zaterdag 7 augustus 2021

Henry Giroux: Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the Age of Normalized Violence

 AUGUST 6, 2021

Blinded by the Light: Remembering Hiroshima 

and Nagasaki in the Age of Normalized Violence


Detail from a U.S. Air Force map of Hiroshima, pre-bombing, circles drawn at 1,000 foot intervals radiating out from ground zero, the site directly under the explosion. (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration).

On Monday August 6, 1945, the United States unleashed an atomic bomb on Hiroshima killing 140,000 people instantly. 70% of the city was destroyed.  A few days later on August 9th, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki killing an estimated 70,000 people.[2] The Japanese government stated that the death toll was much higher than the American estimates, indicating that it was close to a half million.  Many died not only because of lack of medical help, but also from radioactive rain. In the immediate aftermath, the incineration of mostly innocent civilians was buried in official government pronouncements about the victory of the bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Violence rendered in military abstractions and patriotic platitudes is itself an act of violence. The visceral effect of violence brings to the surface what can only be considered intolerable, unthinkable, and never unknowable. Maybe such horror can only be possible in the language of journalism.

Within a short time after the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, John Hersey wrote a devastating description of the misery and suffering caused by the bomb. Removing the bomb from abstract arguments endorsing matters of technique, efficiency, and national honor, Hersey first published in The New Yorker and later in a widely read book an exhausting and terrifying description of the bombs effects on the people of Hiroshima, portraying in detail the horror of the suffering caused by the bomb.  There is one haunting passage that not only illustrates the horror of the pain and suffering, but also offers a powerful metaphor for the blindness that overtook both the victims and the perpetrators. He writes:

On his way back with the water, [Father Kleinsorge] got lost on a detour around a fallen tree, and as he looked for his way through the woods, he heard a voice ask from the underbrush, ‘Have you anything to drink?’ He saw a uniform. Thinking there was just one soldier, he approached with the water.  When he had penetrated the bushes, he saw there were about twenty men, they were all in exactly the same nightmarish state: their faces were wholly burned, their eye sockets were hollow, the fluid from their melted eyes had run down their cheeks. Their mouths were mere swollen, pus-covered wounds, which they could not bear to stretch enough to admit the spout of the teapot.[3]

The nightmarish image of fallen soldiers staring with hollow sockets, eyes liquidated on cheeks and mouths swollen and pus-filled stands as a warning to those who would refuse blindly the moral witnessing necessary to keep alive for future generations the memory of the horror of nuclear weapons and the need to eliminate them. Hersey’s literal depiction of mass violence against civilians serves as a kind of mirrored doubling, referring at one level to nations blindly driven by militarism and hyper-nationalism and at another level the need to exorcise history which now functions as a curse.

The atomic bomb was celebrated by those who argued that its use was responsible for concluding the war with Japan. Also applauded was the power of the bomb and the wonder of science in creating it, especially “the atmosphere of technological fanaticism” in which scientists worked to create the most powerful weapon of destruction then known to the world.[4] Conventional justification for dropping the atomic bombs held that “it was the most expedient measure to securing Japan’s surrender [and] that the bomb was used to shorten the agony of war and to save American lives.”[5]Left out of that succinct legitimating narrative were the growing objections to the use of atomic weaponry put forth by a number of top military leaders and politicians, including General Dwight Eisenhower, who was then the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, former President Herbert Hoover, and General Douglas MacArthur, all of whom argued it was not necessary to end the war. [6] A position later proven to be correct.

