Wright Fuss Weakens Dems, Squanders Chance to Get Serious

I argue with my friends. Some of them thought invading Iraq was a good idea. Almost all believed that Afghanistan was “the good war,” the one from which Iraq distracted us. (They’re starting to come around.) A few are even bigots. We disagree about these issues, often vehemently. But we’re still friends. I would never diss a friend in public (or, in politicalese, “distance myself”). Even a former friend deserves respect.

Crisis reveals character. In politics, it reveals judgment.

Barack “Uniter Not Divider, This Time We Really Mean It” Obama was praised for dumping (“distancing himself from”) Reverend Jeremiah Wright. (“What Barack Obama did was a profile in courage,” said the Reverend Al Sharpton.) But the McCain campaign’s silence indicates that it is quietly editing its fall attack ads. Obama’s apology, they’ll say, came too little, too late. Obama has fallen for one of the hoariest old tricks in the political playbook: guilt by association.

Republicans are smart. They close ranks behind a senator caught trolling for gay sex in an airport restroom, ignoring the homophobic platform of their own party. Mr. Wide Stance keeps his job; they keep his vote. In contrast, when New York’s governor hooks up with a prostitute, the Dems–whose politics, after all, are sex-positive–sell one of their brightest lights down the river.

You’d think Democrats would have learned a big lesson in 1972. It seems quaint in this age of Zoloft, but when it came out that vice presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton had been treated for depression (with electroshock treatment, standard care at the time), the media went nuts. If George McGovern had stood by his running mate, the issue would soon have died. There were, after all, plenty of other stories to talk about–say, Vietnam and Watergate. But McGovern got spooked. He dumped Eagleton. Voters asked themselves: If a guy throws his own running mate under the bus, how will he defend the United States? McGovern lost by a landslide.

Rule One of political survival: Never, ever apologize. Even when you’re wrong. Especially when you’re wrong. Rule Two: Don’t comment. Defending yourself keeps the story going. Corollary One to Rule One: Stand up for your friends. Especially when they’re wrong.

But what if they’re right?

“You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you,” Reverend Wright said in his appearance at the National Press Club.
Pronouncing himself “offended” by such “ridiculous propositions” as “when [Wright] equates the United States’ wartime efforts with terrorism–there are no excuses,” Obama said the next day.

What is truly ridiculous is that, six and a half years after 9/11, many Americans still think the attacks were motivated by crazy freedom-haters out to forcibly convert them to Islam. The rise of radical Islam resulted from what Chalmers Johnson termed “Blowback”–CIA jargon for the unintended consequences, in this case of arming and funding Islamist fighters against the Soviet Union. But Wright was right. “America’s chickens are coming home to roost,” the Reverend said after 9/11.
It wasn’t an original thought. Ward Churchill said the same thing. So have countless analysts in other countries. Only in the U.S. is it prohibited to say something so obvious–particularly in a public forum.

Osama bin Laden and the 19 hijackers didn’t think flying planes into buildings would make Americans join the local mosque. They were motivated by a desire to bring America’s wars home to its people, to ensure that it would suffer the consequences for having “supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans,” as Wright said. Like Wright, bin Laden has referenced these issues.

The Al Qaeda founder has also talked about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, one of the greatest war crimes in history.

“Bin Laden has said several times that he is seeking to acquire and use nuclear weapons not only because it is God’s will, but because he wants to do to American foreign policy what the United States did to Japanese imperial surrender policy,” the Washington Post noted in 2005.

9/11 wasn’t an attack on a legitimate target. It wasn’t justifiable. Except for the Pentagon, the victims were civilians: clerks, cooks, office managers and bike messengers, the vast majority of whom probably opposed such foreign policies as the trade sanctions that killed 100,000 Iraqi children during the 1990s. But pretending that the killers of 9/11 were driven by motives other than to avenge American foreign policy in the Muslim world further delays a conversation we needed to have ages ago, and increases the likelihood of more attacks.

One of Wright’s most bizarre statements concerns his “suggestion that the United States might have invented H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS,” in the words of The New York Times. There is no evidence to support this accusation. Yet paranoia can reveal truth.

“Based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything,” Wright told the NAACP last week. (In Tuskegee from 1932 to 1972, illiterate sharecroppers with syphilis were left untreated so that white doctors could observe the progress of the disease.) “In fact, one of the responses to what Saddam Hussein had in terms of biological warfare was a non-question, because all we had to do was check the sales records. We sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people. So any time a government can put together biological warfare to kill people, and then get angry when those people use what we sold them, yes, I believe we are capable.”

It shouldn’t come as any surprise, given what the U.S. government has done and continues to do to African-Americans–a recent study shows, for example, that blacks are 12 times more likely than whites to be sent to prison for the same drug offenses as whites–that many of them consider it “capable of doing anything.” What is surprising is that African-Americans–or anyone else–still believes the government.

