Bucks County must unite to ‘ban the bomb’

No one wins a nuclear war.

That’s why the moment we find ourselves in now with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a stark reminder of why we need a resurgent anti-nuclear movement.

“If we had a nuclear war between the United States and Russia…it could eventually end human life on this Earth due to what’s called nuclear winter,” said Dr Daniel Wolk of the Bryn Mawr Hospital, who sits on the advisory board of the Philadelphia Physicians Chapter. for Social Responsibility.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the United States is expected to spend $634 billion on its nuclear arsenal between 2021 and 2030. Russia and the United States both possess 90% of the world’s approximately 13,000 nuclear weapons. The current nuclear rattling of Russian President Vladmir Putin and the fact that the United States is the only country in the world to deploy nuclear weapons – on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which immediately killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese and left a “desert post -apocalyptic” in its wake – should horrify people.

Cyril Mychalejko is a freelance teacher and writer from Bucks County.

“They don’t see it as a real danger until times like this war in Ukraine where people start talking about World War III if we provoke Putin the wrong way,” Wolk said.

He’s been out of sight, out of mind.

Until now.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein to gauge the nuclear threat to the world, the clock is set “closest to the apocalypse ending civilization”, 100 seconds before midnight with midnight signaling the end.

PSR’s Wolk became involved in the anti-nuclear movement in 1982. That same year, the American anti-nuclear movement peaked with 1 million Americans demonstrating in New York’s Central Park to demand an end to nuclear weapons.

Bucks County also had a strong anti-nuclear movement at the time led by local progressive peace activists. Paul Zimmerman of Upper Makefield Township, a screenwriter who died too young at 54 in 1993, helped start the Bucks Alliance for Nuclear Disarmament, or BAND. He wrote the 1982 film “The King of Comedy”, directed by Martin Scorsese, which starred Robert DeNiro and Jerry Lee Lewis. Zimmerman actually hosted a sold-out premiere of the film at the Newtown Theater, adorned with klieg lights and a red carpet, and used the proceeds as seed money to start BAND and open a Peace Center locally. What started with about 40 people grew into a group of hundreds of members and 20 religious and secular organizations advocating for a nuclear freeze.

In September 1982, he was a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and spoke about his activism.

“I think the greatest enemy of the well-being of this country is indifference,” he told Gross.

He credited his wife Barbara with helping him see how “absolutely crazy and dangerous” the country’s nuclear policy was. Given that it’s Women’s History Month, it’s worth highlighting how this Bucks County woman helped make history locally.

Barbara was spurred into action by listening to another woman, Helen Caldicott, on Fresh Air. She joined the local chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom soon after. BAND even had Caldicott speak at Neshaminy High School on September 30, 1982, an event that really helped the band get off the ground.

“I don’t think the country has ever been in this moment, ever,” she told me.

The Cuban Missile Crisis would probably be the only other time the world has been pushed over such a precipice.

BAND engaged in all types of activism, from weekly vigils, to peace concerts, to conferences, to board meetings of local arms manufacturers. But since the end of the cold war, the movement has run out of steam.

I can’t think of a better time for the revival of the movement. But don’t let cynicism deter your potential activism.

Even former President Ronald Reagan alienated his Republican party’s most hawkish cold warriors and embraced nuclear arms control with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. As Wolk of Physicians for Social Responsibility reminded me, “Somehow we were able to eliminate 36,000 nuclear weapons…and do it in a verifiable way.

Now imagine a world without nuclear weapons where, instead of spending $634 billion on weapons of mass destruction over the next decade, we spend it on education, healthcare, renewable energy and infrastructure.

“Just keep building bridges and bringing the issues to light,” Zimmerman said.

It’s 100 seconds minus midnight: what are you waiting for?

Cyril Mychalejko is the editor of Bucks County Beacon. Follow him on Twitter @cmychalejko and at https://cyrilmychalejko.substack.com.

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