July 13, 1995

       This essay was published, in part, in Museum News (July
1995). The entire piece will be published in a collection of Mike
Wallace's other essays on public history, called Mickey Mouse
History (Temple University Press, forthcoming in 1996). Copyright
(c) by Mike Wallace.

     When the Enola Gay went on display in June 1995, visitors to
the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum found a truncated
airplane: only fifty-six feet of fuselage could be squeezed into
the building. But more than wings and tail were missing. So was
the exhibition that got sheared away after a campaign of
vilification arguably without precedent in the annals of American

     In the summer of 1994, reports flaming through the mass
media had denounced the impending show as a monstrous attempt to
recast the history of the Second World War. A typical
description, by the Washington Post's Eugene Meyer, called it "an
anti-nuke morality play in which Americans were portrayed as
ruthless racists hellbent on revenge for Pearl Harbor, with the
Japanese as innocent, even noble victims fighting to defend their
unique culture from 'Western imperialism.'" Editorials blasted
"anti-American" curators and warned that "revisionists" had
hijacked the museum to promulgate PC history.

     Air Force veterans responded angrily. Here they were, amidst
the festivities marking the 50th anniversary of the Normandy
landings, ready to take their turn in the sequence of
celebrations. Instead, said the media, youthful visitors to the
Smithsonian would soon find their grandparents reviled as racists
and war criminals.

     These assertions were based on a misconstruction of National
Air and Space Museum (NASM) intentions, and a profound
misrepresentation of what the curators actually wrote. Few of the
angry vets ever read the proposed scripts -- not unreasonably,
given that each of the eventual five was over 500 pages long and
none was easily available. Neither had many of the pundits, most
of whom relied on a series of articles by John T. Correll, editor
of AIR FORCE Magazine.
     My review of the scripts and their fate suggests that most
of Correll's charges were unwarranted, some outrageously so. I do
not claim that NASM officials were fault free. There were indeed
problems with their first draft -- though mostly these were
errors of omission rather than commission -- and their handling
of the crisis once it blew up left much to be desired. But by no
means did they deserve the abuse heaped upon them.

     More than individual reputations are at stake here. The
scrapping of the Enola Gay exhibition raises troubling questions
about the future of public historical discourse in the United
States. The successful campaign to muzzle the Smithsonian was a
battle fought on the history front of America's ongoing culture
war. This essay seeks to understand the event and to set it in
its larger context.

                           First Draft

     The initial script of "Crossroads: The End of World War II,
The Atomic Bomb, and The Origins of the Cold War " (January 12,
1994), had five parts, one per gallery, each consisting of
proposed label copy and suggested artifacts.

     The first section ("A Fight to the Finish") dealt primarily
with the final year of the war. The introductory segment asserted
Japan's culpability for the sequence of events that led to the
bomb. Recapitulating Japan's 1930s expansionism ("marked by naked
aggression and extreme brutality"), it sketched the course of the
war from Pearl Harbor on, mentioning Japanese atrocities, use of
slave labor, racist attitudes, and maltreatment of prisoners of
war ("often starved, beaten and tortured.") It then -- in a space
dominated by a kamikaze aircraft looming overhead -- zeroed in on
the fierce Japanese resistance at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, finding
in it "a terrible warning of what could be expected in the

     The section did include two shortly to be infamous
sentences: "For most Americans, this war was fundamentally
different than the one waged against Germany and Italy -- it was
a war of vengeance. For most Japanese, it was a war to defend
their unique culture against Western imperialism."

     These were not great sentences -- not wrong, in context, but
easily misrepresented. Americans were in a fury in 1945 -- and
why shouldn't they have been, given Pearl Harbor, four years of
ferocious war, and recently declassified accounts of the Bataan
death march? Many were calling for revenge, some even for
extermination. But this is not to say -- nor did the script --
that the war, or the bomb, were only motivated by vengeance.

     Nor was it wrong to observe that the Japanese believed
unconditional surrender would mean the end of the Emperor system
and the collapse of their culture. Or that many Japanese -- then
and to this day -- represented their racist exploitation of other
Asians as a shield against western imperialism. The script didn't
ratify this self-perception, it demonstrated it, as crucial to
understanding the tenacity of Japanese resistance.

     But opponents wrenched the sentences out of context and used
them to stoke outrage. Even after they were swiftly dropped, and
the Smithsonian had explicitly and indignantly denied the
construction put upon them, critics trotted them out again and
again, in the absence of any other sentence that would so well
serve their purpose.

     Correll also argued that this section did not represent the
history of Japanese aggression graphically enough to offset the
emotional impact of later material on the effects of the bombing.
Counting up the number of photographs of suffering Americans and
finding it lower than the number depicting suffering Japanese, he
charged that a victimology thesis lay embedded in the structure
of the exhibition.

     He was partly right about the effect, totally wrong about
the intention. There was no plot to delete evidence of Japanese
wickedness in order to manipulate visitors into finding Americans
immoral. Any exhibition focused on the Enola Gay and its bombing
run would, almost by definition, depict more Japanese than
American casualties.

     But curators did face a museological conundrum. Ground Zero
artifacts and images, no matter how few their number, pack a
wallop. So does the Enola Gay. Together they could overshadow
almost anything in a merely introductory section. Designers at
first resisted a "balance of corpses" approach -- giving, for
example, equal space to the slaughter at Nanking, where more died
than at Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- in part because they rejected
the vengeance thesis which they were accused of promulgating. It
was the critics, after all, who insisted that Hiroshima was
justified not because of prior Japanese outrages -- though they
had to be fed into the moral equation -- but as a military action
taken to expeditiously end the war Japan had started.  The
curators, moreover, were assuming that most visitors already knew
something about Pearl Harbor and the war in the Pacific --
subjects treated extensively in an adjacent NASM gallery. This
was a mistake. For most young Americans, those events are as
distant as the Punic Wars. The museum admitted its mistake. In
succeeding drafts the curators would expand the initial section,
adding dramatic material on Japanese outrages (though none would
tackle the history of American expansionism in Asia, nor would
any critic remark on this oversight). Finally the staff would
design a 4,000 square foot prefatory exhibition on the war in the
Pacific. Tellingly, the addition of this contextual material
would fail to assuage the critics.
     Correll's passion for context stopped short when it came to
the second section, an analysis, housed in one of the smaller
galleries, of "The Decision to Drop the Bomb." Here the objection
was to problematizing something deemed utterly unproblematic.
Truman dropped the bomb to shorten the war and save lives,
period. Raising questions about that decision, from the vantage
point of "hindsight," was infuriating and illegitimate.

     But questions were raised at the time, and by the nation's
preeminent civilian and military leaders. The endgame of World
War II raised tactical and strategic issues of great political,
moral and military complexity. The script reviewed some debates
that arose among participants at the time, and later between
historians, explicitly labeling them as "Controversies". Why did
these explorations create such an uproar?

     One firestorm erupted over a hypothetical: if the U.S. had
had to invade Japan to end the war, how many Americans would have
died? The conventional popular wisdom on this subject is that
perhaps half a million would have fallen. But this was a postwar
judgement. In 1947, former Secretary of War Henry Stimson, intent
on rebutting Hiroshima critics like John Hersey, claimed there
would have been over a million American casualties. Truman later
claimed a half million lives were at risk, a figure that
Churchill doubled.

     The exhibit draft, for all that it was accused of employing
hindsight, relied instead on wartime estimates by MacArthur,
Marshall, and various Joint Chiefs of Staff planning committees,
rather than using after-the-fact figures that even the American
Legion admitted were "incredibly high". It concluded that it
"appears likely that post-war estimates of a half million
American deaths were too high, but many tens of thousands of dead
were a real possibility."

     This enraged the critics. They claimed NASM had pruned the
figure to render the bomb-drop immoral, as if only a gigantic
quantity of saved lives could offset the enormous number of
civilians actually killed. There is, one would hope, some
statistic that might generate moral misgivings. Would saving 1000
American soldiers -- 100 -- 10 -- justify killing 100,000
civilians? But the script never raised such a question, never
challenged the position that if an invasion had been the only
alternative, the savings in lives would have justified the

     The tougher question -- which the script did ask -- is
whether or not an invasion was necessary in the first place. Huge
numbers of veterans believed that it was inevitable, and that
dropping the bomb therefore saved their lives, and the lives of
many Japanese as well. But were they right? The exhibit script
offended some by recalling that powerful wartime figures believed
it was possible to end the war without either nuclear bombings or
an invasion.
     Leading military men insisted that the combination of
blockade and conventional bombing had brought Japan to its knees.
Top Navy admirals "believed that its blockade could force Japan
to quit the war, while many Army Air Forces' generals thought
firebombing could force surrender by itself or in conjunction
with the blockade." The script also cited the U.S. Strategic
Bombing Survey, conducted after the surrender, which said the war
would "certainly" have ended before the end of 1945, probably
before November 1.

     Label copy also took note of direct military opposition to
nuclear weapons. The show quoted a statement made in 1950 by
Admiral William D. Leahy, Truman's Chief of Staff, in which he
denounced the bombing as adopting "ethical standards common to
barbarians in the dark ages," but added cautiously that "1945
documents only suggest that he was skeptical that the atomic bomb
would ever work." It mentioned General Eisenhower's claims in
1948 and later that he had opposed its use in conversations with
Truman at Potsdam in 1945, but suggested that "corroborating
evidence for these assertions is weak."##1 The script did not,
however, engage the contemporary and postwar reservations of
American airmen such as Henry H. ["Hap"] Arnold, the commanding
general of the U.S. Army Air Forces, or Generals Carl Spaatz and
Curtis LeMay.##2

     One "Historical Controversy" panel asked: "Would the War
Have Ended Sooner if the United States Had Guaranteed the
Emperor's Position?"  The text noted some scholars believe this.
More to the point, Acting Secretary of State (and former
Ambassador to Japan) Joseph Grew, Navy Secretary James Forrestal,
Assistant Secretary for War John McCloy, General Douglas
MacArthur, Admiral Leahy, Winston Churchill, and Herbert Hoover
were among the many who thought that modifying the unconditional
surrender formula to allow retention of the emperor would
strengthen the peace faction, aid in winning and effectuating an
early surrender, and facilitate the postwar occupation. Truman
rejected this advice -- though after the bombs were dropped, that
is precisely what was done.

     Some historians say Truman (counseled by Secretary of State
James Byrnes) feared that modification would provoke vehement
popular and congressional protest. Some even argue that by
waiting until the A-bombs were ready in August the U.S. high
command may have muffed an opportunity to end the war in June,
thus costing American lives. The script, however, said no such
thing. It stated instead that while "it is possible that there
was a lost opportunity to end the war without either atomic
bombings or an invasion of Japan," these alternatives were "more
obvious in hindsight than they were at the time." Citing the
counterargument -- that it took the shock of the bombs (and
Russian intervention) to "give Hirohito a facesaving way to force
a surrender on his hard-liners" -- and noting the impossibility
of proving either case, the text concluded that this particular
debate "will remain forever controversial."
     Another question: did Truman drop the bombs primarily to
forestall Soviet creation of an Asian sphere of influence, and
gain diplomatic leverage in the already emerging cold war? There
are historians who argue this. The show did not. It said
explicitly that "most scholars have rejected this argument,
because they believe that Truman and his advisers saw the bomb
first and foremost as a way to shorten the war." Concern about
the Russians only "provided one more reason for Truman not to
halt the dropping of the bomb."

     Was atom-bombing cities a violation of rules of war? There
were strictures against attacking civilian populations;
democracies had denounced fascists for violating these rules in
Barcelona, Guernica, London and China; and reservations about
bombing civilians were raised by Eisenhower, Leahy, and Marshall.
But the show argues that for most Americans, the earlier moral
constraints against killing civilians had already crumbled in the
course of a savage war, and that most key decision makers "did
not see [nuclear attacks] as being drastically different than
conventional strategic bombing..."

     Was dropping the bomb racist? In Europe the U.S. Army Air
Force stuck to precision attacks on military targets -- or at
least professed to -- as late as the Dresden firebombing, when
Marshall and Stimson publicly disavowed any policy of "terror
bombing on civilian populations." Days later General LeMay
napalmed Tokyo, launching an incendiary campaign that killed more
civilians in five months than the Allies had in five years of
bombing Germany. Some historians have argued that anti-Asian
racism helps explain the difference in approach.

     The script, however, did not even raise the issue. It did
note that most Americans considered their European enemies to be
good people misled by evil leaders, while viewing Japanese as
"treacherous and inhuman." The text traced this disparity in
attitude to contemporary horror at Japanese atrocities and to
longstanding anti-Asian racism. (The script also underscored
Japanese racism, observing that "Allied people and leaders were
pictured as inhuman demons, lice, insects, and vermin," and that
"propaganda made frequent reference to the 'Jewish' nature of the
Allied cause.") Nevertheless, the proposed label copy insisted
that nuclear weapons would have been used against Germans had
they been ready in time, thereby denying the charge of racial

     Should there have been a warning or a demonstration? The
script mentioned the objections raised by scientists and
officials like McCloy and Undersecretary of the Navy Ralph Bard.
(It did not, oddly, mention the reservations expressed by General
Marshall. In May 1945, Marshall said the bomb should be dropped
only on a "straight military objective such as a large military
installation," and then, if necessary, on a manufacturing center,
but only after civilians had been warned so they could flee.) The
text also laid out the "valid concerns that a warning could
endanger Allied servicemen and that a demonstration might be
ineffective or a failure" -- objections on which Truman relied.
And it emphasized that Hiroshima at that time was still a
military target -- all too readily, in the opinion of some

     The important thing to note about this part of the
exhibition is that, overall, it adequately and appropriately
provided visitors with a sense of the complexities of the bombing
decision and the controversies surrounding it. It is possible to
quarrel with this or that formulation. The information could have
been presented in greater depth, and more dramatically, perhaps
by using videotapes of historians and participants. Some of the
label copy could have been, and almost certainly would have been,
formulated more cogently. It was, after all, a first draft; few
writers would want their initial efforts subjected to such fierce
and public scrutiny. But given those attacks, what's striking is
the text's conformity with the findings of responsible
scholarship, its moderate and balanced stance on the issues, and
the fact that, in essence, it supported Truman's decision.

     Part III, "The World's First Atomic Strike Force," was
planned for the cavernous arena where the giant plane was to be
housed. Here the exhibition script presented the pilots' story
"extensively and with respect," as Correll admitted on one
occasion. Indeed the show emphasized the bravery and sacrifices
of those who fought. But neither Correll nor anyone else ever
again remarked on this vast mass of material, which so starkly
contradicted claims that the NASM dishonored veterans. Nor was
there ever any discussion of the quarter hour videotape the
museum put together with crew members from the two bombers, a
commemorative component which veterans who saw it loved.

