Still More on "Genocide."

In addition to the two letters in PEACE emphasizing the accurate phrase "cultural genocide" to describe the situation of Hungarians in Romania, I received considerable flak from several East Bloc emigre members concerning the watered-down phrase "forced cultural assinulation" in my article about the CANDU reactor in Romania.

For the record, the article was submitted using the phrase "cultural genocide" but the editorial board changed it without my consent for reasons known only to them.

Wally Keeler, Toronto, Ont.

Who's a "Communist"?

John Bacher's review of Maurice Tugwell's Peace With Freedom was followed by criticisms from Tugwell and Thomas Perry.

At the founding convention of the Canadian Peace Alliance in 1985 Perry gave the opening speech. He complains that Dr. Bacher describes his address as an "embarassment." I was a delegate to that convention and "embarassment" is one of the kinder words that comes to mind. The point of Perry's speech was to urge the peace movement not to criticize the USSR and not to talk about human rights. The pro-Moscow constituency who comprised some 40 percent of the delegates certainly agreed. But it did not go over well with the nonaligned. To us Perry sounded like an apologist for pro-Moscow politics.

As for Tugwell, he is a longtime supporter of U.S. militarism. Like the pro-Moscow groups he criticizes, he supports one of the two superpowers. His interest in peace and freedom is selective. He expresses concern over the suffering of East Europeans under Soviet domination, but not over Latin Americans' suffering under U.S. domination.

Tugwell denies having accused Douglas Roche of "being subject to Communist influence." On page 174 he says that Roche is in "the intellectual prison of the peace ideology. Blissfully unaware of the degree of Communist influence and control over the agenda and actions of Canada's peace movemenL... he praises everything the movement does."

Peace With Freedom is laced with misleading and untrue claims. Thus on page 126 Tugwell calls ACT for Disarmament "neo-Marxist." As an organizer in ACT since 1984, I can think of no "neo-Marxist" activist in any chapter. Not that it would be a problem if there were "neo-Marxists," provided they favored peace and human rights everywhere and operated in a non-manipulative manner.

Simon Threlkeld Downsview, Ont.

Flawed Militarism Issue?

The June/July issue of PEACE contains some poor writing.

On Spencer's interview of Trainor:

Are cataracts really caused by microwaves? Under what conditions?

"Since the structure of the human body is electrical..." What does she mean by that? Electrical forces are basic to the structure of all matter, not specially to living, mammalian, or human bodies. Or is she referring to membrane potentials of many differentiated cells, and their functions, such as muscle and nerve tissue? To say"... any field around it is going to affect it" is a generalization that is not true in a practical sense. Most fields we encounter incidentally are too weak to be expected to have any effect.

National and international standards on limits for exposure to radiation and electromagnetic fields are not a "joke." They are set by serious expert committees whose methods are not casual ("and then back off from that some") as implied by Trainor. It is misleading to say "because there is no safe limit."

This interview is full of innuendo, with a remarkable lack of quantitative information, or any indication that she, a physicist, speaks from a background of quantitative information.

On Lloyd and Low-Level Flights:

One does not expect the same standard of quantitative assessment from one who is not listed as a physicist, but some care and common sense is expected throughout the article. What does "ozone depletion" have to do with regional damage due to low-level flights? That defect occurs in the stratosphere, and if aircraft contribute to it, high level flights must be that much worse. Damage at ground level due to ozone layer depletion is spread over a wide area of the globe, not concentrated in the area of the cause.

On Bacher and Ecocidal Wars:

The phrase,"... the 370,650 acres of sprayed mangrove have disappeared," shows contempt for number. I suppose the spurious implication of accuracy is an attempt to impress readers. A survey that could distinguish between 350,000 and 400,000 acres would be an unusually good one.

To use the word "genocide" is an exaggeration when in Guatemala the government policy seems to be a wickedly ruthless and murderous attempt to control a people, not to exterminate them.

On McMahon and Arctic Ecocide:

The caption for the picture of dead reindeer states that the animals were killed by fallout. I believe they were reported to have been slaughtered to prevent their being used for food.

"...200 times more radiation than that suffered by the average citizen of either superpower." It is not clear whether he means 200 times average natural background or 200 times the average ingestion of Cs-137.

On David Kraft and Nuclear Subs:

He quotes the statement,"... any increase in radiation involves some risk to health." This reduces the credibility of the article to those who are anywhere near the decision-making level. The natural background of radiation varies by a factor of 4 between different areas in heavily populated parts of the world, with no observed difference in health or longevity. Populations receiving 10 times the average have been studied with no definite difference shown, and there are small populations who have over many generations received 100 times the average with no obvious deleterious effect (apart from the factor of radon in enclosed atmospheres, where there is a small calculable effect).

David Bennett's article on protecting workers from radiation shows the same error, and he also quotes with apparent approval the Canadian Labour Congress policy of "zero exposure" to carcinogens, which is ridiculous. Carcinogens are all around us from both natural and man-made sources. Whether a particular one can be detected in a work setting depends on the sensitivity of the test for it.

Alan Phillips, Hamilton

Goose Bay? Don't Worry

Some issues discussed by Brennain Lloyd (June/July) will be addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement, now nearing completion. The government will rely on it . . . to determine the future of flying training here.

There are several exaggerated remarks in the Lloyd article. The figures of 10,000 Innu is misleading. Only 3000 Innu live near enough to the military flying area to use it, and none live in the area permanently. The maximum population of the military flying area at any one time is in the vicinity of 2000 people. And yet the size of the area is larger than Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg combined. At the same time, the 8000 townspeople of Happy Valley . . . fear the loss of their livelihood if the airbase is closed.

Claims of disruption to animal breeding habits are difficult to understand, since the caribou herd has grown from 30,000 animals in the early '60s to over 500,000 today.

Lloyd quotes the Canadian Public Health Association report to show that supersonic flight is potentially dangerous. That report refers to flight at 50 feet above ground level, not higher flights that will account for 95 percent of all supersonic occurrences.

C.D. Young, Goose Bay Management Office (National Defence Hqrs.) Ottawa

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1989

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1989, page 5. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by various here

Peace Magazine homepage