Thomas P. Healy
Former Bloomington resident Anthony Arnove's latest book, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal (The New Press, 2006) is a bold statement of the rationale for the immediate removal of U.S. armed forces. He spoke with The Bloomington Alternative during a recent visit.
TPH: In the introduction to your book you write of the "need to transform the irrational economic and political system that led to the wars in Vietnam and Iraq and that is today very directly threatening the survival of the human species." Why is that important?
AA: The moment you start looking at the situation in Iraq, you can't escape other political questions, like what are the real interests that the United States has in the Middle East? I think a number of people see you have to talk about oil. If not for oil do you think we would have gone into Iraq?
Oil is the essential commodity for the world capitalist system. Why do we have such an irrational relationship to oil rather than developing alternative means that are more environmentally sustainable and less politically destabilizing? Because it's not profitable for those who are in positions of power under the existing profit system.
Native Hoosier William D. Ruckelshaus holds a place in history books as one of the victims of the 1973 "Saturday Night Massacre," when President Richard M. Nixon fired him for refusing to sack Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.
For many, however, Ruckelshaus' legacy as a public servant rests in his tenure as the first administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Drawing on four decades of experience in both public and private sectors, Ruckelshaus outlined his views on ways to address the country's most pressing pollution problems in an April 19 address to students and faculty at IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA).
Ruckelshaus cited public distrust of the federal government as a major obstacle to implementing effective governmental policies.
"Unless the people can place some minimal degree of trust in their governmental institutions, free societies don't work very well," he said. "To me, this is the central ugly fact confronting the government of the United States. The more mistrust by the public, the less effective government becomes at delivering what people want and need."
Former two-time EPA administrator William D. Ruckelshaus met with local journalists in the Hoosier Room of the Indiana Memorial Union prior to his April 19 SPEA address. Reporters from The Bloomington Alternative and WTIU posed these questions. Below are excerpts from his remarks.
On the banning of DDT during his tenure at EPA, and whether he regrets that decision given malaria's re-emergence as a global health threat:
"It wasn't an easy decision but it seemed to me was that the risk outweighed the benefits to society. We had substitutes for DDT that could be used but didn't have the same kind of long-term risk primarily to the environment that DDT was having.
Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States tells the story of our country from the perspectives of people historically marginalized and oppressed.
Former Bloomington resident Anthony Arnove co-authored a companion volume, Voices of a People's History of the United States, comprising the letters, essays and speeches that served as Zinn's primary sources.
After Voices was published, Zinn and Arnove adapted many of the entries for use in a series of public readings, featuring actors such as Danny Glover, Wallace Shawn, Lily Taylor and Marisa Tomei.
Arnove returns to his old stomping grounds to host two performances of "Voices of a People's History" on Saturday, April 1, and Monday, April 3, at the Bloomington Playwrights Project, 107 W. Ninth St. The performances will benefit BPP, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary and a new location.
In Tibetan Buddhism there is a practice called "making an opportunity out of a disadvantage or disaster." Arjia Rinpoche, the new president of the Tibetan Cultural Center (TCC), laughs when a reporter mentions this.
"That's a profound teaching," he says. "When we have difficulties in life, how do we face them? We practice Tonglen, which means 'giving and taking.' So the center has problems, we can avoid them or just take them and dissolve them — it's a good chance to practice."
The renowned Tibetan Buddhist scholar and teacher, who left Tibet in 1998 to escape Chinese repression, will have plenty of opportunities to practice as he leads the Center to financial stability and undertakes an ambitious plan for expanded educational opportunities.
The Bush administration's policy in Iraq and Afghanistan is generating fierce opposition from groups affiliated with U.S. servicemen and women. Members of Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Veterans Against the Iraq War and Iraq Veterans Against the War have gained national prominence as principled opponents of current U.S. military operations overseas.
Opposition group spokespersons like Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey perished in Iraq, bring authority and passion to public debate on the topic of military withdrawal as well as the issues related to the human, economic and diplomatic costs of war.
In the new edition of his 1975 book Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War, recently reissued by Haymarket Books, David Cortright reminds us that the efforts of military opposition groups, combined with those of the country's diverse peace and social justice movement, were successful in ending U.S. wars of aggression in the past.
It requires a special effort to remember encouraging news from 2005 for Hoosiers interested in conservation, education, social justice, and real economic progress.
After all, the year opened when Gov. Mitch Daniels signed away the collective bargaining rights of state employees. And things didn't improve when he proposed initiatives to clear-cut public forests, flood the state with pig excrement, and further saturate our air, water and land with power plant pollutants — all in the name of economic development.
But let's avoid the temptation to erect signs reading "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here" along highways into the state and look instead at a few significant successes that cast quite a different light on the state of the Hoosier State.
A conversation with Wendell Berry
For the past four decades, writer Wendell Berry has crafted a body of work within the "green" American literary tradition that includes Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Gary Snyder and Edward Abbey. His poems, essays and novels extol the virtues of agrarian life, lament the depredations of the industrial economy and celebrate the integration of ethics, responsibility and humility that come from devoting careful attention to the natural world. Berry writes and works the land on Lane's Landing Farm, five miles from his birthplace in northern Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Madison, Ind.
TH: Reading about your early years, when you were "trying to become a Henry County poet," as you've expressed it, I found myself wondering, have you succeeded in becoming a Henry County poet? And was it worth all the effort?
WB: Oh, I guess so. I've enjoyed being a writer and I suppose I'm a poet and I certainly am a Henry Countian, after a fashion. I live in Henry County and I like living here. I don't approve of everything that's happening here by any means.
GOSHEN - A screening of the Academy Award-nominated documentary Weather Underground opened a national student conference Oct. 6-9 sponsored by the Peace and Justice Studies Association in collaboration with the Plowshares Group.
"In Solidarity: Engaging Empire" drew several hundred student and peace educators from around the United States and Canada to the campus of Goshen College, a small liberal arts school in the heart of northern Indiana's Amish and Mennonite country.
After the movie, attendees were able to pose questions and comments to two founding members of Weatherman, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, as well as to young activist and writer Dan Berger, whose history of the Weather Underground, Outlaws of America will be published by AK Press next spring.
Educator Robert Jensen is a prolific contributor to progressive online and print journals, where his media critiques articulate a fine sense of ethics and an appreciation for inclusive democratic processes.
A professor of journalism at the University of Texas in Austin, Jensen worked 10 years as a reporter before entering academia, which gives him unique insights into the news "business."
So it's no surprise that he's interviewed in the Media Education Foundation's forthcoming documentary, Hijacking Democracy: American Extremism & the Politics of Fear.
Progressive folks can help raise funds for production and distribution of the film at a 7 p.m. sneak preview Friday, Sept. 30, at the Waldron Arts Center in Bloomington, and also can take part in a discussion afterward led by Jensen.