     Critics seized instead on Part IV, "Cities at War," which
looked at Hiroshima and Nagasaki's role in the Japanese military
effort, and then depicted the nuclear devastation wrought upon
them. Here visitors were to have moved into a somber space of
giant blowups, powerful objects, and taped reminiscences of
survivors. Correll decried not only the number but the nature of
the artifacts included -- a lunchbox containing "carbonized
remains of sweet green peas and polished rice," a fused rosary.
But the stubborn facts are that high school girls were out in
force on August 6 clearing rubble at what became Ground Zero, and
that Nagasaki was the center of the Catholic community in Japan.
It's possible that a more understated display may have been more
effective, and aroused less ire, though opponents disliked even
its later, toned-down version.

     Was the museum, as charged, angling for America to
"apologize for its use of the atomic bomb to end World War II?"
asked NASM Director Martin Harwit? "Of course not!" "Should we
show compassion for those who perished on the ground? As human
beings, I believe we must."

     The analysis of bomb damage, moreover, was intended to
educate, not manipulate. Information about the split-second
annihilation caused by the blast, the way 7200 degree fahrenheit
heat vaporized people, and the short and long term effects of
radiation, made clear the error of contemporary assumptions that
nuclear bombs were merely bigger versions of conventional ones.
Some critics argued there was no need for NASM to rehearse such
gruesome information as it was already widely known. Alas, the
latest Gallup Poll finds that one in four Americans don't even
know an atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, much less what impact
it had when it exploded.

     In the last gallery, a coda on "The Legacy of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki" spoke to this educational vacuum. It treated the
bombings as not simply the end of World War II but as "symbols of
the arrival of the nuclear age, and as a glimpse of the realities
of nuclear war." Although the exhibit could hardly do more than
gesture at the complex history of the Cold War in the space
allotted, it did at least raise some important issues.

     It offered an all-too-brief survey of the postwar nuclear
arms race. It noted the invention of hydrogen bombs, a thousand
times more powerful than their atomic predecessors. It mentioned
the buildup of world stockpiles to 70,000 warheads by the mid-
1980s. It sketched the emergence of antinuclear movements
concerned about atomic-test fallout and radioactive wastes. It
discussed the end of the cold war and the signing of arms control
agreements. And it referred to the continuing dangers of nuclear
proliferation and atomic terrorism. Its concluding panel stated:
"Some feel that the only solution is to ban all nuclear weapons.
Others think that this idea is unrealistic and that nuclear
deterrence--at a much lower level--is the only way that major
wars can be prevented."

                       Offense and Defense

     The January 12th draft was discussed by a group of scholarly
advisers on February 7, 1994.##3  Most had suggestions for
improvement but almost everyone was basically laudatory. Dr.
Richard Hallion, the Air Force Historian, called it "a great
script." He joined with his military historian colleague Herman
Wolk in pronouncing it "a most impressive piece of work,
comprehensive and dramatic, obviously based upon a great deal of
sound research, primary and secondary," in need only of a "bit of

     The Air Force Association thought differently. During the
previous summer and fall, Harwit, with admirable if incautious
openness, had actively solicited the group's involvement. Though
he received a strongly negative response to a July 1993 concept
treatment, Harwit nevertheless sent along the January 1994 draft
script for review. The AFA, breaching confidentiality, leaked it
to media and veterans groups, accompanied by a slashing Correll
critique in the April 1994 issue of AIR FORCE Magazine -- a sneak
attack that set the terms and tone of the ensuing debate. (Air
Force Historian Hallion now also became a vigorous critic, the
"great script" of February becoming "an outright failure" by

     Over the following months inaccurate and malicious
accusations tumbled forth in a variety of forums.

     The Washington Times said Truman's reasoning for using the
bomb "was dismissed by the curators in favor of a theory that he
ordered the bomb dropped to impress Soviet leader Josef Stalin."

     The Wall Street Journal said scriptwriters "disdain any
belief that the decision to drop the bomb could have been
inspired by something other than racism or blood-lust." Picking
up on Correll's claim that kamikaze pilots were treated "with
near-mystical reverence," the Journal decried the "oozing
romanticism with which the Enola show's writers describe the
kamikaze pilots." The curators had supposedly called them
"youths, their bodies overflowing with life," a charge reporter
Ken Ringle repeated the next day in The Washington Post. But the
quoted text was in fact an excerpt from a pilot's journal,
included to give viewers "insight into [the kamikaze's] suicidal
fanaticism, which many Americans would otherwise find

     Washington Times columnist R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. called the
museum staff a bunch of "politically correct pinheads." Had one
million Americans died invading Japan, Tyrrell added, "surely
that would have left some of the present pinheads . . .
fatherless or even, oh bliss, unborn."

     Lance Morrow, writing in Time, found the script "way left of
the mark." It managed to "portray the Japanese as more or less
innocent victims of American beastliness and lust for revenge."
"A revisionist travesty," the text "seemed an act of something
worse than ignorance; it had the ring of a perverse generational
upsidedownspeak and Oedipal lese majeste worthy of a fraud like
Oliver Stone."

     Increasingly, critics charged anti-Americanism. When Harwit
asked if veterans really suspected the National Air and Space
Museum was "an unpatriotic institution," Correll replied: "The
blunt answer is yes."

     The AFA editor began probing the Smithsonian staff's
backgrounds. Director Harwit had a suspicious resum. He had been
born in Czechoslovakia and raised in Istanbul, Correll noted,
before coming to the US in 1946. Harwit had, to be sure, joined
the U.S. Army in 1955-7, but he had been "influenced" by his work
on nuclear weapons tests at Eniwetok and Bikini. This experience
had led him to assert that "I think anybody who has ever seen a
hydrogen bomb go off at fairly close range knows that you don't
ever want to see that used on people."

     As for the curators, Correll pointed out that "none of them
[were] veterans of military service," that one (Tom Crouch)
planned a lecture at the "Japanese Cultural and Community Center
of Northern California," and that another (Michael Neufeld) was
of Canadian origin.

     Ringle of The Washington Post observed that the said
Canadian had spent his undergraduate years at the University of
Calgary from 1970-4, "when Americans were fleeing to Canada to
escape the Vietnam War." Ringle contrasted Neufeld with an
elderly American POW, who during an interview came "close to
tears" wondering if the curator wasn't suggesting "that the
thousands of Japanese killed by those bombs were somehow worth
more than the thousands of American prisoners in Japan?"

     Pundits hammered at the curators' deficient patriotism. Jeff
Jacoby of the Boston Globe claimed the script was "anti-
American." Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post called it as
"a philippic not merely against war but against the United
States," a piece of "anti-American propaganda."

     The American Legion, too, said the script inferred "that
America was somehow in the wrong and her loyal airmen somehow
criminal..." One disgruntled veteran, noting that the Japanese
"have bought most of Hawaii and lots of the US," added: "Lets
hope they have not bought the Smithsonian."

     Congressmen picked up the un-American refrain. Sam Johnson
(R-Texas), an Air Force fighter pilot for 27 years and a POW in
Vietnam for seven, denounced the scripts as "a blatant betrayal
of American history." Peter Blute (R-Massachusetts) fired off a
letter to Smithsonian Secretary Robert McCormick Adams, cosigned
by 23 colleagues, condemning the proposed exhibit as "biased" and

     Unprepared for such a barrage, Smithsonian officials
scrambled to placate their opponents. Distancing himself somewhat
from his curators, Harwit told his staff that "a second reading
shows that we do have a lack of balance and that much of the
criticism that has been levied against us is understandable." He
called for revisions to accommodate legitimate concerns.

     Air & Space issued a second version on May 31 -- now renamed
"The Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II" --
and then a third on August 31. Each expanded the treatment of
earlier Japanese aggression. Each cut out some of the objects and
language deemed objectionable. Each was greeted by demands for
further change.

     Congresspeople escalated their involvement. Senator Nancy
Kassebaum (R-Kansas) was already on record as insisting that "we
should not interpret the dropping of the bomb as we look at it
today," but rather "put it in the context of the time" (as if the
script hadn't run into trouble for doing precisely that). On
September 19 she introduced a "Sense of the Senate" resolution.
It declared that even with the latest changes the script was
"revisionist and offensive." The Senate enjoined the NASM to
avoid "impugning the memory of those who gave their lives for
freedom" (though even Correll had admitted it treated the
veterans "with respect.")

     Senator Slade Gorton (R-Washington) laid out even more
explicitly the kind of historical interpretation the government
might deem acceptable. He attached to the Interior Department's
appropriations bill a provision that Congress "expects" the Enola
Gay exhibit to "properly and respectfully recognize the
significant contribution to the early termination of World War II
and the saving of both American and Japanese lives."

     On September 21, the day Gorton's injunction was adopted,
Smithsonian officials sat down for their first marathon
negotiating session with the American Legion. The Institution had
turned to the nation's premiere veterans' group, using the good
offices of Smithsonian Undersecretary Constance Newman, thinking
perhaps that if it could be persuaded to sign off on a script,
further assaults might be forestalled.

     For a time the strategy seemed to be working. "This exhibit
is taking a more balanced direction," said a Legion spokesman.
"It's not a propaganda piece by any means." But to obtain this
support museum representatives had to submit to a line-by-line
script review -- "they drafted pages while we talked," boasted a
Legion spokesman -- and to accept extensive transformations. High
Smithsonian officials believed they were responding to valid
concerns raised by an important focus group, addressing issues of
style not substance, and grouping caveats (but not eliminating
them) in order to emphasize the main line. But the scripts that
emerged from this process -- a fourth on October 3, and a fifth
and final one on October 26 -- had been shorn of nuance and

     The last version evoked Japanese bushido ideals ("Die but
never surrender") to justify asserting that invasion "casualties
conceivably could have risen to as many as a million (including
up to a quarter of a million deaths)." This estimate, museum
spokesmen conceded, was not based on any new evidence but was an
"extrapolation" from Okinawa casualties. The treatment of
alternatives to invasion, debates over unconditional surrender,
questions about Nagasaki, the reservations of high ranking
military and civilian figures like Leahy, Eisenhower, and even
Truman himself -- all were now drastically reduced, or deleted
altogether. Further Ground Zero images and artifacts --
especially those depicting women, children and religious
objects -- were jettisoned; only a single picture of a corpse
remained. The last section dealing with nuclear proliferation was

     The exhibition, originally an effort to understand the Enola
Gay's mission, had become an effort to justify it. As the script
now summarized the story: "Japan, although weakened, was not
willing to surrender. The atomic bomb offered a way to change
that. A bloody invasion loomed if atomic bombs did not force
Japan to surrender. . . . For Truman, even the lowest of the
estimates was abhorrent. To prevent an invasion he feared would
become 'an Okinawa from one end of Japan to the other,' and to
try and save as many American lives as possible, Truman chose to
use the atomic bomb."

     The last words were given to six veterans who had written
NASM during the controversy. Four of the six letters cited
punctuated the script's thesis. "I honestly feel, wrote one,
"that millions of lives, both American and Japanese, were saved
by that one crew on that one airplane!" "Americans, in my
estimation, should make no apologies for strategic fire-bombing
or dropping the atomic bomb," said another. "It took that to win
the war!"

     So thoroughgoing and one-sided were the changes that they
amounted to a recantation. As the outgoing National Commander of
the Legion reported to his troops: "We went face to face with the
Smithsonian officials, and they blinked."

     Now it was the scholarly community's turn to protest. The
Organization of American Historians' Executive Committee wrote
the Smithsonian's Board of Regents on September 19 urging them
"to support the National Air and Space Museum staff." On October
22 it condemned "threats by members of Congress to penalize the
Smithsonian Institution." The OAH also deplored "the removal of
historical documents and revisions of interpretations of history
for reasons outside the professional procedures and criteria by
which museum exhibitions are created."

     On November 16, a group of 48 "historians and scholars"
charged a "transparent attempt at historical cleansing." They
protested the excision of documents, the removal of artifacts,
the whiting out of contemporary and historical debates, and the
alteration of interpretations in the absence of new evidence.
Though "we yield to no one in our desire to honor the American
soldiers who risked their lives during World War II to defeat
Japanese militarism," the historians said, the deletion of so
many "irrevocable facts" had reduced the exhibit "to mere
propaganda, thus becoming an affront to those who gave their
lives for freedom."

     Peace groups, too, objected. The Fellowship of
Reconciliation, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Pax
Christi USA were among those declaring that pressure from
military and veterans groups had "compromised the integrity of
the exhibit." Activists met with NASM officials on December 15,
1994 to decry "political censorship." They demanded the exhibit
state that why the bomb was dropped and whether it had been
necessary to end the war "are matters of vigorous scholarly and
public debate on which Americans do legitimately disagree."

     Amid all this uproar, the organized museum community
remained noticeably silent.


     The focal point of these charges and countercharges was the
newly arrived Smithsonian Secretary, I. Michael Heyman.

     Before his official installation on September 19, 1994, the
former Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley had
opposed AFA-inspired pressure on NASM. Writing in August for the
October issue of Smithsonian Magazine, the incoming Secretary
urged resisting those who "want the exhibition to be devoted
solely to the justifications for dropping the bomb (with
omissions of its effects)." Curators, he insisted, were educators
not propagandists.

     After his installation, Heyman tried to use the outcry from
the scholars and peace groups to carve out a middle ground
position. "The Institution is now being criticized from both ends
of the spectrum -- from those who consider the exhibition as a
'revisionist' product critical of the United States to those who
accuse us of staging an exhibition which glorifies the decision
of the United States to use atomic weapons. . . . This indicates
to me that we are probably squarely in the middle, which, as a
national institution, is not a bad place to be."

     But the Air Force Association wasn't interested in
compromise, it wanted unconditional surrender. The October 26th
revision, Correll admitted, had corrected many of "the worst
offenses," removed most "anti-American speculation," and attained
"parity" in casualty photos. No matter: it was not "an acceptable
salvage job". It continued to ask questions, "to doubt, probe,
and hint." "I don't think there should be doubts about whether
that policy [of unconditional surrender] is right," Correll
declared, in effect setting himself above most of the nation's
wartime leaders.

     It was, he concluded, "no longer enough to clean up this
exhibition script." Now it was "imperative" that Smithsonian
officials go after the curators who had "produced such a biased,
unbalanced, anti-American script in the first place."

