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The grief is real

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Letter - From the June 09, 2003 issue by Pam Hanna
I realize that it’s slightly odd to respond to another letter, but Wayne A. Gilbert’s observations in the April 28 edition moved me. He said, “I realized my weariness was really sorrow and loss and longing. My loss of faith in public acts wasn’t some moral failing; it was a symptom of my grief.” I share his insight that we Americans “do righteous indignation and moral outrage quite well, ... but we don’t ‘do’ grief.” I, too, am in deep grief for my beloved country.

The neo-Torquemada Attorney General John Ashcroft’s proposed Patriot Act II strips citizenship, allows secret arrests, and instigates a gag order in section 202 that obviates the Clean Air Act, which states that “ ... corporations that use potentially dangerous chemicals must prepare an analysis of the consequences of the release of such chemicals to surrounding communities.” Under Patriot II, such essential information would be restricted to government reading rooms in which copies could not be made and notes could not be taken. The reports in the reading rooms would not contain “such basic information as the identity or location of any facility or any information from which the identity or location of the facility could be deduced.”

Further, “... any whistleblowers among them will be charged with a criminal offense, even if their motivation was to protect the public from corporate wrongdoing or government neglect.” I’m getting all this from an article by Nat Hentoff in The Progressive (May 2003). Ashcroft is even trying to suspend the writ of habeas corpus (which dates back to the Magna Carta in 1215). What chance does our environment, our air, water, soil, flora and fauna in the West and Southwest have under such an assault?

The only answer I have personally is to keep on keeping on — to keep writing and calling congressmen, keep petitioning, keep trying. But the grief — the grief is real. Thanks to Wayne A. Gilbert for giving a name to and validating that grief.

Pam Hanna
Thoreau, New Mexico
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