For a brief time, the Atom Bomb was celebrated as a kind of magic talisman entwining salvation and scientific inventiveness and in doing so functioned to “simultaneously domesticate the unimaginable while charging the mundane surroundings of our everyday lives with a weight and sense of importance unmatched in modern times.”[7] In spite of the initial celebration of the effects of the bomb and the orthodox defense that accompanied it, whatever positive value the bomb may have had among the American public, intellectuals, and popular media began to dissipate as more and more people became aware of the massive deaths along with suffering and misery it caused.[8]

Kenzaburo Oe, the Nobel Prize winner for Literature, noted that in spite of attempts to justify the bombing  “from the instant the atomic bomb exploded, it [soon] became the symbol of human evil, [embodying] the absolute evil of war.”[9] What particularly troubled Oe was the scientific and intellectual complicity in the creation of and in the lobbying for its use, with acute awareness that it would turn Hiroshima into a “vast ugly death chamber.” [10]  More pointedly, it revealed a new stage in the merging of military actions and scientific methods, indeed a new era in which the technology of destruction could destroy the earth in roughly the time it takes to boil an egg. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki forecasted a new industrially enabled kind of violence and warfare in which the distinction between soldiers and civilians disappeared and the indiscriminate bombing of civilians was normalized. But more than this, the American government exhibited a ‘total embrace of the atom bomb,” that signalled support for the first time of a “notion of unbounded annihilation [and] “the totality of destruction.”[11]

Hiroshima and Nagasaki designated the beginning of the nuclear era in which as Oh Jung points out “Combatants were engaged on a path toward total war in which technological advances, coupled with the increasing effectiveness of an air strategy, began to undermine the ethical view that civilians should not be targeted… This pattern of wholesale destruction blurred the distinction between military and civilian casualties.”[12]  The destructive power of the bomb and its use on civilians also marked a turning point in American self-identity in which the United States began to think of itself as a superpower, which as Robert Jay. Lifton points out refers to “a national mindset–put forward strongly by a tight-knit leadership group–that takes on a sense of omnipotence, of unique standing in the world that grants it the right to hold sway over all other nations.”[13]  The power of the scientific imagination and its murderous deployment gave birth simultaneously to the American disimagination machine with its capacity to rewrite history in order to render it an irrelevant relic best forgotten.

What remains particularly ghastly about the rationale for dropping two atomic bombs was the attempt on the part of its defenders to construct a redemptive narrative through a perversion of humanistic commitment, of mass slaughter justified in the name of saving lives and winning the war.[14]  This was a humanism under siege, transformed into its terrifying opposite and placed on the side of what Edmund Wilson called the Faustian possibility of a grotesque “plague and annihilation.”[15] In part, Hiroshima and Nagasaki represented the achieved transcendence of military metaphysics now a defining feature of national identity, its more poisonous and powerful investment in the cult of scientism, instrumental rationality, and technological fanaticism—and the simultaneous marginalization of scientific evidence and intellectual rigour, even reason itself. That Hiroshima, in particular, was used to redefine America’s “national mission and its utopian possibilities”[16] was nothing short of what the late historian Howard Zinn called a “devastating commentary on our moral culture.”[17] More pointedly it serves as a grim commentary on our national insanity, which became more exacerbated over time, reaching a culmination to a form of fascist politics under the Trump administration. In most of these cases, matters of morality and justice were dissolved into technical questions and reductive chauvinism relating matters of governmentally massaged efficiency, scientific “expertise”, and American exceptionalism.  As Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell stated, the atom bomb was symbolic of the power of post-war America rather than a “ruthless weapon of indiscriminate destruction” which conveniently put to rest painful questions concerning justice, morality, and ethical responsibility.[18]

This narrative of redemption was soon challenged by a number of historians who argued that the dropping of the atom bomb had less to do with winning the war than with an attempt to put pressure on the Soviet Union to not expand their empire into territory deemed essential to American interests.[19]Protecting America’s superiority in a potential Soviet-American conflict was a decisive factor in dropping the bomb. In addition, the Truman administration needed to provide legitimation to Congress for the staggering sums of money spent on the Manhattan Project in developing the atomic weapons program and for procuring future funding necessary to continue military appropriations for ongoing research long after the war ended.[20] The late Howard Zinn went even further asserting that the government’s weak defense for the bombing of Hiroshima was not only false but was complicitous with an act of terrorism. Refusing to relinquish his role as a public intellectual willing to hold power accountable, he writes “Can we … comprehend the killing of 200,000 people to make a point about American power?”[21] Other historians also attempted to deflate this official defense of Hiroshima by providing counter-evidence that the Japanese were ready to surrender as a result of a number of factors including the nonstop bombing of 26 cities before Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the success of the naval and military blockade of Japan, and the Soviet’s entrance into the war on August 9th.[22]

