Welcoming Our New King: Review of Hasan Minhaj: “Homecoming King”

I will be honest, I wish I could have dived more into this review but I didn’t, at the risk of giving out spoilers.

When we think of the kings of comedy, we think of George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, or Bill Hicks however, Comedy has no racial boundaries. Arguably, it was Russell Peters, who broke the barrier for Brown comedians everywhere and showed that Indians could be funny. Subsequently, Aziz Ansari will do the same as not only a young, talented, house-hold name, and now anyone who doesn’t know him is considered living under a rock.

And now, we welcome a new Indian Comedian that is taking the world by storm. Though he is perhaps well known for his contributions to the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he most recently, was the speaker for the White House Correspondent’s Dinner and did an impeccable job by speaking his mind. For those that enjoyed his 25-27 minute speech, I would encourage them to check out his hour long, Netflix special: “Homecoming King”. In this special, it’s a bit unorthodox in that it’s not like traditional stand up shows. For one, the show is more about his life and a specific story as opposed to observational humor and abstract thoughts.

Nevertheless, Minhaj dives deep into his memories and does his best to recreate those moments for the audience so they may empathize with his experiences as a descendent of Indian immigrants and struggling to maintain the culture he has been reared with and simultaneously try to fit in with others who don’t share the same culture and/or beliefs. It is evident early on in the special, how much he cares about his family, despite their disagreements. Moreover, he demonstrates that his family is almost no different than any other traditional family. Specifically, there is a generational gap of understanding between parents and their children in that they can’t seem to agree on how to handle discrimination.

For Minhaj, as a born citizen, he believes that Islamophobia should not have to apply to him because he has done nothing wrong. This is a fair and understandable perspective. On the other hand, his father (like most immigrants) believes they should take discrimination with a grain of salt; as this is something uncontrollable and inevitable when arriving to a new country. This is hard to grasp because, while we can acknowledge that there are terrorists that claim to commit horrific acts in the name of their religion, we do a disservice by associating other Muslims with them, especially since Islam has nothing to do with terrorism in the first place. Furthermore, that ordinary Muslim citizens should have to answer for their actions is ludicrous There’s an article where Aziz Ansari tackled this issue with Rupert Murdoch, perfectly, saying how unreasonable it is for Muslims to have to give press releases or publicly denounce terroristic acts when they clearly had nothing to do with it. In addition to that, Christians are never asked to publicly denounce horrendous acts that have been committed in the name of Christ.

Moving on though, Minhaj also goes on to talk about racism in two different forms: the first is when you’re put in a state of “fear for your own life” kind of racism and the racism “with a smile”. I’d like to tell the story here, but at the risk of it being a spoiler for the show, I’d rather not. Instead, go watch it for yourself to see the example he used. I would be remiss however, if I did not elaborate on what those two types of racism signify though. The former is self-explanatory: being constantly harassed due to your color, creed, or sexual orientation to the point where you are never sure if even the menial errands you need to take care of will be accomplished because your safety is at risk. For Arabs or South Asians, who are descendants from countries with a majority Muslim population,, often they will resort to changing their names in an effort to hide their identity and not cause conflict, so Mohammad will go by Moe, or Abdullah will go as Andy in order to not draw attention to themselves. I am guilty of this as well, personally, but this will be for another blog.

The latter type of racism, is a bit more complex, but when I say “with a smile”, of course I’m not talking about someone who will use a racial slur and grin. I’m referring to the type of people who will sit and laugh with someone “different” but will not announce it publicly or allow their children to associate with them out in the open because they are afraid of people judging THEM. This sort of thing happens when someone “acts” differently. For example, I would always get judged for my love for Bollywood movies and the music, speaking Urdu with my mother, or even eating indo-paki food. Therefore, people would laugh at me and think I was this foreign weirdo, despite the fact that I was born and raised in the U.S. and English was my first language. Thus, I became so ashamed of who I was, that I wouldn’t embrace it out in the open. Even being friends with other “brown” kids in school (where we were perhaps the only ones there) made me hesitant because I was afraid of people judging us or saying SOMETHING. And being Muslim, just added more things for people to judge me by. The thing is, I was not even a practicing Muslim either nor did I choose to be because I just didn’t want to give people a reason to say anything, pretty much.  So like Hasan Minhaj, I just kept it cool, tried to steer clear from danger. And just dealt with it because I figured that’s just the kind of things that happened and as a descendent of an immigrant, I had to deal with it.

However, there is a happy little epilogue to Hasan Minhaj’s story where he ends up pursuing a dream and the dream comes true. He is a successful comedian, married the love of his life, works a great job, and is becoming a house-hold name, all the while he is a Muslim. He tells these stories and is unashamed of who he is. We can all take a lesson from his story, that life is like Biryani (Chicken and Rice but with indo-paki spices. Look it up. It’s fantastic!) where you move the bad stuff out of the way and bring the good parts closer to you.

