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Jon Stewart's apology to Harry Truman

Should Stewart have backpedaled after calling Truman a war criminal?

The last thing you'd expect from Jon Stewart is "pathetic ass-covering," said Dennis Perrin in The Huffington Post. But there he was at his desk on The Daily Show (watch Jon Stewart's retraction), apologizing for calling Harry Truman a war criminal for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. It's a sad day for "free expression" when a satirist has to apologize for calling the "mass murder" of civilians a crime.

Badmouthing a president for leading the country to victory in war is never a good idea, said Scott Johnson in Power Line, so Stewart really had no choice but to apologize. But what this incident really illustrates is how batty Stewart's views on torture are (watch Stewart's torture debate with Cliff May). He had to say it's wrong "to incinerate more than 100,000 innocent Japanese" because he's adamant that it's "not okay to scare Khalid Shaikh Mohammed—while doing him no, zero, physical harm."

Stewart may be right that calling Truman a war criminal was "stupid," said Daniel Larison in The American Conservative. The prevailing view is that history has vindicated Truman, so Stewart had nothing to gain. But that just shows "how perverse and distorting the prevailing 'judgment of history' can be." Surely "mass incineration" of civilians ranks "as a far worse crime than the very serious crime of torturing prisoners."

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