Back Talk | Letters to the Editor | Indy Week

Columns » Letters to the Editor

Back Talk

Letters to the Editor


School sense
In all of the discussion surrounding the Durham School Bond issue ["Cracks in the System," Oct. 31], what has been lost is the rationale behind this method of funding. Instead of forcing $52 million in debt upon the taxpayers of Durham, why hasn't the school board and the superintendent of schools investigated a more efficient economic model? Much of the $52 million is earmarked for HVAC retrofits and upgrades. There are many experienced companies who can offer self-funding renovations.

In this model, firms perform a full-energy audit of the entire Durham Public School system, recommend full-scale lighting and HVAC retrofits and then guarantee an energy savings stream that is used to pay for the renovations. There is no risk to the City of Durham, and no debt forced upon the taxpayers. Yet, in the ultra-political environment that defines Durham government, such a notion would never get off the ground because it makes too much sense. I ask my fellow taxpayers to demand answers from their local leaders as to why this concept has never been pursued.

Ends vs. means
While I found Mark Levine's article "Ten Things to Know About Terrorism" [Oct. 17] mostly very interesting and informative, I must disagree with his point 8. He noted that terrorism by the IRA, PLO and others has been ineffective. I would note that terrorism by Michael Collins from 1919-1921 brought the English to the negotiating table and resulted in freedom from British tyranny for most of the island of Ireland. The support for the IRA in the latter part of this century was more the result of state enforced discrimination. Since the terrorism of the IRA again brought the English to the negotiating table and has resulted in a pledge for the majority wishes of those in Northern Ireland to decide their future, and that a parliament based on executive proportional representation from both unionists and nationalists, the IRA's campaign could easily be said to have been a success.

These are not the only examples of terrorist successes. Think of Kenyatta's Mau Mau running the English out of Kenya; Mugabe and Nkomo forcing Rhodesia to integrate; and Washington et al. relocating the English to Canada.

Terrorism has been a very effective tool, and some would argue the only tool, to achieve some very worthwhile goals.

Historical correction
David Potorti's "Collateral Damage" article [Oct. 17] is so sensitively written, so humanely balanced, and so moving, I imagine he will not be put out if I offer a single correction.

Of the many distortions growing out of our World War II propaganda, the one concerning estimates of one million Americans dying in the projected invasion of Japan stands out. The initial estimate of casualties (wounded mostly) was far, far fewer. As time went on and Harry Truman wrestled mightily with feelings of guilt and self-justification about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the figures he gave grew and grew. Churchill joined him and pulled the number five million out of his Tory top hat.

To the U.S. fighting men, like David's father, who had very good reasons for imagining they might be casualties in the planned invasion, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was a godsend.

Truman and Churchill became convinced by propaganda of their own governments' making that the Japanese were not just brutal, misguided imperialists but an evil race; hence, the awfulness of Hiroshima was justified beyond the need to save American lives; and hence the powerful need for inflation.

Truman came to fear and hate communists as well and was sorely pressed by MacArthur and his numerous supporters in Washington to give the order allowing atomic bombing of North Koreans and Chinese along the China-North Korea border. But one atomic bombing (he never gave the order to bomb Nagasaki and was startled to learn of it) was more than enough for his conscience to bear, never mind his blustering denials of remorse. As his imagined casualty list soared, with those around him urging him to boost the numbers, he could more easily repress his natural human feelings of remorse and sorrow.

What the official narrative of this event leaves out is that the Japanese were already defeated and seeking surrender terms other than unconditional. Unfortunately for them, their decision-making process was (and still is) torturously slow. Their air force and anti-aircraft batteries were so severely depleted they could not offer resistance to the bombers carrying the atomic weapons.

In any case, the American leaders were murderously incensed at these upstart Asian expansionists who were slowing down our own foreign expansions. The Japanese had to be taught once and for all that they were not welcome in the "white men's club." Hence, the extreme hubris of the American demands for unconditional surrender.

Before the first atomic bomb was dropped, American political and military leaders were already looking forward to stopping a new expansionist power. Yes, they felt a powerful need to punish the Japanese. But perhaps as much they needed to show the Soviets that while they had been the major force in stopping the Nazis, our atomic weaponry made us the world's mightiest power.

There was, in fact, no tactical necessity for killing all those hundreds of thousands of Japanese; hence, no genuinely pressing need for an invasion. Let us not forget that it was America's leaders who deemed such an invasion necessary and thus they would have reasonably have had to bear the responsibility for needlessly exposing Americans to harm.

Finally, at that time (as now) we didn't like to be reminded that our chosen enemies were real live people and, as David has wisely pointed out, in modern war civilians are killed in far greater numbers than military combatants. If millions of casualties were to be suffered in an invasion of Japan, they would not have been American soldiers but Japanese civilians.

talk back

Got something to say about an Independent article? Send no more than 300 words to; to P.O. Box 2690, Durham 27715; or fax 286-4274. Include your name, phone number and mailing address for verification; we cannot publish a letter without confirmation from the writer. We reserve the right to edit letters for length, style and clarity.

Add a comment