published Friday, August 1st, 2014

Cook: Jesus and the bomb

Two years ago this week, an 84-year-old nun, a carpenter and a Vietnam veteran committed an act of civil disobedience so jarring that history may one day judge it as the most compellingly influential since Rosa Parks.

"We engaged in direct action by cutting through four fences at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the U.S. continues to overhaul and upgrade thermonuclear warheads," Sister Megan Rice wrote.

The Y-12 Complex is one of the most secure places in America. (In certain parts of the complex, guards have shoot-to-kill orders). So to consider that Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli were able to use common bolt cutters to cut through fences and enter the area where the bomb-grade uranium is stored, all while pouring out baby bottles of blood, unrolling yellow 'Crime Scene' tape and spray-painting what one person called "Biblical graffiti" -- The Fruit of Justice is Peace -- before then symbolically hammering on the facility walls, singing "This Little Light of Mine" and taking communion before the guards rushed in is, well, nothing short of miraculous.

(Yes, they offered to break bread with the guards.)

And with all miracles, God is present.

And when God is present, so is love.

And love is exactly the reason the three Christian activists -- known as the Ploughshares Three -- did what they did.

Because they love humanity and believe nuclear weapons are the single greatest threat to our shared existence on this planet.

Because they love America, and believe that the billions spent each year to maintain our nuclear weaponry is an act of theft that diverts money to systems that promote death and not life.

Because they love all nations, and believe all humans have a right to live without fear of nuclear annihilation, for the kingdom of God is never ushered in through violence.

"I know that Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother do not have an arsenal of any kind," Walli once said.

The three were arrested, tried, found guilty and, in February, sentenced to jail: Rice to three years, Walli and Boertje-Obed to five.

To mark the two-year anniversary of their action -- and with the 69th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings this month -- Rice released a jailhouse letter (read it with the online version of this column).

"Our 'crime' was to draw attention to the criminality of the 70-year-old nuclear industry itself and to the unconscionable fact that the United States spends more on nuclear weapons than on education, health, transportation, and disaster relief combined," she wrote.

The Obama administration has created a 10-year plan that would spend $355 billion to maintain and modernize our nuclear weapons.

"From 2021 to 2023, nuclear costs would average about $29 billion annually, roughly 60 percent higher than the $18 billion requested for 2014," the Congressional Budget Office reported.

In 2011, the U.S. and Russia signed a landmark treaty calling for stockpile reductions by 2018. Yet new legislation -- introduced by Tennessee's U.S. Sen. Bob Corker -- could suspend such disarmaments.

Named the "Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014," Corker's bill would, among other things, prohibit the president from reducing any nuclear weapons delivery systems as long as Russian troops are "threatening the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Ukraine or another European or Eurasian state."

Such vague and indeterminate language would suspend the treaty indefinitely.

Yet in ways that are difficult to acknowledge or track by the mainstream press, the anti-nuclear movement continues to grow.

Earlier this spring, the Marshall Islands -- where the U.S. conducted dozens of nuclear tests -- filed a lawsuit against the U.S. and eight other countries for violating international law.

"The Marshall Islands claims the nine countries are modernizing their nuclear arsenals instead of negotiating disarmament, and it estimates that they will spend $1 trillion on those arsenals over the next decade," The Associated Press reported. (The suit was filed in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.)

Dan Zak, whose brilliant Washington Post piece on that night in Oak Ridge was some of the best journalism of 2013, will publish a book about this. Pulitzer Prize finalist Eric Schlosser attempted to visit Boertje-Obed in jail, but was denied, according to Boertje-Obed.

"Due to not having a prior relationship," Boertje-Obed wrote.

What fallacy. When dealing with the Bomb, we are not strangers. No one is safe from nuclear weapons.

"Only complete nuclear disarmament can save humanity," Rice wrote.

Contact David Cook at or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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conservative said...

I skimmed the piece and thought of the wasted hours I could spend refuting Mr. Cook's nonsense.

However, I was saved by the last line:

"Only complete nuclear disarmament can save humanity," Rice wrote."

No, Only faith in Jesus Christ gave save humanity from the penalty of sin which is everlasting hell.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6

August 1, 2014 at 7:58 a.m.
timbo said...

Cook is so dumb it is mind boggling. This article was especially childish.