     The American Legion, however, remained a stumbling block.
In October, Director of Internal Affairs Hubert R. Dagley II had
rejected narrow views of the controversy that denounced the show
only as "an unflattering portrayal of one branch of the armed
forces" or "an indictment of strategic bombing". The Legion
expressed what it considered more high-minded concerns -- the
exhibit's "potential to undermine not only our people's faith in
their forefathers, but also their confidence in a revered and
respected American institution" -- the Smithsonian. Though it
rejected an outright endorsement, it also refrained from
condemning the script it had helped produce.

     But the Legion came under attack from media-inflamed
veterans for being "more 'liberal'" and "not as combative" as the
Air Force Association. By January, the group was backing away
from neutrality, claiming the fifth script hadn't gone far
enough, and hinting that without additional changes it would
shift over to opposition. Indeed, on January 4th, National
Commander William M. Detweiler made an in-house recommendation to
call for cancellation.

     Changes were forthcoming, but not ones the Legion was
looking for. In mid-November, a delegation of historians led by
Advisory Committee member Barton Bernstein had met with Harwit.
They presented him with documentary evidence falsifying the
October 26 draft's claim that, in the crucial meeting on June 18,
1945, Truman had been given an estimate of 250,000 casualties for
the invasion of Kyushu. They cited Admiral Leahy's diary entry,
written that evening, which stated that "General Marshall is of
the opinion that such an effort will not cost us in casualties
more than 63,000 of the 190,000 combatant troops."

     On January 9, 1995, Harwit -- his scholarly integrity on the
line -- proposed to the Legion a change in this volatile subject.
He submitted two pages of new label copy. They did not, as was
widely reported, accept 63,000 as an "official" figure; the
historians all agreed such numbers were speculative. But the new
text did drop the 250,000 figure, along with equally ungrounded
claims that American casualties "conceivably could have risen to
as many as a million (including up to a quarter of a million
deaths)." The revised text continued, however, to underscore
Truman's awareness that Japan had "some two million troops
defending the home islands"; his fear of "an Okinawa from one end
of Japan to the other"; the likelihood that many additional
Allied and Asian lives would have been lost; and the fact that
for Truman, "even the lowest of the casualty estimates was
unacceptable." It concluded, as before, that "to save as many
lives as possible, he chose to use the atomic bomb."

     This may have been more accurate but it made the Legion
leadership's already shaky position completely untenable. On
January 19th, seizing the opportunity Harwit had naively handed
them, they called for the show's cancellation. In a public letter
to President Clinton, they charged the Smithsonian with including
"highly debatable information which calls into question the
morality and motives of President Truman's decision to end World
War II quickly and decisively by using the atomic bomb."

     Five days later, on January 24th, 81 Congresspeople sent a
letter to Secretary Heyman demanding Harwit's ouster for his
"continuing defiance and disregard for needed improvements to the

     Opposition opinion now crystallized around a suggestion of
General Paul Tibbets, the man who had named the Enola Gay (after
his mother) and piloted it over Hiroshima. Early in the debate,
Tibbets, unhappy that many were "second-guessing the decision to
use the atomic weapons," had issued a soldierly injunction: "To
them, I would say, "Stop!"  The plane, Tibbets declared, needed
only an eleven word label: "'This airplane was the first one to
drop an atomic bomb.' You don't need any other explanation."
Tibbets wanted no questions, no controversies, no account of
bombs bursting in air.

     Facing special hearings in the House and Senate, threats to
the Smithsonian's budget (77% of which came from the federal
government), and a loss of confidence among corporate
contributors on whom he was counting to fund a planned 150th
Anniversary celebration in 1996, Secretary Heyman called it
quits. On January 30, 1995, adopting Tibbet's position, he
scrapped the exhibition in favor of "a display, permitting the
Enola Gay and its crew to speak for themselves."


     Heyman argued this was the wrong show in the wrong place at
the wrong time. The NASM had "made a basic error in attempting to
couple an historical treatment of the use of atomic weapons with
the 50th anniversary commemoration of the end of the war." The
veterans "were not looking for analysis," he said, "and, frankly,
we did not give enough thought to the intense feelings such an
analysis would evoke." The implication was that curators should
have waited a few years, or even a decade, until the old soldiers
had faded away.

     It's a plausible position. Some veterans certainly saw Air &
Space more as shrine than museum. Aviator groups -- convinced the
Smithsonian had barred the B-29 out of embarrassment -- had been
fighting for years to get it restored and displayed, to validate
their wartime sacrifices. It was Harwit, ironically, who came to
their defense. Convinced they deserved a commemoration he pushed
to have the restoration ready for the 50th anniversary. Some vets
no doubt felt betrayed to learn the NASM intended to raise any
questions whatever about the plane's mission, even those asked by
their wartime commanding officers. As did Tibbets, they wanted
the Enola Gay presented pristinely, like the Spirit of St. Louis,
not juxtaposed with evidence of the damage it had wrought, even
if that damage was declared justifiable.

     So perhaps it was foolhardy to make the attempt. Perhaps,
once the distress became apparent, the NASM should have folded
its hand immediately, avoiding the drawn-out and damaging saga
that followed. But there are problems with such a seemingly
politic perspective.

     First, while historian Edward Linenthal is right to remark
that fiftieth anniversaries "intensify arguments over any form of
remembrance" because they "are the last time when you have
massive groups of veterans or survivors who are able to put their
imprint on the event," the mere passage of time does little to
dull the edge of controversy. Recall the brouhaha that exploded
over "The West as America" show -- a treatment of century-old
events -- and the impassioned debates that broke out over
Columbus' enterprise on the 500th anniversary of his first

     Second, the postponement strategy is condescending to the
veterans. Many protestors were not acting out of "feelings" -- in
contrast to the museum's "analysis" -- but from a belief that the
show was advancing an analysis with which they disagreed. Many
were simply out to achieve the "balance" or "context" that the
mass media assured them was atrociously absent. If the Museum had
aggressively presented them with accurate information about the
first script -- and certainly the last one -- many might have
been won to the Smithsonian's side in support of a full-rigged
exhibition. Witness the posting on a WWII e-mail network from a
veteran and former exhibition critic: "I have reviewed the most
recent script (#5) and it is a considerable improvement over its
predecessors and in fact I am not unhappy about it."

     This raises, in turn, the third and largest problem. Heyman
has faulted his curators for paying insufficient attention to the
Smithsonian's "stakeholders." Apart from the fact that NASM
worked with veterans all along -- in the end so closely that they
may have abdicated their curatorial responsibilities -- the
comment suggests the Secretary hasn't sufficiently confronted the
dilemmas museums face these days.

     In recent years curators have reached out to communities
they wish to represent and address, seeking to involve them in
the process of exhibit production. Excellent in theory, this has
proved difficult in practice. In the case of immigrants, blacks,
workers, women, and Native Americans, it turns out to be no
simple matter to discover who exactly "the community" is. Or who
gets to speak for that community. Or what to do when some groups
contest the right of other groups to serve as spokespeople. Or
how to respond to claims that, e.g., only Latinos can/should
speak for Latinos. Or how to rebut a group that denies a museum's
right to say anything at all about it without prior approval. Or
what to do when an exhibit offers a variety of perspectives on a
controversial issue, only to be met with a dogmatic insistence
that only one of the perspectives is true, that the very notion
of debate is "relativistic" and illegitimate.

     The problems are no less complex when dealing with atomic
bombs. Why are WWII veterans the significant "stakeholders" here?
Are not the Second World War and the postwar proliferation of
nuclear arms issues of transcendent national importance, of
concern to all American citizens? If, as now seems likely, the
plane will be accompanied not only by Tibbet's eleven-word label,
but by Tibbets himself (via videotaped interview), is there not
something problematic about treating the aircraft as a mere aero-
artifact, like a kettle or a wedding dress, that requires only
some owner-provided information about its original usage? Is it
appropriate that the only commentary on the Enola Gay be issued
by the man who flew it?

     And even if veterans are the "relevant public," which
veterans are we talking about? There have been a variety of
military actors in this drama; the press and Smithsonian alike
too easily conflated them. There's no question that old soldiers
gave the anti-NASM protest its moral legitimacy and political
clout. But they were not the only combatants in this struggle.
Part of the NASM's problem, I think, is that it never quite
realized who and what it was up against.

                  The Battle for Air and Space

     John Correll introduced NASM curators to his constituency;
let me introduce his constituency to the wider world. The Air
Force Association has been presented throughout this affair as a
veterans organization. Even Harwit described it as "a non-profit
organization for current and former members of the U.S. Air
Force". But a perusal of the ads in Correll's AIR FORCE Magazine
(AFM) makes instantly clear that it's a good deal more than that.
In marked contrast to the American Legion's journal, where the
wares on sale include hearing aids, power mowers, Florida
retirement homes, and talking memo-minders, the AFM's pages are
festooned with glossy advertisements for sleek warplanes produced
by various of the Air Force Association's 199 Industrial
Associates (whose ranks include Boeing, du Pont, Martin Marietta,
Northrop Grumman, Rockwell, and Lockheed, which hawks its F-16 to
Correll's readers for only "a $20 million price tag.")

     The AFA, in fact, is the air wing of what Dwight Eisenhower
called the military-industrial complex. It was founded in 1946 at
the instigation of Hap Arnold (with Jimmy Doolittle as first
President). Arnold, hyper-attentive to public relations, set up
the AFA to lobby for creation of an independent Air Force, to
fight postwar budget cutbacks, and to "keep our country
vigorously aroused to the urgent importance of airpower." It has
been the semi-official lobbying arm of the United States Air
Force ever since.

     In succeeding decades the AFA institutionalized relations
with the defense industry by sponsoring mammoth expositions of
military hardware (known to many as the Arms Bazaar); opposed
Kennedy's Test-Ban Treaty; denounced Johnson's refusal to unleash
airpower in Vietnam (a Correll predecessor deplored America's
renunciation "of the use of even the smallest of nuclear
weapons"); battled the peace movement; railed against the "anti-
military, anti-industry" atmosphere of the 1970s; and warned
about the dangers associated with a "relaxation of tensions, and
an end to the cold war."

     But the Cold War ended, as did the glory days of the Reagan
buildup, and the AFA turned to fighting the cutbacks in military
budgets "demanded by the liberal community."  During the period
Correll was assaulting the Air & Space Museum, his magazine
featured articles like "Another Year, Another Cut," "Boom and
Bust in Fighter Procurement," "This Isn't the Bottom Yet," "More
Base Closures Coming Up," and "The Case for Airpower
Modernization." When not urging Congress "to shift the burden of
the cuts to entitlement spending -- and thus spare defense," AFM
writers were warding off attacks from the Army ("They need
money," said Correll, "and they are ready to take a bite out of
the Air Force to get it") or making preemptive strikes on the

     In an era of imperiled budgets and reduced political clout -
- a function, Correll believed, of the diminishing percentage of
veterans in the country and Congress -- the AFA was more than
ever concerned with image. "Attitude surveys show waning desire
among young people to join the military," Correll noted, a
decline he attributed in part to negative portrayals by the news
media and entertainment industry.

     Whether one thinks well or ill of the AFA's positions, it
should come as no surprise to find it paying meticulous attention
to how the premiere achievement of American airpower -- arguably
the one instance in which strategic bombing, not an Army invasion
or a Navy blockade, triumphantly ended a major war -- would be
treated at the most popular museum in the world.

     The AFA's relationship with the NASM, moreover, was
consanguineous. Hap Arnold, who fathered the AFA in 1946, begat
the NASM the very same year. Arnold wanted to give aviation a
history and extend the wartime interest in aeronautics into the
next generation.  The General saved large numbers of his war
birds from being converted to scrap metal, and he lobbied
Congress for a museum. To bolster his case, Arnold sought and
received supporting petitions from 267 museum boosters, many of
them representatives of such aviation firms as Northrop,
Lockheed, Douglas, McDonnell, Sperry, Sikorsky and Republic, the
same constituency from which AFA would draw its Industrial
Associates. One witness stressed that a museum could win
thousands of future voters to the cause of aviation, voters who
in turn would influence their Congressman "to develop aviation,
both civil and military, in the years to come."

     In the decades after Congress established the National Air
Museum (expanded to embrace Space in 1966), relations with the
AFA were cordial and fraternal. In 1949, for instance, the
National Air Museum cooperated with the Air Force Association in
putting on the National Air Fair, the country's largest air show
to date. It was at this event that the Enola Gay, flown in by
Col. Tibbets from storage in Arizona, was officially presented to
the Smithsonian.

     When the Museum's drive for a building on the mall got
stalled during the Vietnam War, it was re-ignited by Senator
Barry Goldwater, board chairman of the AFA's Aerospace Education
Foundation and soon-to-be recipient of its highest honor, the
H.H. Arnold Award. Goldwater declared the NASM "a cause that is
right" and "a cause that deserves a fight." A properly housed
museum that presented a "patriot's history" would, he argued,
inspire the nation's "air and space minded" young people.
Interestingly Goldwater didn't think the Enola Gay should be
included in that story. "What we are interested in here are the
truly historic aircraft," he explained to a Congressional
committee. "I wouldn't consider the one that dropped the bomb on
Japan as belonging to that category."

     After the new building opened in 1976, the NASM blossomed.
Its world-class collection of airplanes (like Lindbergh's Spirit
of St. Louis) accumulated over decades by the indefatigable Paul
Garber, along with the awesome lunar landers, moon rocks and
missiles assembled during the triumphal era of space flight,
helped attract enormous crowds. The NASM became the most
massively visited museum in the world, welcoming in recent years
over eight million people a year.

     But NASM went beyond simply amassing aircraft. It was one of
the first museums anywhere to seriously examine the evolution of
aviation and astronautic technology. Like most museums of science
and industry, however, NASM kept its focus on the hardware,
adopting an evolutionary approach that assumed technological
development was inherently progressive. It was, as former
Director (and former astronaut) Michael Collins said, "a cheery
and friendly place," marked by a "spirit of optimism."  Former
Director Walter Boyne, a career Air Force officer, prolific
historian, and AFA member, kept the institution on the same path.

     Relatively little attention was paid to the social
consequences of flight, particularly military flight. The WWI and
WWII galleries remained little more than cabinets of aero-
curiosities. The collections of planes and mementoes, the heroic
murals, the mini-shrines (fashioned from personal effects and
reminiscences) to AFA deities Hap Arnold and Jimmy Doolittle --
none of these grappled with the fundamental purpose of war, the
infliction of damage on the enemy.