In “Homecoming King”, all the scenes (i.e., jokes) are hard to distinguish what is bad because all the parts, in my opinion, are good. As a comic, Minhaj takes a kind of Christopher Titus approach in delving deep into his memories and connecting with the audience  with his experiences. Simultaneously, Minhaj does this with a giant, contagious smile and tells the stories as vividly as one can desire. Who can ask for anything more? Now go watch it!

-Mr. Writer

Written on the 27th of May, 2017

 

 

 

Lazy Aesthetics: Examining Nature at Rest

For Dr. Cynthia Freeland.

In January, I had a short assignment for my Aesthetics’ class where I had to talk about a photo I took that I considered beautiful in Nature. I posted the essay on my blog because I loved the picture that much and wanted to share what I wrote with my readers. For my mid-term assignment, I had the opportunity to revise as well as expand on my essay. Again, I enjoyed what I wrote so much that I decided to re-publish what I wrote as well as giving my essay a proper title. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it and most of all, I hope my professor likes it.

Ordinarily when one thinks of squirrels, they often picture a little furry animal that runs up and down trees or away from people that get too close. Or perhaps more morbidly, dead furry little animals lying on the highway. Strangely, I was leaving the University of Houston campus early on October of 2016 and stumbled across this one squirrel that, literally, stopped me in my tracks. Seeing squirrels on campus is not unusual; students must encounter at least two or three as they walk to their classes. One of the fascinating traits about this squirrel for me however, was that it was just lying down, not doing anything. Unlike most of the squirrels we see on campus or even off campus, it was not eating anything, running, nor was it dead (despite its appearance). Disregarding this, readers may still find fault with my picture or my attraction to this lounging squirrel. As a result, I will attempt to make the argument, throughout this paper, that such an image of this squirrel fits the criteria of what philosophers consider aesthetic in nature. Moreover, by drawing upon the works of certain philosophers and aestheticians, I will be able to confirm my assertions and simultaneously, make the reader more cognizant of the true beauty of the photo.

            Prior to taking my photo, I gazed at this squirrel for longer than I’d like to admit and did my best to make sure I did nothing to disturb it at the risk of any sudden movement that would cause the squirrel to be startled and leave the scene. Graciously though, I managed to get a photo of the little guy and when I went home, the photo resonated with me for a while but only humorously. That evening, thoughts were running through my head of pure satire, “what is this squirrel tired from? It’s not as if he has midterms or has little to no money in his checking account.”  I then sardonically pondered as to what he may be thinking about: “He looks so depressed, he probably found his squirrel girlfriend taking acorns from someone else and is gradually contemplating suicide.” After the laughter died down, I began to wonder if I had made a wise decision by photographing the event and simultaneously, questioned the very nature of my initial appreciation i.e., was the image I selected and emphasized on what I considered “aesthetic in nature”, actually so or had I gotten carried away with something that amused me?[1]

            In order to properly answer that question, one would have to look deeper into what is aesthetic, i.e., what makes something aesthetic. Eugene Hargrove argues that there are three categories (Beautiful, Picturesque and the Sublime)[2] that are served to define something as Aesthetic and thereby, measure their levels of attractiveness and differentiate that which is awe-inspiring and uninspiring. Among those three, we could argue that my photo would be considered “picturesque” because clearly, it was not something I could ignore. Although, because what makes the image of this squirrel picturesque is that to me, it was interesting and in Hargrove’s view, just because something is interesting, traditionally has never considered an object beautiful.[3]

            From Hargrove’s view, I am able to understand how things considered “interesting” may not merit the same qualities as something considered beautiful or even picturesque for that matter. I choose to reject that notion, however, because I believe there can be a way to appreciate something so simple as a squirrel lying down, in how it can be approached. Such a view is taken by Allen Carlson who contends in approaching aesthetics from a perspective that appreciates nature in a positive manner.[4] Carlson goes on to explain that the most appropriate way to appreciate nature is scientific knowledge; a good point indeed, however arguably in this case, scientific knowledge seems to be irrelevant in examining this photo since there does not seem to be anything of scientific value of a motionless squirrel. If anything, I argue that it must be appreciated by its simplicity in nature. This appeal is introduced to by Ralph Waldo Emerson who defines Nature as divinely created (not altered by human contact) and therefore, unconditionally beautiful.[5]

