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News Unrealistic Cold-War mentality.

  1. Apr 13, 2009 #1

    turbo

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    When I was a kid, we were told to be ready for an attack by Russia. We were taught that in the event that the air-raid sirens went off, we were to duck and cover, and we were also told that we should be under our desks until the all-clear was sounded. What's wrong with that scenario? Our little elementary school was downstream from a very large hydro-dam holding back 15 miles of impoundment. If there was a single high-value target in Central Maine, that was it. One well-placed bomb could have taken out the state's largest power generating station, and the resulting flood would have destroyed towns and cities in the valley all the way to the sea, including two county seats, and the state capitol. That's a lot of destruction at the cost of one bomb. We could see the dam looming over our school-yard as we played at recess, etc. What good could "duck and cover" have done? If the Russkies nuked the dam, we all would have been vaporized instantly, and our ashes would have joined the huge wall of water and debris bearing down on the towns and cities lining the valley.

    The school is the building with the wrap-around paved drive.

    wymandam.jpg
     
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  3. Apr 13, 2009 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Surely you didn't think the Russians would nuke Moscow!

    You didn't need a dam to be doomed. Even by the second or third grade we all recognized the absurdity of hiding from a nuke under a half inch of laminated plywood. Being that we lived in Long Beach, Ca., [Navy shipyard and port, Nike missile base nearby] we knew we were a primary target.

    In scouts, we once camped right next to the underground missile silos.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009
  4. Apr 13, 2009 #3

    turbo

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    The dam was about the only reason that the Russians would have to bomb anything in this region. The big military targets were Dow AFB in Bangor and Brunswick Naval Air station. For infrastructure targets, that dam was as big as it got.
     
  5. Apr 13, 2009 #4
    The primary benefits of such routines was to be psychological, not physical.

    You "feel" safer, less panicked, about it when you have something you were told to (and as a child, thus, must) do.
     
  6. Apr 13, 2009 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    I saw it as a reminder that the missiles could be coming any minute.

    If anything, it helped to perpetuate fear of them evil Russkies. Not to say that the threat wasn't real.
     
  7. Apr 13, 2009 #6
    I think it could just be a part of propaganda war - teaching children that Russians are evil, want to kill them or what not. If it was that, I think is wasn't unrealistic tactic but bit dangerous about passing down the hates.

    I wonder if children should bring into these kind of propaganda - like Hitler teaching little children anti-semitism.
     
  8. Apr 13, 2009 #7

    turbo

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    It was an over-the-top us-against-them mentality that allowed hard-liners on both sides to consolidate power. The problem IMO was that the films that they showed to us kids emphasized the threats but left us with no reasonable way to respond to them. Living in the shadow of that huge dam was part of it. There are 5-6 more hydro dams downstream of that big one, and none of them would have survived its breech, nor would any of the major bridges have survived. Even as kids, we knew that dam was a fat target.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009
  9. Apr 13, 2009 #8
    Can you see any similar events taking place today?
     
  10. Apr 13, 2009 #9
    The following is not history, it is just my impression of what was going on at the time.

    The idea of the nuclear standoff was that the citizens of both countries were hostage to the weapons of the other. By making even small differences in the number of killed and wounded, we were protecting our hostages. I think the Soviets convinced the Americans that to the extent that such programs blunted the effectiveness of their weapons, they needed to be part of weapons negotiations. With that, the Americans abandoned the program.
     
  11. Apr 13, 2009 #10

    BobG

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    Heck, my babysitter had homework in books explaining the effects of nuclear fallout. You didn't have to read much or understand much to realize surviving a nuclear war wouldn't be much fun. On the other hand, kids back in those days knew a lot more science than kids today (and first aid, too, which was the one of the other subjects her book covered).

    We didn't hide under desks at our school. The boys knelt in the hallway next to the lockers. The girls stood behind the boys bravely shielding them from the nuclear blast. That way the boys would survive and could fight in the war. Either a long war or there was a contingency plan to use child warriors, I guess.
     
  12. Apr 13, 2009 #11

    chroot

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    This is unfortunately how all human societies naturally operate. Fear is the most potent weapon in any arsenal, and it's now used to great effect by everyone from Osama bin Laden to environmental alarmists. As soon as one "public threat" evaporates, another steps right up to take its place. Our youngest citizens are the most susceptible to the salesmanship of fear, despite their naivete. This has always been so, and will probably always be so.

    - Warren
     
  13. Apr 13, 2009 #12

    mgb_phys

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    I'm still confused about that. When I was a kid we did a fundraiser to send athletes to the 1980 Moscow olympics. The government wouldn't pay because the Russians had invaded Afghanistan and were oppressing the Taleban.

    Looks like I was ahead of my time !
     
  14. Apr 13, 2009 #13
    Some other relevant stories:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3899015.stm

    http://emperors-clothes.com/interviews/abdo.htm says his school taught him that suicide bombers go to heavens.


    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6545085.stm


    I was looking for other news about one Arabic/Asian country that wanted to show its children a controversial movie depicting people from other country as evil/monsters.
     
  15. Apr 13, 2009 #14

    mgb_phys

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    Japan has a long history of requiring school textbooks to be approved by the government to show WWII in a positive light (presumably claiming they came second) and not mention any little isolated incidents of Japanese troops being a bit naughty with prisoners.

    Then of course there is any Mel Gibson movie featuring the English!
     
  16. Apr 13, 2009 #15

    Ivan Seeking

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    Funny to think about now, but in my eight years at a Catholic school, the only propoganda that I remember was political, not religious. I specifically remember discussing this list of communist objectives:

    http://www.uhuh.com/nwo/communism/comgoals.htm
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  17. Apr 13, 2009 #16

    If/when a terrorist gets a nuke/dirty bomb/chemical/bio weapon...New York continues to be a target as well as D.C. and just about every port city...forget missiles, lots of shipping containers out there.
     
  18. Apr 13, 2009 #17

    Pengwuino

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    Speak for yourself, my computer desk has endured many-a-headbangings as i did homework for years. is a thermonuclear warhead really a step up?
     
  19. Apr 14, 2009 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    That's the thing. We all watched file footage of test detonations. We all watched the buildings being blown to bits. One didn't have to be a genius to realize that a desk wouldn't do much.

    Now you're talking! I like your school better.
     
  20. Apr 14, 2009 #19

    alxm

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    This smart-*** attitude to those civil-defense flicks annoys me. Of course you'd be screwed if you were hit by a nuke directly, and it's not like people in the 50's and 60's were unaware of that.

    The point was to teach fairly sensible advice to people not in the immediate vicinity of an unexpected strike (which would be the majority) what to do to mitigate their risks (from collapsing buildings, flying debris, looking into the flash) as far as possible. In the event, 'duck and cover' would in fact, save lives.

    What course of action would you propose? Are you going to instill people with a fatalist attitude that "if a nuke hits, you're screwed anyway, so don't bother protecting yourself", or are you going to teach people to do what they can, however feeble it may seem, to save themselves?
     
  21. Apr 14, 2009 #20
    The US has a short history of portraying the Samurai in a positive light. Something like English knights. You know, those guys with the long knives in both places, shaking-down peasants for extra goodies. The Scientologist played in that flick. 'The Last Samurai', I think.

    Monte Python would have done a better job of it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2009
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