Employing a weapon of mad violence against the Japanese people, the US government imagined Japan as the ultimate enemy, and then pursued tactics that blinded the American public to its own humanity and in doing so became its own worst enemy by turning against its most cherished democratic principles. In a sense, this self-imposed sightlessness functioned as part of what Jacques Derrida once called a societal autoimmune response, one in which the body’s immune system attacked its own bodily defenses.[23] Fortunately, this state of political and moral blindness did not extend to a number of critics for the next fifty years who railed aggressively against the dropping of the atomic bombs and the beginning of the nuclear age.

In the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima, there was a major debate not just about how the emergence of the atomic age and the moral, economic, scientific, military, and political forced that gave rise to it but also the ways in which the embrace of the atomic age altered the emerging nature of state power, gave rise to new forms of militarism, put American lives at risk, created environmental hazards, produced an emergent surveillance state, furthered the politics of state secrecy, and put into play a series of deadly diplomatic crisis, reinforced by the logic of brinkmanship and a belief in the totality of war.[24]

Hiroshima not only unleashed immense misery, unimaginable suffering, and wanton death on Japanese civilians, it also gave rise to anti-democratic tendencies in the United States government that put the health, safety, and liberty of the American people at risk. Shrouded in secrecy, the government machinery of death that produced the bomb did everything possible to cover up the most grotesque effects of the bomb on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki but also the dangerous hazards it posed to the American people. Lifton and Mitchell argue convincingly that if the development of the bomb and its immediate effects were shrouded in concealment by the government that before long concealment developed into a cover up marked by government lies and the falsification of information.[25] With respect to the horrors visited upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki, films taken by Japanese and American photographers were hidden for years from the American public for fear that they would create both a moral panic and a backlash against the funding for nuclear weapons.[26]   For example, the Atomic Energy Commission lied about the extent and danger of radiation fallout going so far as to mount a campaign claiming that “fallout does not constitute a serious hazard to any living thing outside the test site.”[27]This act of falsification took place in spite of the fact that thousands of military personal were exposed to high levels of radiation within and outside of the test sites.

In addition, the Atomic Energy Commission in conjunction with the Departments of Defense, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Central Intelligence Agency, and other government departments engaged in a series of medical experiments designed to test the effects of different levels radiation exposure on military personal, medical patients, prisoners, and others in various sites.  According to Lifton and Mitchell, these experiments took the shape of exposing people intentionally to “radiation releases or by placing military personnel at or near ground zero of bomb tests.”[28] It gets worse. They also note that “from 1945 through 1947, bomb-grade plutonium injections were given to thirty-one patients [in a variety of hospitals and medical centers] and that all of these “experiments were shrouded in secrecy and, when deemed necessary, in lies….the experiments were intended to show what type or amount of exposure would cause damage to normal, healthy people in a nuclear war.”[29] Some of the long lasting legacies of the birth of the atomic bomb also included the rise of plutonium dumps, environmental and health risks, the cult of expertise, and the subordination of the peaceful development technology to a large scale interest in using technology for the organized production of violence. Another notable development raised by many critics in the years following the launch of the atomic age was the rise of a government mired in secrecy, the repression of dissent, and the legitimation for a type of civic illiteracy in which Americans were told to leave “the gravest problems, military and social, completely in the hands of experts and political leaders who claimed to have them under control.”[30]

All of these anti-democratic tendencies unleashed by the atomic age came under scrutiny during the latter half of the twentieth century. The terror of a nuclear holocaust, an intense sense of alienation from the commanding institutions of power, and deep anxiety about the demise of the future spawned growing unrest, ideological dissent, and massive outbursts of resistance among students and intellectuals all over the globe from the sixties until the beginning of the twenty-first century calling for the outlawing of militarism, nuclear production and stockpiling, and the nuclear propaganda machine. Literary writers extending from James Agee to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. condemned the death-saturated machinery launched by the atomic age. Moreover, public intellectuals from Dwight Macdonald and Bertrand Russell to Helen Caldicott, Ronald Takaki, Noam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn, fanned the flames of resistance to both the nuclear arms race and weapons as well as the development of nuclear technologies.