            Nevertheless, when I examine the photo it of course, still makes me laugh. But moreover, it makes me ponder at the fact that for this one brief moment, nature was at rest. This is not to say that people are not fully aware that animals are capable of sleeping; simply stated, one just never usually sees an animal at rest. This is excluding animals at the zoo, of course, because animals there are trapped and miserable. But here, out in the open fields and fake green grass on the University of Houston campus, nature needs a break.  Often times, when we watch nature documentaries or the like, it’s rare that we see an animal that is not doing anything at all. We are accustomed to seeing our pets asleep but the idea of any other animal just resting is arguably eerie. One could even make the criticism of my photo that, because it defies the tradition of ordinary squirrels in motion, it is not aesthetically good.[6]  Although Yuriko Saito will bring up the example of a rotting carcass and state that such an act is nature in balance, but because its appearance is shuddering, some would not regard it as aesthetic.[7] Saito goes on to echo such a feeling when we discuss cockroaches, fleas, and mosquitoes that present a challenge to us to find attractive.[8] My problem with that however, is that it is not difficult to contest the appearance of a squirrel and compare it to how one views a cockroach; they are too different and only the latter could cause the most masculine individual to stand up on a chair to avoid contact.

            That being said, I argue that finding an appeal in this photo serves as part of the “revolution” in traditional aesthetics.[9] We could find this assertion in close examination of Sheila Linnot’s view in how aesthetic tastes may differ overtime.[10] While her claims are more focused in terms of approaching an aesthetic appeal in an ecologically friendly manner, we can still relate this claim to the motionless squirrel. Specifically, in how easily avoidable it is for most people to walk past a squirrel, unfazed, regardless of its movement or lack thereof. A reason for this could be because squirrels run rampant at the University campus or encounter them so much in our daily lives that they have lost their luster. At the same time however, I would dismiss that by mentioning how anytime one witnesses a dog (either poking their head out of a car window or walking around a neighborhood) a great deal of attention is placed by people who may even have one waiting for them at home.

            It is for reasons such as that and more, that I emphasize why my photo should be regarded as aesthetic in nature and respectfully dismiss any notions to state otherwise. Granted, my photo is unable to rival against other picturesque photos that some would perhaps view with a more artful eye. Nevertheless, it seems incomprehensible if one were to regard something as ugly in nature. Taking a lesson from Aldo Leopold, human judgement of nature is purely based on how it makes us feel; “it does not flow naturally from nature itself; it is not directly oriented to nature on nature’s own terms; nor is it well informed by the ecological and evolutionary revolutions in natural history.”[11] Therefore, any judgement or in this case, criticism of an image in nature is deemed trivial as nature’s purpose, is not to serve us in any way.

A similar connection can be made in concluding my defense of this squirrel photo.  Prior to my arrival and taking this photo of the squirrel, its existence and objectives in life carried out were not given by me. My curiosity peaked at the sight because of my love for nature (in the words of Emerson) “I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty…I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages.”[12] The ultimate intention of my photo is to be Avant-garde i.e., beautiful in an idiosyncratic function. A squirrel at rest is meant to bare the same manifestation like that of a sad clown. Of course we are aware that just because the person dressed as a clown, who is meant to symbolize fun and excitement, is a human being underneath all the makeup and puffy clothing; capable of emotions such as sadness, anger, confusion. Because such a sight is seldom seen, it is therefore, inconsiderable. And when one does encounter something that is perceived as original or unusual, it is understandably charming and in a very outlandish sort of way, aesthetic.  

-Ahmed H. Sharma  

Originally  Written on the 17th of March, 2017 at  5:38 P.M. 

 

Works Cited:

Carlson, Allen, Sheila Lintott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Aldo Leopold, Yuriko Saito, and Eugene Hargrove. Nature, Aesthetics, and Environmentalism: From Beauty to Duty. New York: Columbia UP, 2008. Print.

 

[1] “The problem [in Aesthetics’ of nature] is what and how to select, emphasize and group and what and how to compose for appropriate appreciation.” Allen Carlson, Nature, Aesthetics and Environmentalism, P.119

[2] Carlson (Eugene Hargrove), P. 33

[3] “Traditionally, it has been held that interest is subservient to beauty, an element which has to be present in a beautiful object, but which is never considered an aesthetic category in its own right.” Ibid, P.35

[4] “Appropriate aesthetic appreciation is that appreciation of an object that reveals what aesthetic qualities and value it has.” (Carlson) P.225

[5] Carlson (Ralph Waldo Emerson) P.49-53

[6] Carlson, P.229-231

[7] Carlson (Yuriko Saito) P.242-243

[8] Ibid P.245

[9] “Revolution in the aesthetics of nature often takes place when people start appreciating the parts of nature formerly regarded as aesthetically negative.” Ibid P.238

[10] Carlson (Sheila Linott) P.386-389

[11] Carlson (Aldo Leopold), P. 109

[12] Carlson (Emerson) P.50

“Go %&*@ Yourself”

Dedicated to my nephew, Gabriel. Thank you for your patience. 

In the short years that I have been an adult in this life, I have noticed that it is not uncommon to see people you utterly dislike so much that you just wish that they would stop breathing. This is hyperbolic speaking of course, but it is still true, for all intents and purposes. There are just certain people (WE feel) that just don’t need to be alive or be around us because having them around would endanger our surroundings.

