Phillip Berrigan, former Jesuit priest and antiwar activist, speaking to a Moorhead audience. Berrigan also talks with KCCM reporter John Ydstie about nuclear disarmament, American militarism and his views of American society today.
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In the great great apes house between the gorilla and the orangutan. There's an exhibit entitled the most dangerous animal in the world. The exhibit consists of a mirror with a text you're looking at the most dangerous animal in the world it alone of all the animals that ever lived and exterminate and has exterminated entire species of animals the power to wipe out all life on Earth including its own audience at Morehead State University. He believes the human race is in grave danger of destroying itself given the current rate of escalation in the nuclear arms race and the attitudes of American officials Barragan believes Armageddon could be upon us as soon as 1985 for that reason nuclear disarmament has become the focus of his social activism and his recent demonstrations against the bomb at the Pentagon and other places have had the same personal consequence for him as his protest against the war that is a series of arrest trials and jail terms. Jergens history as a social activist demonstrates a basic dissatisfaction with American society and during an interview we talked about that dissatisfaction before specifically addressing the subject of nuclear arms are against position outside the mainstream of American values became clear again, as I read his one page resume before our interview, it was a disarming experience because we're other Americans of his age and education would have listed their significant professional accomplishments Philip Berrigan listed instead jail, May through December 1968, Baltimore County Jail Lewisburg Penitentiary that jail term along with others listed total 39 months and 1 week. Just above jail on his resume Philip Berrigan list political trials Baltimore 8th, April 1968. Cantonsville nine, October 68 and may 69 Harrisburg 8th. Gen. Lori 1972 and quote about 16 since the nuclear arms race and quote estranged resume for a 56 year-old American but one that well describes were Philip Berrigan stance. I do that not to bludgeon people with personal history or credential or anything like that. But because I I feel there's a good need to know our society to two. Achieve some consistency between words and deeds if you are I have this abject fear. I hope which is a gospel fear of being judged to hypocrite of being out of suggesting to other folks are in a perilous courses of action that I have absolutely no intention of following myself. Let's talk about your social activism you've been active as I said through the sixties with civil rights Vietnam protests and now with nuclear armaments obviously for you. There's something quite wrong about the way this Society is going about its business. Yeah, I corset. I even help not only by the by the socio-political studies analysis of let's hear the sixties and early seventies, you know, but I think I've been more especially how about by getting a little bit deeper into into the New Testament as an explanation of what our society is and taking from the basis of what's the book The Book of Revelation. Jones Book of Revelation and it it's an Empire, you know entered acts like an Empire and it's no different from the empires of the best and empires of Z are about your own aggrandizement. There are about their own standards of living while they're about their own control over the loss of the shortest and ours is no different the only the only Well Superfluous difference about it or are the external difference about it would be that rhymes with now a toy weapons, but we are essentially an Empire and why we don't have any Ambitions over the territories of other people. We certainly have Ambitions over what they what they control them what they own both by way of resources and also a cheap labor and we act like one we act like one we have been in order to secure our comfort or standard of living or gross national product Rising expectations call it what you will we've been at War perpetually since December 1941 either hot or cold Waring and we are at War so constantly because we insist on an overweening share of view is the world's resources. And we're very very serious about about having them and having them your impression of American society differ from the impression that most people have of it. I think most Americans believe that. At least hope to believe or want to believe that America is for Freedom that America is for helping people that America's Four Noble things how have so many people been so diluted and how have you seen the different side of it? Why is there a difference why is there such a great difference in perception between you as a prophet of the social activist movement end and the general public and I think one has to keep one's eyes open and take a razor on Varney smoke of things. I think that we merely need to try not to flee from our observations or we nearly we merely need to to have available to us reliable sources of information regarding the observation Factor. Well, what do we do? What's our conduct as a nation state or as a people? Whether that be overseas or whether be here at home, it's more than slightly reprehensible. The Indochina war was the last example of it are supported the show of a run wasn't even more recent example of it. I happen to believe that it's not so much that the education is not this is not there after Watergate was there Vietnam was was there the collapsing around was there, you know our support of some Mozart in Nicaragua was the education certainly is all there. But there's something about the way we live here in this country which erases the education and which induces people to go into a kind of forgetfulness for amnesia, which is tantamount to a racing the education so much so that the pursuit of this world's Goods say or food we eat sushi or the intellectual have as we pursue or the company. We keep just wipes the Slate clean and we're prepared. How to react gullibly to the next promises from the next campaign of the next candidate in Washington were prepared to swallow the next deal offered us or prepare to get into the next next little kind of shady of conspiracy regarding the accumulation of more of this world's goods and then that wipes and and and people I've ever seen a dick to deadweight never really learn much from from experience. I let alone know I learned from the experience of their country right now, you're greatly concerned with the proliferation of buildup of nuclear arms in the world. And I wonder if you could share with us some of your concern about that and what you see as a solution to that problem what can be done about it. well I think that I'm just mousing a lot of wisdom when the from the past when I say that this crisis is perhaps the the most serious one that's ever hit humankind. It places on Arsenal level of survival absolutely unprecedented. We've never met anything like this before we never had the capacity to be able to to exterminate ourselves. We