August 23: I was born on this day in the 1970's.
We borrowed a car today and drove up to Bear Mountain State Park--two hours north of NYC and sandwiched between the unfortunately named Indian Point nuclear power plant and the West Point Military Academy. The two-year-old VW gently sipped about a gallon of fuel for every thirty miles we drove. The fuel was purchased with the blood of Casey Sheehan, his killed and maimed comrades, and their supposed enemies amongst Iraqi people either trying to lead “normal lives” under foreign occupation or the so-called insurgents (who are attempting to liberate a once-sovereign nation from we pseudo-liberators).
On the drive I kept noticing--as I have inevitably and unhappily noticed these three weeks I’ve spent in the supposed liberal Northeast USA--the yellow “support our troops” stickers in the shape of ribbons stuck to the back of the pretty automobiles. I did not--have not--seen a single bumper sticker, poster, graffito, or any other publicly displayed statement either of solidarity with the Iraqi people desiring the freedom of self-determination guaranteed in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, or in favor of the quick and safe return of the US soldiers wrongly despatched to Iraq (under pretences so false they constitute war crimes on a par with those committed by some of the individuals who stood trial in Nuremburg following World War Two).
On the trail about a third of the way up Bear Mountain itself we noticed a graffito--white spraypaint on what I suppose were innocent rocks: “SAPPORT OUR TROOPS. GOD BLESS” [sic], which we did our best to cover with pebbles in the shape of a peace sign. Why not?
If the War, and war, give you a big ol' hard-on you sure as hell slap a pseudo-patriotic slogan on the back of your truck and think of the oil (and everything?) you consume as your birthright. This I understand. But if the whole project makes you one of the well-intentioned, sick-to-your-stomach, cynical-as-all-hell people I encounter everywhere I go, there is no guarantee you’re going to let everyone know how you feel. But you should, because the world would be a better place if we stood up--not to be counted, but to count--and we all know it too.
I will end for now with this Cindy Sheehan quote, which bears (no pun intended) repeating:
“If you fall on the side that is pro-George and pro-war, you get your ass over to Iraq, and take the place of somebody who wants to come home. And if you fall on the side that is against this war and against George Bush, stand up and speak out.”
Cindy is my hero for saying that, and for acting on it. And a little argument about where to have dinner notwithstanding (we landed where I belong, at Sal's), I did have a pleasant birthday.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
A thick slice of cognitive dissonance this week.
The nuclear bomb is the most anti-democratic, anti-national, anti-human, outright evil thing that man has ever made. If you are religious, then remember that this bomb is Man's challenge to God. It's worded quite simply: We have the power to destroy everything that You have created.
If you're not religious, then look at it this way. This world of ours is four thousand, six hundred million years old. It could end in an afternoon.
--Arundhati Roy, The End of Imagination, 1998
The threat of nuclear weapons is real, and I don't have to tell anyone that. I don't need to recount the horrible things they do, the indescriminate killing they are designed for, the fact that their existence keeps everyone on this planet--on some level at least--scared stiff. I don't have to do any of that, because we all know. We know it so deeply that only the most anti-social, aggressively irrational person could possibly believe these things do the slightest bit of good.
So how are we dealing with the threat? Simple: we're ignoring it.
I read recently that, due to (and not in spite of) how the US reacted to 9/11, the likelihood of nuclear terror in the US is estimated to be fifty percent in the coming ten years. This is to say nothing of the likelihood of the declared and undeclared nuclear powers using atomic weapons against civilians for some "non-terror" related reason.
(Like what, I don't know. But when your country decides to nuclear bomb the shit out of some civilians--and it's always civilians--you can rest easy it won't be because your government is a bunch of terrorists. No one self-defines as a terrorist.)
So, can anyone find any recognition or statements from the leaders of the declared nuclear powers regarding the 60th anniversary of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I cannot. I think that's awful, but apparently corporate media thinks that it is just fine to keep quiet.
Listen: the threat of their use sixty years ago--when actual atomic bombs were used against actual innocent people--was miniscule compared to the threat of their use today. Where's the uproar? Where's the recognition? Where's the global challenge to this situation? Where is the pressure on the Pentagon to turn its back on militarizing space, on hand-held nuclear weapons, on the use of depleted uranium?
The loudest nuclear buzz I hear these solemn days regards Iran.
Um, Iran? Iran? Ladies and gentlemen, coming at you now, in alphabetical order, the countries that can actually do it:
China. France. India. Israel. Pakistan. Russia. The United Kingdom. The United States. (And a dishonorable mention for North Korea.)
The US alone maintains an nuclear arsenal of many thousands, and has, in fact, used them, and is pretty trigger happy these days. Has anyone even noticed how criminally malevolent the Dr. Strangelove crowd in the US is? Here's a question: how can the ultra-militarized West complain with a straight face about the Iranian nuclear program? While the rat bastard sociopaths in Europe, the US, Russia, and Israel call out Iran for maybe wanting to build a bomb along with its nuclear power station (and the corporate media lap it up), does anyone pause to reflect how many times over those same rat bastards could vaporize the planet Earth should they decide they want to?
I am not defending Iran's nuclear program. I am condemning all nuclear programs, and I am especially condemning us all for forgetting Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Only by forgetting the horror that an earlier generation allowed can we be allowing it to happen in our own time.
Cognitive dissonance indeed. The shit has hit the fan and splattered all over our faces and all we can say is "lovely weather, isn't it?"