August 1, 2014 at 9:08 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Just think he is teaching our children...thank GOD mine are the immortal words of Red Foreman "DUMBA**

August 1, 2014 at 10:18 a.m.
hannahshad said...

"What fallacy. When dealing with the Bomb, we are not strangers. No one is safe from nuclear weapons."

Thank you for your insights, David. You're always a light.

August 1, 2014 at 10:46 a.m.

conservative said... "No, Only faith in Jesus Christ gave save humanity from the penalty of sin which is everlasting hell."

Another avowed Anti-Zeus! EVerything was fine until we took Zeus, Apollo, and animal sacrifices out of the schools.

Now you see what happened. We have the hedonistic Jehovah with His rape, incest, slavery, and genocide taught as facts. Look at all the churches that have torn down the Temples of Zeus to erect giant crosses to worship another false god.

Why can't we as a nation return to Zeus and His wondrous love for us all?

I look forward to the day when "In Zeus We Trust" will be above every school door, government office, and Zeus is again taught as the Creator of All that is good and decent.

Let's us keep and use the nuclear arsenal on those Zeusless heathens as we await the rapture when Zeus will return to earth for a 1,000 year reign.


August 1, 2014 at 11:18 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

"I skimmed the piece and thought of the wasted hours I could spend refuting Mr. Cook's nonsense." - conservative

Just like those wasted hours you spend posting those Bible verses that nobody reads? Just like those wasted hours you spend every day in adoration of your false God and your fairy tale Bible? Just like those wasted hours you spend every day pointing out everybody else's sins while suffering under the delusion that you are one of the few going to heaven? Yes, best not waste any more precious hours, connie. You waste plenty enough already.

August 1, 2014 at 1:38 p.m.
NedNetterville said...

@"Because they love America, and believe that the billions spent each year to maintain our nuclear weaponry is an act of theft that diverts money to systems that promote death and not life.“

@"I know that Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother do not have an arsenal of any kind," Walli once said."

David, while I believe the Ploughshare Three are sincere in their intentions, and I deplore the government's stockpile of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction as a veritable abomination, your article clearly demonstrates to me the three are woefully misguided, and thus their protests will justifiably bear no fruit.

Their target is the government, but the real villains financing the abomination are the taxpayers. They supply the funds for the nation's nuclear arsenal. Without taxpayers'supine acquiescence in the abominations of their government, and the payment of their taxes, we wouldn't have the problem of a stockpile of weapons sufficient to exterminate human life on this planet. Creating weapons no sane person would ever dare use is doubly insane, but allowing the fruits of one's labors to be taken for such purpose is triple insanity. I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that the Ploughshare Three have helped fund America's nuclear program they deplore with their own taxes before they were thrown in jail. Sincerity does not mitigate stupidity.

Based on the first statement I quoted, it is also evident the Three are severely confused on the subject of theft. There is no theft involved in diverting money to any system that promotes death instead of life. The theft occurs when the government takes money from taxpayers by force and coercion in the first place for whatever purpose. Taxation depends utterly on violence, and it is axiomatic that violence begets only more violence. Initiating violence to collect taxes can never serve to reduce violence. The statement I quoted sounds like the Ploughshare gang would find stealing acceptable if it was used for social programs rather than weapons of mass destruction.

Furthermore, what Walli says about Jesus and Mary is only a small part of the truth, and not the most important. Neither Jesus nor the Blessed Mother ever relied on OPM (sounds like opium, is equally addicting, stands for Other People's Money--forcibly extorted) to obtain their daily bread. Stealing is stealing whether the intended use of the loot is to build bombs or subsidize student loans.

August 1, 2014 at 2:04 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Oh great. Another "Taxation is stealing!" adolescent adds his wooden nickel's worth of wisdom to the commentary. Look, we all know that there are things that our tax dollars go towards that we might not like. We cannot pick and choose those things that we personally approve of and those we don't. But that does not mean that taxation is "stealing" or that it is even an inferior way of keeping the gears of society turning. We have to have some way of getting the revenue necessary to do so, and taxation has been an integral part of every society and government going back as far as recorded history can go. Any government that left the gathering of needed revenue up to voluntary donations and charities wouldn't last a week before descending into chaos and becoming a dystopian society.