In the United States, the mushroom cloud connected to Hiroshima is now connected to much larger forces of destruction, including a turn to instrumental reason over moral considerations, the normalization of violence in America, the militarization of local police forces, an attack on civil liberties, the rise of the surveillance state, a dangerous turn towards authoritarianism, embodied in the fascist politics unleashed by Trump and his supine, dangerous allies.  Rather than stand in opposition to preventing a nuclear mishap or the expansion of the arms industry, the United States places high up on the list of those nations that could trigger what Amy Goodman calls that “horrible moment when hubris, accident or inhumanity triggers the next nuclear attack.”[31]  Given the history of lies, deceptions, falsifications, and retreat into secrecy that characterizes the American government’s strangulating hold by the military-industrial-surveillance complex, it would be naïve to assume that the U.S. government can be trusted to act with good intentions when it comes to matters of domestic and foreign policy. Of course, matters of trust, decency, and a respect for democracy evaporated under the former Trump administration.  State terrorism and an embrace of violence as a national ideal has increasingly become the DNA of American governance and politics and is evident in government cover ups, corruption, and numerous acts of bad faith. Secrecy, lies, and deception have a long history in the United States and the issue is not merely to uncover such instances of state deception but to connect the dots over time and to map the connections, for instance, between the actions of the NSA in the early aftermath of the attempts to cover up the inhumane destruction unleashed by the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the role the NSA and other intelligence agencies play today in distorting the truth about government policies while embracing an all-compassing notion of surveillance and squelching of civil liberties, privacy, and freedom.  Militarism now pervades every aspect of society, language has become weaponized, state racism has been turned into a tool of political opportunism, and the Republican Party amounts to a criminal organization inflicting lies, conspiracy theories, voter suppression laws, and a denial of science and public health in the midst of a crisis, amounting to untold numbers of death.

Hiroshima symbolized and continues to remind us of the fact that the United States commits unspeakable acts of violence making it easier to refuse to rely on politicians, academics, and alleged experts who refuse to support a politics of transparency and serve mostly to legitimate anti-democratic, if not totalitarian policies.  Questioning a monstrous war machine whose roots lie in Hiroshima and the gangster capitalism that benefits from it is the first step in declaring nuclear weapons unacceptable ethically and politically.   This suggests a further mode of inquiry that focuses on how the rise of the military-industrial complex contributes to the escalation of nuclear weapons and what can we learn by tracing it roots to the development and use of the atom bomb. Moreover, it raises questions about the role played by intellectuals both in an out of the academy in conspiring to build the bomb and hide its effects from the American people? These are only some of the questions that need to be made visible, interrogated, and pursued in a variety of sites and public forums.

One crucial issue today is what role might intellectuals, cultural critics, journalists, and others who trade in lifting ideas into the public realm play in making clear the educative nature of politics? How might reviving the public imagination function as part of a sustained pedagogical effort to resurrect the memory of Hiroshima as both a warning and a signpost for rethinking the nature of collective struggle, reclaiming the ideals and promises a radical democracy, and producing a sustained politics and act of collective resistance aimed at abolishing nuclear weapons forever?  One issue would be to revisit the conditions that made Hiroshima and Nagasaki possible, to explore how militarism and a kind of technological fanaticism merged under the star of scientific rationality. Another step forward would be to make clear what the effects of such weapons are, to disclose the manufactured lie that such weapons make us safe. Indeed, this suggests the need for intellectuals, artists, and other cultural workers to use their skills, resources, and connections to develop massive educational campaigns that make clear both the danger of nuclear war a society armed to the teeth.