     This did not trouble the museum's corporate sponsors or
military donors or the Air Force Association. The institution was
largely run by ex-military personnel; it featured gleaming
civilian and military aircraft (most of them emblazoned with
corporate logos and/or service insignia); it trumpeted aviation's
very real technological accomplishments while ensuring that
seldom was heard a discouraging word. The NASM promoted just the
kind of public image that Arnold and Goldwater and the AFA had
always intended to foster.

     NASM did not lack for critics, however. A 1979 White Paper
on Science Museums suggested that its decontextualization of
artifacts and its cozy compliance with the promotional demands of
corporate donors made it "basically a temple to the glories of
aviation and the inventiveness of the aerospace industry." Later
commentators concurred in calling it "a giant advertisement for
air and space technology." And by the late 1980s the Smithsonian
Council agreed that it was no longer "intellectually or morally
acceptable to present science simply as an ennobling exploration
of the unknown," or technology merely as "problem solving
beneficial to the human race."

     In 1987, Cornell astrophysicist Martin Harwit was chosen
over an Air Force general to be the new NASM Director. Harwit set
out to demonstrate the social impact of aviation and space
technology -- the ways it transformed daily life "both for the
good and the bad." This applied to the military sphere, too. "No
longer is it sufficient to display sleek fighters," he said,
while making no mention of the "misery of war."

     The NASM continued to do traditional kinds of AFA-friendly
programming. It put on a commemorative program for the 50th
anniversary of Jimmy Doolittle's raid over Tokyo. It mounted an
exhibit (curated by Neufeld, the suspect Canadian) that honored
the P-47 Thunderbolt, delighting the 2,000 member association of
its former pilots. Harwit also supported Richard Hallion (later a
vigorous critic of the Enola Gay scripts) in creating a laudatory
show on airpower in the Gulf War.

     But Harwit also authorized new departures.

     NASM treatment of military hardware had heretofore
invariably skirted its lethal purposes, even in the case of Nazi
weaponry. Label copy for the museum's V-2 rocket emphasized its
progressive role in the history of technology. In 1990, however,
the V-2 was given new panels which: recounted its use as an
indiscriminate instrument of murder (they included the NASM's
first-ever image of a corpse); noted it was built by
concentration camp prisoners thousands of whom perished in the
process; demonstrated how scientists like Wernher Von Braun
avoided grappling with the ethical implications of their work;
and provided superior technical detail about rocketry. Press
reaction was startled but positive. One reviewer hailed the new
"truth in labeling" as "striking in comparison to the fairy tale
it has replaced...."

     Another novel exhibition deployed an American Pershing II
missile side-by-side with a Soviet SS-20 as the twin foci of an
examination of arms control agreements. This, too, garnered only
positive reports.

     Next, in 1991, the institution replaced its old World War I
gallery -- whose artifacts had fallen prey to insect
infestation -- with a rich and imaginative show. It began with
popular culture images depicting the war as a series of romantic
duels between Knights of the Air -- pulp magazine accounts, a
compilation of clips from Hollywood films, and Snoopy and his
Flying Doghouse ("Curse you, Red Baron"). The origin of these
images -- which resonate to this day -- was traced to wartime
newspapers, businessmen, and government propagandists who seized
on the courage and daring of individual aces to portray aerial
combat as a chivalric adventure. But the careful analyses that
followed made clear the grim and unglamorous realities of fighter
pilot life and death. Powerful dioramas of trench warfare and
discussions of particular battles also demonstrated the important
but secondary role of wartime air power, and dramatic displays on
Germany's air attacks on London illustrated the birth of civilian

     Again, reaction in the mainstream press was overwhelmingly
favorable. Hank Burchard of The Washington Post was astonished to
find such "rank heresy" in an institution "that has from the
beginning served as the central shrine of the military-industrial
complex."  Though he complained that the exhibition still soft-
pedaled the realities of aerial combat, which was "more akin to
assassination than to jousting," he concluded: "But hey, a museum
largely run by pilots can hardly be expected to badmouth them,
and anyway this is a quibble compared with the quantum leap
forward into historicity that this exhibition represents."

     Finally, a direct precursor of the Enola Gay show -- a five
minute videotape on the restoration process, which included
powerful images of bomb damage -- attracted considerable visitor
attention and no negative commentary whatever.

     To key NASM staff it seemed that these plaudits and silences
had cleared the way for the Enola Gay. Despite the continuing
trepidation of some within the institution, they swept ahead with
plans for the exhibition.

     From the Air Force Association's perspective these new
initiatives must have seemed like serpents wriggling their way
into the Garden of Eden. Certainly Correll's April 1994 AFM
critique of the Enola Gay included a retroactive blast at the
World War I exhibition -- that "strident attack on airpower" --
as having been a harbinger of what followed. Everything about it
appalled him. The curators' notion that "dangerous myths have
been foisted on the world by zealots and romantics." The
criticism of the "cult of air power," with the sainted Billy
Mitchell among the designated offenders. The "theories" quoted in
the exhibit's companion book about military airpower having the
potential for "scientific murder" (Correll apparently forgetting
for the moment that the offending phrase was actually Eddie
Rickenbacker's, the most famous of all U.S. aces, who reminded
Americans that "fighting in the air is not a sport. It is
scientific murder.") The way the show emphasized "the horrors of
World War I" (as opposed to its upbeat dimensions?). And above
all, the fact that it "takes a hostile view of airpower in that
conflict," to the point where "the military airplane is
characterized as an instrument of death."

     To his credit, Correll published in the June 1994 AFM a
strong rejoinder from Richard H. Kohn, former Chief of Air Force
History for the USAF. The NASM, Kohn argued, had in recent years
succeeded "in broadening the scope and value of its exhibits by
presenting thoughtful, balanced history rather than mere
celebration of flight and space travel." The World War I exhibit,
he said, was "not at all hostile to airpower. It presents the war
realistically and explains aviation's role in it." It was
Correll, not the curators, who favored a "political use of the
museum: to downplay war's reality and to glorify military
aviation." Such a bias, Kohn insisted, "would not be in keeping
with the museum's or the Smithsonian's mission and would
embarrass the Air Force community, which, having experienced the
history, would want it presented truthfully -- with strength,
balance, sensitivity, and integrity."

     Correll was having none of it. He believed, borrowing the
words of a fellow editor, that "a new order is perverting the
museum's original purpose from restoring and displaying aviation
and space artifacts to presenting gratuitous social commentary on
the uses to which they have been put." People come to Air & Space
to see old aircraft, Correll claimed. "They are not interested in
counterculture morality pageants put on by academic activists."
It was precisely because curatorial "interests and attitudes have
shifted" that the Enola Gay exhibit had gone wrong. It was
imperative that the Smithsonian's "keepers and overseers take a
strong hand and stop this slide" and get the museum back on

     Here, I think, one can see the structural faultlines that
underlay the surface struggle over texts. How the Enola Gay was
to be interpreted was important in its own right. How to
interpret the meaning of Hiroshima was of vital significance both
to the Air Force Association and to Air & Space; indeed the plane
itself had been entwined in the institutional lives of both
organizations since their inception. But the curators' plans for
the Enola Gay were also seen as the latest in a series of
museological departures that taken together signaled AFA leaders
that "their" institution was being taken away from them.

     They were determined to get it back. The wrestling match
over control of the interpretation was emblematic of the struggle
for control of the institution. The AFA, less interested in
improving the scripts than in axing their opponents, adopted a
policy of taking no prisoners. Convinced the curators were
subverting the museum, it was but a short step to accusing them
of subverting the Republic.

     In the supercharged atmosphere surrounding the Fiftieth
Anniversary of Hiroshima, Correll's charges easily touched off a
museological conflagration. But to understand why it developed
into a national incident we need to examine the larger context.
For the Battle of the Enola Gay was only one of several
engagements that broke out that summer, all along the History
Front of a wider Culture War.

                     Historical Correctness

     In his 1993 book, See, I Told You So, Rush Limbaugh warned
his fellow conservatives that "we have lost control of our major
cultural institutions. Liberalism long ago captured the arts, the
press, the entertainment industry, the universities, the schools,
the libraries, the foundations, etc."

     "This was no accident," he explained, noting that "in the
early 1900s, an obscure Italian communist by the name of Antonio
Gramsci theorized that it would take a 'long march through the
institutions' before socialism and relativism would be
victorious." If these key institutions could be captured,
"cultural values would be changed, traditional morals would be
broken down, and the stage would be set for the political and
economic power of the West to fall."

     In the last twenty-five years, Limbaugh continued, "a
relatively small, angry group of anti-American radicals" -- the
"sixties gang" --  finally succeeded in executing Gramsci's
master plan. Seizing the commanding heights of the cultural
economy they became "firmly entrenched in all of the key cultural
institutions that are so influential in setting the agenda and
establishing the rules of debate in a free society."  From these
redoubts they denigrated American values, policed the nation's
thought and speech, promoted victimization theories, exalted
women and people of color over white males, and pushed a divisive
multiculturalism. At the same time their allies in the welfare
and regulatory bureaucracies were busy squashing entrepreneurial

     Of particular concern were those who "bullied their way into
power positions in academia." These professors immediately set
about demolishing traditional history, the sort which "was once
routinely learned by every schoolchild in America." They
promulgated instead "a primitive type of historical revisionism."
The essential Revisionist message -- the core of the
"indoctrination taking place today in American academia" --
consisted of several propositions: "Our country is inherently
evil. The whole idea of America is corrupt. The history of this
nation is strewn with examples of oppression and genocide. The
story of the United States is cultural imperialism -- how a bunch
of repressed white men imposed their will and values on peaceful
indigenous people, black slaves from Africa, and women."

     Up and down this new "politically correct" canon Rush
roamed, succoring casualties of the onslaught. Poor Christopher
Columbus, accused of wiping out savages (who were in any event
"violent and brutal"), was the victim of a hoax perpetrated by
the sixties gang, who routinely "ascribe fictitious misdeeds to
people not alive to defend themselves".  The Pilgrims and
Puritans, another trashed group, are "vilified today as witch-
burners and portrayed as simpletons" in order to cover up the
importance of religion in "shaping our history and our nation's
character." The early pioneers had singlehandedly "tamed a
wilderness" -- "Nothing was handed to them" -- but now their
anti-government vision and self-reliant accomplishments were
being "turned upside down" in order to justify the reign of Big

     A full response to such falsehoods would take us too far
afield, but let me briefly attend to the last two. Pace
Limbaugh's portrait of the state of religious studies, scores --
hundreds -- of scholars have over the past thirty years produced
a superb and respectful body of work on religion in American
life; one could fill a small library with volumes on the
seventeenth century alone. As for Limbaugh's sturdy pioneers,
they were among the first to demand -- and receive --
governmental aid in the form of land grants, roads, canals,
railroads and armies. This quasi-socialism passed to their
twentieth century descendants, who vigorously sought agricultural
subsidies, military contracts, and the giant irrigation and
electrification projects that built up sunbelt/gunbelt states
with tax dollars drained from their frostbelt cousins.

     But pointing out Rush's errors -- a cottage industry these
days -- is somewhat beside the point. Myths can't be refuted by
facts. And Limbaugh was out to launch a crusade, not an academic
conference. "As we saw during the 1980s," he told his troops, "we
can elect good people to high office and still lose ground in
this Culture War. And, as we saw in 1992, the more ground we lose
in the Culture War, the harder it is to win electoral victories.
What we need to do is fight to reclaim and redeem our cultural
institutions with all the intensity and enthusiasm that we use to
fight to redeem our political institutions."

     Happily a field marshal had appeared with exactly the
credentials needed to wage such a war. Newton Leroy Gingrich had
long since proven himself a master of the political arts, having
battled his way to a leadership role in the House of
Representatives. He was also an ex-professor of history, and
eager to intervene in the battle against Revisionism. In 1993,
Gingrich began beaming a twenty hour college course called
"Renewing American Civilization" to over 130 classrooms across
the country, and to the ten million subscribers of National
Empowerment Television.

     Central to the course was an analysis of U.S. history, not a
subject in which Gingrich had been rigorously trained. Though he
took some courses in American history at Tulane, his major was in
Modern European, and, at the behest of his adviser, he wrote his
1971 Ph.D. Dissertation on "Belgian Education Policy in the
Congo, 1945-60." During his professorial years at West Georgia
College (1970-1978) he spent only four years in the History
Department -- teaching mainly Western Civilization and European
subjects -- before moving over to the Geography Department and
launching an Environmental Studies program. Most of his time at
West Georgia was given over to repeated runs for Congress,
leaving little time for scholarly research. Indeed by 1975,
having published nothing whatever, he realized he had no chance
of getting tenure, and abandoned the notion of applying for it.
Had he not been elected to Congress he would have been out of a
job. Yet Gingrich brushed aside questions about his expertise.
"I'm not credentialed as a bureaucratic academic," he noted
waspishly, "I haven't written 22 books that are meaningless."

     In his 1994 lectures, especially one given February 12th on
"The Lessons of American History," and in speeches and interviews
throughout the year, Gingrich asserted the existence of an
"American Exceptionalism," which he believed was rooted in
distinctive "American Values". These included individualism, "the
religious and social tenets of puritanism," the centrality of
private property, freedom from government control, and the
availability of opportunity (which made Americans "prepared to
countenance very substantial economic inequalities").  He
admitted past contradictions between profession and practice --
slavery, male-only suffrage -- but seemed to believe these had
been overcome not by organized struggles, but by an ineluctable
rippling out of the ideals themselves. Unlike his competent
dissertation, or his 1984 Window of Opportunity, which advanced
an ersatz-Marxist thesis about a contradiction between America's
forces of production (a computer-driven information revolution)
and its social relations of production (a putatively anti-
technological welfare state and culture), Gingrich's more recent
teaching conveyed little sense of agency, little awareness of how
history happens.

