- Thinking about the Unthinkable: Nuclear War in South Asia
was (but no longer) at: http://customnews.cnn.com/cnews/pna.show_story?p_art_id=2615468&p_section_name=World&p_art_type=330237&p_subcat=India&p_category=Asia
ASCII text local copy
Date: Sat, 30 May 1998
Subject: SOME PERSONAL THOUGHT AT THE END OF A LONG, LONG DAY!
Bigger bombs could threaten people with radiation sickness and death for miles downwind, Taylor said.
And fallout, of course, is likely to spread worldwide through the air and water. The effects of radiation from Hiroshima and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster, including birth defects, were far-reaching and may not yet be fully understood.
The world already has weathered fallout from dozens of above-ground nuclear blasts, including more than 100 test blasts in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan alone. Environmentalists estimate those tests exposed 1.5 million people to radiation; the exact toll there remains unclear as well.
At the end of a long, long day of being an anti-nuclear testing activist and watching the nuclear crisis in So. Asia worsen almost hourly, one last article hits my computer screen at the same time a strong wind starts blowing in the latest thunderstorm. As I read it the storm's lightning flashes suddenly lit up THAT SECTION of the western sky that will always remain a too vivid reminder of my own childhood. THAT SECTION where as a child growing up I watched the skies of my home town of Enterprise, Utah suddenly come aglow with the unnatural flash of that day's nuclear bomb test at the Nevada Test Site 120 miles away.
At that point my focus on my work and reading off the computer as an anti-nuclear activist suddenly went out, replaced by that of a small boy living downwind of one of the most horrible aspects of 20th Century Reality. My focus was now that of a frightened and angry downwinder.
Lines in the article forced my eyes away from the screen to some of the items of personal memories I keep on the wall behind my computer monitor. They fell on a photo taken by my longtime companion of me in the company of two other downwinders on the steps of Kazakhstan, one a Russian with a scar where his cancerous thyroid had been removed, and the other a beautiful little Kazakh girl deformed and retarded. Off in the distance were the flat steps leading off into the main Soviet testing ground. One American, One Russian, and one Kazakh, all there because of one thing we shared in common. We all had lived in lands where to quote the AEC, "The tall Mushrooms grow".
It set me off and made me so terribly angry and frustrated upon reading the remainder of the article on my screen.
Pardon me for getting emotional, but I would like to share with you those thoughts and those frustrations that raced around inside my head. I hope they do not offend, and that they will be read in the context they occurred with the understanding that I feel a need at this moment to speak out as a downwinder responding to the memories of those "tall mushrooms" of so long ago, and out of the inner fear that I and the rest of us just might be forced to see them grow again.
Carefully read through this article. It clearly shows the problem we have all got to work to overcome if we are ever to successfully marshall public opposition to and proper media attention of this worsening crisis. The problem is nobody "gets" the point on fallout from past testing: how much of the world it exposed, and how many it killed, and the lies accompanied and followed it!
Here we stand on the edge of the worst nuclear crisis the world has seen since the Cuban missile crisis, and this is the garbage the public is being fed about the fallout dangers!
Note the total lack of any understanding that 160 million Americans were exposed to just about the same level of radiation, and it sickened and killed, and that the government lied about it!
Worse is the reference to the movement;
Environmentalists estimate those (In Kazakhstan) tests exposed 1.5 million people to radiation; the exact toll there remains unclear as well.
Nonsense! Those tests and those elsewhere in the Soviet Union exposed damned near every single living Russian of every shape, color, gender, and ethnic strain -- just like the U.S. population -- to just about as much radiation no matter where they lived.
Here in this country, the "Environmentalists" insist on playing the same "indigenous peoples card", instead of dealing with the awful reality that fallout from nuclear testing is color and ethnic -blind -- it is an equal opportunity victimizer and kills whoever and wherever it goes!
Why is this the real problem? Simply because fallout worldwide from testing killed likely on the order of tens of millions to date, and millions more injured who are not yet dead from it. Wholesale mass murder is what it is, and the public "needs" to know that right now! Especially when they "ALL" no matter who they are, where they live, how they live, or what color they are, Are already its victims. Only by realizing that and all that goes with it, is there "any" hope the public here, or worldwide will stand up to their governments and say no before those governments blow them up at the worst, or use this as a "wonderful" excuse to get back to nuclear weapons development business as usual!
Likewise the activist community has got to stop playing organizational politics, and stop playing the race card. The movement can no longer play the indigenous peoples game simply because it is more "PC" and most specifically because it is "more fundable". To say nuclear testing's victims have always been indigenous peoples is not only incorrect, but is a sign of total stupidity on the issue, as the only indigenous people victimized by the testing was -- and are -- the human race! And the human race better get that point real soon and come to terms with the fact that on that one level at least we all share one thing in common on this planet. We all carry a little bit of the Nevada Test Site, the Semipalatinsk Test Site, The Lop Nor Test Site, the British and French Test Sites and soon perhaps the Indian and Pakistan Test Sites inside all our bodies.
This does not mean that what happened to people forced from their homes -- first for the factories, then for the testing sites, or the reasons why testing sites were put where they were -- are not important, or are insignificant, or to excuse examples of environmental and atomic racism. They are all too clear examples of the utter sickness present in the minds of those responsible. Pick on those least able to defend themselves first and then slowly and steadily expand the circle to those you don't really give a damn about! Just like Joe Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Jim Crow, or George Armstrong Custer!
Those stories and those histories and those facts must be exposed and justice demanded right along with ALL the rest of the terrible legacy of nuclear testing. All it means is that to stop the nuclear arms race the truth has to come out, the full truth, the complete truth, and not a truth focused to look better organizationally or politically. Because if it is, it only plays into the hands of those responsible for the testing in the first place, and is a "god-send" to them in helping to minimize the open public exposure of the full extent of the horrors they unleased.
No group of victims is better, more worthy, less worthy, or better to focus and raise funds on. We are all one race -- the human race -- and we are all testing's victims. That is the one truth that when our race knows it, we will truly be free and no more, never ever again, will those damned tall mushrooms and their deadly spores carried on the winds to sicken, kill and mame, be allowed to grow anywhere on this planet we all share as home!
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