Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Comedy: Jesus Loves Nukes

This week's post focuses on something that is funny in an off-kilter and perhaps uncomfortable way.

Below are selected slides from a PowerPoint by US Air Force Chaplain Captain Shin Soh. The 42-slide PowerPoint takes ethics as its subject, and apparently is part of an official training for nuclear missile officers.

The slide below introduces Just War Theory. Presumably, the image to the right is meant to suggest that Roman fighting against the Visigoths was justified. Historically, the sack of Rome was monumentally important not only to Augustine of Hippo and his thinking but also to long-term European politics and culture.

Although the Roman empire may have been right and justified to fight the Visigoth forces, the empire itself had a long and proud history of aggression. The empire had also had some history with Gothic tribes. Had the Romans been slightly more inviting to the "Barbarians," this particular attack on the empire may have been averted.

The attempt to present the US with clean hands over Hiroshima is, well, laughable.

Since this is a comedy post, I won't dwell on Hiroshima/Nagasaki except to say that there are two different questions: (1) Was the US's use of the Atomic Bomb justified from a pragmatic perspective, and (2) Was using the Atomic Bomb morally justified? The slides vaguely and weakly imply that the answer is "yes" to both questions. I disagree with that answer.

The rationalization in the Hiroshima slides reflects a stance articulates by Heinrich Himmler in his October 1943 speech to SS leaders. Himmler made the speech, which was recorded, in Poland after touring the killing centers there. Himmler praises the moral resolve to exterminate the Jews. To him, it's a necessary action for the greater good of the fatherland.

In the US Air Force PowerPoint, Hiroshima is similarly justified, and the courage to use nuclear weapons is praised.

Indeed, one slide links up the Nazis and the US as bound by high moral standards rooted in Christianity. The good Germans passed their nuclear secrets over the the US, rather than the Soviets I guess, because we were all united as Christian soldiers.

The slideshow concludes with an obligatory gesture:

Something tells me that many questions should have emerged as a result of this presentation.

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