Here’s some quotes on nationalism & patriotism assembled by my friend Carl Bunin in Huntington Woods, Michigan, my old neighborhood. Carl and I helped found the Huntington Woods Peace, Education & Citizenship Project as the Iraq War began. We wrote its Mission Statement together. Carl’s the owner of Peacebuttons.com in Detroit, a union shop making progressive buttons and schwag. Highly recommended. Carl also writes the progressive calendar This Week in History. Carl’s as fine a human as I know. I miss him.
Obviously, frequent Bedminster golfer Donald Trump is the reason for this post; where Trump’s declared nationalism now places him and America on the world stage, the sharp rebuke to his face Sunday by French President Macron. Jersey connections to these quotes are slim, but there. A stretch, but I don’t care. We have so much work to do, beyond blue waves. I’m claiming Albert Einstein & Howard Zinn (via Springsteen) for NJ. Here’s why.
Einstein: 7 years ago, out canvassing, my old boss Rep. Rush Holt and my legislative candidate friends Marie Corfield & Maureen Vella knocked on Einstein’s old door at 112 Mercer Street, Rush looking like he half-expected Einstein to amble to the door (my favorite thing about the photo). Einstein was living at that house when he did one of the last things he ever did on this earth; 62 years ago he signed The Russell-Einstein Manifesto, a warning to world leaders that the weapons of mass destruction he’d helped unleash would require something better than nationalism of them. He died at Princeton Hospital days later; the document carries his name with that of Bertrand Russell, who began writing it the day Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki. I feel connected to this document; the Princeton tie, surely. But also that my father’s friend Nobel-laureate Linus Pauling was a signer. And the fact that my father, high up in Army Air Corps intelligence, was one of the few people on the planet who knew when & where the United States would unleash nuclear holocaust on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And of course, could do nothing about it. It’s why he was a peace activist, and why I am, and why at peace marches I always find the veterans and take a place behind them.
Zinn (+ Bruce): The Einstein quote came long before he lived here, in 1929. That guy knew the truth early. The other Jersey connection? That’s Howard Zinn via Bruce Springsteen, who wrote Nebraska (his best album, my opinion) holed up in rented Jersey digs in 1982. He was depressed over Ronald Reagan’s worship of the rich so depressed him that he sought out Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, about a country whose important lives were not the rich and powerful but the immigrants, minorities, and women, the working classes and the poor who built the place. [Nebraska includes the sad as hell Atlantic City, so shout-out to all the folks now pub-crawling AC at the League].