The Wright controversy offered us an opportunity to talk about the need to create a government that tells the truth, that doesn’t torture or kidnap or wage unjustifiable wars–a government worthy of its people and its trust. What we got instead, courtesy of Mr. Change We Can Believe In, was the usual pablum. “They offend me,” Obama said of Wright’s comments. “They rightly offend all Americans.”

Let us all hold hands and be offended. Whatever it takes to stop us from thinking.



57 Responses to “”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    A Christian nation?? Hmmmmm…

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Has anyone written a script in which Jesus shows up after 9/11? I bet in has some G-Bay waterboarding in it.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Off topic here, but Sadr City is becoming a latter day Warsaw Ghetto as I type. Walled and anticipating the “BIG PUSH”. Greeted as liberators, eh?? Hmmmm…

  4. Aggie Dude Says:


    You’re absolutely Wright. But beyond that, Republicans aren’t held to the same standard. It’s OK for neo-nazis and gay bashing bigots to proudly stand next to their Republican politicians (even in the White whore House where they should be banned on constitutional grounds), but Democrats are immediately screwed over for the smallest of things.

    This is the consequence of a news media system that essentially bombards against reasonableness 24-7. We live in an adolescent society, this is what we get. The last time Americans were so infantile in their public psyche was around 100 years ago. . .what goes around comes around-the only problem is we are not in such a good position this time.

    I can’t imagine that we will avoid having a massive conflict within the next two decades, and we do not have the leadership to handle it.

    That’s why I eat sushi 6 days a week.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    We sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people.
    Saddam used chemical weapons in horrific attacks against innocent Iraqis, said weapons were supplied by American taxpayers.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Just because the government is capable of doing something, doesn’t mean you can say it “invented AIDS.” Without actual evidence, saying the government invented AIDs is just as bad as saying it took down the world trade center with explosives. Also, I thought the official conspiracy theory about AIDs was that it was created to wipe out gays, not blacks.

    Secondly, how do you justify Wright’s exalting of Louis Farrakhan? When I read all the right-wing pundit columns saying Wright was anti-semitic, I thought it was because those crazies consider anti-zionism with anti-semitism. But Farrakhan appears to have had a nasty habit of calling jews “bloodsuckers.”

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Corollary One to Rule One: Stand up for your friends. Especially when they’re wrong.

    Obvious counterexample. Dick Nixon covered for the Watergate burglers. He probably would not have been forced to resign if he just hung them out to dry.

  8. Jana C.H. Says:

    The other night, during intermission at the opera, I got to talking politics with a fellow opera-goer. She thought the business about Rev. Wright was a big issue. “It’s about Obama’s judgement,” she said when I insisted it was trivial. I got a bit fervent, and said: We’re facing environmental disaster, economic meltdown, we’ve been in Iraq longer than we were in World War II, and we’re supposed to get excited about what some guy’s pastor said?

    My voice tends to carry when I get fervent, and someone else later commended me on my statement. I don’t claim total credit: my inspiration for this particular answer was John Edwards. In one of the debates he managed to interrupt one of the H & O Railroad’s bicker-fests, saying: This isn’t getting health care to any children. This isn’t getting… etc, etc, several major issues. Damn, but I miss that man.

    Whenever the media blather on about “judgement” and “character”, it’s just an excuse for them to focus on gossip. And the double standard with the Repubs is blatant in this case, since we hear not a word about John McCain and Jerry Falwell.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH: Do whatever you like with Wagner, but mess with Gilbert and Sullivan and you die!

  9. Matt P Says:

    Let me begin by stressing that I still am in Obama’s corner, but the Wright issue should be a blemish on his campaign. While I applaud Wright for rightly pointing out the failures of US foreign policy, it is sickening to hear such garbage as the US government inventing HIV.

    Not only does such talk promote extreme ignorance, but this and his other ravings implicitly creates, from my perspective, the specter of all caucasians being racists. Hear me out to see why this bothers people such as myself.

    I have repeatedly experienced so-called reverse discrimination. I was harrassed physically and verbally while attending a minority-majority school for being white. Additionally, de facto affirmative action programs for education seem to pop up at every stage of my career. Just today I received an email regarding a promising workshop for would-be professors only to scroll down and find out that as a caucasian, I was banned from applying. I’ll stop before I keep rambling.

    I am a tolerant person with a liberal viewpoint, but it is incredibly frustrating to constantly hear these conspiracy theories and “they’re out to get me” stories when my experiences have demonstrated quite the opposite. This is a big reason why this issue reverberates so strongly with me, and why I’m hoping Obama does not agree with this nonsense. Otherwise I think he’s a great candidate, and I won’t let this blemish alter my choice.

    I love your website/weekly columns, despite disagreeing with this one. Keep up the good work.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Well there isn’t much of a way out of the Farrakan thing… except….
    to accuse the opposition of the same thing but worse. Politics 101. But Obama or his advisors are too chicken to go there. I hate to say it because I really don’t want her to be prez, but Hillary would’ve had a stronger response, though she would have denounced her associates as well.

