I had a heated debate with my brother tonight about various subjects that left me deeply disturbed afterward. He was also disturbed, to my discredit, because he came to the conclusion that I was trying to force my opinions on him. This is not so, however; all I really wanted was to help him understand the facts that have helped me to form my opinions.
I must say that I did not give him the credit he deserved. He has learned some things which I have not, and some of his opinions are also based on facts. Or they would be, if he had not remembered them incorrectly or perhaps misrepresented them; I am also inclined to agree with him that I gave him about as much chance to express his view as he gave me. For this, I must admit I was wrong. We both agreed it is more difficult to remain rational among people with which we are most familiar, since I have never had such emotional debates with people of different opinions in college. Mostly, though, I believe his opinions are based on the indoctrination imposed on us by our leaders and strongly prevalent in our culture.
Unfortunately, I promised never to engage in discussions of this nature with him again, and I can’t tell him what I’ve learned. Very frustrating.
So I have decided to sort out which of the things I tried to explain to him were opinions and which were not. This is not because I am so sure he is wrong, but because I want to know where I’ve gone wrong, although I will try to determine which of the things we both said were facts are accurate.
What disturbed me the most was his attitude that all or most of the people in certain countries are bad and that they have little or no actual reasons to hate Americans and other Western countries. He also said he thinks we should “go over there and bomb the hell out of them all.”
He mentioned that the “Vietnamese were torturing and killing their own people.” However true this is, does it mean that the Vietnamese people who were tortured and killed deserved what happened to them? After all, they were “their own people,” right? If most of them are bad, they must have deserved it anyway. So why go fight for people who deserved it? I don’t think my brother realizes that he implied this, and if I had tried to explain it he would have denied it.
Of course, I think it is very unfortunate that he would make such a statement and believe it so strongly.
I started the discussion by relating what I recently learned about the atomic bomb
English: United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the declaration of war against Japan, in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. President Eisenhower was against it; he said the Japanese people were “already defeated” and such an extreme action was unnecessary. General MacArthur also said he “saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb” and clearly stated why: the Japanese had already agreed to surrender as long as they could keep their Emperor. 
When my brother said the military obviously did not believe it, I asked him why he would believe the people who want any excuse to kill and feed the industrial war machine, he countered with the same thing for Japanese: “So you want to believe people who engaged in suicidal attacks and the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor?”
It’s a good point, too, I admit. I’m not saying the Japanese at the time were any better. They were imperialist, just like the US. However, the Japanese did not resort to atomic weapons, which destroyed entire cities, killing nearly everyone and leaving the survivors to die anyway of radiation poisoning. Let’s not forget the “black rain” that continued after the attacks.
Looks like I was a bit off in this regard as well. It wasn’t just MacArthur. Quite a few of the US military officials believed it was unnecessary: Assistant Secretary of War John McLoy, Admiral William Lehy, Director of Military Intelligence for the Pacific Theater of War Alfred McCormack, Deputy Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence Ellis Zacharias, Brigadier General Carter Clarke, and more. Not to mention that many said a non-lethal demonstration would have been sufficient, and that there was still no reason to drop them on populated cities instead military targets.
Of course, all of this begs the question, “Then why did the US use atomic bombs on Japan at all, let alone populated cities?” According to New Scientist, it was meant to “kick-start the Cold War rather than end the Second World War.” 
In an earlier, related discussion, my brother said that the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred during peace negations. I had learned the opposite, that the US and Japan were in the middle of signing a declaration of war when that attack occurred and that some American officials might have known about the attack beforehand. It appears we were both wrong. I have not discovered if there were any negotiations before the declaration, but the declaration itself came the day after the attack. I don’t know what gave me the misconception that the US needed representatives from Japan to declare war (an obviously silly idea, and is also a case of inaccuracy in memory; would be nice to have an eidetic memory).
However, it is interesting to note that “most Japanese were surprised, apprehensive, and dismayed by the news they were now at war with the U.S., a country many Japanese admired.” Apparently the Japanese government had resentments about American racist policies, too, which were definitely prevalent, when it came to Japanese Americans. The US also did not like Japan’s invasion of China, which is hypocritical since European settlers and then later the US government invaded North America and swept across the continent in obviously imperialist capacity. It does not mean the Japanese were right; it merely means that the US did not have any moral grounds to dispute them.
Something else I find very interesting is the “Hull note”:
On November 25 Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of War noted in his diary that he had discussed with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt the severe likelihood that Japan was about to launch a surprise attack, and that the question had been “how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.’”
As for the danger, it seems like it backfired. It turned out to be very dangerous for Americans in Pearl Harbor. The note itself “demanded the complete withdrawal of troops” from China, which the Japanese government took as “an ultimatum.” It does not justify their attack, but trying to “maneuver” into such an attack is hardly justifiable, either.
