I went to the Hiroshima Memorial and all I got was the chance to unload on the Pakistani Ambassador

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.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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