That is why there are certain phrases one would proclaim at, and let’s be civil here, an untouchable.I saw Louis C.K. in July of this year and one of the things he said was Suicide is an excellent way to get rid of all your problems. I mean, really think about it.

“How do I get out of paying my taxes?”

“Kill yourself.”

He even went on to say that’s why he hates Vampires cause all they do is complain because of how long they lived, it’s like “you know what? Go out in the sun then if your life is so shitty”. Even Bill Burr jokingly stated how when he thinks about suicide it’s mostly for outrageous things like when he promised his girlfriend he’d make a pie for Thanksgiving but was just saying it so he could finish watching his game or whatever. And when Thanksgiving finally came around the corner he was like, “OH SHIT, Now what do I do? I guess I could jump really high and hope my head hits the ceiling fan”.

Even saying the phrase, “Kill Yourself”, to someone presents the same kind of laughter and joy one gets by saying, “Go Fuck Yourself”.

“Hey, can I have a bite of your sandwich?”

“Umm, no. Kill yourself?”

I would be remiss however, if I were to not include the gravity of the nature that is Suicide. Of course, Suicide, is a big deal and not something to be toyed about. It is terrible for someone to take their own life without realizing that there is so much out there to live for and would be selfish if they didn’t consider the feelings of their loved ones.

My point is just the way we insult each other is fascinating. And by saying to someone, “Kill yourself” is indescribable. Just like whenever we shout at cars while we’re in traffic; we’re aware the other person cannot hear us, if they did we’d be frightened to death, but it still feels good to let it out.

Then there’s the counter-argument of how we shouldn’t say mean things to people because “if we don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all”, by that logic then we’d all hold in our anger and slowly contemplate actually murdering people that upset us and anyone whose ever worked in customer service will attest to that.

Image result for meme okay, i'll just go fuck myself

Reverting back to my earlier statement of the phrase, “Kill Yourself”, I discovered this gem of a phrase from my 14 year old nephew and where he heard it from, I have no clue. Regardless, the phrase is hilarious because one expresses that you are an inconvenience in their life and it would be a lot better if you just went away. Permanently. Of course, they don’t mean that, just like when someone says, “Burn in Hell”, what we mean is that they hope that when you die, and go to hell you’ll suffer. It’s how we express ourselves. And that by itself, is fascinating. I wonder how these insults are coined. Certain words or phrases originate from places that we don’t truly understand and when we learn it, our outlook on the word may differ.

Perfect example: the word “Faggot.” It’s actual definition is a bundle of sticks (originated in Britain, with the spelling, “Fagot”) but is also a very derogatory word to describe a Homosexual individual. Another way to describe the flamboyancy of a Homosexual, is to call them “flaming” or “flamer”, so if one wanted to really insult someone that is gay/queer/transgender, they’d call them a “Flaming Faggot”; again, very offensive and should not be said. Going back to the definition, this bundle of sticks, from a very low grade wood, that would be tied up in old times (I’m not exactly sure of the year) and used to make a fire, where they’d burn homosexuals in the fire. Thus the term, “Flaming Faggot”, is born. Now that you know the story, and you hear someone say it, you can be extra angry and tell them to go kill themselves.

I tell this story not because it is interesting and depressing, but because we often say things we have scarce if any knowledge of what we say. It’s not until we actually open our minds and listen, that we actually learn things. And it’s the same thing with insults, we have to really be careful how we say certain things. My nephew can tell me to kill myself but I know he’s just teasing cause he’s a good kid. Just like how Frank Sinatra was able to get away with saying racial slurs to Sammy Davis Jr. cause they were excellent friends and if anyone else treated Sammy differently because of his race, he wouldn’t stand for it. And if I’m not mistaken, certain people in Boston or New England will say “Go Fuck Yourself’ and it’s the equivalent to “Yeah, whatever”.

It’s slang that really just interests me. We have come so far in the world with technology and everything, but no one has stopped to really appreciate how we have grown with the phrases we use to say something is cool, dope, fly, or fire. Nor has anyone pondered at how we’ve gone from, “Be quiet” to “Shut the fuck up”. Or most importantly from, “Drop dead!” to “Kill yourself!”

-Mr. Writer

Written on the 5th of November, 2016 at 4:15 P.M. 

Explosive Decisions: The Use of the Atomic Bomb in World War II

I wrote this paper 3 years ago for a class I took on Chinese and Japanese History (19 years old) and submitted it recently for a World Wars Conference at University of Houston-Downtown. Personally, I have grown as a writer and am disappointed with this essay as I could have done a lot better, but it got me admitted into a professional conference and I had a great time researching for this assignment as well as writing it that I decided to share it with my readers. Please enjoy. 

