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Bearing ON justice blog
Many of you know the story of 80-something-year-old Sr. Megan Rice and two male colleagues who cut a chain link fence and simply walked onto a U.S. Federal nuclear weapons facility in Tennessee. They walked around for more than an hour, writing anti-nuke and anti-war slogans in various places, before they were detected, and arrested. All three were tried by the federal government which was sorely embarrassed by the lack of effective security that was thus revealed. All three were convicted, and sentenced to jail. All served in prison until a pro-bono lawyer got some of the charges dropped and the three were all released last summer.
All three have been life-long peace advocates, and now we have an added bonus: Sr. Megan emerged from prison as a staunch advocate of prison reform as well!
The following letter-to-the-editor was published recently by a Knoxville, Tennessee newspaper, the News Sentinel … it is powerful, and deserves a read. Feel free to share with others who might gain strength for anti-war efforts through these words:
Y-12 protesters like the abolitionists
I write to comment on the restriction of freedom handed down by U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar to three citizens who crossed a security fence to protest the making of nuclear bombs at the Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge. As they saw it, they were logically exercising their constitutional right to petition the government to stop building devices of mass destruction they consider evil. The government disagreed.
In the 1840s citizens petitioned governments in England, France and the U.S. to abolish slavery. They could imagine a day when no one was enslaved, a day that arrived a few decades later. Slavery fell because it is a fundamental evil. It had to fall, or civilization would have given way to barbarism.
The three citizens who crossed the security boundary at Y-12 see a future free of nuclear devices used as instruments of war. That day will also arrive, because like slavery, weaponized nuclear devices are evil. No sane person wants to destroy our country in order to save it. Nuclear devices cannot be used sanely as weapons, so they eventually have to be abandoned or civilization as we know it will cease to function.
Some of the penalties handed down by Thapar make the three protestors look like a clown show. For example, they are forbidden by judicial order to tour a nuclear facility in the U.S. unless the president of the United States issues a personal invitation for them to do so.
This is a farce. Such rulings ridicule the honest efforts of three people to abolish nuclear weapons, the way abolitionists were ridiculed in the 1840s. One day there will be no weaponized nuclear devices. They will be abolished as instruments of war, and these three brave people will look like the visionaries. They are on the right side of history.
G. Douglas Cox, Tallassee, Tennessee
Letter to the Editor of the Knoxville News-Sentinel
After 14 years as President