By Bruce K. Gagnon, December 3, 2018
From Organizing Notes
This is the message we will be carrying to Bath Iron Works (BIW) during the next Navy destroyer ‘christening’ protest. (We don’t know the date of that event yet.)
At this point 53 people from across Maine and the US have signed up to commit non-violent civil disobedience outside the shipyard during the ceremony. Others will be there at the protest to hold signs and banners like the one above calling for the conversion of the shipyard to build sustainable technologies so that we can give the future generations a real chance to live on our Mother Earth.
Sadly I must admit that some environmental groups are very reluctant to recognize the cold hard facts that the Pentagon has the largest carbon boot print of any single institution on the planet. We cannot effectively deal with the ravages of climate change by ignoring the colossus in the middle of the tea shop.
Over the years we have heard some say that while they agree that BIW must be converted if we wish to deal with climate change they fear going public with that demand because they are timid about angering the workers at BIW. They say they don’t want to negatively impact jobs.
OK fair enough. Of course we all want the workers at BIW (and at any other military industrial facility) to keep their jobs. In fact Brown University in Rhode Island has done the definitive study on just this point and they have found that conversion to building sustainable technology creates more job. Let me repeat – the transition from building war machines to sustainable production creates more jobs. See the Brown study here.
Once we share that information you’d think that the reluctant environmental activists would say ‘OK that makes great sense. Let’s do it.” But most still remain timid. Why?
I can only speculate but I’ve come to the conclusion that many (not all) enviros are really afraid to confront the #1 mythology of America that says we are the ‘exceptional nation’ – that America deserves to rule the global roost and that anyone who questions that military mythology is unpatriotic and potentially a ‘red’. So they become frozen by the worn out notion that if you don’t stay silent about the war machine you must be a commie pinko type.
At this point it becomes instructive to look back to the controversial days in America when we had that other deep evil economic institution called slavery. Many were opposed to that system of production but they were afraid to directly confront it because they wanted to stay away from arguing with their friends and neighbors and wanted to be liked more than they wanted to see real change happen.
The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass met many people like that during his day and this is what he said to them:
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
So the lesson here is that if we are truly serious about protecting the future generations (if that is still even possible) then we have to give up timidity – we have to non-violently confront the institutions blocking serious progress on dealing with climate change – and we can’t keep ignoring the massive impact that the US military empire and war machine has in creating this current calamity!
In simpler words – it’s time to get real – to fish or cut bait – to shit or get off the pot. Take your pick.
Time is running out.