Such campaigns not only make education, consciousness, and collective struggle the center of politics, but also systemically work to both inform the public about the history of such weapons, the misery and suffering they have caused, and how they benefit the financial, government, and corporate elite who make huge amounts of money off the arms race and the promotion of nuclear deterrence and the need for a permanent warfare state. Intellectuals today appear numbed by ever developing disasters, statistics of suffering and death, the Hollywood disimagination machine with its investment in celluloid Apocalypses for which only superheroes can respond, and a consumer culture that thrives on self-interests and deplores collective political and ethical responsibility. In an age when violence turns into a spectacle, mass shootings become normalized, and violence becomes the primary language of politics, it becomes all the more difficult and yet necessary to remember the horror and legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There are no rationales or escapes from the responsibility of preventing mass destruction due to nuclear annihilation; the appeal to military necessity is no excuse for the indiscriminate bombing of civilians whether in Hiroshima or Yemen.  The sense of horror, fear, doubt, anxiety, and powerless that followed Hiroshima and Nagasaki up until the beginning of the 21st century seems to have faded in light of the rise of a form of gangster capitalism that embraces white nationalism, white supremacy, the Hollywood apocalypse machine, the mindlessness of consumer cultures, the growing spectacles of violence, and a militarism that is now celebrated as one of the highest ideals of American life. In a society governed by militarism, consumerism, and neoliberal savagery, it has become more difficult to assume moral, social, and political responsibility, to believe that democracy matters and is worth fighting for, to imagine a future in which responding to the suffering of others is a central element of democratic life. When historical memory fades and people turn inward, remove themselves from politics, and embrace cynicism over educated hope, a culture of evil, suffering, and existential despair. Americans now life amid a culture of indifference sustained by an endless series of manufactured catastrophes that offer a source of entertainment, sensation, and instant pleasure.

We live in an age in which violence becomes a form of entertainment rather than a source of alarm, individuals increasingly are too numb to question society, and become incapable of translating private troubles into larger public considerations. In the age following the use of the atom bomb on civilians, talk about evil, militarism, and the end of the world once stirred public debate and diverse resistance movements, now it promotes a culture of fear, moral panics, and a retreat into the black hole of the disimagination machine. In the midst of the economic crisis of 2008 and the failure of gangster capitalism to address the COVID-19 crisis, it is clear that gangster capitalism cannot provide a vision to sustain radical democratic society and works largely to destroy it.

The horror Hiroshima and Nagasaki speak to what James Baldwin once called the “tension between hope and terror.” Hope in the absence of moral witnessing and a culture of immediacy that hawks support for conditions-environmental, economic, social, and cultural-that embrace rather than reject the incessant drive toward the apocalypse appears meaningless. Gangster capitalism has become a metaphor for the recurring atomic blast, a social, political, and moral embodiment of global destruction that needs to be stopped before it is too late.  Returning to the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not only necessary to break out of the moral cocoon that puts reason and memory to sleep but also to rediscover both our imaginative capacities for civic literacy on behalf of the public good, especially if such action demands that we remember as Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell remark “Every small act of violence, then, has some connection with, if not sanction from, the violence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” [32]

Manufactured catastrophes and historical amnesia—and with them a generalized sense of manufactured helplessness—now reign supreme in the new interregnum of late modernity, a kind of liminal space that serves to neutralize action, derail the challenges posed by real social and political problems such as the threat of nuclear annihilation, and substitute the escape into fantasy for any attempt to challenge the terrifying conditions that often accompany a serious crisis. Such retreats from reality blunt civic courage, dull the radical imagination, and dilute any sense of moral responsibility, plunging historical acts of violence such as Hiroshima into the abyss of political indifference, ethical insensitivity, and depoliticization.  Catastrophe, as Brad Evans has observed, speaks to an era of late modernity marked by “a closing of the political.” [33]    Resignation and acceptance of catastrophe has taken root in the ground prepared by the neoliberal notion that “nothing can be done.”

