Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Real life 1940s comic book 'superhero' : Jewish nebbish Robert Oppenheimer and his plan to 'do good' with secret atomic powers

Move over Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and let a real 1940s Jewish nebbish take the Superman wheel !

Gotham City-born Robert Oppenheimer secretly cloaked a bloodthirsty propensity to inflict supreme violence 'to do good' behind a rather mousy public exterior.

But his words at the top level meetings that determined when and where the first A-bombs were to be dropped reveal a man fully in grip of the traditional American monomyth of redemptive violence 'to do good' (pace John Sheldon Lawrence & Robert Jewett) via a war-ending superweapon (pace H Bruce Franklin).

Lawrence, Jewett and Franklin repeatedly document that these myths gripped both factual and fictional America , both Americas feeding off each other.

It is easy to caricature right wing Republican-leaning  Leslie Groves and Vannevar Bush as war-mongers , intent only on 'doing bad'.

Much less easy than trying to account for left-leaning Oppenheimer's propensity to kill hundreds of thousands of women and children to 'do good'.

The case of Oppenheimer forces us to confront the power of these enduring American shibboleths (the monomyth of justified extra-legal violence to 'do good' and America's right to the unique possession of a secret war-ending superweapon) in the mainstream of ordinary American thought ....

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