     Gingrich, in fact, said remarkably little about U.S.
history, and a fair amount of what he did say was wrong. There
was little sustained encounter with actual historians, though he
occasionally waved books at his class (Daniel Boorstin's volumes
were favorite wands), and he was fascinated by Gordon Wood's
suggestion that conservative Republicans should claim descent
from Jefferson, not Hamilton. He did urge students to read
biographies, but as sources of inspiration or tips on problem
solving. (He himself had been fortified during his repeated
defeats in Georgia politics by reading lives of Lincoln, and
accounts of Churchill's tribulations had buoyed him up while
struggling singlehandedly to unseat Speaker Jim Wright). As had
his hero Ronald Reagan, Gingrich reached back to late 1930s
movies for his version of American history, citing Boys' Town on
orphanages, or Abe Lincoln in Illinois on the great
railsplitter -- though he also embraced more contemporary
sources, such as Hollywood's recent version of the Last of the

     Gingrich invoked classic American myths, the truth (or more
often falsity) of which was of little concern compared to their
serviceability as moral fables. The point of studying the past
was not to discover how things changed but to ransack it for role
models. Newt's was a "McGuffeyite history-of-America-by-edifying-
anecdote," as Gary Wills has noted.##4

     Gingrich's idealized U.S. past was also a static one. For
centuries, nothing much happened. Then in the 1960s, things
lurched into sudden and downward motion. From 1607 to 1965, as he
put it in his somewhat discombobulated manner: "there is a core
pattern to American history. Here's how we did it until the Great
Society messed everything up: don't work, don't eat; your
salvation is spiritual; the government by definition can't save
you; governments are into maintenance and all good reforms are
into transformation." Then, abruptly in the sixties, "the whole
system began decaying." Why? Because the U.S. got beguiled by
irresponsible, "self-indulgent, aristocratic values." And these
led, apparently overnight, to the welfare state, drug use,
hippies, multipartner sex, and the pregnant poor. "From 1965 to
1994" -- an epoch that would seem to embrace the Age of Reagan as
well as the Age of Johnson -- "we did strange and weird things as
a country."

     The culprits were the same ones Limbaugh had fingered:
counterculture elitists who despised traditional values. From the
1770s to the mid-1960s, there had been "an explicit long-term
commitment to creating character," crucially by studying history.
But secular left-wingers couldn't "afford to teach history
because it would destroy the core vision of a hedonistic,
existentialist America in which there is no past and there is no
future, so you might as well let the bureaucrats decide." For
Gingrich, properly taught history was a form of ideological
inoculation; without it, we "get drowned in European socialist
ideas, and we get drowned in oriental ideas of mandarin
hierarchy". Once the booster shots stopped coming, the country
swiftly succumbed to a host of moral maladies.

     The solution was clear. It was time to return to "teaching
the truth about American history, teaching about the Founding
Fathers and how this country came to be the most extraordinary
civilization in history."  We should get back to Victorian
basics, burnish up the old fables. "We spent a generation in the
counterculture laughing at McGuffey Readers and laughing at
Parson Weems's vision of Washington." Cherry tree and little
hatchet, redivivus.

     In truth, Gingrichian history bore little relation to
America's complex and sprawling trajectory. What he had crafted,
rather, was a secularized sacred narrative that flowed from an
Edenic past, through a fall from grace in the sinful Sixties,
into a degenerate present, and on, hopefully, to future
redemption through return to prelapsarian values.

                       Republican Revanche

     Redemption drew nigh in the summer and fall of 1994, as the
insurgent "conservative" movement spearheaded by Limbaugh and
Gingrich drove towards capturing Congress. It was at just this
moment that the Enola Gay first appeared on Republican radar
screens, courtesy of the Air Force Association. It proved an
irresistible target.

     Out on the hustings right wing candidates had been happily
beating up on the monstrously powerful thought police and
bureaucrats, whose unAmerican values and policies they blamed for
the country's disorder, decay, and declining fortunes of white
male voters. Along came an exhibition in which, allegedly,
arrogant PC curators accused white males (and aged veterans, no
less) of being racist aggressors. Better still, it (putatively)
cast the Japanese as victims, rather than as transgressors who
must be held accountable for their immoral actions. In exactly
the same way, the politically-correct crowd had claimed
victimhood status for blacks, women, and assorted welfare
layabouts, who were in fact responsible for their own condition.

     The show thus afforded yet another opportunity for shifting
(white male) electoral attention away from the Republicans'
corporate sponsors, who were assiduously dismantling the nation's
industrial economy, downsizing vast numbers of (white male)
middle managers and (white male) factory workers into the ranks
of the un- and under-employed.

     Conservative commentators picked up and amplified Correll's
critique. The exhibit script provided clear evidence (according
to right wing columnist John Leo) that "the familiar ideology of
campus political correctness" had been "imported whole into our
national museum structure." Critics were quick to point out that
this wasn't the Smithsonian's first transgression. Back in 1991,
the National Museum of American Art's "The West as America" had
critiqued the pioneer saga celebrated by Limbaugh-Gingrichism,
touching off an uproar. Writing in the Wall Street Journal,
Matthew C. Hoffman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute
suggested that, over the previous several years, there had been
"a gradual change in the Smithsonian's character." Little by
little "a portion of the national heritage it represents has been
lost to a campaign of ideological revisionism." It was now in the
hands of "academics unable to view American history as anything
other than a woeful catalog of crimes and aggressions against the
helpless peoples of the earth."

     Republican Congressmen -- like Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Tom
Lewis (R-Florida), Peter Blute (R-Massachusetts) -- feasted on
the issue all summer and fall of 1994. (In August Lewis opined on
behalf of himself and five other Congressmen that the Museum's
"job is to tell history, not rewrite it.") Senators were also
active. Slade Gorton won passage of his injunctive legislation.
Nancy Kassebaum cast her directive resolution in such a fashion -
- the NASM should avoid "impugning the memory of those who gave
their lives for freedom" -- that with the election less than two
months away, no Democrats, not even liberal ones, were prepared
to vote against it. More disturbingly, no one, right or left,
took issue with the assumption underlying such initiatives --
that the Federal Government had the right to mandate historical

                        Standards Bearer

     On October 20th, just as the fifth and final Enola Gay
script was emerging from the latest round of revisions, the
History Wars escalated once again. Lynne Cheney, former head of
the National Endowment for the Humanities, launched a preemptive
strike in the Wall Street Journal against The National Standards
for U.S. History, due to be issued on the 25th. Several years in
the making, and funded in 1992 by the NEH while Cheney was
Director, the document was intended as a voluntary guide for
teachers. Astonishingly ambitious, it offered broad analytical
themes, over 2600 specific classroom exercises, and suggestions
for encouraging historical thinking. Over 6,000 teachers,
administrators, scholars, parents, and business leaders were
involved in the drafting process, which was marked by wide
ranging open debates, and the involvement of 35 advisory
organizations, including the Organization of American Historians,
the Organization of History Teachers, the American Historical
Association, the National Education Association, and the American
Association of School Librarians.

     No matter. In her Wall Street Journal piece, and in
subsequent articles and interviews, Cheney chanted the standard
mantra: an inner core group -- gripped by a "great hatred for
traditional history," and intent on "pursuing the revisionist
agenda" -- had, "in the name of political correctness," made sure
that a "whole lot of basic history" didn't appear. She proved
this to her satisfaction by adopting Correll's pseudo-statistical
method. "Counting how many times different subjects are mentioned
in the document yields telling results," she wrote ominously.
Traditional heroes were underrepresented, women and minorities
mentioned too often; references to (black female) Harriet Tubman
cropped up more often than to (white male) Ulysses S. Grant. In
addition, the Standards lacked "a tone of affirmation," directed
attention to social conflict, and invited debate not celebration.
Predictably, she concluded her initial blast with a call for
battle against the all-powerful "academic establishment".

     Cheney's analysis bordered on the disinformational. The
Standards weren't a textbook, a dictionary of biography, or a
compendium of important facts, much less a pantheon or catechism.
Counting white faces and listing a few famous absentees was
therefore disingenuous: the issues and events that the document
urged exploring patently required reference to the supposedly
spurned generals and presidents. In addition, bean counters more
scrupulous than Cheney discovered not only that the vast majority
of cited individuals were in fact white males, but that the two
most-often-mentioned of the genus were Richard Nixon and Ronald

     Cheney's real objections -- assuming they were motivated by
more than mere personal ambition and political calculation --
seemed to be to the paradigmatic shift the Standards represented.
In its pages the American past was not a simple saga of
remarkable men doing remarkable deeds. Those deeds were
included -- despite Cheney's charges, the Constitution was
treated extensively -- but so too were less laudatory dimensions.
Slavery was examined, not to muckrake or denigrate the American
past, but to understand it. And the Standards, like much
contemporary scholarship, embraced the experience of ordinary
people -- as heroes of their own lives and as collective actors
on the world historical stage.

     Some fellow conservatives -- notably Diane Ravitch -- were
also critical of the Standards but balked at Cheney's demand that
they be scrapped altogether. Especially given the Standards'
drafters expressed willingness to respond to substantive
objections, such as complaints that monetarist theories
explaining the Great Depression were slighted, or that a few
dozen (out of 2600) classroom exercises could arguably be
described as shepherding students to preselected conclusions.

     But most of the crew that copied Correll now echoed Cheney.
Though few in numbers -- far fewer than the multitudes that had
fashioned the Standards -- their command of media megaphones
allowed them to manufacture another uproar. Rush Limbaugh weighed
in four days after Cheney's initial intervention. With his usual
insouciant disregard for facts he informed his radio audience
that the "insidious document" had been "worked on in secret." In
truth, the drafts had been hammered into shape in countless
sessions of democratic discussion embracing enormous numbers of
participants, including 23 days of formal (tape recorded)
meetings, and hundreds of copies had been dispatched to all who
requested them. Limbaugh pronounced it "an intellectually
dishonest, politically correct version of American history," that
ought to be "flushed down the toilet." With yawning
predictability, columnist Charles Krauthammer called it "a
classic of political correctness." The Wall Street Journal
bundled letters on the subject under the headline: "HISTORY
THIEVES". And John Leo o'er-hastily objected to the elevation of
one Ebenezer McIntosh, a "brawling street lout of the 1760s," to
the heroic stature of a Sam Adams; unfortunately for Leo, the
said McIntosh turned out to be an important leader of the Stamp
Act Demonstrations in Boston.

     Not for three weeks did a major national news story -- in
the New York Times -- do much more than parrot Cheney's charges.
And by then the election was over.

     Victory in November didn't stem the Republican assault on
Revisionists. Indeed their accession to political power shaped
the Enola Gay endgame.

     Speaker-to-be Gingrich made clear that efforts to enact the
Contract with America -- a package of proposed legislation that
would dismantle much of the regulatory and welfare state and
ladle out breaks to business -- would be accompanied by a
campaign to "Renew American Civilization." In a postelection
interview he said the new Republican leadership intended to
improve the country's moral climate, especially by "teaching the
truth about American history." Before the month was out Gingrich
had called for eliminating the National Endowment for the
Humanities, in part because it had sponsored the History
Standards, which "are destructive for American Civilization."

     Almost immediately on taking office, Gingrich, acting (he
said) "as Speaker, who is a Ph.D in history," chose a new
historian of the House of Representatives. Christina Jeffrey, not
an historian at all, but an Associate Professor of Political
Science at Kennesaw State University who had helped him launch
his course, was given the task of helping "in reestablishing the
legitimacy of history."  "History" received a setback on January
9 when Gingrich abruptly fired Jeffrey. It transpired that in a
1986 evaluation of an educational program that included an
examination of the Holocaust, Jeffrey had argued that: "The
program gives no evidence of balance or objectivity. The Nazi
point of view, however unpopular, is still a point of view and is
not presented, nor is that of the Ku Klux Klan." Moreover she had
characterized the since widely adopted program as embodying a
"re-education method" that "Hitler and Goebbels used to
propagandize the German people," a method later "perfected by
Chairman Mao," and which was "now being foisted on American
children under the guise of 'understanding history.'"

     With this misstep, initiative passed momentarily to the
Senate. On January 18, Senators Robert Dole and Slade Gorton won
passage (by 99-1) of a nonbinding Sense of the Senate Resolution.
It urged that the present History Standards not be certified by
the Federal Government, and that funds for any future ones go
only to those which "have a decent respect for the contributions
of Western civilization, and United States history, ideas and
institutions, to the increase of freedom and prosperity
throughout the world." Democrats, noting that leaders of the
Standards project had already met with critics on the 12th,
argued against the resolution, but agreed to support it if made

     A week later House members returned to the fray. On January
24th, 68 Republicans (including House Majority Leader and
Gingrich ally Dick Armey) and 13 Democrats demanded Martin
Harwit's ouster. Representative Blute elaborated: "We think there
are some very troubling questions in regard to the Smithsonian,
not just with this Enola Gay exhibit but over the past 10 years
or so, getting into areas of revisionist history and political
correctness. There are a lot of questions that need to be

     On the 26th, critics began tying the two issues together.
Columnist George Will claimed "the Smithsonian Institution, like
the history standards" was "besotted with the cranky
anti-Americanism of the campuses...." And Lynne Cheney, in
guileful Congressional testimony, seized on one of the 2600
teaching examples to argue that fifth or sixth graders who
learned about the end of World War II from the Standards would
know only that the U.S. had devastated Hiroshima, but nothing of
Japanese aggression. In fact the standards called explicitly for
analysis of the "German, Italian and Japanese drives for empire
in the 1930s." And a suggested teaching activity for seventh and
eighth graders was to construct a time line that included the
"Japanese seizure of Manchuria in 1931."

     Also on the 26th, Speaker Gingrich named Representative Sam
Johnson -- the ardent Enola Gay show critic who had alerted him
to the issue -- to the Smithsonian's Board of Regents. The
following day Gingrich announced he had found "a certain
political correctness seeping in and distorting and prejudicing
the Smithsonian's exhibits," and declared the museum should not
be "a plaything for left-wing ideologies."#5

     Four days later Heyman scuttled the Enola Gay exhibit.##6
Now in full retreat mode, he also announced "postponement" for at
least five years of a planned exhibit on Air Power in Vietnam;
suggested that critics of "political correctness" in recent
interpretive exhibits had a point; and promised the Regents he
would review and where necessary rectify current exhibits that
Board members believed reflected "revisionist history." Heyman
refused to fire Harwit. But then long time Smithsonian critic
Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) announced he would go ahead in
mid-May 1995 with previously threatened hearings on the
philosophical underpinnings of the exhibit. On May 2 Harwit
resigned. The continuing controversy, he said, had convinced him
"that nothing less than my stepping down from the directorship
will satisfy the Museum's critics." Regent Sam Johnson
immediately made clear that Harwit's departure wasn't enough,
that only a full scale purge of "revisionists" would do.##7


     What are the larger meanings, and likely consequences, of
the battle over the Enola Gay?

     The victors have suggested their own answers to these
questions. Newt Gingrich told the National Governors' Association
that: "The Enola Gay fight was a fight, in effect, over the
reassertion by most Americans that they're sick and tired of
being told by some cultural elite that they ought to be ashamed
of their country." The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal,
that GHQ of reaction, proclaimed it a triumph for the public,
which had successfully "stuck its snoot inside the sanctums
tended lo these many years by the historians".

