Allistair Graham comments

Posted in: How come Japan has never demanded an official apology from any U.S. government for the dropping of atomic bombs on two of its cities? In fact, why don't Japanese hate America for dropping the bombs? See in context

scipantheist -

It's a relief to know that your provocative rhetoric is not representative of the American people. Furthermore, it doesn't take into account the facts of reality: that no nation, no matter who much it considers itself militarily powerful has the capacity to rule the world, because the result will be mutual annihilation. No intelligent and informed thinker is deluded enough to imagine that the kind of jingoism your comment suggests is the solution to the problems of international terrorism. As I say, your view represents a small minority of hardline ultra-nationalists. It's sad that the internet creates the illusion that such views are more important than they really are.

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Posted in: How come Japan has never demanded an official apology from any U.S. government for the dropping of atomic bombs on two of its cities? In fact, why don't Japanese hate America for dropping the bombs? See in context

lincolnman -

"I have to say I enjoy most of the comments here by our "grumpy Brits". Having spent some time in the UK, and enjoying it immensely, I did find that there is a small minority there that have yet to accept the fact that the grand ole' British Empire no longer exists. Two things are especially galling to this group; The fact that a former colony had to cross the Atlantic and rescue Britain from the Germans, not only once, but twice in the twentieth century."

The problem is not "grumpy Brits" but the small minority of very poorly educated nationalistic Americans, who simply refuse to respect the achievements of other nations, and cannot comprehend that their country has both good and bad elements (and therefore cannot claim a position of moral superiority). I certainly acknowledge the role the USA played in the Second World War, but I also respect the vital and necessary role of other nations. America was one 'saviour' among many. No one in their right mind - grumpy or otherwise - respects arrogant people, who make claims about themselves beyond the limit of the evidence.

Why can't people like you just accept reality? How many innocent people around the world have to die often horrible deaths because of American self-righteousness?

The ridiculous and easily refutable exaggerations of a film like 'Unbroken' are simply feeding into the Hollywood driven American myth of moral entitlement. A terrorist organisation that went around murdering innocent people on the streets of my country drew a great deal of its support from the USA. I am talking, of course, about the IRA. And now, all of a sudden, we are supposed to support America in its "War on Terror". There is evidence that even a group like Al-Qaeda is an American creation. And what about American bias towards the KLA in Kosovo? Meddling in Ukraine. The list goes on...

You think that British people critical of American aggrandisement hanker for the days of Empire. Don't project your own arrogance on other people. I certainly do not hanker after any such thing. I would like my nation to live in peace with other nations. You people seem to think that life is one long conflict and you seem unable to cope with reality unless you are dominating others, who when they complain, are accused of being 'jealous'! Jealous of WHAT exactly?!?

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Posted in: How come Japan has never demanded an official apology from any U.S. government for the dropping of atomic bombs on two of its cities? In fact, why don't Japanese hate America for dropping the bombs? See in context

sangetsu03 -

"Sorry, but America won the war in the pacific, not the allies. ... As for the war in Europe, yes, the Americans won there as well. ...Some of my own American ancestors are buried in France and England, my grandfather's brothers. Had you lot not waffled, vaccillated, procrastinated, and allowed war to become inevitable, our lot wouldn't have had to shed our blood to save your sorry skins. My grandfather's brothers might have had a chance to live their lives, and have families of their own. ...Show a little gratitude."

What exactly are you asking us in Europe to do? Worship America?

Many Americans wonder why so many people around the world despise them. They assume (wrongly) that it's something to do with jealousy (see one of the remarks following your comment). But the truth is that no right-minded person respects those who are arrogant. Thankfully most of the Americans I have met are reasonable people, but the internet attracts the few, who misrepresent their country and give it a bad reputation in the eyes of the world.

As a British citizen I could argue that without my country there would be no United States of America at all. But I am not going to be so arrogant as to demand gratitude from you for the mere fact of your existence. To despise the sacrifice of millions in Europe just so your Hollywood fantasy of American greatness can be perpetuated, is just astonishing conceit. And as for your insinuation about appeasing Hitler: I suggest you start studying history properly. Britain was in no position to go to war to save Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain bought us valuable time to rearm. I know this might come as a bit of shock to you, but the "Chamberlain appeasement" narrative that is equated with cowardice is simply a naive reading of history. And if you want to criticise us for failing to save Czechoslovakia (even though we were unable to do so), then we need to ask: "Where was America?" To give the answer that "Nazi aggression was Europe's problem" reveals such hypocrisy. America has never been slow to meddle in other parts of the world when it is in their interests to do so, hence their recent fomenting of trouble in Ukraine (revealing a total inability to take a fair-minded view of Russia geo-political interests), as well as other parts of the world.