My brother also, like many people I have encountered, insisted that most of what I say is based on “conspiracy theories.” I actually do not talk about conspiracies most of the time; I merely discuss things that are already out in the open. They may have been conspiracies at one time, but the truth is out now and there is no more need for secrecy.
One thing he told me was that Palestinians stormed the Christian church in Jerusalem during the Crusades; it was something he saw in a documentary. After checking this out, I have learned this is completely wrong.
First, “Palestinians are the descendants of everyone who ever lived in the land, just as modern Britons are descendants of ancient Celts, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Huguenots, Jews and recent migrants from the Caribbean and south Asia” (emphasis added). I will admit I did not know this, even though it supports my point of view. Second, it was the Turks who sacked the churches to begin the First Crusade and, if the above is correct, many of the Christians they slaughtered were Palestinian. So, at the very least, my brother must have misrepresented what he saw and heard in that documentary.
While people from many religions still kill each other over religious differences, that doesn’t negate the fact that Israelis are settlers and Palestinians are the indigenous people of what is now called Israel.
Two things my brother said that are facts:
1. There are many people in the world (including the United States) who hate others based on misguided religious fanaticism (and racism) without any real basis otherwise.
2. Communists supplied weapons to the North Vietnamese to subjugate the South Vietnamese.
Now here are the things that I talked about:
FACT: There are things that Western nations, especially the United States (because it is the most powerful of them) and their corporate rulers have done to make people in other parts of the world (and right here) hate us. As much as many people want to believe otherwise, it is not all about religion or whatever other nonsense we’ve been told. If I must, I will come back and list some of these instances for specificity.
OPINION: Denying the fact stated above only contributes to the problems in the world today. While I cannot verify this as fact, I strongly believe it is true because of the fact stated above.
FACT: Modern “Israelis” are settlers from Europe (and perhaps other parts of the world) after the holocaust of World War II. They are descendants of Jews who had been scattered across the world in ancient times (which makes them descendants of Palestinians, ironically), but they did not live in that land before then. The Palestinians did.
FACT: Since 1948, the Israeli state has continued to force Palestinians from their homes to build more settlements for Israelis.
OPINION: If that is not a reason for Palestinians to hate them, then what is? It does not justify suicide bombings, but it does explain their animosity. If this had not happened and did not continue to the present, much of the unrest in that region might not exist (which does not mean all of it would not exist).
FACT: The US supports Israel’s occupation and settlement policies. They did the same thing themselves with the indigenous people of North America and still keep those people marginalized and living on “reservations,” refusing to honor the treaties made with them at that.
FACT: The US does not actually “make the world safe for democracy,” no matter how much the government wants us to believe it. They often choose places where they have a stake in the resources for the benefit of their corporate masters or to keep feeding the war machine. They even sell weapons to the very people who eventually end up using them against us because they only care about profits. The US also has denied aid to people who wanted democracy in the past and supported the despots (Iran and the Shah, for instance), or people who requested aid against despotic regimes (ironically, the very same regimes they later went to war with anyway).
OPINION: Uh, never mind. It’s a FACT, too. The US is imperialist (always has been; hence Manifest Destiny) and fascist.
FACT: At least some, if not many, of the South Vietnamese did not want us there and fought to keep us out too.
OPINION: While I cannot prove it, I still say it is foolishness to believe everyone or even most of the people in certain countries are bad or hate us for no reason except for misguided religious fanaticism. This only makes matters worse.
FACT: The US, Germany, and Japan all had imperialist policies. It was inevitable that they would eventually clash, since they all sought to acquire the same resources (in one way or another) which were not theirs in the first place.
FACT: The US used atomic weapons on populated cities in Japan instead of military targets when they should not have been used at all or, if anything, used only in a non-lethal demonstration. While there may have been civilians in Pearl Harbor, it was still a military base–not a city.
FACT: The sources I used are subject to debate and would not pass the scrutiny of a college professor. I promise to dig deeper and find more reliable sources as soon as possible.
This post probably needs more work (besides just updating sources). If anyone spots something that’s a little off or needs correction, well, it isn’t your job do it–it’s mine–but I would welcome the help nonetheless.
Too bad I can never bring this up to my brother again. I wonder if he’d still conclude that even if he had all the facts he would feel the same.
Washingtonsblog, The Real Reason Americans Used Atomic Bombs On Japan. Web.
Eisenhower, Dwight D., Mandate for Change, 1953-1956: The White House Years, A Personal Account (380). Print.
Bernstein, Barton J., The Atomic Bomb (52-56). Print.
Wikipedia, “Results of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.” Web.
Wikipedia, “Hull Note.” Web.
McRoy, Dr. Anthony, “The Forgotten Faithful.” Web.
Wikipedia, “Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem.” Web.
Wikipedia, “History of Jerusalem (Middle Ages).” Web.
Cause of the Crusades. Web.
Edwards, Robert. New Science. “Hiroshima bomb may have carried hidden agenda.”