Thursday, May 09, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #107 - Part 1

Hero Award: Connie Picciotto

This week, happily, we can start with a Hero Award, given as the occasion arises to someone who just does the right thing.

In this case, it's being given to someone I just learned about. Her name is Connie Picciotto and she has been maintaining a daily vigil on the sidewalk across from the White House about the threat of nuclear war - and she has been doing it, almost without interruption, for 32 years.

Her story is long and complex, too long and complex to go into here. She has become such a fixture in DC that tour guides point her out. Educators use her protest in lessons about social activism. She was in Michael Moore’s 2004 film “Fahrenheit 9/11.” She even figured in a documentary about protests at the White House.

Not surprisingly, there are many who would dismiss her, saying the threat of nuclear war is gone, over. Those people are wrong. The threat is not got and it does not consist solely in the specters of a nuclear North Korea or a hypothetical nuclear Iran. There are over 18,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, with a combined destructive force of about 120,000 Hiroshimas. Nine nations have nuclear weapons. But virtually all of those weapons are in the hands of just two nations: the US and Russia. And they are at the ready, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year; about 2,000 of them on such high alert that they could be launched in just minutes.

It would take just one large blunder, just one panicky response to a real or even imagined threat, to turn much of the world to ashes. The risk of nuclear war may be less than it once was - but it is not over.

So Connie Picciotto keeps her vigil, keeps talking to whoever will listen. The Serious People, deploying ther phony concern for her welfare as a mask for their cynicism, say she is just another harmless kook, just another crazy crank more in need of intervention by psychiatrists than of reasoned attention to her arguments. And indeed, there are some aspects to her story that give one pause about her mental health.

But ultimately those concerns take nothing away from the importance of the issue she espouses and are useful only to those who want to turn their indifference to the issue into a considered judgment on it.

Those people may not have to play that game much longer: Connie is 77 and her health is starting to decline and Peace House, the activist hub in DC where Connie lives, is having financial troubles and may have to close.

Whatever the future, and whatever her other personal issues may be, one thing is clear: Connie Picciotto, who has spent 32 yesrs in an unrelating effort to remind people of a danger that has not passed, is a hero.

Footnote: On July 28, 2012, three people - Sister Megan Rice, 83, Michael Walli, 64, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 56 - used bolt cutters to cut through fences at the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility in the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. That's a national security plant involved in the building, maintaining, and taking apart of every nuclear weapon in the US arsenal. They hung up a banner that read “Transform Now Plowshares,” strung up red crime-scene tape, splashed human blood on the walls, and painted the walls with things like “Woe to the empire of blood” and “The fruit of justice is peace."

After refusing to plead guilty to tresspass, with a one-year prison term, they were charged with sabotage and face 20 years in prison in what the trial judge said is a normal part of plea bargaining, otherwise known as "sparing the government the trouble of actually having to prove anything."

Jury selection in the case began on May 6.


No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');