I'm sure that some part of the Ploughshare Three's taxes, just like everyone else's, has helped contribute to the funding of America's nuclear program, and I'm equally sure that they know that. But that does not make them fools for targeting a government facility in their protest. Whom should they have targeted? Individual tax payers' homes? Yeah, that would have made a definite impression on everyone, wouldn't it? Actually, their form of protest, dramatic and dangerous as it was, probably served to make the most impression, and that is what is paramount. So, NedNetterville, for you to say that their protest was folly is folly in itself. It is necessary to make the government AND the tax payers aware of the lunacy and destructive nature of our nuclear program, and I don't know of any other way they could have done so that would have been more emphatic or dramatic.

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

August 1, 2014 at 3:09 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

On further consideration: if there was anything meaningless or fruitless about what the Ploughshares Three did, it is that their activism will most likely prove to be an isolated incident carried out by a very small and dying breed of political activists. Unfortunately most people today are too apathetic to consider taking part in such demonstrations of civil disobedience, but what is needed is something like what they did multiplied by hundreds of thousands of other angry citizens who want to stop the insanity of our government's maintaining and even increasing our nuclear stockpile.

August 1, 2014 at 4:22 p.m.
una61 said...

Too bad the fence wasn't high voltage. Could have saved the Feds a lot of legal fees.

August 1, 2014 at 9:49 p.m.
SirMichael777 said...

Then all the unicorns will come out a play,once again.

August 2, 2014 at 6:54 a.m.
NedNetterville said...

Hey Rickaroo, my friend, you ask a lot of questions, and then proceed to answer them yourself. You'll never learn anything that way, and if you have been doing that for a long time, that would explain the state of your knowledge, which is evident in your answers to your own questions.

Your confused belief that taxation is not theft simply reflects the fact that you are a taxpayer. As such, to acknowledge the true nature of taxation would reflect very poorly on you. Only a fool or a coward would cooperate in the ongoing extortion of his own property, so, its is better to bury one's head in the sand and deny the obvious than be forced to confront one's character flaws that allow the extortion to go on. T

his may help you get over your disastrous belief and what is really cognitive dissonance:

Go to the criminal laws of any of the jurisdictions among these several united states, look up and study the laws on extortion, menacing, and aggravated menacing. When you have done that, come back here and tell my what distinguished taxation from extortion as there defined by those laws.

You will learn that there isn't an iota of difference between extortion and taxation. Ergo: extortion being a form of theft, by the simplest logical syllogism, taxation is theft and your denial of that fact has nothing to do with the truth. Your denial is best explained as cognitive dissonance. For admitting a truth you have long denied is just too horrible a prospect for you to endure. But you can get over it, which will free your mind to explore many new venues previously closed to you.

I would personally recommend a study of the principles of nonviolence. I do this because you admit you don't know any other way to bring an and to the your nation's insane nuke program. " It is necessary to make the government AND the tax payers aware of the lunacy and destructive nature of our nuclear program, and I don't know of any other way they could have done so that would have been more emphatic or dramatic." Rick, old boy, you could have added to "emphatic and dramatic" the adjectives ineffective and fruitless, because of what their protest accomplished: viz., NOTHING! People, yourself obviously included, have long been fully aware of their nation's nuclear follies, but felt impotent to stop it. If those who feel as both you and I and the Ploughshare Three feel about this national insanity, and took the effective step of not paying the taxes upon which the insanity completely depends, our actions would change from impotent to potent and bring the program to an end. Of course that would require considerable wisdom and courage by the protesters. IRS agents are much more feared than the lackadaisical guards at our nuke facilities.

August 5, 2014 at 3:13 p.m.
NedNetterville said...

Hey Rickaroo, here is a link to a university professor's article that answers your questions about how those things currently paid with tax revenues would be handled in the absence of taxation:

The title of the article is "The Obviousness of Anarchy." Professor Hasnas, George Mason University Law and History professor, also has an article on the internet entitled "The Myth of The Rule of Law," which you should also read. I presume you believe that myth as well.

Good learning my friend.

August 6, 2014 at 10:11 p.m.
NedNetterville said...

One final thought, Rickaroo, if you would register your distaste for your nation's nuclear-weapons-stockpile insanity by not paying your taxes, even if no one joins you and your action fails to bring about the desired results of eliminating those weapons, you can hold up your head and say to one and all, "At least I don't pay for 'em."

August 6, 2014 at 10:19 p.m.
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