Oppenheimer and The Treason of the Intellectuals!
History taught us that Intellectuals mostly commit treasons because they can easily justify them, from those who stood against revolutions in France to those who stood against revolutions in Arab Spring. Those intellectuals justified wars, supported kings and dictators, and counter-revolutions. The French essayist Julien Benda, in an essay published in 1927, “La Trahison des clercs,” is an attack on the intellectual corruption of the age. Thanks to such men, Benda wrote, “Humanity did evil for two thousand years but honored good.”. However, our modern civilization slipped to honor hatred, nationalism, and racism, when man now substituted action over the idea, and success becomes the value. In the last few weeks, lots of talks and debates swept the airwave and offices watercoolers around America after the opening of Cillian Murphy’s blockbuster film Oppenheimer, a bit lagging behind Barbie. This Barbenheimer craze swept the nations where Barbie broke the one-billion-dollar box office barrier. Oppenheimer is based on the American Prometheus book, a 700 pages biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird , Martin J. Sherwin.
The film opened in 10 thousands of theaters across America and the world. Hollywood had turned a massive violent act into a box office smash. The film is getting lots of media coverage, debates, and social media buzz, so this week, I decided to go and see it and see what all the fuss is. I went to the newly improved Edina theater, where the oversize seat swallowed me for the 3.5-hour duration of the film. The seat is fully automated. You can set it up for any position you want or for any mood you are in. The film recreates a narrative that fits the sensibility of middle-class whites. An image of Oppenheimer as a sensitive blue-eyed white man who was used by the state and then put on a Kangaroo trial. The film tries to show the complexity of morality and the redemption of the man who was dubbed “The father of The Atomic Bomb.” Oppenheimer headed the Manhattan Project, which was secretly founded when Americans were racing against time to beat Nazi Germany and the Russians for making the big Bomb. In Japan, an official commemorating the 78th anniversary warning the world of the bomb threat coming from Putin and Russia forgot that the Americans were the ones who dropped the two bombs. The film focus on the man who built the Bomb, the making of the Bomb, the dropping of the bombs, and the dramatic explosions of the sun, but it never shows any of the over 100,000’s Japanese victim in Hiroshima and Nagasaki or talks about 100,000’s more suffered from radiations till Today. Mr. Oppenheimer, himself, chooses the two cities where the two bombs should be dropped, “the place needed to be big enough for the Bomb to work, “he explained. The atomic Bomb ended the war and saved lots of Americans (not Japanese), goes the rational justification of the mass killing. In a conversation with Mr. Oppenheimer, the American Prometheus, the God of fire, according to Greek Mythology, went to meet the vindictive President Truman after dropping the Bomb and the surrender of the Japanese. Prs. Truman wasn’t in the mood for any intellectual argument about stopping the Nuclear arms race since we won the war. In the meeting, Mr. Oppenheimer told Pres. Truman, “I have blood on my hands,” and President Truman immediately handed him a handkerchief.
_ Mr. Oppenheimer, do you think the Japanese care about who built the Bomb; I dropped the Bomb.” Truman mussed angrily. Oppenheimer was the most revered scientist in America until he had a second thought. In America, intellectuals are not our heroes; people of action are; as American intellectual and Linguist Noman Chomsky once jokingly said, what I like about Americans; unlike The French, they despise intellectuals.”. The issue here is not who built or dropped the Bomb. In Western civilization, modernity rationalism made massive atrocities and violence a possibility; In nazi, Germany “Modernity made the Holocaust possible,” Jewish Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman argued in his book, Modernity and the Holocaust (1989), “Modern Industrial and bureaucratic paradigms made the Holocaust imaginable and that the machinery of industrialism made it possible to carry out.” Modernity, bureaucracy, and technology at the Los Alomes Laboratories Research Center made the Atomic Bomb possible. Once science was Separated from human values, it became neutral, manipulated by men of action and ambitions. The atomic Bomb ended the war goes the rational argument used by Oppenheimer to justify the mass killing of the Japanese. The film uses sophisticated .impressive images and sounds that assault our senses and occupy our Minds; Images are captivating mediums and undemocratic means of communication, Where there is no room for intellectual argument or debate. The film gives shed the spotlight on our moral relativism and straight-jacket rationality, giving Oppenheimer is breathing room to justify the dark action. The film portrays him as a charismatic brilliant scientist, a museum-goer who collects art and reads poetry, and a handsome womanizer. Oppenheimer was manipulated by General Groves) (Matt Damon), He was a suspected communist who couldn’t be trusted. Oppenheimer was trying hard to construct his loyalty to the state. Many Americans who went and saw this film needed a moral justification and personal redemption; they found them. Oppenheimer’s film celebrated the life of a man who built the most destructive weapon of mass killing. Later in his life, Mr. Oppenheimer, in a rare T.V. interview on CBS, was asked, “Looking back now, was the country’s use of the Bomb necessary; “the officials and the military of war assured me the use of the Bomb would avoid the slaughtering of thousands of Japanese and Americans if we invaded the island…” how about not invading the Islan that was about to surrender, another rational was never considered. At the end, he confessed that he had no good answer for that. Now with A.I. and chatbots liberating knowledge, everyone creates his/her own rational Atomic Bomb; everyone is an intellectual. As Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-99) wrote, “Today, we are trying to spread knowledge everywhere. Who knows if, in centuries to come, there will not be universities for reestablishing our former ignorance?!! … reestablishing our innocence! (My add), now, there is an Oppenheimer in all of us!!
— Ahmed Tharwat
Host/Producer of Arab American T.V. show
He is still working on his film Democracy
Follow him on Twitter