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Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Us And Them

Time was when I knew the racists were the lunch-counter owners who refused to serve blacks, the warmongers were the generals who planned wars and ordered the killing of innocent people, and the polluters were the industrialists whose factories fouled the air, water, and land. I was a good guy, boycotting, marching, and sitting-in to protest the actions of the bad guys.

The Sun Interview

Like Wandering Ghosts

Edward Tick On How The U.S. Fails Its Returning Soldiers

Certainly the Vietnam veterans were made scapegoats for many of the illegal and brutal tactics of that war. Then there are the veterans of all the little forgotten wars: Grenada, Somalia, Lebanon, El Salvador, the secret ops in Africa and Eastern Europe. They are like wandering ghosts, neither honored nor recognized. Many of them are not even classified as combat veterans. I worked with one man who’d been in Somalia and taken part in the fighting around the U.S. Black Hawk helicopter that went down there. He isn’t classified as a combat veteran, and other combat vets don’t accept him because he was “in the shit” for only thirty hours. But anyone who knows the story of what happened that day in Mogadishu can see that it was enough to traumatize anybody.

The Sun Interview

Environmentalism And The Mystique Of Whiteness

An Interview With Carl Anthony

I agree that, no matter what the noise level, each person is entitled to hear his or her own inner voice. That’s an important first step to hearing the voices of others, as well as the cry of the earth. But the ability to respond intelligently, creatively, and compassionately to the claims of different human communities is undermined by the false sense of privilege that comes from thinking of oneself as “white.” Wanting to hear the voice of the earth, the notion that nature is crying out in pain, has a limited potential for reaching and touching many people who are living much more prosaic lifestyles than those who think about these matters only in an intellectual and philosophical way. People of color often view alarmist predictions about the collapse of the ecosystem as the latest stratagem by the elite to maintain political and economic control.

The Sun Interview

Forget What They Told You

The Truth According To Greg Palast

The idea that America’s a democracy is a fucking lie. We’ve had one fixed election after another. By my calculations, Hubert Humphrey beat Richard Nixon in 1968. Of course, Humphrey was a jackal as well. But what is not widely understood is that we’ve always had a system in America of not counting certain votes. My good friends on the Left are afraid that the Republicans are going to steal the next election by computer — that the software is going to allow Karl Rove to change the vote. Well, most people who worry about that are white. Black people know they’ve stolen the vote the old-fashioned way for centuries.

The Sun Interview

Table For Six Billion, Please

Judy Wicks On Her Plan To Change The World, One Restaurant At A Time

You hear more lately about the concept of “food miles” — how far food travels to get to your plate. To most people fewer food miles just means that it’s fresher, but others are starting to make the connection to carbon emissions, though I don’t think that’s the primary reason people buy local. I think the local-food movement is more concerned with nutrition and community connection: people want to meet the farmers who grow their food, and they know that local food tastes better and is healthier and more nutritious.

The Sun Interview

Weapons In The War For Human Kindness

Why David Budbill Sits On A Mountaintop And Writes Poems

Leading up to the war, I doubted the value of anything but antiwar poetry. I thought all my nature poems were . . . well, stupid. But the moment the antiwar movement failed and the bombing began, I knew how important poems about birds and trees and loneliness and sex and food and joy were. I knew those little poems were weapons in the war for human kindness.

The Sun Interview

Risky Business

Peter Sandman On Corporate Misbehavior And Public Outrage

I tend to be more passionate about the process of communication than about the outcome. I’m interested in people listening better and talking more and wanting to understand each other’s point of view. I try to eliminate the things that get in the way of that. And it’s a Sisyphean task, because industry people and activists aren’t really talking to each other; they’re doing theater with each other. Whichever side I am working for, I try to find a way for both sides to listen better.