Saturday, January 29, 2005

Nuremberg and the environment

I grew up with my mother's stories about JFK. In her fond reminiscence, he attains the mythic powers and stature of an epic hero. She was in Dallas the day he was killed. I've heard the stories over and over again. She calls him "Jack Kennedy" and goes misty-eyed and shining-faced when she talks about that era. (Never mind that she was a single mother working two jobs and living with her parents--hardly having a good time of it.)

So when I went to listen to Robert Kennedy Jr. speak, Saturday evening, I think I was hoping for something akin to the Kennedys of my mother's fond remembrance.

I also want to make note of the rather disappointing turn-out for his speech. Seattle is a pretty liberal city, but the appearance was poorly publicized--no doubt at least partly to blame for the small crowd.

I noticed that the folks who did show up and sit through the speech--rightfully denouncing illegal coal-burning power-plants--all expressed a longing for a 60's-style Kennedy to follow. They said this either directly or obliquely--but the longing was apparent. During the question and answer period, over and over, people asked: What can we do? Who can we follow? We remember your father, we remember your uncle.

The mostly unspoken question--are you like them?--went unanswered. One woman gamely hung on to the microphone and said, "We had leaders in the '60s, your uncle, your father. We need a leader like that today--maybe you...?" And she trailed off. There was a heartbeat or two of embarrassed silence. Then the microphone was passed on to the next questioner.

You know what? I was disappointed.

It took me a day or two to realized how very unfair that reaction really was. For one thing, I wasn't alive when JFK was assassinated. I don't have any first-hand knowledge of that era, and the mood and the people and the culture. It seems terribly unfair to hold a living human being up to a fallen hero that I never followed, I've only heard stories about.

I'm don't really know that much about RFK Jr., but I will plug his book, Crimes Against Nature : How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy. (The title pretty much reveals everything you can expect from the book itself.)

Among other things, Kennedy says point blank (in this interview) that GW is "the most corrupt and immoral President that we have had in American history."

RFK Jr. also refers to something Herman Goerring said:

Naturally, the common people don't want war... (but)
it is always a simple matter to drag people along ... All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the
pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.

--Herman Goerring, the Nuremberg trials,1946.

I just thought it bore repeating. I'll give you a second to digest it, in case you hadn't seen it before.

Artificially linking the Nuremberg Trials with current environmental issues might seem a bit forced; however, RFK Jr. made it seem perfectly logical. This article is worth reading. So is this one.

By way of parting, since we're speaking of that era, I'll also direct you to Eisenhower's farewell speech:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Disappointingly, my mother voted for Bush. I have no fucking idea why. I keep thinking that if I can only understand that, I'll have a beginning of an idea what we're up against, and how to combat it.

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