Monday, July 13, 2009
Do You Still Seek Justice?
From The New Yorker last week
In a world of one color
the sound of wind.
Mountain after mountain without a bird,
a thousand paths without a footprint,
a simple boat, a cloak of bamboo,
an old man fishing in the falling snow.
Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?
In February Nation Magazine started up a discussion message board, which attracted me and a whole bunch of other lefties, some pretty well-known. http://nationdiscussion.ning.com/ At first interaction was vigorous and exciting. My first comment attracted disagreement from none other than Katha Pollitt. I thought it all was going to be different. But eventually my Internet habits took over, and I grew as weary of endless, wandering threads there as I do at other sites. I stopped clicking in.
Last week a message came from the moderator reporting only 5 people were posting. He wanted to know why no one was bothering with it anymore. He also started sending messages about what topics were getting posted, and eventually some of us have come back in. But it got me to thinking. Everywhere in the States there seems to be some kind of lethargy setting in---or something.
People I know have the same concerns they did before the US presidential election...and some have decided Obama's had enough time now to communicate the directions his administration is taking. Supporters who gave his campaign lots of time and money came to believe he really meant his message of Change. Where is that grassroots spirit now that brought the man into office? Are we disillusioned? What are our real feelings? Are we just too tired to bother? Did we pay our money, and now we want the show? What is going on in America? I'm not alone in wondering. The columns this weekend were brimming over with such questions.
But before I start siting where I think some of the best ones are, let me share with you an email I received just a couple of hours ago. It's from someone who is very much awake and still on the front lines. Here's a report from Elisa Young on the world premiere in Charleston of the new documentary Coal Country. As you may know, the film was made by Mari-Lynn Evans who also created the recent 3-part Appalachia series that showed on PBS~~~
"The premier was kind of a bipolar experiencing - extremely good things jaggedly contrasted against extremely hard things.
"I don't know how MariLynn dealt with everything that happened from Wednesday to Saturday. I think you know the Labelle cancelled. Then the hotel we were in canceled our rooms!! Then they scheduled to show the film at the cultural center in the state capitol complex. The next e-mail I got after that was that the coal industry was calling in so many threats to the cultural center that there would be police in riot gear!!
"I got there about a half an hour into the reception because the rain was so heavy we could barely see to drive down 77. Once we got there, saw lots people I've worked with over the years but have not had time to stay in touch. It felt like a reunion. Larry Gibson, Maria Lambert, Chuck Nelson, Maria Gunnoe, Judy Bonds, Matt Noerpel, Terri Blanton, on and on. Many of the students who have been actively involved turned out. I met some people fighting coal that I'd heard of or corresponded with, but had never met face to face. Me and Kathy Selvage ended up sitting together - had not met before - she is fighting MTR (mountaintop removal) and the Wise power plant in Virginia.
"Matt Peters and Corey Frost (a young man I met at Power Shift who decided to move here and work on a farm) made the trek down from Athens. Amanda Comstock who is fighting coal in Dover Ohio (AMP contracts coal mining and prep plant) caught up with us at the Blue Grass Cafe where people were visiting afterwards.
"People said there'd been some arguments/fights before I got there - miners getting mouthy and trying to start fights. State police were present - Riot gear wasn't.
"Most of the miners and coal industry people were up in the balcony during the screening, and they kept getting really loud, hurling insults, jeers, at times could not hear the movie, but I was proud of the people in our camp - they did not respond by telling them to shut up or throwing insults back over the fence, sat there respectfully. If we had responded in kind to them, it could have gotten really ugly.
"Overall I think MariLynn tried her best to tell both sides of the story, which was difficult because not many from the coal industry were willing to talk with her or go on record....
"The way I see it unless we successfully stop the industries that are fueling the demand for coal, MTR and all the other methods of coal mining will continue. Most of the underground mining in WV is mined out, the coal that's left is in the mountains and for the most part unminable by other means. As long as there is a demand for coal, the best we'll get for MTR-threatened communities is a temporary cease fire - like we just went through with Obama after all the promises he made..
"I think the greatest value of Coal Country is was done in a way that both sides of the story are told - pro-coalers can't dismiss it as propaganda - and it will to raise awareness about the injustice because people will actually see and hear it - hopefully to drive home that we need to invest, right now, in healthier ways of generating our electricity.
"The movie was great, concentrated mostly on MTR. When we were talking the next day, MariLynn told me that their family farm in WV that was lost to the coal industry years ago recently had the coal beneath it $680 million. They are getting ready to go after it.
"Here is one review written on coal country: http://climategroundzero.org/2009/07/coal-country-premieres-in-charleston-wva/ "
There are photos at that blog, and Elisa wrote the third comment. Another review, with a photo of the film crew interviewing Ms. Selvedge, is here~~~
Around these parts, coal is probably a bigger issue than elsewhere in the world...but people everywhere are getting the message that when you flick an electrical switch, you're involved with coal. The news also is out that oil, gas, and coal are deeply invested in the legislative battle over environmental change. (I notice we're using that phrase now, as more effectively descriptive than "global warming" or "climate change.") But what of that...and other issues?
Paul Krugman this morning describes an apparent lack of response in the nation to that of a frog in an increasingly heated bowl. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/13/opinion/13krugman.html?th&emc=th On Saturday Ralph Nader's column questioned elected Democrats' answers to the demands of their constituents~~~
"These lawmakers---Democrats all, who are the majority in Congress and who agree with these questioners---keep saying 'It's not going to happen' or 'It's not practical.'
"'It's just not practical' to provide a federal minimum wage equal to that in 1968, inflation adjusted, which would be $10 an hour.
"'It's not going to happen' to get comprehensive corporate reform at a time when a corporate crime wave and the Wall Street multi-trillion dollar collapse on Washington, on taxpayers and on the economy is tearing this country apart. A little regulatory tinkering is all citizens are told to expect.
"'It's just not practical' to give workers, consumers and taxpayers simple facilities for banding together in associations with their own voluntary dues to defend these interests in the corporate occupied territory known as Washington, D.C."
Then he lets loose~~~
One of Bill Moyers most critical concerns is the "select few" who seem to run our republic. On Saturdayas well, he and his main Journal partner, Michael Winship, discuss how things really get done in the nation's capitol~~~
And then there's the Bush administration, and what actions should follow what those people did to us. Here there seem to be stirrings, especially over the weekend after the news was divulged regarding Cheney. There are many reports on this today but here is one from Raw Story on Friday, about Cheney's "assassination ring"~~~
and another at Politico, where the story first broke about keeping information away from Congress. This update was yesterday~~~
We all know about the importance of vigilance in a democracy. We learned it in school, yes? May we awaken the responsibilities of our citizenship in this great country!