     This is faux-populist hogwash. In truth, this generation of
historians and curators has thrown open the historical tent
flaps, and embraced the experience of a far broader range of
Americans than had ever before been represented. Just as opinion
polls belie right-wing claims that public broadcasting is an
elite-only enterprise, so too the vast number of citizens
flocking to public historical presentations (far more than attend
professional sports events) falsify claims that historians are
out of touch with the larger culture.

     The people packing into history museums, local historical
societies, preserved historic places and National Park Service
sites are drawn in part by the novel presence of their forebears'
voices and stories. It's not only women and people of color who
are now depicted extensively, but vast numbers of white males as
well -- the farmers and miners and sailors and steelworkers and
clerks and professionals who had never before been deemed of
sufficient stature to warrant inclusion in the marble mausoleums
stuffed with the portraits and possessions of "historically
correct" statesmen and entrepreneurs. At long last the American
past is as crowded and diverse and contentious and fascinating as
is the American present.

     Conservative cant about liberating the masses from political
correctness is more than merely misleading. The only "PC"
displayed in the Enola Gay affair was the prior censorship that
shut down the exhibition and barred people from judging it for
themselves. It was bad enough watching the show get throttled;
it's insufferable to hear the censors whine about their
powerlessness. If this Orwellian recasting of suppression as
liberation is not rejected, if the right is allowed to frame the
issue this way, the Smithsonian's humbling may herald further

     There are two ways so-called conservatives might try to
expunge the scholarship they detest, or at least keep it bottled
up inside the academy.

     One is to gut governmental funding. Just as Republican
Congressmen have invited business lobbyists to the legislative
drafting tables, the abolition of NEH and NEA and NPR and CPB
will make public history programming, like access to the
airwaves, dependent on corporate funders. This will further
narrow the range of acceptable historical presentations (few such
enterprises will care to be identified with controversial
issues), or produce puff pieces like the histories of transport,
energy, and food that Disney "imagineers" crafted for General
Motors, Exxon and Kraft at EPCOT.##8

     But for all the new elite's libertarian professions about
reducing the power of big government, they seem drawn to
authoritarian solutions. In the case of Air and Space,
Congresspeople laid down an official historical "line" and
demanded the firing of curators who did not toe it. Gingrich
himself believes our ailing culture can be cured through state
intervention, "first of all by the people appointed to the
Smithsonian board." Regent Sam Johnson -- Newt's first cultural
commissar -- agrees completely that "this Congress has an
opportunity to change the face of America," and makes clear that
his goal is "to get patriotism back into the Smithsonian."

     Suppression follows all too logically from such premises. If
traitors have seized the nation's cultural bastions, it's
essential to root them out. The Wall Street Journal professes
amazement that "the history profession pushed its 'new history'
this far without challenge," and seeks to terminate the
enterprise forthwith. Historians "fear that one set of
assumptions is simply going to be imposed by fiat in place of
their own," the Journal notes. "That would be unfortunate, we
guess. But we don't plan to feel very sorry for these

     The new expurgators are busily scrutinizing the "history
textbooks, curricula and museum displays" that John Leo believes
have become "carriers of the broad assault against American and
Western culture." An outfit calling itself the American Textbook
Council damned Paul Boyer's update of Merle Curti's classic
history survey for, among other things, pointing out the
achievements of environmentalists. John Leo blasted the same
study using the now time-dishonored technique of counting up
biographical references and declaring white male faces
insufficiently in evidence. Lynne Cheney censured another
textbook (by Gary Nash, former President of the Organization of
American Historians, and co-director of the History Standards
project), for dwelling on McCarthyism and Watergate, and being
"gloomier than the story of the United States ought to be."

     Even that nemesis of gloom, the Walt Disney Company, got its
corporate wrist slapped by the new censorians. When Disney's
America, the proposed history theme park, announced it would "not
take a Pollyanna view" of the American past and would even evoke
the experience of slavery, conservative apparatchik William
Kristol warned: "If you're going to have a schlocky version of
American history, it should at least be a schlocky, patriotic and
heroic version," rather than something "politically correct,"
making "suitable bows to all oppressed groups."

     Though the new nabobs have so far restricted themselves to a
relatively niggling negativism, we should not underestimate how
fast and how far things could slide. Though the United States has
never had a State Ministry of Culture to dictate historical
"lines," we've had plenty of private vigilantes patrolling our
cultural institutions to ensure they promoted "patriotic"
perspectives. In 1925 the American Legion declared that history
textbooks "must inspire the children with patriotism" and "speak
chiefly of success"; and the organization expended considerable
energy during subsequent decades -- especially in the 1950s --
demanding that intellectuals it deemed un-American be muzzled or

     There are disturbing signs that this rough beast has been
waked again. Air Classics, a popular magazine for aviation buffs,
has been inspired by the November 1994 elections -- which proved
"Americans are taking control of their government...and their
institutions" -- to set the Smithsonian in its gun sights. It
aims to "oust the revisionists who want to forever change history
in favor of the enemy," and to establish a permanent committee to
"constantly monitor the NASM, and similar institutions to stop a
repeat of their nearly successful treachery."##9

     Such assaults, even if restricted to the rhetorical, can
lead to museological self-censorship. The NASM has already put
off its Vietnam exhibition. And across the mall, at the National
Museum of American History, curators worry openly that fallout
from the Enola Gay affair will contaminate future exhibitions.
"Once it's known that Air and Space sat down to a line-by-line
review of the script with the American Legion," said one, "who's
next? The Christian Coalition."


     Yet it won't do to overstate the degree of danger. Serious
obstacles confront those who would revive a full-rigged

     For one thing the Cold War is over. The absence of an
external Communist menace makes it harder to demonize internal
opponents. Indeed the thawing of controls on the practice of
history in Russia and Eastern Europe provides an embarrassing
counterpoint to newfound U.S. government interest in policing the
past. The same issue of the New York Times that reported four
score Congresspeople had called for the firing of "defiant"
curators, also reported that Polish historians "have suddenly
begun to savor the new-found freedom to examine and write about
their country's history as they see it...." Further loosening of
ideological bonds abroad will hinder their imposition at home.

     In the case of the Enola Gay, Japan served as an acceptable
substitute for the Evil Empire. Attacks on the exhibition gained
strength and plausibility from Japan's egregious approach to its
past. Americans (and Asians) had been rightfully indignant at the
cabinet ministers, educators and curators who for decades
downplayed or denied Japan's record of aggression, in sharp
contrast to Germany's willingness to apologize for the criminal
activities of its fascist state. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Museum presented its city and country solely as martyrs and
victims, as if the war had begun the day the bomb was dropped.
This allowed critics to charge that National Air and Space --
which was to have borrowed artifacts from the Hiroshima Museum --
shared (or had been ensnared by) its lenders' politics.##10

     But those politics had begun to change. Under pressure from
internal critics, particularly socialist and pacifist groups,
Japan had taken significant steps toward accepting responsibility
for launching the war and committing atrocities. Historians like
Professor Yoshiaki Yoshimi, by irrefutably proving that Korean
"comfort women" had been forced to service the Imperial Army,
prodded the Government into reversing its denial of
responsibility. Leading intellectuals and politicians (including
the current Socialist Prime Minister, Tomiichi Murayama) called
for a Parliamentary apology to the Asian countries Japan invaded.
Though this met with vehement opposition from a coalition of
conservative parties, bureaucrats and business leaders, a 1994
poll found the Japanese people believed 4 to 1 that their country
had not adequately compensated the citizens of conquered

     In Hiroshima itself, recently elected Mayor Takashi Hiraoka
argued "that when we think about the bomb, we should think about
the war, too." Overcoming opposition from groups like the Great
Japan Patriots Party, he won installation of new exhibitry in
June 1994, just as the Enola Gay affair was heating up, which
described in detail the city's role in the war effort.##12

     This makes the Smithsonian's cancellation particularly
ironic, with the Americans (under pressure from the right)
refusing to reflect on the past just as the Japanese (under
pressure from the left) were beginning to confront it. Ironic and
unfortunate, in that closing down a public historical enterprise
that transcended narrow nationalist interpretations muffed an
opportunity to bind up old war wounds and reconcile former
enemies. Still, if Japan continues along this "revisionist" path,
it will be harder for U.S. xenophobes to replicate a triumph
which, in any event, was rooted in singular circumstances. And
while Japan may be a tough competitor, it's a capitalist
competitor, and an ally to boot: it won't be as easy to (as it
were) "yellow-bait" intellectuals as it once was to "red-bait"

     Critics of mainstream academic and public historians face a
different kind of problem: you can't fight something with
nothing. It's clear what the new censorians don't like -- though
Gingrich affixes his "counterculture" and "socialist" labels so
indiscriminately that his Enemies List lacks the nice precision
of Nixon's. What's not so clear is what they would put in place
of the historical edifice they seek to tear down.

     Most insist history should be heroic. "I think our kids need
heroes," says Lynne Cheney. "I think that they need models of
greatness to help them aspire.  But apart from the fact that the
only heroes the right deems worthy are those already enshrined in
the traditional pantheon -- the Harriet Tubmans in our past don't
seem to cut the mustard -- trumpeting great deeds isn't much of a
substitute for serious analysis of the nation's historical

     Nor is "patriotic" history, not that it's clear exactly what
this means. From Matthew Hoffman's wistful recollection in the
Wall Street Journal of the days when the Smithsonian stuck to
"unapologetic celebration," it would appear they long for
unqualified boosterism. Now it's completely appropriate to insist
that hard-won American accomplishments, like the steady expansion
of democratic and constitutional government, be fully recounted
in any historical reckoning. (As indeed they are by current
practitioners; despite conservative canards, the History
Standards pay them rich tribute). But does "patriotism" require
striking from the public record all instances where practice
fails to live up to preachment? Is their slogan "Triumphs s!,
tragedies no?" Are we to return to the see-no-evil days when
Colonial Williamsburg, Inc., could present its 18th century town
purely as a cradle of liberty without mentioning that over 50% of
its residents were slaves? I suspect most Americans want their
historians to pursue the truth, not generate feel-good fantasies.
As Secretary Heyman said when he was still resisting closure,
it's not the Smithsonian's job "simply to offer a romantic
portrait of the nation's past; Hollywood and Disney do that quite

     What academics have going for them, despite the cartoon
characterizations their opponents bruit about, is the immense
body of scholarly work they have put together over the past
generation. It will be difficult (though not impossible) for
opponents to vault over it and sport about in fields of mid-
nineteenth century pieties. Nor will the museums that have so
successfully quarried this mine of information and analysis be
easily driven back to decontextualized displays of the material
culture of a privileged few.


     If future Enola Gay debacles are to be avoided, however,
museums will have to be smarter and tougher than they've ever
been before. If the National Air and Space Museum can be faulted
for anything, it's underestimating the tenacity and tactics of
its likely opponents, and not realizing it had enemies to deal
with. "We've been extremely outclassed," admitted NASM spokesman
Mike Fetters back in September 1994. "Had we known how intense
the AFA's efforts would be, we'd have moved a bit more promptly
and aggressively to get our information distributed to veterans,
the media, and Congress."

     The way to forestall such disasters is not to retreat into
controversy-free blandness; given the current climate that's
probably impossible anyway. Museum planners should instead
routinely draw up Political Impact Statements. These would
identify groups that might be affected by, or have a particular
interest in an exhibition. Once identified, the institution
should seek out and, where feasible, engage these groups in
authentic dialogue.

     Museums, including NASM, have done a lot of this in recent
years. But it's been relatively easy so far. Curators have mostly
been building bridges to congruent constituencies -- women,
African-Americans, Native-Americans, and white working class
ethnic communities that shared the goal of making museums more
diverse and democratic.

     In the future, Political Impact Statements will have to
identify potentially harsher critics as well. If a projected
exhibition on the history of urban crime intends to flag handgun
availability as a problem, it would be wise to anticipate NRA
objections. If designers of a show on the history of public
health plan to call attention to preventable lung cancer, they
had best be prepared for the wrath of the tobacco industry.
Treatments of prostitution, pollution, civil rights, birth
control, political corruption, homosexuality, welfare, urban
planning, historic preservation, deindustrialization, foreign
relations -- almost anything, in truth, that tries to set
contemporary issues in historical perspective -- can be expected
to outrage some part of the populace, somewhere along the
political spectrum. Should such critics be declared
"stakeholders" and given an automatic veto? I think not. There
are better alternatives available, options whose feasibility have
been tested in practice, and which can enhance rather than
foreclose discussion.

     One approach is to clearly label a given show as embodying
the point-of-view of the curators. It would be presented as the
analogue of an op-ed piece, or a column, rather than a news
story. The author-curators could be clearly introduced up front,
with pictures and bios. They could lay out, in videotaped
prefaces, what they are seeking to accomplish. This would
undercut the notion that exhibitions are the product of
omniscient and invisible narrators. It would also allow
curatorial convictions to be distinguished from those of the
institution, as is done routinely on television, in disclaimers
that state that the views presented are not necessarily those of
the broadcaster. At the end of the exhibit, moreover, both
critics and visitors could be given the opportunity of commenting
on the presentation, using media formats ranging from simple
three by five cards tacked on a wall to video-taped snippets
playing on monitors.

     Another strategy would be to incorporate differing
perspectives in the exhibition itself. Museums should not duck
debate but welcome it. Fascinating shows could be fashioned by
pitting alternative perspectives one against the another:
creationists versus evolutionists, developers versus
preservationists, advocates versus opponents of affirmative

     In most cases proponents will settle for being participants
in a conversation. But what happens if they won't? What happens
if the NRA insists on deleting all references to gun control as a
desirable response to urban crime? What happens if
fundamentalists object to having their divinely sanctioned
beliefs paired with those of secular-humanist Darwinians? What to
do when the Air Force Association denounces the very notion of
laying out differing perspectives on the Hiroshima bombing as
being inherently unpatriotic? How to respond when the very idea
of presenting controversies is rejected as controversial?

     Here, I think, it's essential for individual institutions to
be able to refer to standards of professional rights and
responsibilities, fashioned by the museological community at
large. These should be akin to but not identical with standards
of academic freedom, in that they would apply to institutions,
not individuals. A public historical organization might be
expected to make use of up-to-date scholarship, follow
appropriate rules for gathering evidence in its own research,
make good faith efforts to reach out to interested constituencies
and involve them as co-producers or commentators, provide ways
for critics and visitors to respond to exhibitions, fairly
present a range of opinions on controversial issues, and offer
over time a reasonable variety of political perspectives. If
museums adhered to such procedures, they would be guaranteed the
right to mount whatever exhibitions they chose to, free from
political interference.