    Obama would have retaliated by accusing his opposition of being guilty by association with any number of genuine hate-mongers and criminals. I’m sure its not hard.

    You can start by associating Bush with Pat Robertson (who has called for assasinating opposing heads of state, and has called Jews “enemies of God”… ), Bush’s dad with the bin Ladens, (Osama funded by the CIA? oh and Saddam too.), and Bush’s granddad with the Nazis.

    But thats too easy. I’m sure Clinton has her own unsavory friends-of-friends.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Did you hear the whole speech to the NAACP? Did you? Did you?
    then you c’aint talk, then!

    What about Rev Wright’s flimsy and intellectually dishonest grasp of linguistics, music, history, and cognitive development? What about his sucking up to Louis Farrakhan (gee, what happened to Malcolm X, Louie?). What about his mockery of the two Presidents that have done more for black people since Lincoln sacrificed over 300,000 union soldiers to end slavery? Try to do a less than flattering impersonation of MLK…look how fast ya get deionized.

    Anybody see the Bill Moyers interview? Mr. Wright strung together a bunch of non-sequitor/ non-sensical rhyming words to give America a road map to racial …whatever it is that he is going for exactly.

    If Obamaa gets elected then black “theologians” are out of a job. So are a great number of white liberal whiners (present company excluded.)
    An excuse is better than success…you don’t have to prove yourself.

    Too bad you gotta act like you believe in God to be President… how much you wanna bet Obama wasn’t even in the pews when the chickens came home to Damn America?

    Why are we even humoring people who try to con us into worshiping their imaginary friends who live in the sky? Chuck him back under the bus where he belongs, already! Maybe he and Geraldine Ferraro can hang out under there together.

    (she sounds like she has early stages of dementia, btw)

  12. Aggie Dude Says:

    8 of the first 11 comments here are anonymous.

    What a bunch of wimps.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Finding the white person who gave Rev. Wright AIDS should be the first task of President Obama’s Justice Department.

  14. so are you Says:

    the handle “aggie dude” hardly identifies you.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    8 of the first 11 comments are anonymous. Angel has’nt joined the frey and Aggie Dude eats raw fish! I still say that repubes don’t want to win the election. What person would want to inherit the dung heap? Aggie, you should see from how the govenor of your adopted state is doing after J.Engler left here.

  16. Not anonymous, just bored Says:

    So, let’s us all just take a second to consider that Ted’s piece seems to imply that soliciting gay sex, which is not illegal, is some how worse (or at least comparable) to spending $80,000 dollars (!) on call girls, while all the while bragging about taking down prostitution rings.

    I know. I know. He’s talking about the hypocracy of the Republicans (like anyone, especially here, needs that pointed out anymore). But still…

    And EVEN still, isn’t Spitzer at LEAST as big and disgucting a hypocrite? Making political hay out of locking up people for crimes you yourself are committing seems a bit shady.

    IMHO, what Spitzer did was MUCH worse than what Craig did (while his party affiliation is not). Anyone who thinks differently is simply a partisan hack.

  17. Not anonymous, just bored Says:

    Still, I should point out that I liked Ted’s piece in general. Didn’t agree with a word of it, but I still liked it.

    It’s a bit like what Nixon once said about P.J. O’Rouke. “Whether you agree with him or not, he writes a helluva piece!”

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Two minor quibbles:
    Ted said: “Osama bin Laden and the 19 hijackers didn’t think flying planes into buildings would make Americans join the local mosque.”
    In fact, in a video captured in Afghanistan after 9/11, Bin Laden boasted that in some European countries, there were a greater number of conversions to Islam after 9/11 than before 9/11.

    Ted said: “9/11 wasn’t an attack on a legitimate target. It wasn’t justifiable.”
    That’s true, if you go by international law. If you use the same standards the US Government uses, both the Pentagon (Military) and the WTC (The Twin Towers were the site of broadcasting transmitters and various federal agencies- and while it’s illegal to target media personnel under international law, it didn’t stop the US from targeting Radio Television Serbia and Al-Jazeera (twice)) were legitimate targets.

    As for me, Obama’s attack on Wright ended any of my hopes for voting for a major party candidate this year…again. McCain was out over his foreign policy and refusal to make an issue of the 2000 SC Republican Primary. Hillary was out for her support of the war, plus the general sleaze she was in, and Obama’s stabbing Wright in the back ended any chances of my support for him. Looks like it’s down to Nader, Barr or McKinney.

