Conservatives Are Wrong About Obama’s Hiroshima Speech

When President Obama traveled to Hiroshima Friday–three days before Memorial Day–he delivered a speech that many conservatives found horrifying. Rightfully so. However, despite what many in the conservative media are saying, Obama didn’t apologize for the United States. He did something much more insidious. He drew a moral equivalency.

Obama never said the United States was “wrong” to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945–that would have been too straightforward. Rather, he lamented the use of atomic weaponry and suggested that our world needs a “moral awakening” that will deliver us from war.

Listening to Obama’s speech was like taking a course in subtle anti-Americanism. It’s like when the Left pretends to hear “racial dog whistles” in every single sentence spoken by a conservative–except, you know, real.

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He set it up right from the beginning, placing 1945 America on the same plane as 1945 Japan.

“Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children, thousands of Koreans, a dozen Americans held prisoner. Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.”

No mention of the fact that Japan hit the United States first at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 Americans. No mention of the other atrocities committed by Japan, like the Nanking Massacre, in which as many as 300,000 Chinese were killed (men, women, children), and tens of thousands of Chinese women were raped.

But Obama says we must look inward together. So it shall be.

“On every continent, the history of civilization is filled with war, whether driven by scarcity of grain or hunger for gold, compelled by nationalist fervor or religious zeal. Empires have risen and fallen. Peoples have been subjugated and liberated. And at each juncture, innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time.”

The way Obama tells it, one would believe that what the United States did to Japan was in the same league as what Japan did to the Chinese. It’s all war, and therefore, it’s all evil.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “pro-war.” Nobody is. However, I understand that war is a necessary evil. I also understand that when a nation is attacked, sometimes a knockout retaliation is required to stop the bleeding. Perhaps most importantly, I understand that the man who punches back isn’t on the same moral plane as the man who punches first.

“The world war that reached its brutal end in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was fought among the wealthiest and most powerful of nations. Their civilizations had given the world great cities and magnificent art. Their thinkers had advanced ideas of justice and harmony and truth. And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints.”

It baffles me how Obama can be simultaneously correct and incorrect. Yes, Germany and Japan were once great nations. Then they weren’t. There’s a reason for that.

What the president consistently refuses to do is separate the good guys from the bad guys.

We’re all in this together. We were bad together, and now we must be good together. Forget who hit whom first, and who wanted to wipe out entire races. All that matters is war is bad, and anyone who participated in war is bad, regardless of which side they were on, or what peoples they liberated.

“How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to this truth? How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause.”

Translation: Trying to end the Second World War was wrong.

“Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill.”

It wouldn’t be an Obama speech without a remark about how all religions are equally bad (praise be to Allah).

And on it goes.

“Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.”

You can read the rest here, but it’s all the same. Moral equivalency again and again and again.

Drawing moral equivalencies where none exist is classic Obama; he does it every time he speaks about radical Islamic terrorism. If he flatly stated that America was wrong to drop bombs on Japan in 1945, people could either agree or disagree. It’s much easier to get people to agree with you by tangling the wires. If we’re all to blame, then America has no moral authority. If America has no moral authority, it becomes less exceptional.

The last eight years have been devoted to making America into Europe. The Left hates the notion of moral authority. They believe the United States is the root of all ills, and that if we become more like the rest of the world, everything will be better. So at every turn, they take a knife to the ever-weakening notion of American exceptionalism.

Obama’s Hiroshima speech was just one more stabbing. The fact that it took place three days before Memorial Day is just an extra twist of the knife.


Frank Camp

Frank Camp breathes politics--that, and regular air. After the 2004 election ignited a passion for politics in Frank, he's been dedicated to understanding what makes people think the way they do. His goal at is to arm his fellow conservatives with the tools they need to fight the liberal army in an effective and persuasive manner.

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