     The standards should state the principles that underlie such
a call for relative autonomy, and justify its value to the larger
society. Curators are educators of a special kind. They have
particular responsibilities to listen to their communities. But
they also have valuable skills and information to contribute to
that community and a responsibility to pursue the truth. If they
carry out their civic and professional obligations in a
responsible manner, it is in the best interest of that larger
community that they be protected from intimidation

     If and when drafters get around to hammering out principles
defending freedom of historical enquiry, they might consider four
sentences from a New York Times editorial of January 30 1995,
responding to attacks on the Smithsonian. "To reduce the
complexities or painful ambiguities of the issue to slogans or
historical shorthand is wrong." "To let politicians and groups
with a particular interest frame the discussion and determine the
conclusion is worse." "The real betrayal of American tradition
would be to insist on a single version of history or to make it
the property of the state or any group." "Historians and museums
of history need to be insulated from any attempt to make history
conform to a narrow ideological or political interest."

     The existence of such a public historical charter might well
bolster the position of beleaguered institutions. But then again
it might not. Paper rights are one thing, power realities
another. What could a museum do if it played by the rules and
still came under attack?

     In part it would have to take responsibility for its own
self-defense. Its Political Impact Statement should have analyzed
in advance who an exhibit's potential allies and enemies were
likely to be, and fashioned contingency plans for enlisting the
former and fending off the latter. Such a blueprint should
include an agenda for action, right on down to listing the names
and fax numbers of media experts and friendly politicians who
could be enlisted at short notice to help explain the
institution's position to press and public alike.

     But isolated institutions can do only so much. There must be
a commitment by the larger museum community to helping out. An
attack on one museum's freedom of expression should be seen as an
attack on all. Most Americans believe museums are dedicated to
the pursuit and display of truth. They enjoy a rare reputation
among our cultural and political establishments. Any capitulation
to political or commercial pressures tarnishes that image. If one
institution yields to noisy minorities, or even perceived
majorities, the hard-won credibility of all museums will quickly
unravel, for who can sustain confidence in institutions whose
exhibitions have been purchased or imposed?

     In the event of future Enola Gays, professional bodies
should launch their own investigations. If such inquiries find
that the institution has operated in compliance with generally
accepted standards, and been subjected to unwarranted harassment,
then the entire community should speak out vigorously in its
behalf. The museum world should also forge alliances with other
cultural institutions -- like public libraries, schools,
universities, email networks, and publishers of print and
electronic media -- who now routinely come under fire. Jane
Alexander, head of the National Endowment for the Arts, has set a
splendid example by travelling to all fifty states and mobilizing
grass roots arts groups. If, as I believe, museums have developed
and retain a substantial reservoir of popular support, they might
consider mobilizing their constituents in defense of freedom of

     If all this fails, and we are faced with more shuttered
galleries, we may have to consider borrowing methods other
dissidents have found useful. The Air & Space story will not end
with the opening of the amputated exhibit. An alliance of
scholars, curators and peace activists is planning
demonstrations, teach-ins, and perhaps a counter-exhibition, a
sort of muse de refus. If the shutdown galvanizes the public
historical community into concerted action, then perhaps the
Battle of the Enola Gay, which now seems a setback, may prove in
the end to have been a victory.


1. Leahy's judgement in 1950 was: "It is my opinion that the use
of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no
material success in our war against Japan," as "the Japanese were
already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective
sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional
weapons." Eisenhower asserted in 1963 that Japan "was seeking
some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'" and that "It
wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."

2. Arnold, Spaatz and LeMay opposed dropping the atomic bomb
except as part of an invasion. Arnold pressed these views as late
as the Potsdam Conference in late July 1945, but in the end
deferred to General Marshall. After the war, Arnold said that
"atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the
verge of collapse," and LeMay believed that "even without the
atomic bomb and the Russian entry into the war, Japan would have
surrendered in two weeks." Some think these judgements stemmed
from fear that superbombs would torpedo the Generals' dreams of a
postwar independent Air Force with seventy wings and thousands of

3. The group included: Barton J. Bernstein of Stanford, a student
of nuclear policy; Stanley Goldberg, a scholar studying General
Groves and his Manhattan Project; Akira Iriye of Harvard, a
historian of Japanese-American relations; Richard Rhodes, author
of The Making of the Atomic Bomb; Martin Sherwin, Dartmouth
historian and author of A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and
the Grand Alliance; Victor Bond, a doctor at Brookhaven National
Laboratory; Edward T. Linenthal, student of American attitudes to
war memorials;  Dr. Richard Hallion, Air Force Historian; and,
contrary to claims that curators consulted no one with actual
wartime experience, Edwin Bearss, Chief Historian of National
Park Service, decorated Marine veteran, at Pearl Harbor, wounded
at Guadalcanal, and a strong supporter of the script.

     This group met only once, though they were also consulted,
over succeeding months, on a seriatim basis.

4. Newt's immobilized past stands in stark contrast to his vision
of a flexible future. He seems oblivious to the contradiction,
perhaps because he thinks he needs a fixed base from which to
launch his Third Wave revolution. But this is to deprive himself
of the historical tools which might understand (and help shape)
the way a society moves from one era to another.

5. It's hard to imagine that if Newt had ever actually stepped
foot in National Air & Space he wouldn't have been pleased with
the WWI exhibition his allies so detested. Gingrich claims as a
transformational defining moment his visit, at age 15, to the
Verdun battlefield. There he peered through the windows of an
ossuary containing the bones of 100,000 unidentified bodies. "I
can still feel the sense of horror and reality which overcame me
then," he wrote in his 1984 book Window of Opportunity. "It is
the driving force which pushed me into history and politics and
molded my life." The WWI exhibition features a giant photograph
of the Verdun Ossuary. Pity he's intent on denying others even an
echo of the experience he found so moving and instructive.

6. President Clinton, whose past and present relations with the
military left him in no position to challenge the decision,
observed with his usual caution that while "academic freedom" was
an issue here, he "nonetheless felt that some of the concerns
expressed by veterans groups and others had merit."

7. The actual exhibition opened on June 28, 1995, just as this
manuscript headed off to production. It proved to be even more of
a retreat than had been anticipated. Heyman claimed it simply
reported "the facts," but it was larded with AFA-style
interpretation. The label copy declared that "the use of the
bombs led to the immediate surrender of Japan and made
unnecessary the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands.
Such an invasion, especially if undertaken for both main islands,
would have led to very heavy casualties among American and Allied
troops and Japanese civilians and military. It was thought highly
unlikely that Japan, while in a very weakened military condition,
would have surrendered unconditionally without such an invasion."
This, of course, begged a variety of issues, among them the role
of the Soviet declaration of war (utterly unmentioned here), the
question of whether or not a "conditional" surrender might have
ended the war without either invasion or bombing, and the
considered judgement of many wartime leaders that the Japanese
might well have surrendered before the earliest possible

     Nor, apart from a twenty second video snippet showing bomb
effects (which may or may not have included the image of a
corpse), and label copy saying that the two bombs "caused tens of
thousands of death" (by many accounts, a serious understatement),
is there any confrontation with the destruction of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. "I really decided to leave it more to the imagination,"
Heyman told a June 27th news conference.

     The Secretary added that "the aircraft speaks for itself in
this exhibit" -- and indeed NASM scattered additional pieces of
the giant plane throughout the exhibition, trying to fill up the
embarrassingly bare galleries -- but in fact it is the Enola
Gay's pilot who speaks on its behalf. And far from limiting
himself to eleven words, Tibbets goes on at some length in the 16
minute video presentation, offering his views of the mission. Not
surprisingly, after previewing the exhibition on June 21, Tibbets
wrote Heyman he was "pleased and proud" of it. It presented the
"basic facts," he argued, without any "attempt to persuade anyone
about anything." The outcome, he added, "demonstrates the merits
and the positive influences of management."

     On opening day, 21 demonstrators with the Enola Gay Action
Coalition were hauled away by a U.S. Park Police SWAT team.

8. Newt's a trailblazer here too. Of the wealthy donors who
picked up the $600,000 first year costs of his "Renewing American
Civilization" lectures, those contributing over $25,000 were
"invited to participate in the course development process" --
giving a new twist to the notion of a "free market in ideas".

9. In June 1995, the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos
mounted an exhibition on the atomic bomb prepared by a Santa Fe
peace group. In featuring photos of ground devastation it
infuriated veterans and former Manhattan project workers. Not
having seen the exhibit, I can't comment on its interpretive
perspective. But it's a chilling sign of NASM fallout that Harold
Agnew, former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory
(which owns the museum), wrote a veterans' group that if the show
was not changed, staff members' jobs might be at risk. "We got
rid of the Smithsonian curator over the Enola Gay fiasco," he
said. "Hopefully the Bradbury staff will understand."

10. "They are bending over backwards it looks like to accommodate
the Japanese," said Sam Johnson. Ironically, curator Tom Crouch
was on record as being "really bothered, angered, by the way that
the Japanese find it so difficult to put wartime issues in real
context. Their view is to portray themselves as victims." Crouch,
however, saw parallels in this country. "As I listen to the folks
who criticize this [exhibit], I hear something similar to that.
There's real discomfort about looking at destruction on the
ground....I hear critics saying, 'Don't tell part of the story.'"
"They want to stop the story when the bomb leaves the bomb bay."

11. A "Japan Committee to Appeal for World Peace '95," composed
of scholars and cultural workers, called for an "apology and
compensation for damages to the Asian peoples whom we
victimized," and urged the Japanese government and Diet to
"clearly articulate the government's self-reflection on Japan's
responsibility for past colonial rule as well as the Asia-Pacific
War . . . ."

     The political establishment teeters back and forth on this
issue. Prime Minister Murayama went to Beijing in the Spring of
1995 and said: "I recognize anew that Japan's actions, including
aggression and colonial rule, at one time in our history caused
unbearable suffering and sorrow for many people in your country
and other Asian neighbors." He also wrote a scroll: "I face up to

     The Japanese nationalist right did not. Shigeto Nagano,
Justice Minister and former chief of staff of the army, insisted
in May 1995 that the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Chinese
at (then) Nanking in 1937 was a "fabrication," and reaffirmed
that Japan, in invading Asian countries, had been "liberating"
them from Western colonial powers.

     On May 12, 1995, however, a Tokyo High Court ruling of the
previous October was affirmed, which had supported Japanese
historian Saburo Ienaga's 31 year struggle against the Education
Ministry for whitewashing schoolbook accounts of the massacre. It
also revoked the Ministry's power to determine historical

     On June 6, 1995, the right wing Liberal Democratic Party
forced a compromise on the Parliamentary apology front. A
resolution carried the lower house expressing remorse for causing
"unbearable pain to people abroad, particularly in Asian
countries." But the wording was ambiguous enough to allow for
varying interpretations (thus "Hansei" could mean "remorse," or
merely "reflection"). And the upper house refused even to
consider such a resolution.

     A week later, on June 14, the Government responded by
establishing a fund to provide medical and social welfare
assistance to former comfort women. And though it fell short of
what some of the women had demanded, it was accompanied by a
statement of remorse and apology. This will clearly be an ongoing

12. Similarly, Tokyo's Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum mounted a
major exhibition for the March 1995 50th anniversary of the
city's being firebombed. Though retaining the focus on domestic
suffering, it includes information on 1930s and '40s militarism
(video clips show Japanese bombers attacking Chongquing).

13. More irony: A small industry has sprung up in Japan which
caters to youth "searching for heroes in an uncertain world," by
producing books, comics, and computer games (like Commander's
Decision) which rewrite WWII history in Japan's favor, granting
it retroactive victory, while omitting all mention of wartime


                      BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

     The basic texts are the five exhibition label scripts. The
first was: National Air and Space Museum, "The Crossroads: the
End of World War II, the Atomic Bomb, and the Origins of the Cold
War," January 12 1994. All subsequent versions were entitled "The
Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II," and were
issued on May 31 1994, August 31 1994, October 3 1994, October 26
1994. For Harwit's proposed changes to the last draft, see label
copy: "Invasion of Japan--At What Cost," January 3, 1995. See
also: NASM, "Exhibition Planning Document," July 1993.

     For Correll's corpus: John T. Correll, "War Stories at Air
and Space," AIR FORCE Magazine, April 1994; idem., "The Decision
That Launched the Enola Gay," ibid., April 1994; idem., "The
Smithsonian Plan for the Enola Gay: A Report on the Revisions,"
AFA Update, June 28 1994; idem., "Museum Promises to Change Enola
Gay Exhibition," ibid., October 1994; idem., "The Three Doctors
and the Enola Gay," ibid., November 1994; idem., "Airplanes in
the Mist," ibid., December 1994; idem., "Air and Space Museum Hit
by Academic Backlash," ibid., January 1995.

     For media critics of the exhibition: Hugh Sidey. "War and
Remembrance," Time, May 23 1994; Jeff Jacoby, "Smithsonian Drops
a Bomb in World War II Exhibit," Boston Globe, August 16 1994;
Charles Krauthammer, "World War II, Revised, Or, How We Bombed
Japan out of Racism and Spite," The Washington Post, August 19
1994; "War and the Smithsonian" Wall Street Journal, August 29
1994; Lance Morrow, "Hiroshima and the Time Machine," Time,
September 19 1994; Ken Ringle, "At Ground Zero: Two Views of
History Collide Over Smithsonian A-Bomb Exhibit," The Washington
Post, September 26 1994; Jonathan Yardley, "Dropping a Bomb of an
Idea," The Washington Post, October 10 1994; John Leo, The
National Museums of PC," U.S. News & World Report, October 10
1994; idem. "The PC Attack on Heroism: National Air and Space
Museum Exhibit on World War I Pilots," U.S. News & World Report,
October 31 1994; Eugene L. Meyer, "Revisionism, Revised,"
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 50:6 (November 12 1994);
Robert P. Newman, "What New Consensus," The Washington Post,
November 30 1994; Editorial, "The Smithsonian Changes Course,"
The Washington Post, February 1, 1995; Air Classics (April 1995).

     Just as this manuscript headed off for production, a
splendid and devastating analysis of press treatment of the
affair arrived. See Tony Capaccio and Uday Mohan, "Missing the
Target," American Journalism Review (July/August 1995), 19-26.

     For Richard Hallion's laudatory comments and moderate
suggestions for revision, penned before he became a leading
critic, see Richard Hallion and Herman Wolk, "Comments on Script,
"The Crossroads...," February 7 1994.

     For the American Legion's position: Brian D. Smith,
"Rewriting Enola Gay's History," The American Legion, 137:5
(November 1994); Hubert R. Dagley II, "We're Making Sure that
Smithsonian Corrects Enola Gay Exhibit," Washington Times,
October 14 1994; Julie A. Rhoad, "The Proposed Enola Gay Exhibit,
Is It An Accurate Portrayal of History?" American Legion
Auxiliary NATIONAL NEWS (January February 1995).

