by Henry Lowendorf, GNH Peace Council
Oppenheimer, the film, is a biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the leader of the scientific team researching, developing, and producing the first atomic bombs, with U.S. B29s dropping two on Japanese cities 78 years ago. The movie reveals two time bombs that started ticking in 1945. One scores 90 seconds to midnight on the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock. The second exploded as the Cold War, right after the U.S. and its Soviet ally victoriously ended World War II, and, like cluster bombs, repeatedly bursts forth to maim its victims.
The film explores the morality of waging war not just on civilians but on civilization itself. But Oppenheimer, the physicist, realized that he had no moral authority over, or physical control of, his nuclear offspring once they were turned over to the generals and the commander in chief.
Expressing his anguish was not politic. Second thoughts about creating the existential monster of monsters that incinerated noncombatant men, women, and children in 1945, and possibly billions more, landed him in the clutches of Congressional thought-minders. The McCarthy era tore Oppenheimer’s life apart, ruining his reputation and removing his security clearance and his ability to conduct research.
McCarthyism, a product of the 1950s, continues now. The U.S. administration censors dissenting voices by members of Congress who call for diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine. The corporate media, led by the New York Times, slander activists in the peace movement who demand the same.
Beyond watching the riveting drama, what actions can viewers of Oppenheimer take? The Greater New Haven Peace Council has been handing audience members entering and leaving the theater a flier with a QR code on side one to sign a petition offered by CodePink calling for the U.S. to sign on to the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and lead the other eight nuclear-weapons states to follow suit. The petition is here: https://www.codepink.org/nonukes. Side two spells out the ongoing manmade disaster called the military budget.
To download your own file of the flyer to use: https://nhpeacecouncil.org/oppenheimer-flier-handout