To commemorate the 71st anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to bring attention to the critical need to eliminate the nuclear arsenal that continues to threaten life on earth as we know it, Global Zero Eugene and groups from around the world participated in the Bike Around the Bomb event on August 6th.
The riders wove through Eugene around a 13-mile radius representing the area of destruction caused by the blast in Hiroshima. The image below shows what such a radius around Eugene looks like. Click on the map to see a larger image and descriptions of the levels of destruction for each ring.
Nuclear weapons pose a serious and deadly threat to humanity. It’s time to end the madness.
Presidential races in this country often pose the question, “Who is responsible and levelheaded enough to hold the nuclear codes?” On a recent Morning Joe segment, Joe Scarborough claimed that “several months ago, a foreign policy expert went to advise Donald Trump and three times he [Trump] asked about the use of nuclear weapons.” Apparently Trump wondered why we couldn’t use nuclear weapons since we have them.
How does one answer that question? These are the ultimate weapons of mass destruction. The world’s arsenal has the capacity to destroy the planet multiple times over. The lasting contamination from just one bomb brings deadly aftermath to those who survive the initial blast, and mutates generations of life to come.
In this age of biting social media insults is the concept of mutual assured destruction too nuanced?
Ask the Hibakusha. Ask the Marshall Islanders. Ask the Atomic Veterans. Ask the Downwinders.
The real question is: Why do we still have nuclear weapons at all?
Why on earth would someone want to bike around the bomb? Wouldn’t that be depressing? And dangerous?
Actually our nuclear industry is the dangerous event and it has been operating for over 70 years. Bravo to Global Zero for raising awareness with the younger set. The gray haired activists, hibakusha, downwinders and Marshallese were beginning to feel as if we would all die off before we could eliminate nukes.
There is value in creating a way to experience the scope of absolute destruction that would occur in YOUR city if a relatively small nuclear warhead were to be dropped on it. Bike Around the Bomb held its fifth annual event on the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. Eugene hosted one of 26 events in five countries – its first annual.
How does an event that occurred 70 years ago in Japan relate to Eugene? Let me count the ways:
- The plutonium that was used in the Nagasaki bomb was created in the Pacific Northwest at Hanford Nuclear Site on the banks of the Columbia in Washington.
- Eugene, much like Nagasaki, is surrounded by mountains. The mountains of Nagasaki limited the total area of destruction causing the force to bounce back on the city.
- Eugene, much like Nagasaki, has rivers running through it. Those who survived the initial blast and were able, dragged themselves to the river trying to cool the horrific burns.
- Eugene, and most all cities, has churches, schools, markets, playgrounds, businesses, homes and many, many people. Just like Nagasaki.
- Eugene has a mayor who is a member of Mayors for Peace, just like Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the organization was founded on the belief that cities should not be targets.
It is time to retire the world’s arsenal of more than 17,000 nuclear warheads. Seventy years is long enough to hold the world hostage to nuclear threat.
Tax Day protestors held signs in front of the Eugene Downtown Post Office on April 15 – tax day. From climate change and health care to education and homelessness, activists from throughout the area called on the government to redirect tax dollars away from the bloated military budget to issues that impact the well-being of humans and the environment.
A central part of this event includes the presentation of checks by war tax resisters to local agencies in lieu of sending it to the government for defense spending. Imagine what this country might look like if all of us could designate where we wanted our tax dollars to go? Things might just even out to everyone’s benefit.
“The U.S. empire claims to be dressed in “unassailable” righteousness. We think the empire has no clothes.” In their recent Register Guard Guest Viewpoint, David Hall, Susan Cundiff, and Michael Carrigan discuss the continuing madness associated with the U.S. actions regarding nuclear weapons.
Hall and his wife Rev. Anne Hall of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Washington state will be in Eugene this weekend (April 11 & 12, 2015) to share their experiences and actions over the past 30 years resisting nuclear weapons development. The event is free. The inspiration, priceless.
In a recently published piece in the Eugene Register Guard, Dr. Ajit Maan posed thes question:
“What if torture elicited bad intelligence? Can anyone reasonably doubt that it did? And what if bad intelligence was deemed actionable? What actions, policy decisions or strategies were put into place based upon bad intelligence, and what are the effects? How do we know we are not seeing those results now, and how will we know when we experience the results in the future?”
According to Dr. Maan, who is the author of Counter-Terrorism: Narrative Strategies, narratives influence how power works and, more importantly, who it works for. Read her entire article here.
This will be a long day for the Peace Walkers – 17 miles. They will be on country roads around Olympia. I was only able to join this year’s Interfaith Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free World on the first day. On Saturday, Lee, another walker from last year, and I drove to Salem to participate in the start of this annual 2 week walk.
Riverfront Park, by the Globe…those were the instructions. Where were the walkers? And then I saw them. The distinctive canvas painted sign that is carried at the front of the column of walkers. Senji in his saffron robe, fairly glowing in the sunshine of a day that was already heating up. And then I finally heard it…the familiar cadence of the drumbeat.
Photo by: Lee DeVeau
I have been flooded by memories from a year ago, with special intensity for the walk to the gates of Hanford. That long, eerie march in Richland, along George Washington Way. The neighborhoods drop away as it becomes an industrial park of one nuclear related business after another. And then the landscape changes to parched desert and you reach those foreboding signs at the gates to this deadly dump for the nuclear industry.
Theodore VanKirk died on Monday at the age of 93. He was the navigator on the Enola Gay. The headline referred to him as “last survivor of Enola Gay atomic bombing.” My thoughts have always focused on those who were on the ground when that incinerating blast hit. That team of 3 didn’t know if the shockwaves would rip them apart.
Although VanKirk believed the bombing was necessary to end the war, he also came to realize that “wars don’t settle anything. And atomic weapons don’t settle anything…there shouldn’t be any atomic bombs in the world.”
I agree. Let’s keep beating the drums to spread the message…atomic weapons don’t settle anything.