[The following is an excerpt from a latter dated August 1, 1995, that Murphey wrote to a friend, a columnist, who had written him asking his opinion on several subjects.  It relates to whether the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) was a “racist” act on the part of the United States.]



            You have asked my opinion about Bruce Haines’ column “Racism fueled A-bomb in WWII.”  I think it’s a case of misplaced causation.  Haines mentions “racism” and immediately follows it with a reference to a “strong revenge motive for Pearl Harbor.”  These aren’t the same thing.  In World War II, as in World War I, all sides enormously demonized the other side, with a resulting dehumanization that led to unbelievable excesses.  This was not only true of the Americans, but of the Germans, the Japanese, the Soviets, and the British, to name simply the principals.  The excesses of the Germans are well known, possibly to the point of gross exaggeration.  Those of the Japanese are less well known, but were present nevertheless.

            It seems to me that on the Allied side, the major moral issue is not Hiroshima-Nagasaki, but the air war against civilian populations in general, of which the use of the atomic bomb was a subset.  This air war was conducted savagely not only against Japan (as against Tokyo), but against Germany.  The fire-bombing of Dresden as Germany was in its final throes, with the city full of refugees and no longer of any strategic significance, is symbolic of this.  A great moral question exists: were our enemies so demonic that this sort of response to them was justified?

            As to the issue of “racism,” it seems to me that anyone who attributes Hiroshima and Nagasaki to racism has the burden of showing why we did the equivalent to Dresden, Cologne and other German cities.  Was that, too, a result of racism?  Indeed, an argument can be made that that was the very reverse, since our horror of Nazi Germany was mostly because of our revulsion against its racism.