollywood movies, you might wind up in a library, where you’d be able to check-out several books detailing the situation and events of WWII. In your studies, you would no doubt read much about the Nazis in Germany, the fascists in Italy, and the communists in Russia. But, most relevant to this discussion and the naive comments being made by so many obviously ignorant children, you’d come across books on Japan’s involvement in the events leading up to the war and in the war itself.

At the time, the emperor of Japan was Hirohito. Hirohito was a god-king. That is to say, Hirohito was thought to be of divine birth and divine appointment and, as such, his rule was unquestionable. Let’s think about something for a second: the country run by a god-king is also the country that created the Kamikaze (which, for those in the cheap seats, is a suicide attack involving flying planes into enemy ships in an attempt to sink them). This was a country filled with “true-believers”. I do not wish to get into a conversation about religion, but I will use this to illustrate a point: because of their faith and their belief that their emperor was a god on earth, millions of people were willing to die for the cause of Emperor Hirohito. Civilians were told to prepare to fight because they may be needed. They even planned to use their children as weapons.

Sound absurd? This is an excerpt from “The Age of Hirohito” by Daikichi Irokawa (a Japanese historian):

“Faced with the prospect of an invasion of the Japanese Home Islands starting with Kyūshū, the War Journal of the Imperial Headquarters concluded:

‘We can no longer direct the war with any hope of success. The only course left is for Japan’s one hundred million people to sacrifice their lives by charging the enemy to make them lose the will to fight.’”

You may be wondering why, having practically admitted defeat, they were going to continue the war and the loss of life. It is because America and the UK demanded unconditional surrender. Quoting Shigenori Togo (the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan during WWII) on July 12, 1945:

“His Majesty the Emperor, mindful of the fact that the present war daily brings greater evil and sacrifice upon the peoples of all the belligerent powers, desires from his heart that it may be quickly terminated. But so long as England and the United States insist upon unconditional surrender, the Japanese Empire has no alternative but to fight on with all its strength for the honor and existence of the Motherland.”

Another quote from Togo, this one on July 21, 1945:

“With regard to unconditional surrender we are unable to consent to it under any circumstances whatever. …”

(For more on this, research the Potsdam Declaration, which outlined the terms of Japan’s surrender but was rejected.)

Shortly after this last statement, on August 1, 1945, the United States did something totally unprecedented: they showered Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and 33 other potential targets with 5 million leaflets warning of the impending attack. The leaflets read:

“Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America’s humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives. America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace which America will bring will free the people from the oppression of the military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end the war. We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked but some or all of them will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately.”

Then, on August 6th, 5 days after the leaflets had been dropped, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. News made its way to Tokyo quickly that an air raid had leveled Hiroshima with a “blinding flash and violent blast”. Later that day, President Truman issued his most famous statement to the world:

“We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan’s power to make war. It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth…”

In addition to this statement, an American-controlled radio station in Saipan was broadcasting this message every 15 minutes:

“America asks that you take immediate heed of what we say on this leaflet.

We are in possession of the most destructive explosive ever devised by man. A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2000 of our giant B-29s can carry on a single mission. This awful fact is one for you to ponder and we solemnly assure you it is grimly accurate.

We have just begun to use this weapon against your homeland. If you still have any doubt, make inquiry as to what happened to Hiroshima when just one atomic bomb fell on that city.

Before using this bomb to destroy every resource of the military by which they are prolonging this useless war, we ask that you now petition the Emperor to end the war. Our president has outlined for you the thirteen consequences of an honorable surrender. We urge that you accept these consequences and begin the work of building a new, better and peace-loving Japan.

You should take steps now to cease military resistance. Otherwise, we shall resolutely employ this bomb and all our other superior weapons to promptly and forcefully end the war.”

Despite all of this, the Japanese did not surrender. They issued no cease fire, they just continued on fighting. In fact, they didn’t even meet to discuss the new development until three days after the bomb was dropped. And, in the middle of that meeting, the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki at 11:00.

At 02:00 on August 10, 15 hours after the bombing of Nagasaki, and three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, the divine Emperor Hirohito issued this statement:

“I have given serious thought to the situation prevailing at home and abroad and have concluded that continuing the war can only mean destruction for the nation and prolongation of bloodshed and cruelty in the world. I cannot bear to see my innocent people suffer any longer. …

I was told by those advocating a continuation of hostilities that by June new divisions would be in place in fortified positions [east of Tokyo] ready for the invader when he sought to land. It is now August and the fortifications still have not been completed. …

There are those who say the key to national survival lies in a decisive battle in the homeland. The experiences of the past, however, show that there has always been a discrepancy between plans and performance. I do not believe that the discrepancy in the case of Kujukuri can be rectified. Since this is also the shape of things, how can we repel the invaders? [He then made some specific reference to the increased destructiveness of the atomic bomb]

It goes without saying that it is unbearable for me to see the brave and loyal fighting men of Japan disarmed. It is equally unbearable that others who have rendered me devoted service should now be punished as instigators of the war. Nevertheless, the time has come to bear the unbearable. …

I swallow my tears and give my sanction to the proposal to accept the Allied proclamation on the basis outlined by the Foreign Minister.”

In the end, the estimated death toll as a result of the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima falls somewhere between 200,000 and 250,000, which is heartbreaking to say the least. But, just remember what you now know about the mindset of the Japanese. Remember that the god-king Hirohito was prepared to sacrifice every last Japanese life (72,000,000 people) for the Motherland, and that had he been able to get the support of only 1% of the population, he would have been sending between 2 to 3 times as many people to their death as had been killed by the bombings.

And please, for the love of all that is good and just, pickup some history books.

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I remember that, in my high school AP US History class, it was simply assumed that the US was wrong in dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; any points otherwise were mocked as obviously incorrect, even if there was reason backing them, this latter point was used to attempt to discredit reason as such. I remember being the only person on the pro-bombing side, on the class debate of the subject, who was taking it seriously, while everyone else mocked the position. When I let loose a self-righteous response, everyone tried to play it off as a joke I had made. God I fucking hated/hate those people...

Now, I'm curious, is my response to this situation correct with deep seeded hate and loathing towards these individuals?

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Gramlich, you had no reason to like them. Loathing though? Sounds like too much effort on your part aimed at them... Try to pull a Roark instead ... "But I don't think of you..." :P

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I don't mean to change the subject, but since someone has asked the question, Ralph Raico, an Austrian economist who was a friend of Ayn Rand's (and recently defended her on the Mises website) wrote an article about Hiroshima and Nagasaki in which he claimed that the bombings were unecessary and made Truman a war criminal. Is there any Objectivists which are interested in critiquing it?

http://www.lewrockwell.com/raico/raico22.html

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