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Mon, Nov 03, 2003

More Protests Over Smithsonian's Enola Gay Exhibit

Anti-Nukes Want Display Revised...Again

"You wouldn't display a slave ship solely as a model of technological advancement," says David Nasaw, a cultural historian at CUNY Graduate Center. "It would be offensive not to put it in context."

That's how protestors to the Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian see it, anyway. For that reason, more than 100 people have signed a petition demanding changes to the B-29 exhibit in Washington.

The New York Times reports the exhibit touts the Enola Gay as "the largest and most technologically advanced airplane for its time," without noting that the particular aircraft on display is the one that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.

The aircraft piloted by Col. Paul Tibbets on the world's first nuclear strike is being shown at the Steven Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport (VA). The placard in front of the display shows the B-29's dimensions, information on the aircraft's original purpose (to bomb Axis targets in Europe) and wording that the B-29 finally found its place in the war in the Pacific, not European theater. It doesn't say anything about the August 6th mission over Japan.

It's not the first time the Smithsonian has been beset by complaints over the B-29. In 1994, war veterans criticized the content of material presented along with the Enola Gay, saying it could be seen as American aggression instead of an effort to avoid the invasion of Japan.

Eventually, the Enola Gay, named for Tibbet's mother, was part of a smaller exhibit that went on display in 1995.

This time, petitioners say it's not a very good idea to tout the Enola Gay as the United States flexes its military muscle in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The Smithsonian says there won't be any official comment on the petition until after it's presented.

FMI: www.nasm.si.edu/museum/udvarhazy

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