Fight to save Planet Earth

The following is a letter that was sent to the New York Review of Books,
a comment on an article in the Aug 15 issue regarding two new books on the ever increasing threats to Planet Earth.

A sentence in a closing paragraph of Alan Weisman’s Burning Down the House (NYRBS August 15) jumped out at me. Weisman quotes an “unnamed” “well-known journalist” who says “You know that someday we’ll ditch this journalism crap and become terrorists.” Why unnamed? It’s a great idea. As my late friend Julian Bond said to me in an interview I filmed with him about Edward Snowden, “Snowden deserves a medal. And hopefully someday some future president will give him one.” “Terrorist” is in common usage now, although I’m not sure what it means. Crazy Horse led two successful annihilations of US forces, the Fetterman “Massacre” (81 dead) and a division of the Seventh Cavalry at the Little Big Horn (286) including the mutilation of the corpses. Crazy Horse is on a stamp now. The USPO sold it for thirteen cents. John Brown pulled pro slavery men from their cabins in Kansas and cut their throats (5). Later he led an ill fated raid on a Federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry. Fredrick Douglas who was invited to join the attack had the sense to skip it.
Prior to Harper’s Ferry John Brown had lunch with Thoreau in Concord, where Brown was fund raising. He received financial support from Emerson. When I was a child, a very long time ago, the consensus among my teachers was that John Brown was a “madman.” Union soldiers sang his praises as they marched into the civil war Brown tried to start. When the news of Harper’s Ferry reached New England, Douglas and Emerson pretended they had nothing to do with him. That next day Thoreau had the courage to publish his opinion which was that he thought John Brown was “a saint.”
There have been many courageous illegal and even violent acts in defense of planet earth. There have just not been enough of them, nor are they publicized. William Cottrell a graduate of the University of Chicago was sentenced to eight years in prison for setting fire to hundreds of Hummers in a Los Angeles Chevy dealer’s lot. Weibo Ludwig blew up two natural gas wells in Alberta, Canada. In the 1990’s there were hundreds of acts of vandalism against natural gas sites in northern Alberta. In 2005 the FBI carried out Operation Backfire in Portland arresting six people then charging them with arson and “domestic terrorism”; all were in defense of
the planet.
I documented this in Burn Zone, which includes “Kill the Koch Brothers” – a High School Play, and a list of fifty climate criminals along with their contact information. Burn Zone was published by my imprint, Bleak Beauty, in time for my retrospective at the Whitney. No one has ever so much as called me about this much less charged me with a crime.
In the same paragraph, linking the civil rights movement to the current wave of police killings of young black men, Weisman includes the ill advised sentence “non-violence doesn’t bring change overnight.” Exactly five years and six months went by between the first sit-in in Greensborough, South Carolina and the passage first of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and then the more significant Voting Rights Act in August of 1965. That non-violent movement, soon followed by the mostly non-violent Anti War movement resulted in the greatest social and the only political changes this country has experienced in sixty years.

Tom Hayden pointed out at a SNCC re-union that the anti war movement was able to bring over one million students out of school and into the streets on a single day. I am old, and have enjoyed the pleasures of this planet our home, but the only answer to the small group of criminals in power, and I mean corporate, not just government power, is an uprising, a million young people in the streets, and if there is a John Brown among them, now is your time. History, if there is any more history, will honor you.

Danny Lyon, New Mexico

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