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Reader: We are a nation of sadists and sociopaths

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In 1995, the Smithsonian was going to display the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Various veterans groups and members of Congress quickly protested.

The Air Force Association encouraged members to sign a petition demanding a "proud and patriotic" display. The American Legion condemned the Smithsonian for "depict[ing] the U.S. airmen as war criminals." Senate hearings were held and ultimately, the exhibit was canceled.

This is part of the dangerous myth the U.S. has about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over half of the U.S. thinks the use of the atomic bombs in Japan was justified and/or necessary, ignoring the opinions of military leaders such as Dwight Eisenhower, [Admiral] William Leahy and Douglas MacArthur, all of whom are on record saying the atomic bombs were unnecessary.

Seventy-two years later, we still believe that the horrific killing of hundreds of thousands of people with weapons that could easily cause human extinction was justified. It strengthens the idea of the U.S. as the world's superhero, always making the tough choice for freedom. It plays directly into the continued acceptance of American imperialism, and it feeds our xenophobia.

The U.S. is a nation of sadists and sociopaths driven mad by our fear, our greed and the weight of our dark secrets. Every monstrosity on which the U.S. is built comes from the same impulse that makes us believe weapons that subject humans to 60 million degrees and poison others with burned skin and failing organs and mangled children are ultimately not too troubling.

Hiroshima is slavery. It's native genocide. It's Ferguson. It's drone bombing. It's countless crimes and hidden bodies and grieving families across the U.S. and the world. Hiroshima is the dark matter of history hidden beneath our narratives and cultural myths.

— Ethan Everhart, Colorado Springs

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