Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Day 9: Emotion and reaction from BIW today

I handed out seven flyers today at the shipyard.  It was a foggy-misty day that happens when the warm air hits the frozen ground.  A day of emotion for me.

Not so many people were grumpy with me today - I think I am wearing them down.....

The best moment of my shift change vigil came when a young worker walked up to me and said he wanted to talk.  He told me he does not want to build weapon systems for war.  We talked about conversion of the shipyard to build things that would help us deal with the coming harsh reality of climate change.  He quickly noted the mist because of the warmer temperatures - "It's not supposed to be this warm this time of year," he said.  He took my flyer and I asked him where he lives.  Bath, he replied.

A retired BIW executive had an Op-Ed posted today in a couple of the bigger Maine papers declaring his support for the $60 million gift to General Dynamics from our very poor state.

I love the response tweeted by school teacher and activist Lisa Savage (above)  to media throughout the state - right on the money as they say on Wall Street.

Word got around about the Op-Ed, written by Bill Haggett, and one long-time local activist from nearby Brunswick, Selma Sternlieb, replied on email:

Here’s my story about Bill Haggett: About 40 years ago, [now US Senator] Angus King had a program on TV in which he interviewed people. One night, when I was watching, he interviewed Bill Haggett. Angus asked him to predict the future of BIW. Haggett responded something like this: "In the worst possible scenario, peace.…"  I wrote a letter to the editor of the Times Record quoting him. He called me to say, "Mrs. Sternlieb, I am not a warmonger."  I’d like to know what else you could call him.

Also today I got a message from my good buddy in Albuquerque, N.M., Bob Anderson. Bob told me that:

I took Sally Alice Thompson (94) to the ER again today with pneumonia.  She was also there for it last month.  She is tireless, at this age and opening her house to political asylum seekers and doing demos.  The VFP chapter is named for her here.  She is like our mother.  I told her of your hunger strike and why and she said 'well I might as well join Bruce' — but she was in the ER bed trying to breathe.  I told her to get well first and then she could do a sympathy strike with you.  I think knowing what you are doing made her a little more determined to get well soon...
So my heart was touched alot today.  There is more going on than we realize across Maine.  I'm certain that GD did not want to have to engage in debate and a public defense of their corporate welfare bill.  They wanted it to slide quietly to passage without anyone knowing about it.  But now nearly two months later the bill is in amended form (still no damn good) in committee with another work session on February 22 at the capital in Augusta.  There have been more than 65 Op-Eds, letters and radio shows on 20 different Maine media outlets all critical of the bill.

As far as I know Mr. Haggett's piece today was the first we've seen speaking in favor of the corporate subsidy bill.  Likely BIW/GD determined that they needed to call on one of the old whigs to declare the virtues of the shipyard and up the fear ante about possible closure.  He knows the script quite well, they've been recycling it for years.

In the end GD is having to work pretty hard for their welfare check from Maine taxpayers.



Blogger Thomas Beaulieu said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/20/18, 6:31 PM  
Blogger Thomas Beaulieu said...

Maine needs that $60 million and more importantly a conscience overcoming the downward spiral of militarism racsism and extreme capitalism. Thank you Bruce and everyone fasting at the BIW gate for raising awareness and bringing an end to this unnecessary tax break. I hope you can eat soon!

2/20/18, 6:31 PM  
Blogger Bruce K. Gagnon said...

Thanks to you helps to know folks out there are paying attention.....

2/20/18, 7:52 PM  

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