  19. henehank Says:

    The problem with Obama, which is the problem with all Democrats these days, is that they are desperately trying to turn politics back into a gentleman’s game. They are smart people. They know exactly how bad the opposition has fucked up, but they won’t use their own best arguments because they have convinced themselves that the public wants candidates who act nice and respectable. What the public actually wants is candidates who call a spade a spade. This is where Republicans excel – they simply don’t give a shit about looking nice, they just get the freaking job done. If they think you’re a fag, they will run an ad suggesting you’re a fag. If they think you’re a terrorisrt, they’ll say that too. Their voters expect them to be mean, combative sons of bitches, because that way they win. This is why Karl Rove is a household name now. This is how they managed to sell George W. Bush, even though it was known during the election that he had a cocaine problem, a DUI, two slutty daughters, and a desertion from the National Guard during wartime (the penalty for which, according to UCMJ, is death). Hell, any single one of George Bush’s character flaws would doom Obama’s presidency. But a bunch of backroom guys got together one night in Texas, drinking heavily, and said to each other, ‘You know, if we went totally all out with the crazy election shit, I bet we could get this useless motherfucker elected president.’ And then the other guy said, ‘Hot damn, Clem, you’re right,’ and bam, a political juggernaut was born. But Democrats have this nasty habit of appealing to our better natures, which takes too much time and usually doesn’t work.

    It would be EASY to make most Americans hate Republicans, if only there were someone willing to try.

  20. SDS Says:

    Yes, anonymous (the one above aggie dude), I DID read the most recent remarks to the National Press Club. I read ALL of it. And as Ted already points out, there was only one even remotely contentious point: the AIDS issue. Yes, it’s almost certainly not true that the US gave African Americans AIDS. But anyone moderately conversant with the history of the disease realizes that the government was slow to act in removing this disease from the community. Talk to some homosexual men about this who lived through that nightmare. The paranoia extends beyond African Americans; further, there is at least some merit in saying Reagan reacted poorly and slowly to the issue. That said, I defy you to prove out your Farakkhan link. In fact, Wright took great pains to specify his views on Palestine and Israel. He is NOT anti-Semitic and it is dishonest to claim such. He’s, if anything, ecumenical in his religious views; a view that might only alienate atheists, if anyone. Check your own facts.

  21. Aggie Dude Says:

    Mmmmmmm…..I love me some raw fish.

    It’s as un-American as critical thinking!

  22. Anonymous Says:

    henehank- bullseye! you nailed it.

    The only thing I would add is something I saw a while ago about Dems and Repubs… it’s all just a game of good-cop bad-cop.

    The Republicans are the bad cop, The Democrats are the good cop. Ok, that’s obvious. But what you gotta remember is… They’re both cops. They both work for the same team.

    PS- I post anonymously because logging in is a nuisance.

  23. Caradoc Says:

    If you look into Edward Haslam’s “Dr. Mary’s Monkey” you will find a credible and astonishing account of the experiments with retroviruses following the polio vaccinations of the ’50s. Who knows where Rev Wright got the idea, but before you file it away as another crazy conspiracy like the Kennedy Assassination, you should check out what Haslam writes.

  24. Kurt Says:

    On the aids issue, Mr. Wright is clearly wrong that it originated with the U.S. Government, but the U.S. government most certainly did allow retro virus vaccines that had been produced with monkey blood serum containing the aids virus to be given to both africans and to U.S. workers (some of them African American) working in Africa. They also continued to license drugs for the Dutch pharma company that caused the spread of aids to humans by making vaccines in monkey blood serum. By the way, the experiments that Haslam wrote about (and that there was a documentary film about that I cannot place the name of), continued well into the 60’s and well after there were known pathologies that included the then unknown disease now called AIDS associated with the use of monkey serum in the development of drugs, vacines, and other treatements.

    Another question that should be asked however, is why did that disease leap from Africa to the United States without a clear pathology and why does it effect more african americans and homosexuals than the rest of the population. Since the theory that homosexual sexual modes are more likely that heterosexual intercourse to spread the virus has been scientifically destroyed, one is almost forced to conclude that the pathology into the african american communities and into especially the San Francisco gay community is by a pathway other than sexual contact, unless there is a statistic related to the likelyhood of african americans and homosexuals to be uncircumsized (since there already is an estabilished and documented strong pathology associated with transmission by sexual contact between an infected individual and uncircumsized men). I don’t think asking that question is out of bounds, and furthermore, this is America and NO question should be out of bounds. Period! We have succeeded as a nation because there has always been a culture in this country that respected open inquiry and disrepected the concepts of gentry and title.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    And I love you Dude. Just be aware that some of the fish we eat is harvested from ponds equal to chemical, and or human cespools.

  26. Owen Says:

    “It wasn’t justifiable. Except for the Pentagon…”

    You are implying that if all the targets were military, then the attacks would have been “justifiable”. This isn’t surprising given that you have expressed your disdain for the military many times.

    “The Al Qaeda founder has also talked about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, one of the greatest war crimes in history.”

