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Nuclear righteousness


By Robert C. Koehler

This is American exceptionalism: “Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.”

But you have to say it without the doubt, the regret — the horror — of Robert Oppenheimer, theoretical physicist extraordinaire and director of the Manhattan Project, who famously uttered these words in reference to the Trinity nuclear explosion in New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto desert on July 16, 1945.

When you remove Oppenheimer’s moral awareness from the quote, it sounds more like: “Oh, I wouldn’t hesitate if I had the choice. I’d wipe ’em out. You’re gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but we’ve never fought a damn war anywhere in the world where they didn’t kill innocent people. . . . That’s their tough luck for being there.”

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