Posts Tagged ‘Americanism’

Forgotten Horrors: Ant-Walking Alligators of Hiroshima

July 22, 2013

Forgotten Horrors: Ant-Walking Alligators of Hiroshima.

In a Nutshell

After the bomb went off, Hiroshima was transformed from a dull backwater city into a momentary vision of Hell. Among the horrors witnessed by survivors were the ‘ant-walking alligators’—creatures of the blast that seemed neither human nor animal, neither living nor dead.

The Whole Bushel

When the ‘Little Boy’ exploded 750 yards above Hiroshima during the Monday morning rush hour, no-one had ever seen anything like it. A great light filled the sky, a sound that could flatten buildings rolled across the city and 80,000 people died instantly. The statistics are rightly famous: up to 40% of the population dead, two thirds of the city destroyed and fires burning at 4,000C. But the experience of survivors in the immediate aftermath is less well-known, and far more disturbing.

In his book, Last Train to Hiroshima, Charles Pellegrino combed through thousands of eyewitness statements. Among the horrors of radiation poisoning and the initial firestorm, he uncovered one ‘creature’ unique to the atomic wasteland: the ‘ant-walking alligators’. They had once been human. When the sky exploded, they’d had the misfortune to survive. Faces turned to the blast, the skin had been seared from their skulls; leaving only a black, leathery substance without eyes or features. All that remained was a red hole where their mouths had once been. They staggered about the outskirts of Hiroshima, avoided by other survivors – but the real horror was the sound they made. According to Pellegrino: “The alligator people did not scream. Their mouths could not form the sounds. The noise they made was worse than screaming. They uttered a continuous murmur — like locusts on a midsummer night. One man, staggering on charred stumps of legs, was carrying a dead baby upside down.”

None of them survived for long. In most modern accounts of the bombing they’re noticeably absent. But the alligator people are a reminder of the human cost of our victory in the War – one we should never allow ourselves to forget.

source:

knowledgenuts

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Classics on America: Mark Twain

September 30, 2008

Food for thought served up by one of America’s greatest writers ever, Mark Twain:

“Citizenship? We have none! In place of it we teach patriotism which Samuel Johnson said a hundred and forty or a hundred and fifty years ago was the last refuge of the scoundrel — and I believe that he was right. I remember when I was a boy and I heard repeated time and time again the phrase, ‘My country, right or wrong, my country!’ How absolutely absurd is such an idea. How absolutely absurd to teach this idea to the youth of the country”.

“I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed tiresome and tame for it to content itself with he Rockies. Why not spread its wings over [omitted] I asked myself? And I thought it would be a real good thing to do.

I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which had addressed ourselves.

But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of [omitted]. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. . .

It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land”.

“The American flag should be replaced not with the stars and stripes, forget them, it should be the Jolly Roger, the skull and crossbones, because we bring murder wherever we go”.

The words of Mark Twain, a member of the Anti-Imperialist League until his death.

Classics on America: Charles Dickens

September 18, 2008

… she had learnt it from … her fellow countrymen, who in their every word, avow themselves to be as senseless to the high principles on which America sprang, a nation, into life, as any Orson in her legislative halls. Who are no more capable of feeling, or of caring if they did feel, that by reducing their own country to the ebb of honest men’s contempt, they put in hazard the rights of nations yet unborn, and very progress of the human race, than are the swine who wallow in their streets. Who think that crying out to other nations, old in their iniquity, `We are no worse than you!’ (No worse!) is high defence and ‘vantage-ground enough for that Republic, but yesterday let loose upon her noble course, and but to-day so maimed and lame, so full of sores and ulcers, foul to the eye and almost hopeless to the sense, that her best friends turn from the loathsome creature with disgust. Who, having by their ancestors declared and won their Independence, because they would not bend the knee to certain Public vices and corruptions, and would not abrogate the truth, run riot in the Bad, and turn their backs upon the Good; and lying down contented with the wretched boast that other Temples also are of glass, and stones which batter theirs may be flung back; show themselves, in that alone, as immeasurably behind the import of the trust they hold, and as unworthy to possess it as if the sordid hucksterings of all their little governments–each one a kingdom in its small depravity–were brought into a heap for evidence against them…

The great English master of letters himself, apparently at work or just thinking

…`What an extraordinary people you are!’ cried Martin. `Are Mr. …. and the class he represents, an Institution here? Are pistols with revolving barrels, sword-sticks, bowie-knives, and such things, Institutions on which you pride yourselves? Are bloody duels, brutal combats, savage assaults, shooting down and stabbing in the streets, your Institutions! Why, I shall hear next that Dishonour and Fraud are among the Institutions of the great republic!’…

….Why, I was a-thinking, sir,’ returned Mark, `that if I was a painter and was called upon to paint the American Eagle, how should I do it?’

`Paint it as like an Eagle as you could, I suppose.’

`No,’ said Mark. `That wouldn’t do for me, sir. I should want to draw it like a Bat, for its short-sightedness; like a Bantam, for its bragging; like a Magpie, for its honesty; like a Peacock, for its vanity; like an ostrich, for its putting its head in the mud, and thinking nobody sees it –‘

`And like a Phoenix, for its power of springing from the ashes of its faults and vices, and soaring up anew into the sky!

Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens


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