    Don’t tell me, you subscribe to the lie about how Japan was trying really, really hard to surrender, but the evil U.S. just wanted to play with their new toys? The completely debunk your little theory, I need only point out that it took TWO atomic bombs to get Japan to surrender. That’s after the U.S. pretty much burned to the ground most of Japan’s major cities and systematically dismantled their Pacific empire. Was it a war crime? Had it been done unprovoked? Yes. But Japan initiated hostilities and awoke the beast…and they paid for it. It breaks my heart to read about what happened, but it happened nonetheless.

    “…a recent study shows, for example, that blacks are 12 times more likely than whites to be sent to prison for the same drug offenses as whites…”

    And this study was conducted by whom? You’re a college educated writer, Ted. You should know better than to reference something and not provide a source. We shouldn’t have to ask.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    If I”m not mistaken, The Nagasaki bomb was dropped the day the Russians decided to take on the Japanese. From what I understand, the bomb was dropped to show the CCCP what we could do. Again I point out that we are still paying the price for 1), not letting Patton roll through Berlin, and 2), The creation of the State of Israel. And I bring this up on it’s 60th anniversary. Hmmmmm… Too late to dissolve it now so I guess the Arab world should get used to it. But Israel should “NEVER FORGET” the people they displaced to achieve their dream and the long term effect it’s had on history. And if you view me as an Anti-semite, The Indians are at the door and they’ve been given their Land back by the U.N. You got 15 minutes. Tick tick tick….. Dorme bene.

  28. Susan Stark Says:

    Dear Mr. Owen,

    The Japanese had already surrendered before the atomic bombs were dropped. They had already lost the war. As you just said yourself:

    “. . . the U.S. pretty much burned to the ground most of Japan’s major cities and systematically dismantled their Pacific empire. Was it a war crime? Had it been done unprovoked? Yes.”

    It doesn’t matter that the Japanese started the war. The dropping of atomic bombs was unnecessary and therefore a crime.

    See, this is what Ted means when he says about not facing the truth.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    so what your saying is that if you throw your acquaintance down the river under pressure, your a wimp? what if your acquaintance was a neo-nazi a child rapist or another type of unsavory individual?

  30. echo Says:


    Here’s a link that will explain incarceration rates in detail:

    Their source is Department of Justice.

    Maybe Ted knew about this thing called Google, I guess they didn’t teach you that at Pat Robertson’s school.

  31. Chris Says:

    “Secondly, how do you justify Wright’s exalting of Louis Farrakhan? “

    He didn’t exalt Farrakhan. He stated factually that Farrakhan is one of the most important voices of the 20th century:
    “2. Wright’s views on Louis Farrakhan:

    … how many other African-Americans or European-Americans do you know that can get one million people together on the mall? He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century. That’s what I think about him.

    I’ve said, as I said on Bill Moyers, when Louis Farrakhan speaks, it’s like E.F. Hutton speaks, all black America listens. Whether they agree with him or not, they listen.

    Now, I am not going to put down Louis Farrakhan anymore than Mandela would put down Fidel Castro. Do you remember that Ted Koppel show, where Ted wanted Mandela to put down Castro because Castro was our enemy? And he said, “You don’t tell me who my enemies are. You don’t tell me who my friends are.”

    Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains. He did not put me in slavery.

    Suppose Wright made the observation: William F. Buckley was one the most important voices in America. Would anyone have said that he was praising Buckley? Or would they have merely recognized the obvious: that he was drawing attention to the extent of Buckley’s influence?

    Wright’s view of Farrakhan is really a response to those who want to minimize Farrakhan’s influence by treating him as a marginal figure. The marginalization of Farrakhan is proscription dressed up as description.

    Is Wright correct in saying that when Farrakhan speaks, black Americans — whether they agree with him or not — listen?

    As someone who is not a black American, I don’t know, but neither I imagine do most of those white pundits who repeated the claim that Wright had “praised” Farrakhan.”

    from 5/2/08

  32. Shinsengumihunter Says:

    Ms. Stark,

    Actually, their was an attempted military coup in Japan by officers (many of the quite high ranking) who did not want to surrender. This was, by the way, AFTER the bombing of Hiroshima.

    Also, the Japanese knew they were going to lose the war before we invaded Okinawa and they still killed thousands of Americans there, while killing and allowing to be killed tens of thousands of Okinawan civilians. This was with a force of a few thousand troops.

    The Japanese had hundreds of thousands of troops on the home islands, to say nothing of millions of civilians who had been exhorted (one won’t go so far as to say brian washed) to die for their emperor.

    At best, an invasion of the home islands, which would have been necessary to end the war, would have resulted in an occupation and insurgency that would have made today’s horror in Iraq seem quite tame and peaceful. It is at least arguable that many more Japanese civilians would have died in such a scenario than died at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is not, of course (though some will see and/or spin it this way) to belittle the losses of those cities or that nation. Simply treying to keep things honest.

    All that said, the use of the bombs (especially the second one) are highly questionable acts.
    I don’t know if we should have used them or not. But ya know what? Niether do you (ANY of you). After all, I think it’s reasonable to assume that neither of us were alive at the time, let alone standing in the Oval office and having to make that choice.

