A reader forwarded an article, “The messed up truth about the Louisiana Purchase,” recasting doubling the size of the United States, not as a bargain securing our nation’s future growth, but as a disastrous prelude to more slavery and persecution of Native Americans. Which it certainly was.
Once again I felt like a kid caught between two battling parents.
On one hand, you’ve got the Make America Great crew, to whom everything America does now or ever did is already pretty great, because we did it. U.S. history is a series of triumphs leading up to today’s apex of glory, the Donald Trump administration.
On the other is history as a stroll through a slaughterhouse, where the creation of our country is a blot upon nature, like a bag of wet trash split open into a field of flowers. The United States is half crime, half blunder.
Thursday is Aug. 6, a key stop in the latter view’s stations of the cross, the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. At the time, 85% of Americans felt it was the right thing to do, to win the war quickly.
By 2015, approval had shrunk to 56%, though that might be deceptive.
“If people were put in a situation like 1945, public opinion changes,” said Scott D. Sagan, a political science professor at Stanford. “In a survey experiment in 2017, people were asked: If we were at war with Iran, and the president is given the options of attacking the second largest city in Iran with nuclear weapons, to shock the Iranian government, or continue a ground war where 20,000 American troops die, versus 100,000 people die in the air attack, 60% of Americans support the air attack. Increase the number to 2 million dying from the nuclear bomb and that number stays the same, 60%.”
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