Howard Zinn has crossed over. He was a mensch, a historian and an activist. He was not convinced that nonviolence was always the answer, but he often provided expert testimony for nonviolent resisters seeking help in conducting a robust defense of their actions in opposition to militarism and injustice.
At the same time, we are all listening to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. It is both inspiring and chilling. He is justifying more military, more nuclear reactors, and more coal plants. His righteous rhetoric is great, and I hope more Americans understand that Republicans shame themselves constantly. But his actual policies are quite disappointing in many ways. Yes, he's a pragmatist, but he is also a brilliant orator. He builds up the citizenry's hopes in his integrity, and he seems to be working to honor his promises, but many of his promises are actually harmful.
Nuclear power is not a solution to any problem we have and will in fact exacerbate them all. They are the only power that is permanently poisonous.
An increased military budget is not wise, humane, or in anyone's enlightened self-interest. It squanders our resources and alienates our world neighbors.
Coal power is unnecessary and takes away sacred mountains, wild wooded creeks, our clean air and will worsen global warming.
There was no serious mention of disarmament, ecological protection, a drawdown of our 1,000 foreign military bases, energy conservation, cessation of small arms and light weapons exports, and no realistic plan for either ending our Afghanistan quagmire or making Rooseveltian strides toward full employment.
Barack Obama is possibly the only public speaker capable of telling us that he's going to violate us in the name of saving us and we all choke up with gratitude. He is truly charismatic, truly talented, and, I'm chagrined to say, truly unable to change the war system.
That all said, I am so very glad it was not John McCain speaking tonight. Bush was an emetic speaker, McCain would have been flogging a herd of dead peacenik horses. Obama, problematic as his policies are, is lightyears ahead of what we might well have endured otherwise.