From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Helen Vozenilek)
Subject: letter to nation
Hi, here's a copy of the letter I sent to that pompous ass Cockburn about his Bari "memorial" in the March 24, 1997 issue of The Nation, which has yet to run anything.
March 13, 1997
To The Editor, (The Nation)
I was rather disappointed by Alexander Cockburn's tepid tribute to Judi Bari. Apparently Cockburn has difficulty saying too many complimentary things about anyone. And when he describes Bari as being "prickly and arrogant" I thought for sure he'd caught his own reflection in the pond. In his tribute, Cockburn does allow that Bari brought the destruction of the Redwoods to national attention, and did work to move Earth First! towards a less macho, individualistic organization. (If I listen really hard I might even imagine I hear the word 'feminism'.) But in his typically contemptuous manner, Cockburn goes on to discount Bari's attempts at creating a worker-environmentalist coalition. We hear his silly story of disappointment at a Redwood Summer event, which of course is merely the lead-in for his pronouncement of "our side's" general ineffectuality in creating coalitions with the "primal horde." But then that is Cockburn's job: to sit back, preen and make pronouncements. Whereas others, like Judi Bari, are out in the trenches doing the day-to-day drudgery of coalition building.
The short shrift given to the bombing of Bari and Cherney by Cockburn was especially painful. I guess Cockburn didn't have enough room to include one or two sentences about why the FBI dropped the bomb transportation charges against the two. Maybe a seven word sentence like: "none of the charges could be substantiated" might have been included just so the reader unacquainted with the whole case might know why the FBI dropped the charges.*
Instead of bemoaning the big media's tribute's to Bari, Cockburn could have included some of the things they neglected to say. Information about the FBI's infiltration and harassment of Earth First! and the rapaciousness of the timber companies would have made for more edifying reading than the reprint of an obituary that takes up nearly half of Cockburn's column.
Unlike Cockburn, I don't think the public needs to wait for some smoking gun in Bari's 7000-page file. The evidence is available. Read Bari's Timber Wars. The real height of tepidity comes when Cockburn assesses Bari's charges as "certainly provocative." I think damning might be a more appropriate word.
I'm confused about Cockburn's closing analogy. "They put you on a limb and they don't even try to saw it off." What exactly does the omniscient Cockburn think the death threats, car ramming and bombing was all about? Too, Cockburn seems to infer that "they" got Judi out on a limb all by herself. (Is "they" the big media, the timber companies, the FBI, global capitalism, what?) Anyway, Judi was never out on a limb by herself. She was a revolutionary leader with a clear grasp of the larger picture who helped expand the vision of the rest of us.
Judi Bari -- Presente!
San Francisco, CA
Asked to say something about herself, Helen wrote the following. "An electrician for gainful employment and social activist for the non-paid portion. Judi Bari was my hero and I think we've all suffered a tremendous loss. And I get deathly tired of those armchair radicals that write or pontificate about how we should be doing it better."
*Note: Although the FBI and Oakland Police made allegations to the press and placed Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney under arrest, no charges were ever filed against them because there was no evidence whatsoever linking them to making the bomb or knowing it was in the car. Bari and Cherney's suit against the FBI and OPD charges them with deliberate false arrest and false charges in order to smear Earth First! with the terrorist label.
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