If I am to be grateful to America, then America must wait its turn for my thanks. There are other more worthy nations in front of you in the queue, such as Russia (who paid an appalling price in the fight against Nazism), France and the Commonwealth countries.

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Posted in: How come Japan has never demanded an official apology from any U.S. government for the dropping of atomic bombs on two of its cities? In fact, why don't Japanese hate America for dropping the bombs? See in context

Ostap Bender

"...the Abrahamic religions discourage forgiveness."

Ah, that is why Jesus said "love your enemies", is it?

Perhaps you would like to try to distinguish between the fact of certain professing Christians failing to live their religion, and the religion itself.

The idea that Christianity "discourages forgiveness" is one of the most brazen lies I have ever read. Clearly you have zero knowledge of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

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Posted in: Japan's global PR message could misfire with focus on wartime past See in context

u s reamer -

Thank you for your lengthy response. I think we generally agree with each other, but I gave the example of the allied bombing of Dresden as an example of how we can easily justify overkill once we have dehumanised those categorised as "the enemy". Nazi Germany was indeed the oppressor and deserved an extremely robust response from the Allies - we were, after all, fighting for our lives against a great evil - but does that justify a slaughter that was most probably not of any strategic value? And so those who express regret for this bombing are criticised. It was the same when my country when to war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. The Thatcher government bristled with indignation that the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, asked his congregation to pray for the relatives of Argentine soldiers killed in the conflict. Argentina may have been the enemy (and Britain may have had a cause for going to war, although I personally have my doubts about that), but does that mean we should condemn the whole nation to the point where we do not even have the humanity to show concern (whether religiously or not) for the relatives of dead soldiers? This tendency to dehumanise the 'enemy' is what I regard as a case of "taking sides".

You challenged me to ask myself the question "What would Jesus do?" As a Christian I do not accept the validity of this question, because the use of the subjunctive suggests a dead Jesus: "what would he do (if he were here)?", implying that he is not present. The correct question for a Christian is "What is Jesus doing?" I think he is seeking to bring reconciliation between former enemies, and that will only happen in the context of truth and mutual repentance. Dehumanising the enemy is not the path to reconciliation.

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Posted in: Japan's global PR message could misfire with focus on wartime past See in context

u s reamer

"The Camus quote was merely to give you a chance to reflect on the reasons why you appear to favor the afflictors over the afflicted."

I was actually the one who criticised the quote from Albert Camus, even though you directed your last remark to 'CH3'. So I am not sure whether you intended to respond to him / her or to me.

However, if your response is to me, then I would like to see your evidence to support your contention that I favour the afflictors over the afflicted. What I am interested in is this: what is actually true. Even those who are correctly judged to have acted in a criminal manner have a right not to be judged beyond the scope of the evidence. Therefore we do not "take sides", but simply evaluate the evidence impartially. The evils of Japanese behaviour in the early half of the last century does not give us licence to exaggerate their crimes, and certainly it gives us no justification to regard Japan as a pariah nation, and no justification to regard those nations who fought against Japan as somehow "righteous". Furthermore, given that everyone deserves a fair trial, we should be prepared to evaluate the evidence offered by those who would seek to defend their nations's record, instead of just assuming evil intentions of those people.

We owe it to the victims of atrocities to be passionate about one thing: truth and accuracy. "Taking sides" does not - and should not - come into consideration.

Exactly 70 years ago Dresden was bombed by the allies. This was a controversial decision, for which some of my compatriots (the British) apologise. Others think that we should not apologise, because, after all, we were fighting against the Nazi regime. I find the psychology of this very interesting. Just because we were at war, and just because we had judged Germany at the time to be a "pariah nation", did that give us the moral right to inflict any degree of punishment on the German people? This is a classic case of "taking sides": any action is justified against a perceived enemy, once they are branded as 'evil', and, of course, we perceive ourselves as 'righteous' (George W Bush's irresponsible "Axis of Evil" and "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" quotes come to mind in this regard). Just because a nation is our enemy does not mean we can do whatever we like to them. The same is true of the evaluation of historical evils: just because Japan was "in the wrong" does not mean that we can ramp up the accusations against them, and dismiss anyone who tries to take a more measured approach with the cheap judgment of "favouring the afflicted".

