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"We hate dandelions. " That's what the lady on the television says in one of those commercials for the suburban WMDs known as "weed killers. " She seems like a nice lady and pretty normal, so I wonder what the dandelions could have done to make her so mad? I mean "mad" in both senses of the term: Angry and crazy. Imagine the level of hostility necessary to summon up hate for a flower! And what kind of maniac exposes herself and her children to bioweapons for no reason other than aesthetics? Bioweapons? Yes! As I learned from Rachel Carson's Silent Spring this weekend, the chemical herbicides and insecticides that have so polluted our environment were discovered in the course of developing and testing weapons:
"In the course of developing agents of chemical warfare, some of the chemicals created in the laboratory were found to be lethal to insects. The discovery did not come by chance: insects were widely used to test chemicals as agents of death for man" (pp. 24-25 of 1962 paperback edition).How's that for an intersection? Vivisection and militarism combine to create deadly agents that capitalism then turns into consumer products that end up poisoning people and the earth! There are plenty of such intersections in Silent Spring. Did you know that poisons often were deliberately introduced into resevoirs of drinking water in order to kill off undesired fish which were then replaced by hatchery fish so that the thrill killers known as sport fishermen could have some fun? Then the drinking water would have to be treated -- at public expense -- to be potable again. The people (and other animals) paid the price while the chemical companies reaped the profits. Speaking of profits, that Carson was motivated to write Silent Spring by the misbeggotten war on the fire ants of the nexium 40mg pills $123.00 late 1950s and that this reminded me of our current misadventures in Iraq. There are even more parallels than I realized! Not only was the war on fire ants an ill-conceived effort that left both deadly toxins and dead non-combatants in the wake of a failed effort, but the executive branch lied to trick congress into supporting the war. Stay with me here, because this is a truly trippy episode in American history. Imported red fire ants arrived in the United States via the port at Mobile, Alabama back in the 1920s. For several decades, they were considered a nuisance but not dangerous by farmers and agricultural agencies in the southern states into which they had spread. The USDA's "encyclopedic Yearbook for 1952, which was devoted to insects, contained only one paragraph on the fire ant out of its half-million words of text" (Silent Spring, p. 148) and its 1957 bulletin of recommendations for the control of insects that threaten crops and "livestock" didn't mention fire ants at all. But, as Carson reported, the new deadly chemicals in search of a market changed everything:
"In 1957 the United States Department of Agriculture launched one of the most remarkable publicity campaigns in its history. The fire ant suddenly became the target of a barrage of government releases, motion pictures, and government-inspired stories portraying it as a despoiler of southern agriculture and a killer of birds, livestock, and man. A mighty campaign was announced, in which the federal government in cooperation with the afflicted states would ultimately treat some 20, 000, 000 acres in nine southern states. "The chemical companies cheered at this "sales bonanza, " congressional support for which was gained by "representations that were later discredited" (p. 147). Yup. They told scary stories about six-legged WMDs to get congress to pay for an expensive and unnecessary assault. The stories were later proved to be untrue. Nexium 40mg pills $123.00 in alabama, where the red fire ants were most dense, a 1961 study of records found no reports of damage to plants or animals by fire ants in the previous five years. By then it was too late. Millions of acres had been sprayed with heptachlor and dieldrin, killing all manner of mammals and birds, poisoning our water and our bodies, and leaving the insurgent fire ants unscathed. The real reason for the war on fire ants and all of its "collateral damage" is sickeningly easy to see: profits for the chemical companies. That's the parallel that it may be most [nexium 40mg pills $123.00] important for us to understand today, as we wonder why a congress that supposedly wants to get us out of Iraq just wrote GWB another blank check. Just as the makers of (one herbicidal component of which also used to be sprayed on suburban lawns) wanted us to stay in Vietnam as long as possible, today's war profiteers don't want their own "sales bonanza" to end. We've got to quit thinking of massive profits for military contractors and weapons manufacturers as side effects of warfare and start seeing them for what they are: the real reason we went to war. If we don't see that and , we might manage to get out of Iraq someday but we'll be paying them to send their weapons and contractors somewhere else soon enough. Whether its ostensible purpose is weapons manufacturing or factory farming, the true purpose of every for-profit corporation is pursuit of profit. The war on the fire ants ought to have taught us just how ruthless and reckless capitalism tends to be. That ruthlessness and recklessness has worked itself into the national mindset of people who have been raised to equate capitalism with democracy. A majority of Americans under some circumstances. Attacks on civilians? Is it any wonder they also approve of drenching dandelions with poison in the course of what Rachel Carson calls "man's war against nature"? Which brings us back to the , which are beautiful, delicious, nutritious, medicinal, and would be valuable in and of themselves even if they were of absolutely no use to animals like us. Every time I see one of those "we hate dandelions" commercials, I get the urge to start a Dandelion Liberation League. Here's what we do: Collect and preserve some of the seeds of particularly hardy dandelions, like that giant one you just saw growing between the cracks in the sidewalk at the gas station. Then, subversively spread them around. Meantime, anytime we see a dandelion-free yard, we say, "Ugh! Lawns without dandelions make me think of chemicals!" or "Oh, no! What happened to the pretty yellow flowers?" And nexium 40mg pills $123.00, of course, there are all kinds of ways people could interfere with the poison profiteers, some of which just happen also to be war profiteers. Cesar Chavez's canine companion wasn't called "Boycott" for nothing. Speaking of dogs, this post is dedicated to dog Dandelion, who winces along with me every time they say they hate dandelions on TV. Dandelion She's a weedy woofhound who loves cats more than anything, even breakfast. Since the death of our beloved best friend Zami earlier this year, Dandy has been working to overcome her natural shyness so that she can step up to do the things that Zami used to do for our pack. Zami Dandy got her name from her habit of eating dandelion greens and it turned out to suit her perfectly. Like the weeds for which she was named, she was shunned by suburbanites who wanted a more manicured and manageable dog. Like them, she's got a ragged beauty and all kinds of hidden healing qualities. Like them, she's tenacious and friendly. I propose her as the figurehead of the Dandelion Liberation League.