Beyond Fukishima: A World in Denial About Nuclear Risks
By Danny Schechter, Author, The Crime Of Our Time
What will it take for our world to recognize the dangers that nuclear scientists and even Albert Einstein were warning about at the "dawn" of the nuclear age?
Amy Goodman reminds us of the prophetic statement by Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett who tried to find words to describe the horror he was seeing in Hiroshima in 1945 after the bomb fell.
"It looks as if a monster steamroller had passed over it and squashed it out of existence. I write these facts ... as a warning to the world."
The world heard his warning, but seems to have ignored it. In fact, what followed has been decades of nuclear proliferation, the spread of nuclear power plants and the escalation of the arms race with new higher tech weaponry.
As Hiroshima becomes yesterday's distant memory and Fukishima the current threat, the full extent of the casualties and body count are not yet in, partly because the Japanese government and the power companies don't want to alarm the public.
Years earlier, a similar cover-up was in effect at Thee Mile Island complex in Pennsylvania where reports of the damage people suffered from a serious accident was minimized, never examined in depth by some of the very same media outlets who are today criticizing Japan for a lack of transparency.
On August, 6, 2008, the anniversary of the dropping of the first nuclear bomb, Alternet.org reported that the government and media were complicit in minimizing public awareness of the extensive suffering that did take place:
"But the word never crossed the conceptual chasm between the "mainstream" media and the "alternative." Despite a federal class action lawsuit filed by 2400 Pennsylvania families claiming damages from the accident, despite at least $15 million quietly paid to parents children with birth defects, despite three decades of official admissions that nobody knows how much radiation escaped from TMI, where it went or who it affected, not a mention of the fact that people might have been killed there made its way into a corporate report"
Was this just accidental or is there a deeper pattern of denial? The great expert on psycho history, Robert J. Lifton, wrote a book, Hiroshima In America, with journalist Greg Mitchell about the aftermath of Hiroshima in America exploring what they call "50 years of denial."
One reviewer explained, "The authors examine what they perceive to be a conspiracy by the government to mislead and suppress information about the actual bombing, Truman's decision to drop the bomb, and the birth and mismanagement of the beginning of the nuclear age. The authors claim that Americans then, and now, are haunted by the devastating psychological effects of the bomb."
Lifton and Mitchell are evidence-based writers, not conspiratologists, but they could find no other explanation for how such a seminal event could have been distorted and misrepresented for a half century.
Nuclear power and nuclear weapons have been sold to the public relentlessly, in the first instance as necessary, and the second, as safe. Rory O' Connor and Richard Bell coined the term "Nuke Speak" to describe the Orwellian methods deployed by the nuclear industry's PR offensive in a book length analysis of a well funded campaign that continues to this day using euphemistic language to mask its real agenda.
And today, as the world watches the dreadful and even Darwinian struggle for survival by the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan, as information about the extent of the nuclear danger trickles out, President Obama has reaffirmed his commitment to build new nuclear plants.
Others stress more parochial concerns. The TV Production community fears a shortage in Japanese made magnetic and recording tape. Consumers are being told that they may face a delay in ordering new iPads so get your orders in now. And, the Israeli new service YNET says people there worry about a sushi shortage.
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