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The US Department of Defense is one of the world’s worst polluters. Its footprint dwarfs that of any corporation: 4,127 installations spread across 19 million acres of American soil. The Pentagon, presently, is trying to deal with well over 39,000 contaminated sites. This is old news for many, but it’s particularly germane for my purposes as I gear up to tear up misconceptions about how citizens concerned with environmental crises should go about their so-called activism these days

The days are over when we can afford to walk on egg shells when addressing the major issues of our day. And I plan to do something that I pray others will copy. That is, I plan to push the envelope at a so-called alternative high school in California on Saturday at two workshops which I’ve been invited to conduct. My fervent wish is that other educators will call a spade a spade. Wade into the dirty waters of the U.S. military, and dare to tell their charges that there’s no way for us to become “more green” — no way to “save the planet” — with the platitudes that are bandied about in lieu of undermining the modus operandi of the U.S. Military.

In other words, I’ll be asking teachers, administrators, counselors, parents and other concerned citizens to risk something. For one cannot criticize the momentum of our militarism without risking a great deal.

But we’re getting too lousy a deal from those quarters to not be truthful, coming out too much of loser environmentally by allowing criticism of military abominations to remain… verboten.

Camp Lejeune is one of the Department’s 141 Superfund sites, which qualify for special clean up grants from the federal government. which qualify for special clean up grants from the federal government That’s about 10% of all of America’s Superfund sites, easily more than any other polluter. If the definition is broadened beyond Pentagon installations, about 900 of the 1200 or so Superfund sites in America are abandoned military facilities or sites that otherwise support military needs.

“Almost every military site in this country is seriously contaminated,” said John D Dingell, a retired Michigan congressman, who served in the Second World War. “Lejeune is one of many.” They form a sort of toxic archipelago across the land from McClellan Air Force Base near Sacramento, California, where radioactive waste was found, to the Massachusetts Military Reservation on Cape Cod, poisoned by explosives and perchlorate, a rocket fuel component that is a major Pentagon pollutant.

But Camp Lejeune became a test case for whether the military could defend American soil without ruining it. And it failed, failed miserably.

To those who suffered at Camp Lejeune, an ugly truth about the US military has revealed itself. “I would never recommend to anyone that they go into the Marine Corps,” said former Marine corporal Peter Devereaux, who has good reason to believe that his breast cancer is the result of drinking Camp Lejeune’s tainted water. The Marines, he said, “are like a mafia”

Well, we can argue till the cows come home about how “patriotism” demands or doesn’t demand that citizens put up with one of the great health-related abominations in the history of the world. And discuss and debate ourselves to death in lieu of doing something about an entity that is guaranteed — as thing stand — to take us over the precipice. But the fact is that we can and should do something about how the U.S. Military is contributing to the greatest extinction of species since the dinosaurs, and leading our apocalyptic momentum.

To some, the reference to the Mafia above by Corporal Devereaux might seem like a bit of hyperbole thrown around by a victim of injustice, a legitimately disgruntled former serviceman. However, one can find confirmation of the “fact” he cites in any number of quarters, including E.G. Vallianatos, a scientist who worked for the EPA for a quarter of a century, and — in his Poison Spring — declared that that governmental agency operated… “like the Mafia.”

Devereaux and Valliantos are merely two of two thousand and one reputable sources I could cite to support the controversial statement presented here. However, rather than encourage you to soak up more and more documentation, taking up so many heartbeats that you’re left with no time and energy to move in solidarity to make a difference… except to, perhaps, write to a congressman who’s in the “back pocket” of the Pentagon, I humbly request that the reader contact me for the purpose of moving in solidarity following a fresh paradigm in activism.

And on that note, I’d like to point out that the horrors touched upon via the PBS link above are not at all the whole story. One cannot expect to secure “the whole story” from sources like PBS, which my truly  independent journalist friends often refer to as the Pentagon Broadcasting System. A “credible” source of news according to the most prestigious institutions of higher education.

We must be wary of way more than the Pentagon. And — at present — we are sleepwalking.

Marcel Duchamp Oxman can be reached at aptosnews@gmail.com. The author wants to underscore that the “risk” noted above does not just refer to putting one’s job and reputation on the line, but also includes being open to making personal transformations that are likely to be uncomfortable.

 

 

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