The nuclear bombings of two cities in Japan were the logical coda of the single most brutal enterprise the species Homo Sapiens sapiens has ever undertaken — and if we’re very, very, very lucky, will ever undertake.
World War II claimed anywhere from 60-100 million lives. It doesn’t matter how they died; only that the people of this mad planet wanted them dead.
BTW: Shoot over to Neil Steinberg’s blog post today about the excruciatingly unlucky few who survived both bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. True story.
Nixon Resignation Day
Here’s Mike Royko writing Richard M. Nixon’s political eulogy in the Chicago Sun-Times the day after the president quit:
My personal reason for not wanting Mr. Nixon prosecuted is that he really didn’t betray the nation’s trust all that badly.
The country knew what it was getting when it made him president. He was elected by the darker side of the American conscience. His job was to put the brakes on the changes of the 1960s — the growing belief in individual liberties, the push forward by minority groups. He campaigned by appealing to prejudice and suspicion. What he and his followers meant by law and order was “shut up.”
So whose trust he did he betray? Not that of those who thought he was the answer. He was, indeed, their answer.
The Past Is Prologue
Ukulele savant Susan Sandberg points out this timeless observation by Lyndon Baines Johnson:
If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him someone to look down on and he’ll empty his pockets for you.
Winning Isn’t Everything
Speaking of the 1960s, I just finished reading a biography of Vince Lombardi entitled When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss.
Lombardi was often portrayed as a brutal, tyrannical leader who’d have steamrolled his grandmother to win a football game. Many people felt he was a man without conscience or sensitivity toward his fellow man. As such, some figured he’d be a great political leader for the turbulent ’60s. In fact, soon after Nixon secured the Republican nomination for president 45 years ago this week, the candidate floated the idea of approaching Lombardi to be his running mate. Nixon’s aides took him seriously and looked into Lombardi’s background. What they found surprised them: The iconic Green Bay Packers coached turned out to be a lifelong Democrat who was particularly close to Bobby Kennedy and the slain senator’s family.
Anyway, the coach’s views on civil rights surely would have sunk a Nixon/Lombardi ticket. Here’s an anecdote. Early on in his term as boss of the Pack, Lombardi and his team traveled into the South for an exhibition game. They went to a large restaurant for a meal. Lombardi was told the black players on the team — only a couple of guys, really, in those days — would not be allowed to enter the place through the front door. They’d have to come in through the back door and eat in a special room for blacks just off the kitchen.
Lombardi was incensed. He realized, though, he couldn’t smash Jim Crow all by himself that day so he did the next best thing. He directed his entire team to enter through the back door and eat their meal in the back room reserved for blacks.
Pretty cool, eh?
Add to that the fact that Lombardi had at least one player on his team whom he knew was gay. The coach said to his assistants, If I hear one insult or snide remark coming out of your mouths you’ll be fired before your ass hits the floor.
Vince Lombardi was no Spiro Agnew.