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are taught in the school books as a tremendous victory for the United States because of how they essentially stood up to the Japanese and finally were able to end the war. However today, some U.S. Citizens criticize the government for the bombings and share a belief that the United States was wrong for the bombings and that alternative options should have been taken in order to end the war. And the empathetic stories of survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki only exacerbate the argument that what the U.S. Government did was a bit extreme. While one cannot turn back time and undo what the United States did, it can still be explored if there were indeed different opportunities for both Japan and the United States in order to at least prevent using the atomic bomb.

From the United States’ perspective there were many warnings sent to the Japanese urging them to surrender or face the consequences. However by using this secret weapon, the U.S. government had knowledge that the attack would bring about many casualties to not only Japanese military targets but also innocent civilians. This was an arduous decision indeed, but there is evidence (such as a letter from President Truman) that the U.S. had justifiable reasons for doing what they did. From the Japanese perspective, the ones who were not militarily involved in the war will say otherwise. This leaves current students who are interested in the study of World War II and historians wondering if the decision made was the correct way to go or if there was another way to end the war without having to produce so many casualties.

In order to get a good glimpse of this past, first one must understand what drove the United States to come to the drastic decision that would change the face of history itself. Starting with December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked a United States deep naval base located on Hawaii called Pearl Harbor, much to the surprise of many. The reason for it being such a surprise was because no one would have seen a reason for Japan to attack the United States. During this time, Japan was in a war with China and had already occupied rural parts of China. And according to a National Geographic documentary, the Japanese wanted the oil fields in the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines because of its strategical location[1] so they could conquer all of China.  And the United States came into the picture because they stood in Japan’s way of all this. So by attacking the United States, the Japanese hoped to essentially cripple them in order for Japan to get the U.S. to back off while Japan could conquer China and by the time the United States healed themselves, China would already be conquered and nothing could be done about it.[2]

Unfortunately for Japan, the attack on Pearl Harbor turned out to be counterproductive in the sense that instead of getting the United States to back off, what it did was unite Americans to fight in the war until the Japanese were defeated. And Japan was far from wanting a war with the United States because they were well aware that they would have a great difficulty in winning the war. The Japanese knew that the more the war went on, the more America would be able to mobilize and inevitably destroy Japan. So in other words, Japan was well aware they were writing a check they could not cash but it didn’t stop them from proceeding with the attack.

Adding on to the fact of Japan being the major aggressor in this war, they even behaved barbarically during the stages of the war and had this murderous mentality in doing so. For example: Japanese soldiers would kill prisoners and even successfully attempted suicide missions with the mindset of suicide being a better option than giving up.  But it is important to note that the United States behaved just as bad by mutilating their Japanese prisoners. In fact, most Americans viewed the Japanese as inhumane, barbaric,[3] and even traitorous (because the leader of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Isoroku Yamamoto, was a Harvard Graduate)[4]. With all that said, one can infer that the hatred the Americans had against the Japanese could have played a part in the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima in the sense that the United States essentially had a vendetta against Japan.

Since no side was willing to back down during the war and with “Japan having vowed to fight to the bitter end in the Pacific, despite clear indications (as early as 1944) that they had little chance of winning”[5] it was pretty self-evident that something big was to occur in order for it to finally come to an end. And because in “September 1939, the United States was uniquely positioned to move forward on a bomb project”[6], the war was soon to be over. By 1945, the United States give Japan an ultimatum: “Surrender unconditionally or face prompt and utter destruction.”[7] With that said, Japan was hesitant upon surrendering “unconditionally”, the reasons for this was because of the fear they had of what may happen to their Emperor Hirohito. And granted, the United States did not plan to do anything to the Emperor but when Japan sent a message to the United States saying that there would be an agreement of peace under the condition of having nothing happen to their Emperor, Joseph Ballantine (one of the advisors of President Truman) said, “We can’t agree to that, because the prerogatives of the emperor include everything, and if you agree to that, you’re going to have endless struggle with the Japanese.”[8] It should also be noted that in a post-war interview, Truman stated that a promise to the Emperor Hirohito was presented “through regular channels” that he would not be tried as a war criminal and his title would not be taken away from him but this was wrong; the United States never spoke to the emperor of this and “Truman had somehow forgotten the central issue determining the fate of the war”.[9]

Finally on August 6, 1945, the Japanese city of Hiroshima, located about 500 miles from Tokyo, suffered “prompt and utter destruction” with an “explosion wip[ing] out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.”[10] With that in mind, it would seem as though an immediate surrender would have taken place but because the Japanese failed to do so, another bomb (More powerful than the one used at Hiroshima)[11] was dropped on the city of Nagasaki three days later. Based on the destruction and devastation caused by the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, one may ask the question whether or not a second bomb was necessary. The answer to that is perhaps, but there is no clear evidence to support that decision.

