Robert Meeropol





Robby, Abel, Michael and trains








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"Robby & Elli" 1968


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Robby speaking at the re-launch of the Mary Pitawanakwat Fund in Toronto

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STILL OUT ON A LIMB

Millennials are Awake; Boomers, let’s join them

September 24, 2016

Tags: Millennials, Jill Stein, lesser evil

Sunday evening Elli and I attended a rally for Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein. It was a great crowd – about 400 people – and I was impressed by the composition of the audience. A few were from my generation, but the overwhelming majority were in their 20’s and 30’s. It was thrilling to see so many politically-energized young people, today’s equivalent of my SDS comrades from the 1960’s. It gave me hope for the future.

I was also inspired by Jill’s speech. How refreshing to hear a presidential candidate articulate so many positions that I agree with. Not only did she put climate justice front and center, but I could enthusiastically support virtually everything she said, from her attacks on the military industrial complex to her plan to cancel student debt to her understanding of institutional racism and desire to create a welcoming path to citizenship for immigrants.

On our way home afterwards it dawned on me that I was reviving the simple concept I first heard in elementary school: we vote for the person we agree with. I felt grateful to Jill for giving me the chance to do that.

There are those who will call me self indulgent for voting for the candidate I agree with, but I do this out of necessity. Many of us are aware that Dr. James Hansen (formerly head scientist at NASA) and other climate scientists predict that we face climate change generated biospheric collapse by 2050. Fewer understand that because it takes 30 years for the climate to react fully to today’s emissions, that we have only until 2020 to change course to avoid that catastrophe. Yes, that means that this hellish summer of record, drought, flood, fire and heat was caused by our pre-1986 emissions, and we’ve already locked in so much worse for the next thirty years.

Some ask, why vote for someone who can’t win? That’s a good question. Is it better to vote for someone whose policies guarantee that we will cross climate tipping points by or shortly after 2020? Some claim that Clinton’s acknowledgement of climate change will buy us more time to address the problem. This reflects a failure to understand tipping points, positive feedback loops and the 30-year lag between emissions and their full impact. Clinton’s history shows that it will be virtually impossible to separate her from oil and gas companies, other multinational corporate giants, their Wall Street backers and the military-industrial complex. This guarantees that, despite her “acceptance” of climate change, that she will follow policies that will cross those tipping points, and thus, lock in ecological disaster.

Regardless of whether the tactics of lesser evil Democrats had any positive effect in the last several decades, they are the politics of the past. It might be too late already, but the ONLY way to save the upcoming generations is to act on the understanding that there can be no more business as usual. Millennials are figuring this out, but are my age-mates too set in our politics to embrace the new reality? Let’s not repeat the rigidities of our parents’ generation. We must wake up. If we want civilization, or more than a tiny fragment of our species, to survive the current century the lesser evil is no longer viable.

Selected Works

Memoir
"Bravery is rare. Tyranny is commonplace. Both define the life of Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol-who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution-his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs."
Publisher's Weekly
"one of those rare books everyone should read"
–Joyce Carol Oates

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