Keep Space for Peace Local Action in Tucson

30 September, 2004

From: Loring Wirbel

GN Members and Board,

Kudos to Pat Birnie from Tucson for working like crazy to book me into two evening talks, a UofA classroom talk, TV and radio interviews, and participation in a Tuesday Raytheon bannering, as part of Keep Space for Peace Week. Across the board, attendance at events was great, and people asked intelligent and informed questions - we even had some involvement from Raytheon and other industry engineers, but no heckling, just thoughtful questions and responses.

I found it particularly remarkable that both Nancy Hand at the Reflexiones TV show at KUAT-TV, and David Yerkey of "A View from Slightly Off-Center" at KXCI-FM, had obviously read portions of my book, and asked interesting and challenging questions. These days, a majority of media hosts, even on programs dedicated to book discussions, seem to rarely read books, so this was an unexpected and refreshing change.

On Monday night, I gave a talk at the Aerospace department, where more than 100 attended. We showed the WILPF "Space 4 Peace" video, and audience reaction was positive. The program was part of Jody Gibbs' "Voice of Opposition to War, Racism and Oppression" series, a lineup of excellent videos and speeches. Jody was host to me while I was in Tucson, and filled me in on the status of organizing there.

Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa of Nuclear Resister organized the Tueday morning bannering at Raytheon (and also had a nice Tuesday evening gathering at their home - thanks!). We talked about how Raytheon workers were in denial that the Tucson plant was the source for the exoatmospheric kill vehicle for the mid-course missile-defense weapon, for the SM-3 missile used on Aegis cruisers for theater missile defense, and for several missile-defense related electronic intelligence programs. Some folks at Raytheon deny their work is related to weapon programs at all, Jack said. Felice also talked about the status of the Mordecai Vanunu campaign, since he was released from prison but remains under virtual house arrest in Israel.
Tuesday afternoon, I spoke to an African Studies class on electoral issues, and students were dumbfounded that something like a missile-defense system could be going operational while the candidates wasted their time talking about Swift Boats and National Guard duty.

Tuesday night, WILPF organized a discussion at the Unitarian Church, in which folks again asked very good, thoughtful questions.

It was great to see old friends like Tony Zamora, Russ Lowes, Bob Anderson, and Ted Warmbrand, and good to know that Tucson is filled with people who haven't fallen into despair or mindlessness.

Loring Wirbel


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