August 6 marks the anniversary of the US bombing of Hiroshima – which makes it a day to consider power and vulnerability. Johnathan Schell, writing in Yes Magazine, reflects that, "During the Cold War, the principal objection in the United States to a nuclear-weapon-free world was that you could not get there." That objection melted away with the Soviet Union and then the arguments became that because nuclear weapons could not be disinvented, a world free of nukes is "at worst a mirage, at best, highly dangerous"

History shows the opposite, points out Schell. Just look at Iraq or Afghanistan: while the arms race imperils the planet, nuclear weapons haven’t helped their possessors vanquish even tiny non-nuclear adversaries.

"If the nuclear powers wish to be safe from nuclear weapons," writes Schelll. "They must surrender their own. Then we will all work together to assure that everyone abides by the commitment."

Schell’s meditation on nuclear weapons reminds me of the discussion on today’s about racial politics. For decades, the argument against racial equality was that people of different races were scientifically different. And then it became, if not different, then nonetheless dangerous. That’s the well-wired button John McCain’s pressing with his latest ads about an Obama-choice being "risky." "Is he ready?" It’s all about fear: if you elect a black president, who knows what will happen to you and the world as you know it.

I bet the answer to racial fear-mongering’s the same as it is to nuclear madness. In this dangerous election year it’s truer than ever: If people with racial power want not to live in fear, they better surrender their racial privilege for their own sake, and the future for the planet.