    But to depict the Japanese as all but willing to surrender BEFORE the use of those bombs (especially the first one)is to distort (at best) history. And for no other reason than to score cheap points in a politcal debate…

    There are, of course, many many books on the war in which you can verify this information. Indeed, John W. Dower’s Pulitzer winning EMBRACING DEFEAT (which deals with the aftermath of the war in occupied Japan) points out that the tapes Hirohito’s radio address to his people (highly unprecedented) announcing the surrender had to be hidden from officers “opposed to a surrender.” (page 35) A world of violence and intrigue lies behind those words.

    You likely will not look this history up. After all, if the facts get in the way of your politics, ignore the facts. At least the right and the left both have that in common. Why let actual history get in the way a good, incorrect PC rant?

    Talk about not facing the (historical)truth…

  33. Incitatus Says:

    I’m with “not anonymous, just bored”: it’s lovely when Ted praises the ruthless, arrogant, hypocrite bastard ex-governor of NY as “one of the brightest lights” of his party. Then again, Spitzer had all the qualities that a militant like Ted would expect in a people’s commissar, except perhaps a genuine ideological conviction.

  34. henehank Says:


    As a veteran, I’d have to agree with Ted about military targets being legitimate targets. When I was in uniform, I made a point of emphasizing to civilians that getting shot at was now my official job. If I’m in Iraq, wearing my country’s uniform as part of an occupying force, and a native of Iraq takes a shot at me, that’s NOT terrorism. That’s called ‘war’, and I’m fine with it. I’m still going to shoot back and probably kill the guy, but that doesn’t mean he’s some kind of monstrous human scum just because he wanted to fight. That’s not even a moral judgement on my part, it’s just common sense. Wearing the flag on my shoulder means that I now have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force both coming and going. It’s when that Iraqi shoots at someone NOT wearing a uniform – like another Iraqi – that he becomes a ‘terrorist’. This is one thing that has always steamed me about the reporting from Iraq – soldiers and the press routinely refer to anyone who attacks us as a terrorist. In fact, as I said, choosing to attack heavily armed and well-protected soldiers (as opposed to a target of opportunity like a line of unarmed police recruits) is actually the more honorable decision.

  35. Not anonymous, just bored Says:

    While I truly do appreciate incitatus’ support, I would differ only on the use of the word “militant” in describing Ted (though Ted himself might not). He’s simply a smart (usually), opinionated, and profilic guy expressing his opinions.

    I disgaree with him at least 65% of the time, but he’s no more militant than any other pundit/cartoonist.

    Again, I could be wrong about that but it’s the impression I get.

  36. Owen Says:


    Pat Robertson’s school? Why the insult? You know what, I’m tired of being civil. You leftists love to preach of tolerance, but if a differing opinion comes along you attack that person like the vicious jackals that you are.

    Your comment about Google shows just how ignorant and “dumbed down” this nation is becoming. If I wrote a paper and referenced certain studies, and I didn’t cite my source, I’d get an “F”, guaranteed. As the reader it is not my job to hunt down the writers sources. So get lost, liberal scum.

  37. Owen Says:


    the Japanese had not surrendered. If they had the bombs would not have been dropped. The U.S. already new that the A-bomb worked, so there would be no need to drop them as an experiment. My comment about the fire bombing was in reference to the fact that even after the U.S. military burned their country to the ground then incinerated a whole city with one bomb, it still took one more to get them to say, “Fine. You win.”

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Tolerance means that it’s ok not to like it, just don’t kick in someone’s door over it. Love, Jesus

  39. Owen Says:


    People who call the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki a “crime” do so not because they think they know the truth, but because it’s an easy and convenient way to bad mouth the United States, which is a favorite past time for them.

  40. Owen Says:


    Your job was not to “get shot”. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Your job was to defend the Constitution of the United States, and that does not necessarily mean “getting shot”.

  41. Kurt Says:


    You really aren’t worth responding to since you seem so eager to show your ignorance and apparently poor reading comprehension (although I am positive that you do not have a problem comprehending, you just like to make crap up). That said, there is ample evidence that Japan had tried on several occassions to surrender officially (that would be a surrender coming from the then top ranking military and civilian authority in Japan). An attempted coup to continue the war does not negate the fact that Japan had made official diplomatic gestures asking for terms of surrender. They did ask for conditional surrender, but that hardly means they didn’t try to surrender.

    I agree with the other fellow that none of us know exactly what happened or why, but there are also a number of books written by people that were there or that spoke with people involved in the bomb droping decision who have admitted or at least alluded to the fact that dropping the bombs was designed as much to send a message to Stalin as it was to force unconditional surrender. Given that, I think it is reasonable for a person to hold the opinion that dropping those bombs was a crime and not the life saving measure that the flacks in the various armed services propaganda arms insisted that it was. I think, however, that it is also reasonable for a person to believe that Japan would have dug in and fought to the last man had we invaded the home islands. The operative word is reasonable. A reasonable person could conclude either of the two things mentioned on this thread or reach a number of other conclusions that are just as reasonable. This is how history works. History is almost alwasy written with bias, and true students of history try to gather information from a number of perspectives. It is perfectly reasonable to hold a historically supported perspective that defies the common wisdom.