If, as the late Zygmunt Bauman argued, crisis speaks to the need to address what exactly needs to be done, then what has been lost in the age of catastrophe and historical amnesia and its overwhelming sense of precarity and uncertainty is a properly political response in the face of a pending or existing disaster. In the age of Trump, history has become a curse, and dissent is now viewed as dangerous, reminders of the horrors of injustice, the collapse of conscience, and willingness of too many to look away. The future will look much brighter and new forms of collective resistance will emerge, in part, with the recognition that the legacy of violence, death and cruelty that extends from Hiroshima to the current tsunami of violence being waged on immigrants, people of color, and peaceful protesters makes clear that no one can be a bystander if democracy is to survive.


[1] I have drawn in this essay upon some some previous ideas of mine published on the seventieth anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I revisit them in the hope of reviving historical memory in the service of the search for justice and the need to remember that which the dead can no longer speak of.

[2] Jennifer Rosenberg, “Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Part 2),” –20th Century History (March 28, 201). Online: A more powerful atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, and by the end of the year an estimated 70,000 had been killed. For the history of the making of the bomb, see the monumental: Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012.

[3] John Hersey, Hiroshima (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946), p. 68.

[4] The term “technological fanaticism” comes from Michael Sherry who suggested that it produced an increased form of brutality. Cited in Howard Zinn, The Bomb. (New York. N.Y.: City Lights, 2010), pp. 54-55.

[5] Oh Jung, “Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Decision to Drop the Bomb,” Michigan Journal of History Vol 1. No. 2 (Winter 2002). Online:

[6]  See, in particular, Ronald Takaki, Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb, (Boston: Back Bay Books, 1996).

[7] Peter Bacon Hales, Outside the Gates of Eden: The Dream Of America From Hiroshima To Now. (Chicago. IL.: University of Chicago Press, 2014), p. 17.

[8] Paul Ham, Hiroshima Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath (New York: Doubleday, 2011).

[9] Kensaburo Oe, Hiroshima Notes (New York: Grove Press, 1965), p. 114.

[10] Ibid., Oe, Hiroshima Notes, p. 117.

[11] Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell, Hiroshima in America, (New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, 1995). p. 314-315. 328.

[12] Ibid., Oh Jung, “Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Decision to Drop the Bomb.”

[13] Robert Jay Lifton, “American Apocalypse,” The Nation (December 22, 2003), p. 12.

[14] For an interesting analysis of how the bomb was defended by the New York Times and a number of high ranking politicians, especially after John Hersey’s Hiroshima appeared in The New Yorker, see Steve Rothman, “The Publication of “Hiroshima” in The New Yorker,”Herseyheroshima.cpom, (January 8, 1997). Online:

[15]  Wilson cited in Lifton and Mitchell, Hiroshima In America, p. 309.

[16] Ibid., Peter Bacon Hales, Outside The Gates of Eden: The Dream Of America From Hiroshima To Now, p. 8.

[17] Ibid., Zinn, The Bomb, p. 26.

[18] Ibid., Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell, Hiroshima In America.

[19] See Ward Wilson, Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons (new York: Mariner Books, 2013).

[20] Ronald Takaki, Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb, (Boston: Back Bay Books, 1996), p. 39

[21] Ibid, Zinn, The Bomb, p. 45.

[22] See, for example, Gar Alperowitz’s, Atomic Diplomacy Hiroshima and PotsdamThe Use of the Atomic Bomb and the American Confrontation with Soviet Power (London: Pluto Press, 1994) and also Gar Alperowitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb (New York: Vintage, 1996). Ibid., Ham.  

[23] Giovanna Borradori, ed, “Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides–a dialogue with Jacques Derrida,” in Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), pp. 85-136.

[24] For an informative analysis of the deep state and a politics driven by corporate power, see Bill Blunden, “The Zero-Sum Game of Perpetual War,” Counterpunch (September 2, 2014). Online:

[25] The following section relies on the work of both Lifton and Mitchell, Howard Zinn, and M. Susan Lindee.