At the time, the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did seem necessary to some because vengeance played an extreme part in executing the bomb with Truman saying: “We have used [these bombs] against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare.”[12]  Despite the annihilation of a majority of the city in Hiroshima, it was Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill who said, “there never was a moment’s discussion as to whether the atomic bomb should be used or not”[13] So it is no surprise that when President Truman first heard that the bomb on Hiroshima was dropped, his response was not one of pain or remorse. This was before Truman had knowledge of what the bomb was truly capable of and the impact it had on the civilians in Hiroshima however.

This leads historians of today to wonder if the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still necessary and the truth is that the day after the first bomb on Hiroshima was dropped, a senator from Georgia named Richard Russell, sent President Truman a telegram essentially telling him that more atomic bombs should be used but Truman rejected this idea saying:

“I know that Japan is a terribly cruel and uncivilized nation in warfare…but I can’t bring myself to believe that, because they are beasts, we should ourselves act in the same manner. For myself, I certainly regret the necessity of wiping out whole populations because of the ‘pigheadedness’ of the leaders of a nation, and for your information, I am not going to do it unless it is absolutely necessary…My object is to save as many American lives as possible but I also have a humane feeling for the women and children in Japan”[14]

Meaning that the United States had essentially made their point by dropping two bombs on Japan and there was no need for there to be more bloodshed. However in a postwar interview, when Truman was asked whether or not any other bombs were planned to be used against Japan as well, Truman responded, “Yes. The other two cities on the list [Niigata and Kokura] would have been bombed.”[15]

One can only imagine what a third or fourth bomb would have done to the people of Japan.  Knowledge of the casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone, are too much to handle; In Hiroshima there is an estimated total of 135,000 and in Nagasaki were 64,000. But in the end, who is to blame for all this destruction? Of course Truman was the president of the United States during this time, who allowed for the bombs to be dropped but it was

“President Franklin D. Roosevelt [who] authorized the development of the bomb, [and] its progress was overseen by U.S. government representatives, hundreds of American Scientists, and thousands more American staffed the plants that manufactured the components, including fissionable ones, that made the bomb work. American scientists or rather those working in the United States, saw the bomb successfully tested and knew basically what it would do to a city and its residents. President Harry S. Truman…authorized the atomic bombings, with the advice and consent of his closest advisors. The United States can be properly credited with having made the decisive weapon in the Pacific War—and it can be rightly blamed for having unleashed upon the world the special destructiveness of nuclear power.”[16]

But it cannot be forgotten where Japan’s place in History was before and during the Second World War. Before the war, Japan was in the process of modernizing itself after essentially being pushed around one too many times by foreign powers. And one of the key important things Japan wanted to modernize was their military and after the Russo-Japanese war in 1904, Japan had successfully done so and made its place among the world’s great powers. The secret to Japan’s modernization was essentially them borrowing certain political attributes from other countries however its main goal was to assert itself as the World’s Greatest power and become the ultimate sphere of influence. This started with Japan attempting to essentially spread their empire into China in order to insulate against the 1930’s Great Depression but this didn’t sit right with China who was in the process of bringing about a new government[17] and as a result, there was war between Japan and China and as stated earlier, the United States stood in the way of Japan successfully being able to take over China.

In other words, one can say that Japan was responsible for giving the United States a reason to use the bomb because when one carefully reads the terms put in the Potsdam Declaration (the declaration which gave Japan terms to follow upon surrendering) especially one of the numbers that says, “the Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives”[18], which does not seem unfair. And another term that says, “We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners” should have given the Japanese a little peace of mind when contemplating whether or not they should accept the surrender terms. It essentially leads to the conclusion that it was perhaps the stubbornness of the Japanese government that led to their inevitable demise.

The question still remains whether or not there were still other options that could have taken place as an alternative to using the bomb. To find the answer to that, one must try to find the reason for the United States stressing upon Japan an “unconditional” surrender. As stated earlier, there were no plans to harm the emperor nor were there plans to enslave any Japanese citizens. So why desire for an unconditional surrender? A good inference could be that the United States wanted to instill fear in the Japanese people because even though they were on the clear losing side of the war, they were still unwilling to back down. When the Japanese were almost to the point of surrendering on the one condition that they knew nothing would happen to their emperor, why couldn’t the United States accept that one term? Secretary of State, James Byrnes answers the question for that in his memoirs, “While equally anxious to bring the war to an end, I had to disagree [to Japan’s condition]…and any retreat from these words [“unconditional surrender”] now would cause much delay in securing their acquiescence”[19]. And according to Tsuyoshi’s “Racing the Enemy”, it appears that

“Truman was well aware that once he insisted upon unconditional surrender in the Potsdam Proclamation, Japan would fight the war to the bitter end…He feared that any negotiations with the Japanese government might be taken as a sign of weakness. Any weakening of the U.S. stand on unconditional surrender might strengthen the war party in Japan, reinforcing their will to fight on… [And] the atomic bomb provided Truman with the answer to the dilemma of imposing unconditional surrender on japan and saving American lives. Thus, [Truman] was eager to use the atomic bomb rather than explore other alternatives”[20]

