Louise Franklin-Ramirez’ 1998 Lewis Mumford Peace Award Acceptance Speech
“GENTLEMEN: YOU ARE MAD! We in America are living among madmen. Madmen govern our affairs in the name of order and security… Without a public mandate of any kind, the madmen have taken it upon themselves to lead us by gradual stages to that final act of madness which may corrupt the face of the earth and blot out the nations of men, possibly put an end to all life on the planet itself… Why do we let the madmen go on with their game without raising our voices?.. There is a reason: we are madmen too… Our failure to act is the measure of our madness.” (Lewis Mumford, March 2, 1946)
Lewis Mumford warned us over 52 years ago that the madmen are in charge and I regret to inform you that the situation remains unchanged. Around the world, “Nuclear Madness” is ascendant. Permit me to enumerate:
1 While sanctimoniously condemning India’s repulsive criminal act (testing a nuclear weapon), the nuclear powe. who have already contaminated the Earth with their own nuclear “tests”continue to deploy an arsenal of 30,000 nuclear weapons to threaten Life itself;
2 Estimates of nuclear cleanup costs in the U.S. are in excess of $500 billion and the situation in the former Sovie Union is vastly worse, stiR-they-spend countless billions on nuclear weapons wMie cutting the cleanup budget;
3 Just one impregnable Trident submarine carries approximately 200 hydrogen bombs, enough to destroy every Russian city over 50,000, and 19 Tridents are currently deployed;
4 The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), the “bedrock” of all modern arms control efforts is under attack by unrepentant cold warriors pushing a ghoulish reincarnation of ‘Star Wars,’ but pending treaties remain unratified;
5 In the past 5 years, our government has threatened Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea and China with nuclear weapons and it is now official U.S. policy to permit the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states;
6 In defiance of the Department of Energy and the National Academy of Science, Congress has proposed a shortsighted, irresponsible scheme to transport 40,000 tons of irradiated fuel rods over our highways and tracks risking a ‘Mobile Chernobyl;
7 The Clinton Administration has dictated the expansion of NATO.to the very doorstep of Russia, while insisting there is no cause for Kremlin concern.
It should be clear to any sane person that the “Nuclear Nightmare” is not only far from over, but today is more frightening than ever. It is imperative that a reinvigorated Peace Movement assertively demand total nuclear disarmament. The nuclear weapons states have had over 50 years to negotiate an end to this insanity and, if we are to preserve a living planet for our children and future generations, we cannot afford to wait another fifty years. We insist that the nuclear powers promptly conclude a binding Comprehensive Nuclear Disarmament Treaty as required by International Law. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty must be renegotiated to close the loopholes and ban all laboratory and “sub-critical” testing, and all weapons development. The nuclear states can begin to edge back from the brink of the nuclear precipice by pledging “No First Use” of nuclear weapons and to immediately remove all warheads from delivery systems.
The Hibakusha, the living survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, remind us that the horrors they endured 53 years ago await us all if nuclear weapons are ever used again. Let us take solemn heed of their timely warning. Lewis Mumford wrote the following just two days after the Hiroshima bombing “My immediate reaction (to the bombing of Hiroshima) was one of almost physical nausea: the power it places in the hands of the human race is too absolute to be entrusted to them; and the very fact that we used the bomb is a proof that we were neither intelligent enough nor morally sound enough to be in charge of this weapon”
Writing at the dawn of the Nuclear Age, Lewis Mumford admonished that our failure to act makes us all complicitous in this monstrous evil. Let us cast off our moral apathy, raise our voices, and actively resi’st the illegitimate authority of these nuclear madmen. Only then can we finally free ourselves of the omnipresent threat of Nuclear Omnicide and abolish nuclear weapons forever.