January 1, 2021
From PM Press
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By Susie Day

Clare
Grady is going to prison. On February 10, this nice Irish Catholic
lady of 62, who lives with her family in Ithaca, will enter Alderson
Prison, WV, to begin a one-year-and-one-day sentence. That’s because,
on April 4, 2018, Clare and six cohorts, also white and Catholic,
broke into the world’s largest nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay,
Georgia and defaced government property to call attention to the
increasing danger of nuclear war.

Because
the group – Plowshares 7 – believes that nuclear weapons aren’t
created in isolation from a system that also creates climate change,
murders people like George Floyd, and brutally detains immigrants,
the group read out a statement, repenting of the sin of white
supremacy. They condemned “racism, militarism, and extreme
materialism,” the triple evils of the U.S. profit imperative
once called out by Martin Luther King.

Unsurprisingly,
Clare and her comrades were arrested, charged with federal crimes,
and convicted on all counts. By now, all but one have been sentenced
to terms similar in length to Clare’s, which, compared to those
served by most people convicted of felonies, seem almost tiny.

As
a journalist, I recently interviewed Clare about her case. Since
then, Clare and I have been emailing, Zooming, talking about people
we know in common, her kids, the puppets she’s making for some peace
project. She is becoming my friend. So what you’re reading isn’t
anything like a balanced, unbiased hunk of journalism. I am an
unprofessional.

See,
over the past decades, I’ve come to know many people imprisoned for
unlawful acts, protesting some or all of Dr. King’s “evil
triplets.” I know that people in prison suffer physically,
psychologically. Sometimes they die.

And
now, the COVID-19 pandemic has invaded the crowded, unsanitary cages
where people – “political” or not – are afforded little
or no protection. Reportedly, COVID-19 infections are 5.5 times –
and counting – higher in U.S. prisons than out. Seeing Clare Grady
and her friends incarcerated would have been hard without COVID. It’s
way harder now. They’re in their sixties, seventies; many battling
underlying health concerns.

To
try and help them, I’ve thought about reporting on the scourge of
COVID-19 behind bars: the high infection rates inside; the
vulnerability of elders; how hardly anyone gets out. But knowing
Clare has helped me remember, from deep in the 20th century folds of
my brain, something even worse than this pandemic. I remember what
nuclear weapons can do.

In
1945, as everybody knows, the U.S. dropped atom bombs on two Japanese
cities, killing hundreds of thousands of people, poisoning the
ecosystem, and beginning a global arms race that brought us weapons
of increasing devastation, capable of obliterating planetary life
many times over. Like billions, I grew up in a world where “mutually
assured destruction” was the only way to “peace.”

Fortunately,
there was pushback. Some people wrote books like E.P. Thompson’s
Protest and Survive.
Others actually protested. People around the world decried not just
nuclear war but also nuclear power, after accidents like Three Mile
Island and Chernobyl. Plowshares, begun in 1980, was only one group
among hundreds working to abolish nuclear power and weapons. People
like Clare and her gang were there on June 12, 1982, when around a
million antinuke protestors took over Midtown and Central Park in New
York City.

For
a minute, back in the last century, protesting nuclear war was cool.
Women in particular played a huge part; in the 1980’s, women’s peace
camps sprang up in places like Greenham Common in the UK and Seneca
Falls, NY. I was part of a Midwestern lesbian community where, along
with supporting battered women’s shelters and marching against police
brutality, just about everybody worked somehow against nuclear
weapons and power. We got pretty good at describing what a nuclear
winter would be for those unlucky enough to survive an initial blast:
blackened sky for years; burning asphalt; deaths from radiation… We
ingested that nightmare.

But
it turns out you can’t live more than a few years contemplating
nuclear apocalypse and ragging on the military industrial complex if
you want a “normal” life. In Nicaragua, the Sandinistas
needed help; then the HIV/AIDS crisis hit. So, forgetting that the
arms industry never sleeps, most of us migrated to other causes. Like
America, we made peace with our end-of-the-world nightmare through
fun, post-apocalyptic and dystopian scenarios, from Godzilla
to The Hunger Games.

Years
ago, it was relatively simple to identify governments as the source
of nuclear buildup. Then corporations began devouring every facet of
production, handling, storage. As the nuclear industry threaded its
way through the products and services of our lives, it became harder
to see, dismantle, and to protest. Gradually, much of the antinuke
movement shuttered.

