Tempura paint and newspaper clippings on cardboard mounted on board. The image on the left shows three people observing the test of an atomic bomb. The image on the right is Nikita Khruschev.
I dedicate this painting to one of my favorite painters, Marc Salz.
The Cold War was a fearful time for children. In the United States, anti-Communist propaganda was inescapable, it was everywhere. Schools routinely conducted ineffectual safety drills designed to minimize casualties during a nuclear attack. Although the strategies were laughable as a defense against an atomic bomb, they were quite effective in their main intent. They fomented fear in children of imminent attack by Communists in general and specifically by the Soviet Union. The fear was real but the attack never came.
I grew up in a small town in New Jersey that was two miles from another sleepy suburban hamlet called Berlin. I remember seeing news programs about the Berlin Wall on television. A trip to the Berlin Farmer’s Market was a frequent outing for my family. The goods sold there were inexpensive and money was scarce in our household. I remember wondering where n Berlin the wall was located and why no one seemed as concerned as I was about the proximity of the East Germany and Soviet tanks.
One of the most frightening public service messages on television showed the Soviet Leader Nikita Khruschev gesticulating during a speech at the United Nations. The voice-over told of the threat he made to the American people, "WE WILL BURY YOU!" The original intent of the clip is lost to the vagaries of memory. The primary effect it had on me was a deep-routed fear of a Russian madman that threatened to kill and bury the population of the United States. The propaganda and fear-mongering caused me a great deal of anxiety. This fear consumed a great deal of the time that would have been better spent daydreaming about something more positive. It dawned on me that adults must be insane to entertain the notion of war. My position on the topic of war hasn’t changed.
Today the media inflames fear of international terrorism conducted by nebulous and shadowy groups of assassins. Any national affiliation is secondary. They are loyal to their religion not their home, a horde of fanatical monsters without borders for them to defend or for us to attack. For dessert, CNN serves us an endless diet of the Ebola virus.
The subjects have changed since the Fifties and Sixties but the tactic remains the same. The media directs public focus on general issues that have little direct effect on the of the daily lives of average citizens.
The media and government deliberately ignore the destruction caused by an ever widening chasm of wealth distribution. There is little examination of the corruption and greed that fuels the health care industry. The insurance companies are little more than a protected racket. The pharmaceutical industry is immoral and unethical. It creates, promotes and profits from the addiction of millions of people and has created a secondary resale black market so large that its needs surely is considered during production estimates.
Yet no pharmaceutical executives languish in the cells of the ever widening industry of privatized jails. The talk of America being a free country is an anachronism. The concept of Communist countries being large penal colonies is outdated. The former Soviet Union, Russia, that is coincidentally run by a former KGB agent and Communist China are known for their oppressive regimes. But the United States, a nation with a reputation for freedom, imprisons a much higher percentage of its population than do Russia or China. It is a national disgrace but inevitable in a country where corporations run prisons. When incarceration becomes profitable it is logical that the system would encourage more incarceration. I find the repressive governments of Russia and China reprehensible. But I object to the massive incarceration of the American people in the name of profit highly immoral and unethical at the same time. The American penal system, and particularly privatized system run for profit, is a national disgrace and counter to any of the intentions of our founding fathers.
Nuclear bombs certainly have the potential to destroy the human race. Ebola could eliminate human life on the plant as well. Terrorists threaten the lives and security of entire governments. But none of these issues kill us on a daily basis with the same cold efficiency of a health care industry dedicated to profit over health. Nothing threatens this nation more than corporations more concerned with perpetuating addictions with little regard for curing the same addictions that they created. When addiction is profitable it is obvious that corporations would encourage more addiction. Big Pharm will never accept any responsibility for the crimes committed by the very addicts that they worked so hard to create. War, terrorism and fatal viruses are the stuff of nightmares but an American citizen is much more likely to be murdered by a drug-sick junkie in need of funds to purchase Oxycontin on the black market than they are from getting blown up by a handful of delusional religious ideologues.
It is time for the American people to speak out against the destruction of their country by corporate pirates. Mitt Romney during the last presidential election said, "Corporations are people, my friends." But no, they are not people at all. Many of them are responsible for the destruction of our national integrity and our very lives. Corporations are not people. They are a blight on our heritage and threaten our freedoms, quite directly and on a daily basis. Mr. Romney, they are not people and we are not your friends.