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"Satire in Future Perfect"

     A rant is a rant is a rant, as Gertrude Stein would say.  By
definition, it's O.K. to be just a little shrill, right?  But, if
a body is going to be shrill, it ought to be about something
serious, even cosmic, it seems to me, not just one's private
little pain.
     Some of us are convinced that the government of the United
States of America has secretly designated New Mexico as the
Nuclear Sacrifice Zone.  The first step in the process was
undertaken in the early 40's, when it was decided to invent,
build and explode the first atomic bomb here.  The inhabitants of
the area were sparse in number, and lower than average in social
rank.  Some of them didn't even speak English.  Some of the
scientists who carried out that decision report having had fears
that they could incinerate the atmosphere of Earth, but they were
shushed on the spot.
     Since then it has become clearer that the Sacrifice Zone
designation is in force, even though it is still denied by
authorities.  Clues keep leaking out.  Even with no enemy in
sight, additional plutonium pits are to be produced at Los
Alamos, with expert help from Sandia Corporation in Albuquerque.
Excess plutonium, trucked in from Amarillo, is to be
"incinerated" at Los Alamos.  "Depleted" uranium anti-tank shells
are being invented and tested in Socorro [and Iraq].  And all of
the Department of Energy's transuranic waste [love that phrase! -
- but not what it refers to!] is to be trucked from all over the
nation to Carlsbad, NM.
     Persons who protest any of all of this madness are mocked by
government and media as "nervous Nellies," and dismissed as "a
special interest group," namely "environmentalists."  I am part
of the lower echelon of those protestors, and my principle
is the latest published effort.
     We protestors discuss among ourselves why we do it.  Some
are discouraged by the inequality of the resources available to
both sides in the controversy, and wonder what chance we have of
success.  But others say, quite clearly, "Success is possible
because it is absolutely necessary.  The eternal (250,000 years!)
poisoning of the Biosphere must not be permitted.  Therefore we
will not permit it, money and troops and atomic bombs, inertia
and cowardice and bribery to the contrary notwithstanding."
     I have admitted already that the satire is sometimes
difficult.  "Six trucks a day through the Big-I for twenty years,
with no DWI accidents!  No leakage into pressurized brine at WIPP
and out into the environment, for 10,000 years!  How can I make
satire out of those claims?  Well, I gave it a good try."
     That was just as VERMIN appeared in book form.  But the
tension continues to mount.  News, which feels like satire
already, before I get to deal with it, keeps coming at us.  I
find some of it in THE NATION.  Here are three brief examples.
     [1] "The top twenty-five arms exporters gave more than $6.5
million in PAC and soft-money contributions in 1995-1996.  When
Senator Mark Hatfield introduced legislation to establish a code
of conduct on arms sales [curbing sales to dictatorships and
human rights violators], the senators who voted against the bill
had received eight times as much PAC money from arms exporters as
those who voted for it."
     [2] "A U.S. District Court in Northern California overturned
Santa Clara County's ban on gun sales at gun shows, on the
grounds that it was an interference with free speech."
     [3] "October 1997 brings the Cassini space mission to
Saturn, with the largest plutonium payload ever -- 72.3 pounds --
atop a Titan rocket, known to blow up on launch.  'Inadvertent
reentry' to Earth's atmosphere would mean 'approximately 5
billion of the estimated 7 to 8 billion world population... could
receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure,' says
NASA's environmental impact statement."
     So, here is more incredible nonsense that will need
satirizing.  Not because it will sell well, I must note.  We
can't even get THE NATION, leaders of the so-called alternative
press, to notice and review any of our contributions to the
national literary discussion.  We find we need to do it anyway,
because that mountain of very dangerous arrogance and silliness
is there, like Mount Everest.
     How will I make fun of people who are willing to put at risk
5/7 of the population of the globe?  Maybe something about over-
population and the optimum number of humans this planet can
handle.  I've heard deep ecologists rant about that.  One said
that the optimum number of humans on the Earth would be 100,000.
Jehovah's Witnesses take literally the Biblical magic number of
144,000, which is 10 x 10 x 12 x 12.  Let's see...  Maybe
something can be done with this one, after all...
* * *
Copyright © 1997 Harry Willson

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