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Posted in: Japan's global PR message could misfire with focus on wartime past See in context

u s reamer

"I hope you have the measure of intelligence and humanity to mark and take to heart the words of Albert Camus: In such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners."

It seems rather ironic to quote the words of an amoral existentialist to make a moral argument.

The quote is completely false. It is the job of thinking people to evaluate evidence dispassionately, impartially and objectively. It is not the job of thinking people to take sides and jump to conclusions based on a perception of the moral standing of one party - that is pre-judgment (aka prejudice) and not critical thinking. It is rather sad - and, I must say, somewhat immature - to think in terms of "taking sides". This "good guy, bad guy" rhetoric is what the world definitely does not need.

In terms of nations there are NO "good guys", there is no inherently righteous nation on the face of this earth and never has been. Every nation has blood on its hands and acts in its own, often nefarious, interests. Those thinking adults, living in the real world, know this, and take this into account when assessing the historical record - a corpus of information which almost always defies simple interpretations.

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Posted in: Japan's global PR message could misfire with focus on wartime past See in context

harvey pekar:

"This PR campaign is as useless as literally trying to grab at the digital data waves that fly back and forth over us in hopes of stopping it."

If this PR campaign is so useless, because information cannot be successfully suppressed on the internet, then why get so upset about it? Or perhaps you think that only one version of history should be considered - the one you happen to agree with?

It seems ironic to me that a widely distributed film should attack Japan with gross exaggerations (distortions confirmed by experts in the science of survival and endurance - ), and yet when Japan tries to defend itself, it is pilloried for so doing. Is it really true that we should all just meekly submit to the American view of the world, in which Hollywood has the last say? What sort of idea of "freedom of speech" is that?

Perhaps when all powerful nations - the USA included - apologise for their war crimes, and none consider themselves more 'righteous' then any other nation, then we might have a healthier and more objective debate about the tragic events of the recent past. But reading some of the comments here suggest that a careful evaluation of the truth is the last thing on some people's minds.

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Posted in: Japan's global PR message could misfire with focus on wartime past See in context

It is clearly wrong to tamper with the historical record, but that is not to say that questions should not be asked. The argument works both ways, and the danger is that an historical evil, generally accepted as true, can be exaggerated and exploited for some kind of gain. Take, for example, the film 'Unbroken'. I have no idea whether the events described in the film are accurate or not. I have to take the survivors' word for it. But when I read about the incident when Louis Zamberini was hit hard in the face over 200 times by his fellow captives, who were forced to do this, I struggled. Is it really possible to survive such an onslaught without either dying or suffering obvious and irreparable injury, especially serious brain damage? And how could someone remain conscious to take all these blows anyway? Perhaps Japan might like to use its PR budget to conduct some scientific research to investigate the plausibility of this kind of claim. After all, if it's unbiased objective truth that we all desire, then such an exercise would be worthwhile. Let's all get our facts right, shall we?

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Posted in: Life after death? Yes, says one doctor See in context

I find it interesting that those who believe in life after death are often dismissed as indulging in wishful thinking. What is 'wishful thinking'? Well, it's imagining something you desperately want to be true, but which does not fit reality. So is belief in life after death wishful thinking? Not really, no. Firstly, this belief does not contradict reality, because every day we experience the reality of 'soul', which cannot be reduced to mere matter. The very nature of our consciousness defies a reductionist materialistic explanation (as does free will and reason, of course). How could it be explained materially? Firstly, why does it need to be explained in this way (how do we justify belief in the philosophy of naturalism?), and secondly, if it must be explained in this way, then we have to assume that consciousness is an emergent property of information processing in the brain, in other words, a property of the interaction of memory and anticipation. This cannot be true, because the implications are absurd. Do we seriously believe that any machine with such information processing abilities is conscious? Are computers conscious?? Furthermore, there is a relationship between consciousness and the 'now': our consciousness exists within a durationless, and therefore infinitesimally small, 'period' called "the present moment". How can this phenomenon be reconciled to materialism, in which complex events require duration to occur? The complexity of consciousness exists within a durationless instant, which suggests that it operates within a higher dimension and 'rides' on the material world. The biblical saying that "He has put eternity in our hearts" suggests this truth. The materialists and skeptics have a lot of explaining to do, because their casual assumption that "death is the end of all life" sounds to me more like wishful thinking than belief in an afterlife.

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