So to put it another way, there may have been alternative options but based on the situation Truman was in, with Japan not wanting to surrender and having the atomic bomb as this almost magic button that could make all the world’s problems go away (along with many of his confidants perhaps urging him to use it), it seemed as though giving the “go ahead” to dropping the bomb was his only option. That and if there were any other alternatives that could have been taken, the Japanese perhaps would have still continued to fight. It should also be known that Japan also had scientists that were capable of building their own atomic bomb but the only thing that hindered this from happening in Japan was that the scientists were “unenthusiastic about the bomb”.[21]

The aftermath of the surrendering resulted in the U.S. occupying Japan and making sure the terms of the treaty are carried out. And General Douglas MacArthur was put in charge of this occupation and set out to try and transform Japan politically, economically, and socially. Politically he set to make Japan out to become a constitutional monarchy essentially not taking any power away from the emperor Hirohito and allow him to keep his title. Economically he set out to democratize it and socially, he set out to bring equality amongst Japanese citizens.[22] And because the Japanese had such a hatred for the United States during the War, one would expect the Japanese to drag their feet during the Occupation but they instead reacted peacefully and were instead grateful that the United States stuck to their promise that they had no intention to enslave the Japanese citizens and only sought out to bring peace amongst the people of Japan.

Looking back on the past, it seems as though while this war was avoidable, it still ended with peace among the people of Japan and the United States. And despite all the lives lost on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is quite clear that the United States made the right choice. The fact of the matter is that after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese did not make a declaration of peace until four days after the first bomb and one day after the second bomb was dropped.[23] And one cannot say that the United States did not try to make peace with Japan by urging them to surrender. Even President Truman stated in a letter regarding the bombings, “We sent an ultimatum to Japan. It was rejected… Dropping the bombs ended the war, saved lives, and gave the free nations a chance to face the facts.”[24] So while innocent civilians died as a result of this explosive decision, it was a sacrifice the United States and Japan both were going to have to make.

-Mr. Writer

Originally written on November 29, 2013 at 4:09 P.M.

 

Works Cited:

“The Atlantic | December 1946 | If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used | Compton.” The Atlantic | December 1946 | If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used | Compton. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. <http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/46dec/compton.htm&gt;.

“The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2013. <http://www.history.com/topics/bombing-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki&gt;.

“Potsdam Declaration.” Atomicarchive.com: Exploring the History, Science, and Consequences of the Atomic Bomb. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. <http://www.atomicarchive.com/Docs/Hiroshima/Potsdam.shtml&gt;.

“Truman’s Reflections on the Atomic Bombings.” Atomicarchive.com: Exploring the History, Science, and Consequences of the Atomic Bomb. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.

Rotter, Andrew Jon. “Chapter 4: The United States I: Imagining and Building the Bomb.” Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. N. pag. Print.

Rotter, Andrew Jon. “Chapter 3: Japan and Germany: Paths Not Taken.” Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. N. pag. Print.

Byrnes, James, “All in One Lifetime” (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1958)*

Catton, Philip. “Second World War in Asia.” Stephen F. Austin State University. 4 Nov. 2013. Lecture.

Hasegawa, Tsuyoshi. “Chapter 5: The Atomic Bombs.” Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan. Cambridge: Harvard UP., n.d. N. pag. Print.

Cyril Clemens, ed., Truman Speaks (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960),p.69*

Catton, Philip. “The Occupation of Japan” Stephen F. Austin State University. 6 Nov. 2013. Lecture.

Pearl Harbor: Legacy of Attack. Dir. Michael Rosenfeld and Kirk Wolfinger. By Patrick Prentice. Perf. Tom Brokaw, Bob Ballard, Stephen Ambrose. National Geographic’s, 2001. Netflix.

Catton, Philip. “Japanese Imperialism” Stephen F. Austin State University. 7 Oct. 2013. Lecture

 

* Source copied from source used in “Racing the Enemy”

[1] National Geographic’s Documentary (Netflix)

[2] Catton’s Lecture (Second World War in Asia)

[3] Catton’s Lecture (Second World War in Asia)

[4] National Geographic’s Documentary (Netflix)

[5] History.com

[6] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[7] Catton’s Lecture (Second World War in Asia)

[8] “Racing the Enemy”

[9] “Racing the Enemy”

[10] History.com

[11] History.com

[12] “Truman Speaks”

[13] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[14] “Racing the Enemy”

[15]“Racing the Enemy”

[16] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[17] Catton’s Lecture (Origins of the Sino-Japanese War)

[18] Potsdam Declaration

[19] James Byrne’s “All in One Lifetime”