exterminated of a species but we never have seriously going about the business of Exterminating ourselves on a mass scale luck continues. I am firmly convinced that the American leadership is not only intent upon preparing for nuclear war but intends to have War. There again, I go much more by their conduct and I Do by their words and their conduct and their weaponry and the money behind all of this speaks found the louder to me then and then their protestations about peace and are there conduct says that look when we have achieved a technical breakthrough against the Soviet Union something that we have been seeking for 30 years something that will allow us to attack them on every skill including on the scale of the retaliatory forces. We will go ahead and War and will eliminate time is a threat once and for all on occasion. I have seen something of the virulence and something of the hatred of official planners towards the Russian people in towards the Russian leadership. I think that anti-communism Behcet's disease in this country and I think that it has infected the leadership in a much more per month pronounced way than it has affected the people of this country and I God knows it has affected us pretty deeply But I am astonished that day that from time to time, you know at the aggressiveness and at the bloodlust of some of the junkers in Washington and some of the politicians when they come to the Russians and they're in the relationship of this country to a Soviet Union stiff. Got to believe that anyone. Could sanely want a nuclear war z must be saying these people are insane. I am saying that they are insane. So I have felt for a long time now Daniel Ellsberg a far better authorities and I simply because he's he's work right in the balls of houses of the beach down there says that do you know their house that carry caliber their character is of the caliber of Gordon liddy's they are strange love you in indeed. So I believe firmly that they're preparing for nuclear war. I Believe by the mid-eighties. They will K has a capacity usually through space mostly through space surveillance to locate to isolate the Russian retaliatory Force which would be submarine, of course and how to attract them locate them and Destroy them with the attack Subs do we have right now and if that is done and if Communications are disrupted I'll buy the fact that we have shot down in space itself all of his headlights systems which serve as a basis for communication even today then of course we can we can offer the Soviets for slashing Sherwood colleges are mean for strike and we will try to get all of their icbms and a military command post and a command position and bomber bases are in a wiped out before they have a chance to fire anything towards this country. Of course, there's always all you know, and incalculable stupidity are connected with such viciousness. And one of the stupidities would be an underestimation of what the radioactivity of a resultant as it would be cared carried by the prevailing winds are there seems to be you know what this stupid criminally stupid assumption that we're going to escape somehow social activist Philip Berrigan while in Moorhead Bergen also spoke out against nuclear weapons at Morehead State University during his address. He outlined the goals of a group to which he belongs called mobilization for survival a group that is working for nuclear disarmament. The first one the first one would be zero nuclear weapons as a goal. So if you are observations about the lunatics spiral or the arms race us has about 40,000 nuclear war has the equivalent of 620000 irrational bombs. I want you to really tax your imagination now. We can't presently Overkill the whole world 12 times. A vertical race catalyzes the horizontal race the vertical spiral with the Soviet Union that kind of competition which has been going on ever since the Russians got the atomic bomb in the late forties Israel and other nations could have the Bomb by 1985 more and more Nations. Look on the bottom as credentials for nationhood under our example. If the Soviet strike us first, nothing will save Russia from us if we strike the Russians first. Nothing will save us. from them hints the probability now and I want this to sink in or at least I want people to talk seriously about it. If they don't agree now the probability of mass suicide facing us. Hence, the projection that given the present course nuclear war is inevitable by the year 2000 some Say by 1985. The salt talks are devious camouflage aimed at further escalation and at beam using the Public Public and at neutralizing resistance. So States and National Security Council memorandum S4 Carter don't listen to his words watch his performance this born again Christian traded off the b-14 the cruise missile, he supports deployment of the neutron bomb. He approve development of the new mobile ICBM called experimental missile ex and he calls for further War Appropriations. So the Christian or the scene or the human position is unilateral disarmament. Let us not hedge on that. Any sane person will not have a weapon representing them which destroys their spirit and which will in all likelihood rebound and Destroy them Barragan one on to list other goals of the mobilization for survival including the Banning of nuclear power plants because he said like the bomb they are accidents waiting to happen and he suggested that it during a nuclear war the power plants themselves would become potential bombs. He also maintains that the plutonium which is a byproduct manufactured by nuclear plants and which is easily converted into bombs introduces the age of the private atom bomb an age in which terrorists could hold whole City's hostage in addition to Banning the bomb and nuclear power plants other goals of the mobilization for survival. Are you bringing into the arms race and to use the money normally spent on weapons to help meet human needs around the world Barragan strategy for obtaining. These goals is civil disobedience. In the tradition for non-violent resistance to the state from our own American roots and from Tolstoy and Gandy just to give a couple of examples weight loss for civil disobedience and we should shut off our civil obedience. Non-payment of taxes and breaking the laws which makes the mass murder of war or mass suicide legal legal. If your Manatee is crippled and the planet destroyed it will be legal, you know. This colossal crime of preparation for nuclear Holocaust as the sanctimonious stamp of law on it, you know seeking ratification of salt to through the Senate if civilization does atomized it will all be legal, you know, after an evening of considering the possibility of nuclear war. There were those in the audience who asked Barragan if the situation was indeed hopeless given barragan's claims about the incorrigibility of America's leaders and the Public's apparent apathy Barragan had this reply. I'm not too. Well not too clearly is that there is hope otherwise, I wouldn't invest the time speaking to you see or are sitting and trying to Fathom some daylight with you. There is hope social activist Philip Barrick. This is John. It's t.