Took a 3-hour tour, a 3-hour tour to Hiroshima yesterday for the anniversary of the US dropping The Bomb on them. While I'm sure it was much hotter in 1945, the wide-open, stone-paved memorial park seems designed to recreate the inferno-like aftermath of that oh-so terrible morning; there's not a shade tree in sight, and the most-sought-after Anniversary souvenir is a fan.
A memorial to a violent incident apparently needs a focal point, something concrete enough for visitors to connect with, latch onto. With the World Trade Center, it is (wrongly, I believe) the footprints of the buildings; with Hiroshima--and Oklahoma City in its wake--it is the moment of impact. A wristwatch, stopped at 8:15AM, holds pride of place in the Memorial Museum, and I overheard several people throughout our visit asking directions to "the watch."
As I was leaving the first floor of the exhibition area, I saw a distinguished man with a posse of expensively-but-poorly suited minions, talking through a translator with a Japanese guy. A couple of reporters hovered around, not asking questions, just taking notes. Turned out to be the Pakistani Ambassador to Japan.
Pakistan? Seeing as how they're next, he's got a lot of nerve coming to Hiroshima on the anniversary of the bomb, I said to one reporter, who nodded grimly. I stood and eavesdropped for a while, as the Ambassador ran through platitudes of defensive deterrents (nationalist pride-infused inferiority complex), developing country unable to afford a war (yet able to divert money from education and economic development to the bomb; offsetting costs with wholesale exports of nuclear technology), &c. Finally, when he talked about praying for the souls of those killed, I couldn't take it anymore.
As the group turned, I said, "Excuse me, but how can you talk about sorrow when, if the world sees another bomb used--whether by your military, Islamic terrorists, or North Korea--it'll have 'made in Pakistan' on it?" He didn't register at first, but a couple in the posse were surprised, and the Japanese guy froze. The ambassador stumbled for a bit, muttered no, no, and, looking toward a minion who was gesturing toward the elevator, gave me an ignoring nod and moved away quickly. A reporter trailing asked me my name and where I was from, and then I went to give the kid her bottle.
Just like when you think of the funniest comeback later that night, I spent the rest of the afternoon and my hydrofoil back to Shikoku thinking of what I should have said. And wishing I'd shaved, so I didn't look so much like a peacenik bum, peddling my way across southeast Asia.
Sure, you can speak truth to power, but more than likely, power will ignore your over-emotional, impulsive, sorry-looking ass.