    Now, onto the issue of sources. An OP/ED is not a term paper. Give me a break. One does not need to source anything, and it just so happens that the racial bias in drug convictions story was above the fold front page news in the Post, the Times, the SF Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune this week. Person’s not living under rocks should have probably heard this story or at least not expected a source on the story given that it was front page news in most major markets. I assume that Ted figured that his readers also at least scan headlines and would have seen this story, thereby negating the need to provide you a source just because you don’t read the paper.

  42. Anonymous Says:

    Great article Ted! I love this blog.

  43. Owen Says:


    This is exactly what I’m talking about. Leftists love to call others out on the carpet about “tolerance”, but look how rude and intolerant you are toward my opinions. What hypocrites you all are.

    Anyway, the only acceptable surrender from Japan was UNCONDITRIONAL. Therefore, if they submitted terms with conditions, then that was not an attempt at surrender. End of story.

  44. Owen Says:

    One thig I forgot to ad:

    I have gathered history from different perspectives, and the perspective where the Japanese dug in and defended their island, and hundreds of thousands of Americans dies, just doesn’t jive with me. Bombs away.

  45. echo Says:

    “You leftists love to preach of tolerance, but if a differing opinion comes along you attack that person like the vicious jackals that you are.”

    It was satire, not hate.

    “If I wrote a paper and referenced certain studies, and I didn’t cite my source, I’d get an “F”, guaranteed.”

    An Op-ed is different from a term paper(writing style, purpose, distribution etc). The writer can assume a knowledge-base.

    “As the reader it is not my job to hunt down the writers sources.”

    You can be resonant with some current issues. Racial relations is a vital issue in our society, and we can’t just look past it.

    “So get lost, liberal scum.”

    That’s not how you do satire. Although you might be under violation of copyright for stealing Bill O’Reilly’s sign-off line.

  46. Jana C.H. Says:

    Owen, disagreeing with you, and saying so with fervency, is not intolerance. It’s called debate. Spirited, acrimonious, perhaps rude, but a free exchange of ideas nonetheless. You’ve been putting up as many posts as anyone here, and Ted has not cut you off. You rant as freely as any of us.

    I have reached the point in my career as a liberal that I no longer feel it necessary to show toleration toward people who do not themselves consider tolerance to be a virtue. This is not hypocrisy; it is merely refusal to be a doormat.

    So forget that tolerance bugbear. We’re wise to it.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith WSG: Nothing is so conductive to toleration as the knowledge that one’s bread depends upon it.

  47. Not anonymous, just bored Says:


    You’re right. Not practicing tolerance for those who don’t practice it themselves isn’t hypocracy. It does, however, make you NO BETTER than they are.

  48. Angelo Says:


    Only a pussy soldier would rather children die than himself. Soldiers are meant to fight. Children are not meant to be char-broiled.

    1) Leahy, Nimitz, MacArthur and Eisenhower all thought it was unnecessary to Nuke Japan. Ditto for they guys who invented the bomb.

    2) the Japanese similarly concur that they were about to surrender anyways. The United States Strategic Bombing Survey Summary Report details this.

    3) The only debate left here is whether it was necessary to send a message to Japan and Russia and the world. (I say, send out some test footage reels, or better yet, do a test in a field, or off their coast.)

    When people say we had to nuke Japan to avoid major casualties, it becomes clear that they have not even examined the arguments on their side of the issue.

  49. Shinsengumihunter Says:


    That’s all well and good. Except for this:

    IF MacArthur was so squeemish about the bomb in ’45 he sure got over it by Korea.

    IF the Japanese were so willing to surrender BEFORE the bombings, why did they wait THREE DAYS between Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Seems to me, if they were ALL so anxious to surrender they would have done so before the mushroom had a chance to drift apart.

    Now, there may well be answers to these questions. But, like all the other evidence offered on both sides of this question they will be conjectural and subjective.

    What is not is:

    I’ve studied Japanese art, culture, and the language for years and bow to no one in my love for that country and its incredible history and culture. Their actions during the Pacific War (and you gotta love the contradiction in that translated label)were so far beyond the pale…

    You know two countries who’ve never, to the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, ever complained about the bombings: China and Korea. Then again, they’ve got a much better picture than do you or I about Japanese actions.

    Try as one might to see the Pacific War as American Imperialism, it breaks against the fact that the Japanese represented a far worse mode of Imperialism than did we.

    I don’t know if I think the bombngs were the right thing to do or not, but I’m not so willing as you are to dismiss the possibilty that the enemy (by which I mean the military and politcl structure and NOT the Japanese people, many of whom suffered terribly at the hands of their own government during the war) and the alternatives were far worse.