[20] “Racing the Enemy”

[21] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[22] Catton’s Lecture (The Occupation of Japan)

[23] If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used

[24] Truman’s Reflections on the Bomb

Man’s Best Friend

Again, sorry for the wait on a new blog. A lot of stuff has happened (all good) but here is a blog I’ve been meaning to post for the longest time:

I’ve never had a dog of my own and the ones who have seen me post pictures of a Great Dane and calling it “my dog” will call me a liar. The reason why I don’t count that is because the dog belongs to my big sister who has 2 other Great Danes and pays for their food as well as medical bills, whereas I have bought them food a few times, fed them at times and play with them (thus, I don’t technically have the right to say they’re fully my dogs). But because I’d rather not keep calling this one particular dog of the three, “My sister’s dog” (for the sake of the blog) I’m going to refer to him as my own.

This dog is a black and white (bearing similar features to that of a Dalmation) with loving blue eyes and stands at a good 2-3-feet tall on his 4 legs. His name is Moose and is about 10 years old making him about 70 in human years. When my sister first got him, he was very small but the reputations for Great Danes is that they grow massive in size, which he did in the weeks/months to come, since then he’s remained the same size; Ironically, he still thinks of himself as a puppy cause the poor guy doesn’t realize how strong he is.
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I didn’t realize how important Moose was to me or really, how important I was to him until after I came back from University and I woke up to him sleeping beneath me in my bed. I had almost forgotten before I moved away how much time he’d spend with me like when I’d do homework in my room, I’d turn around to see him sleeping on the floor just waiting for me to get done so I could pet him and show him some attention.

A year or two later, after my sister got married and went to Paris for a week and I house-sat for her and hadn’t seen the dogs in a while but during that time, I was in my own little world but I was still spending time with the dogs here and of course, giving Moose the special attention. When my sister came back, she said that Moose kept going in my room and scratching at the door and just looked sad whenever he realized I wasn’t in there. When I finally came back home and moved back in with my sister, of course Moose and I were much closer and I wouldn’t stop taking pictures of him to show to the world. I considered this dog as if he were my own child (much to the jealousy of the other dogs, whom I tried to show love to as well but, somehow I think they knew that Moose was my favorite).

Unfortunately, his back legs don’t work as well as they used to due to some nerve damage but he still walks cause he’s a trooper, plus I talk to him as if I am a stern, but loving, parent so he walks as if to show me, “Look Papa, I can do it!” But I understand he’s getting old, which is why I’m trying to spend as much time with him as possible before his time comes cause I know he won’t live forever but the fact that he’s still going now, is an opportunity that I’m going to take advantage of.

My whole reason for talking about Moose is to pretty much bring to the attention of Animal’s rights because a lot of people tend to think of Animals as simply just objects for us to kill for sport and/or eat. I eat meat as well so I’m not going to say how we should all be vegetarians or whatever cause I am mainly talking about Cat’s and Dog’s and other domestic pets. When one says that Animal’s have rights, there’s always one joker at the other end of the spectrum that says, “OH! So, Animals should be able to vote?” And to that you should always say, “Yes, dumbass. Why not?” Of course, Animals can’t speak and can’t know what’s best for us so that would be ridiculous. When one says “Animals have rights” they mean that they shouldn’t be disregarded. An animal may not be able to speak but it has some way of communicating with another animal or at least even has a personality. There’s a philosophical thought that if a fish could talk to us, would we still be able to eat it? Luckily, I don’t eat it to begin with so I’m scot-free, but if I did, I couldn’t look at a fish the same way.

An animal can feel pain, just like us so in a way they are like us. We can’t deny that our characteristics make us like them either. Like when we sit in traffic, sometimes our primal instincts of frustration start to arise and we say shit we don’t mean. We are all creatures that dwell within this planet and struggle to survive (we just so happen to not be a part of the food chain)  regardless, an animal’s life should matter, that’s why I don’t get people who hunt (unless you know, for food or whatever but not sport).

Going back to pets however, if a dog has personality and is considered, “Man’s Best Friend”, certainly they should be treated with respect. And there are those who argue that a dog’s love is not always loyal to it’s owner and can love someone else just as easily. The argument for that can also be applied to humans and anyone whose ever been to a bar and made friends with people who offer to buy you a round of shots or a drink, will know what I’m talking about. Thus our loyalty can also be questioned and again, brings me back to my point that we are animals in a way ourselves.

The point I’m trying to make is that animals should definitely have certain rights (not the same as Humans) but at least give the animal or pet the dignity it deserves.

I just read the last sentence and it sounds like I’m preaching. I’m not trying to preach (haha). I’m going to stop now before I get carried away. I believe I’ve made my point clear enough.  Thank you for reading and I hope you guys continue to read. 🙂

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-Mr. Writer

Originally written on the 4th of August, 2015 at 10:08 P.M.