[26] Greg Mitchell, “The Great Hiroshima Cover-up,” The Nation, (August 3, 2011). Online: Also see, Greg Mitchell, “Part 1: Atomic Devastation Hidden For Decades,” WhoWhatWhy(March 26, 2014). Online:; Greg Mitchell, “Part 2: How They Hid the Worst Horrors of Hiroshima,” WhoWhatWhy, (March 28, 2014). Online:; Greg Mitchell, “Part 3: Death and Suffering, in Living Color,” WhoWhatWhy (March 31, 2014). Online:

[27] Ibid., Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell, Hiroshima In America, p. 321.

[28] Ibid., Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell, Hiroshima In America, p. 322.

[29] Ibid. Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell, Hiroshima In America, p. 322-323.

[30] Ibid. Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell, Hiroshima In America, p. 336.

[31] Amy Goodman, “Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 69 Year Later,” TruthDig (August 6, 2014).  Online:

[32] Ibid.,  Lifton and Mitchell, p. 345.

[33] Brad Evans, “The Promise of Violence in the Age of Catastrophe,” Truthout(January 5, 2014). Online:

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and is the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013), Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014), The Public in Peril: Trump and the Menace of American Authoritarianism (Routledge, 2018), and the American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism (City Lights, 2018), On Critical Pedagogy, 2nd edition (Bloomsbury), and Race, Politics, and Pandemic Pedagogy: Education in a Time of Crisis (Bloomsbury 2021). His website is www.

Remember: 'Media trust hits new low'

 Jan 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

Photo illustration of a woman looking suspiciously out blinds made out of newspaper

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Star Tribune via Getty Images

Trust in traditional media has declined to an all-time low, and many news professionals are determined to do something about it. 

Why it matters: Faith in society's central institutions, especially in government and the media, is the glue that holds society together. That glue was visibly dissolving a decade ago, and has now, for many millions of Americans, disappeared entirely. 

By the numbers: For the first time ever, fewer than half of all Americans have trust in traditional media, according to data from Edelman's annual trust barometer shared exclusively with Axios. Trust in social media has hit an all-time low of 27%.

  • 56% of Americans agree with the statement that "Journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations." 
  • 58% think that "most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public."
  • When Edelman re-polled Americans after the election, the figures had deteriorated even further, with 57% of Democrats trusting the media and only 18% of Republicans.
Source: Edelman; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: These numbers are echoed across the rest of the world: They're mostly not a function of Donald Trump's war on "fake news". 

  • As vaccine rumor hunter Heidi Larson puts it, "we don’t have a misinformation problem, we have a trust problem.”
  • News organizations have historically relied mainly on advertising income, and as those dollars flow increasingly to Google and Facebook, that has created institutional weakness that shows up in trust data.

Reversing the decline is a monster task — and one that some journalists and news organizations have taken upon themselves. They're going to need help — perhaps from America's CEOs.

The catch: Mistrust of media is now a central part of many Americans' personal identity — an article of faith that they weren't argued into and can't be argued out of.

What they're saying: 

  • Former Financial Times editor Lionel Barber talks of factual reporting as a means of "regaining the trust of the reading public". 
  • Axios has a stated mission to "help restore trust in fact-based news". 
  • Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan writes that "our goal should go beyond merely putting truthful information in front of the public. We should also do our best to make sure it’s widely accepted."

How it works: Media outlets can continue to report reliable facts, but that won't turn the trend around on its own. What's needed is for trusted institutions to visibly embrace the news media.

  • CEOs (a/k/a the fourth branch of government) are at or near the top of Edelman's list of trusted institutions. 
  • By the numbers: 61% of Trump voters say that they trust their employer's CEO. That compares to just 28% who trust government leaders, and a mere 21% who trust journalists. 

The bottom line: CEOs have long put themselves forward as the people able to upgrade America's physical infrastructure. Now it's time for them to use the trust they've built up to help rebuild our civic infrastructure.

Voetbal Commentator stan van houcke heeft dit als repost geplaatst Marcel Van Silfh...