  50. Angelo Says:

    From the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey:

    “We underestimated the ability of our air attack on Japan’s home islands, coupled as it was with blockade and previous military defeats, to achieve unconditional surrender without invasion. By July 1945, the weight of our air attack had as yet reached only a fraction of its planned proportion, Japan’s industrial potential had been fatally reduced, her civilian population had lost its confidence in victory and was approaching the limit of its endurance, and her leaders, convinced of the inevitability of defeat, were preparing to accept surrender. The only remaining problem was the timing and terms of that surrender.”

    Here is a link to the entire United States Strategic Bombing Survey Summary Report. Just skim it.

    One of the points to life is identifying lame beliefs we hold, and eliminating them.

  51. Shinsengumihunter Says:

    You didn’t acress my questions, the most important of which remains; if they were “preparing to accept surrender” why did they still wait three days after Hiroshima with such an acceptance? They should have signaled their surrender the same day as Hiroshima, or (at the very least) the next. Not to do so, it seems to me, negates the whole “they were fairly panting to give up” scenario. Maybe (MAYBE) we have to accept the blame for Hiroshima, but the Japanese Imperial Government must take the brunt of Nagasaki.

    Answer that.

  52. Angelo Says:

    Just because their leaders did not to put into words what we already knew, does not mean we get to nuke them. They posed no threat. MacArthur, Eisenhower and Nimitz knew that at the time, and the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey confirms it.

    Not only was nuking unneccesary, but so was the remaining 80% of the incendiary bombing campaign and planned invasion.

    Why do you expect Japan’s government to be any quicker at assessing facts than out own?

  53. Dana Seilhan Says:

    Re: the Spitzer scandal, what the hell does a married man paying a prostitute for unsafe sex have to do with being sex-positive?

    I’m sick of this crap. It is not liberal enlightenment to cheat on your wife and spread disease around and perpetuate the meme that women are just dirty sluts and hand ’em a dollar and they’ll open their legs for you. If you think that is liberal and that is enlightened and that’s “feminist” and that’s “sex-positive” then you’ve got a problem.

    HE CHEATED ON HIS WIFE. HE BETRAYED HIS FAMILY. He has three daughters and do you suppose he ever hopes they have a high-powered prostitution career like the woman he was boinking on the side?

    I’m GLAD the Democrats backed away from him. I mean, did you not notice while you were admiring the solidarity of the Republican Party that they also happen to be the biggest bunch of scumbags and losers this country has ever seen? There’s a reason for that! Because they give the reprobates a free pass!

    This is not to say I think Wright deserved what Obama did to him. I think we need more like him in the party, actually. So what if he doesn’t march in lockstep? There’s a difference between cookie-cutter thinking and tolerance of behaviors that destroy humanity, never mind the party. While Spitzer’s off merrily spreading God knows what everywhere he goes, Wright’s tending to people who are dying from the diseases that people like Spitzer spread around. No freaking comparison.

  54. Shinsengumihunter Says:


    Okay. Those are all fair points. I’m not quite willing the yield the field though.

    They were in as bad shape before we hit Okinawa and they still turned the place into a blood bath for both sides.

    I’m just not at all convinced that worse wouldn’t have happened if we’d invaded.

    And how long were we to have waited for them to surrender?

    I get all “het up” about this issue because, as much a Japanophile as I am, one of the most infiriating and heartbreaking things in the world is the willful amnesia the Japanese educational system has about the war. but, bad and disgusting as that denial is, worse from my point of view is Americans who seek to aid them in that effort, and only to score points against their own country.

    Specifically, until they acknowledge their own atrocities, they are less of a nation.

    As, by the way, are we (or most of us) when it comes to the current war in Iraq.

    Again, I don’t know if bombing was the right thing to do, but I’m not going to blatantly say otherwise either.

    Still, a few good points there and we’ll just have to agree to disagree at this point.

    Sorry if this rambled. I’m sleep.

  55. Owen Says:


    So you believe that Japan should not have been occupied? they should have been left alone so that they could rise again 20-30 years later as Germany did after WWI? Wow, great plan!

  56. Angelo Says:

    I’m GLAD the Democrats backed away from him. I mean, did you not notice while you were admiring the solidarity of the Republican Party that they also happen to be the biggest bunch of scumbags and losers this country has ever seen?

    They also win elections.

  57. Angelo Says:


    Tell me what kind of counter attack they might have launched after a few months of no food or fuel. What would they do, convert their planes to biodiesel and run them on leftover tempura oil?

    Surrender is a piece of paper I think we could have waited a little longer for. Occupation was something they were going to hold us to. Invasion and Firebombing were not even needed by August because they had no supply lines, do to the blockade and b-29 mining.

    Of course, I can’t take credit for any of these findings. There is a valuable lesson here for the rest of the world though: Be unpredictable, merciless and nuclear!

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