     See also: Statement Offered by Brigadier General Paul W.
Tibbets at the Airmen Memorial Museum, June 8 1994.

     For the history of National Air and Space Museum:
Establishment of a National Air Museum, Hearings before the
Committee on the Library, House of Representatives, 79th
Congress, Second Session on H.R. 5144, To Establish a National
Air Museum, February 13, 1946; U.S. Congress, House, Subcommittee
on Library and Memorials, Committee on House Administration,
Smithsonian Institution: General Background, 91st Cong., 2d
Session, July 21, 1970; Howard Learner, White Paper on Science
Museums (1979); Michal McMahon, "The Romance of Technological
Progress: A Critical Review of the National Air and Space
Museum," Technology and Culture (1981); Walter J. Boyne, The
Aircraft Treasures of Silver Hill (1982); Samuel A. Batzli, "From
Heroes to Hiroshima: The National Air and Space Museum Adjusts
Its Point of View," Technology and Culture (1990); Arthur P.
Molella, "The Museum That Might Have Been: The Smithsonian's
National Museum of Engineering and Industry," Technology and
Culture (1991); C.D.B. Bryan, The National Air and Space Museum,
Second Edition (1992).

     On the World War I show, see the NASM publication, Dominick
A. Pisano, et al., Legend, Memory and the Great War in the Air
(1992). For commentary: Michael Killan, "Grounded in Reality:
Exhibition finds the Mythic WWI Ace Was a Flight of Fancy,"
Chicago Tribune, November 26 1991; Edwards Park, "Around the Mall
and Beyond," Smithsonian (December 1991); Hank Burchard, "Plane
Truths During WWI," The Washington Post, November 22 1991.

     See also: Daniel S Greenberg, "Smithsonian Space Museum
Exhibits Add Truth to Labeling," Houston Post, December 4 1990;
"Notes and Comment: SS-20 Missile at National Air and Space
Museum," New Yorker, August 13 1990.

     For statements from the museum staff: Robert McCormick
Adams, "A Smithsonian Artifact for 39 Years, the Enola Gay is
Still a Long Way from Being Put on Permanent Exhibition,"
Smithsonian (July 1988); idem. to Martin Harwit, July 17 1993;
Michael Kernan, "Smithsonian Secretary Robert McCormick Adams
Looks to New Horizons," Smithsonian (September 1994).

     Martin Harwit, "Comments on Crossroads," [Internal
Memorandum], April 16 1994; "Harwit Responds," AIR FORCE Magazine
(May 1994); idem., "The Enola Gay: A Nation's, and a Museum's,
Dilemma," The Washington Post, August 7 1994; idem., "Enola Gay
and a Nation's Memories," Air & Space (August/September 1994).

     I. Michael Heyman, "Smithsonian Perspectives," Smithsonian
(October 1994); idem., "Letter to the Editor," U.S. News and
World Report, October 31 1994; idem., Transcript of Remarks at
National Press Club Luncheon, February 23 1995.

     Tom Crouch to Martin Harwit, "A Response to the Secretary,"
[Internal Memorandum], July 21, 1993.

     For the official history of the AFA, see James H. Straubel,
Crusade for Airpower: The Story of the Air Force Association

     On the wider History War: George F. Will, "The Real State of
the Union," The Washington Post, January 26, 1995; "The Trend of
History," Wall Street Journal, January 31, 1995; Matthew C.
Hoffman, Politics Come to the Smithsonian, Wall Street Journal,
June 24 1994; Rush Limbaugh, See, I Told You So (1993).

     On Gingrich: Newt Gingrich, with David Drake and Marianne
Gingrich, Window of Opportunity: A Blueprint for the Future
(1984); "Lessons of American History," Renewing American
Civilization, Cassette Number 6, February 12 1994; Fred Barnes,
"Revenge of the Squares: Newt Gingrich and Pals Rewrite the
'60s," New Republic, March 13, 1995; Dale Russakoff, "He Knew
What He Wanted," The Washington Post, December 18 1994; Dale
Russakoff and Dan Balz, "After Political Victory, a Personal
Revolution," The Washington Post, December 19 1994; Dan Balz and
Charles R. Babcock, "Gingrich, Allies Made Waves and Impression,"
The Washington Post, December 20 1994; Garry Wills, "The
Visionary," New York Review of Books, March 23, 1995; Elliot
Krieger, "Gingrich Embraces Vision of Brown Professor,"
Providence Journal-Bulletin, April 16, 1995.

     On Jeffrey: New York Times, January 8, January 10 1994;
"Christina Jeffrey Responds," The Washington Post, January 24,
1995; Jeffrey, "Playing Politics with History, Wall Street
Journal, March 28 1995.

     On the History Standards: National Center for History in the
Schools, National Standards for United States History (1994);
Lynne V. Cheney, "The End of History," Wall Street Journal,
October 20 1994; Gary B. Nash, "National Standards in U.S.
History: A Note from the President," Organization of American
Historians Newsletter (November 1994); Carol Gluck, "History
According to Whom?" New York Times, November 19 1994; Jon Wiener,
"History Lesson," The New Republic, January 2 1995; Page Putnam
Miller, "History Standards Under Attack in Senate," National
Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History Update,
January 18, 1995; Frank Rich, "Eating Her Offspring," New York
Times, January 26 1995; Todd Gitlin, "History Standards," New
York Observer, January 30 1995; John Leo, "History Standards are
Bunk," U.S. News and World Report, February 6 1995; "Maligning
the History Standards," New York Times, February 13 1995; Frank
Rich, "Cheney Dumbs Down," ibid., February 26 1995; Lynne Cheney,
"Mocking America at U.S. Expense," New York Times, May 10 1995;
Diane Ravitch, "Revise, but Don't Abandon, the History Standards,
Chronicle of Higher Education, February 17, 1995.

     For chronologies and reports of the controversy: John R.
Dichtl, "A Chronology of the Smithsonian's 'Last Act',"
Organization of American Historians Newsletter (November 1994);
John Kifner, "Hiroshima: Controversy that Refuses to Die," New
York Times, January 31, 1995; Arnita Jones and Page Miller,
"Enola Gay Controversy Continues," Organization of American
Historians Newsletter (February 1995); "A Museum in Crisis," U.S.
News and World Report, February 13 1995;

     For critical commentary, start with the works of Edward T.
Linenthal, an original Advisory Board member and public history
scholar: "Historical Cleansing at the National Air and Space
Museum: The Enola Gay Controversy," unpublished paper, December
1994;  Edward T. Linenthal, "Can Museums Achieve a Balance
Between Memory and History?" The Chronicle of Higher Education,
February 10 1995; Edward T. Linenthal, "Reflections on the Enola
Gay Controversy at the National Air and Space Museum,"
forthcoming in 1996.

     For other important assessments, see: Stanley Goldberg, "An
Exhibit is Not a Book--It's Not a Movie Either," unpublished
paper, x 1994 (Goldberg, also an Advisor, resigned in protest
over NASM's later script revisions); Gar Alperovitz, "Questioning
Hiroshima," Boston Globe, August 20 1994; "The Smithsonian and
the Bomb," New York Times, September 5 1994; Kai Bird, "The
Curators Cave In," New York Times, October 9 1994; Karen J.
Winkler, "Who Owns History?" The Chronicle of Higher Education,
January 20 1995; Barton Bernstein, "Hiroshima Rewritten," New
York Times, January 31 1995; Joel Achenbach, "The Pablum Museum,"
The Washington Post, February 1 1995; Kai Bird, "Silencing
History" The Nation, February 20 1995; Lonnie G. Bunch, "Fighting
the Good Fight: Museums in an Age of Uncertainty," Museum News
(March/April 1995)

     Tony Capaccio contributed a nice piece of investigative
journalism in "'Truman' Author Errs on Japan Invasion Casualty
Memo," Defense Week, October 11 1994. When pressed for
contemporary evidence of high casualty estimates, AFA spokesman
Steve Aubin turned to Air Force Historian Hallion, who turned to
David McCullough's Truman. McCullough cited a memo of June 4
1945, written by General Thomas Handy of Marshall's staff, saying
500,000 to one million lives would be saved, "which shows that
figures of such magnitude were then in use at the highest level."
But the document didn't say that. Handy had been asked by
Secretary Stimson to comment on a paper from a then unnamed
economist (in fact Herbert Hoover). Hoover used those figures;
Handy dismissed them as "entirely too high." McCullough, in a
September 24 1994 letter to Defense Week acknowledged: "I made a
mistake and I regret it...." McCullough went on to say, quite
properly, that the rightness or wrongness of the decision
shouldn't be argued or justified on the basis of such figures,
though critics of the show had indeed been arguing in this vein.
When informed of McCullough's error, Hallion said: "That's news
to me...Ok. That takes care of that one." None of this ever made
the mainstream press.

     For histories of the bombing and the air war start with the
excellent summary by J. Samuel Walker, "The Decision to Use the
Bomb: A Historiographical Update,"  Diplomatic History, 14
(1990), 97-114.

     Martin J. Sherwin, A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and
the Grand Alliance (1975); Ronald Schaffer, Wings of Judgment:
American Bombing in World War II (1985); Ronald H. Spector, Eagle
Against the Sun: The American War with Japan (1985); Gar
Alperovitz, Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam (1985); John
W Dower, War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War
(1986); Michael Sherry, The Rise of American Air Power: The
Creation of Armageddon (1987); Leon V. Sigal, Fighting to a
Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States and
Japan, 1945 (1988); John Ray Skates, The Invasion of Japan:
Alternative to the Bomb (1994); Stewart L. Udall, The Myths of
August: A Personal Exploration of Our Tragic Cold War Affair with
the Atom (1994); Barton J Bernstein, "The Atomic Bombings
Reconsidered," Foreign Affairs, 74:1 (January/February 1995).

     For the scholarship on the numbers issue, see:  Rufus E.
Miles, Jr., "Hiroshima: The Strange Myth of Half a Million
American Lives Saved, International Security 10 (Fall 1985), 121-
40; Barton J. Bernstein, "A Postwar Myth: 500,000 Lives Saved,"
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 42 (June/July 1986), 38-40;
Barton J. Bernstein, "Seizing the Contested Terrain of Early
Nuclear History: Stimson, Conant, and their Allies Explain the
Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb," Diplomatic History 17 (Winter
1993), 35-72; James G. Hershberg, James B. Conant: Harvard to
Hiroshima and the Making of the Nuclear Age (1993); Peter
Maslowski, "Truman, the Bomb, and the Numbers Game, MHQ: The
Quarterly Journal of Military History, 7:3 (Spring 1995), 103-7.

     The Maslowski piece is in A Special Issue: The End of the
War with Japan, which contains many other relevant articles,
notably Haruko Taya Cook, "The Myth of the Saipan Suicides,"
which suggests the notion of a kamikaze nation that would fight
suicidally to bitter end was wildly overdrawn.

     On American's skimpy knowledge of Hiroshima: Bob Herbert, "A
Nation of Nitwits," New York Times, March 1 1995.

     On the way Japan handles its past: Ian Buruma, The Wages of
Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and Japan (1994); Herbert P
Bix, "How Japan and Germany Remember Their Military Pasts,"
Christian Science Monitor, July 27 1994.

     For recent developments: David E. Sanger, "Hiroshima Takes
Fresh Look at Why Bomb Fell," International Herald Tribune,
August 5 1994; Nicholas D Kristof, "Stoically, Japan Looks Back
on the Flames of War," New York Times, March 9 1995; T.R. Reid,
"Japan Revising Past Role: More Aggressor, Less Victim," The
Washington Post, March 11 1995; Stephen Kinzer, "Confronting the
Past, Germans Now Don't Flinch," New York Times, May 1 1995;
Nicholas D. Kristof, "Japan Expresses Regret of a Sort for the
War," New York Times, June 7, 1995; Nicholas D. Kristof, "Japan
to Pay Women Forced into Brothels," New York Times, June 15,
1995; Kenzaburo Oe, "Denying History Disables Japan," New York
Times, July 2, 1995; David E. Sanger, "Coloring History Our Way,"
New York Times, July 2, 1995.

     On the exhibition as opened: Paul W. Tibbets to I. Michael
Heyman, June 21, 1995; Joel Achenbach, "Enola Gay Exhibit: Plane
and Simple," The Washington Post, June 28, 1995; Lonnae O'Neal
Parker, "Enola Gay Exhibit Opens to Protest, Mixed Reviews," The
Washington Post, June 28, 1995; "Opening Statement of Smithsonian
Secretary I. Michael Heyman," [Smithsonian Institution Press
Release, June 27, 1995]; "Enola Gay Display opens at
Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum" [Smithsonian
Institution Press Release, June 28, 1995].

     On Los Alamos Museum show: The New Mexican, June 6, 1995.

     On Polish historians "new-found freedom": New York Times,
January 25 1995.

     On cultural vigilantism in (and over) the past: James W.
Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me (1995); Ellen Schrecker, No Ivory
Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities (1986)

     I found two electronic bulletin boards extremely useful. The
MUSEUM-L list (reachable at this address:
LISTSERV@UNMVMA.UNM.EDU) allowed me to listen in to the
interesting debate over the exhibition among museum
professionals. And the WWII-L list (LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU)
put me in touch with an extensive community of World War II
veterans and buffs. (Mike Fetters of National Air & Space's
Office of Public Affairs joined the list at one point, engaging
critics in ongoing conversation, down in the electronic
trenches). These discussion groups, like many others, archive
their exchanges, and I was able to retrieve material from those
months when conversations were most energetic.



     My thanks to those who agreed to be interviewed: Barton J.
Bernstein, Kai Bird, Stanley Goldberg, Richard Hallion, Martin
Harwit, Akira Iriye, Robert Lifton, Arthur Molella, Gary Nash,
Michael Sherry, Martin Sherwin, Barbara Clark Smith, and several
former colleagues of Professor Gingrich at West Georgia College.

     Thanks also to Mike Fetters of NASM, who was endlessly
helpful, and Steve Aubin of the Air Force Association, who
provided useful information.

     Thanks, too, to readers of earlier drafts: Barton Bernstein,
Kai Bird, Eric Foner, Frances Goldin, Michael Kammen, Richard
Kohn, Harry Magdoff, Jon Wiener. But specially to Ted Burrows,
Hope Cooke, Edward T. Linenthal, Martin Sherwin, and Alfred
Young, whose criticisms and encouragements were of the highest
caliber, and deeply appreciated.