Plowshares
didn’t. Clare’s April 2018 protest was maybe the 80th Plowshares
action. Yet, how could it possibly change today’s world, which holds
around 14,000 nuclear bombs, most of which are vastly more
destructive than those that hit Japan, and can be launched (by design
or accident) instantly?

There’s
also the fact that Trump has pissed on nuclear pacts like the Open
Skies Treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the
Iran Nuclear Deal. A few days after Joe Biden takes office, the
Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia will expire. Will Biden
move to extend it? Maybe. But let’s remember that he voted for the
2003 Iraq invasion, and seems, according to In
These Times
, to be
stocking his administration with a “host of pro-war
individuals.”

What
Joe Biden will never admit is that the world doesn’t have to work
this way. In fact, it was Clare, not
Joe, who told me that there’s a new Treaty on the Prohibition of
Nuclear Weapons [TPNW] going into effect January 22. International
law will soon make nuclear weapons illegal.

Of
course, Joe doesn’t care; NATO and the U.S. oppose the treaty. Clare
will go to prison and the mainstream press won’t peep. All TPNW
offers is small hope for a big miracle. But still, it’s hope.

So COVID. It would be wonderful if Clare and her comrades never had
to go to prison and possibly contract the virus. It would be
wonderful if none of the 2.3 million, mostly Black or Brown, people
in U.S. prisons didn’t have to be there in the first place, and live
with the constant fear of dying inside.

Basically:
if you’ve been fighting those bad triplets, please don’t stop. But
the whole point of that seemingly pointless Plowshares action is to
wake us up to the fact that all life forms – regardless of politics
– are desperately, deeply, drastically interdependent.
“Intersectional,” in movement terms. And if some
“right-wingers” deny COVID, most of us – left, right,
center – perpetually deny the likelihood of nuclear disaster.

So
let Clare Grady do her work. And if my friend goes to prison, if she
gets sick there, then sicker … my heart will break. It may not
recover. But here’s the thing.

It
won’t break for nothing.

©
Susie Day, 2020

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SOURCES:

Plowshares
7 Action, 4/4/18:

ML
King’s triple evils speech: “April 4, 1967, Riverside Church
speech, “Beyond Vietnam,” about the “triple evils of racism,
militarism, and extreme materialism.”

https://www.nhregister.com/opinion/article/Faith-Matters-We-need-to-wake-up-to-the-evils-of-12906629.php

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/02/martin-luther-king-hungry-club-forum/552533/

Plowshares
7 sentencing:

Colville
to be sentenced February 2021:

https://www.facebook.com/ConsistentLife/posts/the-ordeal-and-work-of-our-friends-the-kings-bay-plowshares-7-continues-as-2020-/10159547970571189/

COVID-19
5.5 times higher in prison:

One
in 5 people in prison have COVID:

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/12/18/1-in-5-prisoners-in-the-u-s-has-had-covid-19

Mutually
Assured Destruction (MAD):

https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Mutual_assured_destruction

Protest
and Survive, E.P. Thompson:

https://archive.org/details/protestsurvive00thom

Anti-nuclear
protests:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-nuclear_protests

Plowshares
movements, begun 1980:

https://rightsanddissent.org/news/the-plowshares-movement/

NYTimes
6/12/82 protest:

Greenham
Common Women’s Peace Camp:

http://www.greenhamwpc.org.uk

Women’s
Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice:

https://peacecampherstory.blogspot.com

Nuclear
winter:

Corporatism/commercialism
in nuclear weaponry:

14,000
nuclear bombs in the world:

https://apnews.com/article/nuclear-weapons-disarmament-united-nations-gun-politics-united-states-a539eee6868462b17a81747f04fc6fbb

Trump
pulling out of Open Skies Treaty:

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/527056-us-withdraws-from-open-skies-treaty-with-russia

Trump
pulling out of INF:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49198565

Treaties
Trump has dropped:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/01/politics/nuclear-treaty-trump/index.html

START
exires February 2021:

Biden’s
host of pro-war individuals:

https://inthesetimes.com/article/joe-biden-cabinet-war-militarism-antony-blinken-avril-haines

TPNW:

https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/tpnw/

https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/nuclearprohibition

https://apnews.com/article/nuclear-weapons-disarmament-united-nations-gun-politics-united-states-a539eee6868462b17a81747f04fc6fbb

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Source: Pmpress.org