From Messiah to Mutant: Nerve Gas, Nuclear Power and Post-Apocalyptic Superheroes

Article headline: It's Time To Wipe Out ISIS Fanatics: West Must Get Extreme. | Written by Dr John Coulter.
It’s Time To Wipe Out ISIS Fanatics: West Must Get Extreme. | Written by Dr. John Coulter.(+ source)

A headline in the Irish Daily Star howls feverishly, “It’s Time to Wipe Out ISIS Fanatics!” The message is clearly an incitement to begin a third world war.

It’s truly amazing that anyone in the modern Western world so blatantly craves World War III, using chemical weapons to “exterminate” the enemy.

A New Crusade

This post begins with genocidal mania and ends with science fiction.

Read the original article by Dr. John Coulter text here: It’s Time To Wipe Out ISIS Fanatics: West Must Get Extreme (click here).

The article, written by Dr. John Coulter of the Irish Daily Star, mentions the Crusades, Irish suffering in WWI, and Japan in WWII.

Western democracies need to waken up to the bitter reality that the only solution to the threat posed by Islamic State and other radical groups is to use chemical weapons and biological warfare.

Maybe “satire”. Maybe not.

One mainstay of WWIII nerve-agent advocacy is a commonly repeated, yet factually false analogy to the previous world war. By some estimates, “millions of lives” were saved by 1945’s nuclear incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A mass deployment of nerve gas could similarly save lives in the global allied fight against ISIS.

World War II (1945) Hiroshima and Nagasaki death toll infographic.
World War II (1945) Hiroshima and Nagasaki death toll infographic. (+ source)

Although over 200,000 people died in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined, many believe that a ground war would have been even more deadly.

Is that belief true, though?

Do verifiable facts support the jingoistic ideology?

Did the summer 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings Actually Save Lives?

…it was clear that Japan would be defeated. And secondly, it was seen as a kind of anti-Soviet, a kind of sly, or cunning anti-Soviet political move. So yes, it was seen very much as directed against the Soviet Union and directed against the Soviet Union, not only in order to deprive the Soviet Union of gains in the Far East, but generally to intimidate the Soviet Union.

David Holloway

Answer: no.

By the summer of 1945, Japan was already on the edge of defeat and at the brink of Soviet invasion. Given Japan’s weakened state, they certainly were not expected to pose a serious threat that would warrant a show of destructive force as a deterrent.

The real target was the Soviet Union.

Atomic bombs were a failed intimidation attempt against the Soviets, and an indefensible crime against humanity. “Millions of lives saved” is a lie, and a pale rationalization for the hundreds of thousands of lives lost.

From Messiah to Mutant

Pacific Rim (2013). The Striker Eureka Jaeger piloted by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba).
Pacific Rim (2013). The Striker Eureka Jaeger piloted by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). (+ source)

From a science fiction perspective, it’s fascinating to see how the post-nuclear narrative threads its way into practically every storyline.

Sci-fi interpretations of the “Chosen One” archetype are mutants with superhuman powers, usually through some kind of radiation exposure.

Godzilla. Akira. The X-Men. Deadpool. Spider-Man. Even the true hero in 2013 kaiju film Pacific Rim, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), was irradiated as a pilot of a massive Jaeger robot while fighting multidimensional aliens.

The list of radiation-saturated science fiction heroes continues: The Hulk. Daredevil. The Fantastic Four.

An interesting secondary question might be, “why are there so few depictions of the Holocaust, when the destruction wrought there was so much worse than the WWII nuclear bombings?” It may be that the world’s obsession with endless power and technological prowess may have found an irresistible combination in the splitting of the atom.

Comprehending the historical reality of what that entails can spawn fictional stories for decades to come; some of those untold tales may naturally inherit both a feeling of hope and a cautionary edge.

Further Reading

1. PBS: American Experience. (n.d.) David Holloway on: Soviet Reactions to Hiroshima. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb/filmmore/reference/interview/holloway05.html.

2. American Chemical Society. (2015, August 4). Can Radiation Give You Superpowers? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbmSmgTIQ8s.

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