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Maverick Books presents the gifts that keep on I giving. For any special occasion or just pure enjoyment order from our list of fine western books by John R. Erickson: Hank The Cowdog $5.95 paper Hank the Cowdog Tape set $19.95 Panhandle Cowboy $5.95 paper Modern Cowboy $15.95 cloth The Devil in Texas $5.95 paper Through Time and the Valley $7.95 paper Complete autographed set $39.95. Add 5% sales tax for Texas residents. $1.00 postage on single orders, 500 per book on multiples. 806-435-5998 BOOKS 1101 Baylor Perryton, Texas 79070 Printers Stationers Mailers Typesetters High Speed Web Offset Publication Press Counseling Designing Copy Writing Editing Trade Computer Sales and Services Complete Computer Data Processing Services FUTURA PRESS AUSTIN usrIN TEXAS 512/442-7836 1714 South Congress P.O. Box 3485 Austin, Texas 78764 PR IN 11 7 UNION LABEL TRADES ALL OF US have heard stories of kings in ancient times who put bearers of bad news to death. How little times have changed. When Bishop Matthiesen called on Pantex workers to search their consciences and consider resigning, he was criticized for being economically unrealistic. The mayor of Amarillo expressed shock that the Bishop would question the largest business employer in “Stopping and standing there may well be the most revolutionary act in this context.” the city. It is shocking, of course. But I wonder why the mayor has never expressed shock at the passage of plutonium through this city in large quantities. I wonder why the mayor has never expressed shock at the lack of independent monitoring of Pantex for safety. I wonder why the mayor has never expressed shock at the destructive capacity of the weapons constructed here. We have built more than weapons in Amarillo. We’ve built an illusion that what we are doing is right; and that illusion is a potent threat to our freedom as well as our security. What concerns me most is not the mayor’s shock or the Department of Energy’s antipathy to dialogue. What concerns me most is the reluctance of thinking, sensitive leaders of this community to encourage open and critical discussion of what goes on at Pantex. Raising the question is controversial, it is threatening, and it is dangerous. Is it more dangerous than remaining silent? I can’t help thinking of the silence that preceded the Holocaust in Germany. I can’t help wondering whether the mayor of Auschwitz believed death camps were good for the economy. They probably were. If one designs one’s economic system around something so deplorable as extermination of an entire race of people, then one renders that activity necessary within the system. The same can be said of nuclear weapons production. Perhaps our economy does depend on it; if so, it is time to step back and ask some questions about our economic system itself. The key here is stepping back. Daniel Berrigan quotes the Buddha as having said, “Don’t just do something, stand there!” We are all so caught up in the doing, so certain of the customs that we have not thought wrong, that we find it hard to stop and think. Stopping and standing there may well be the most revolutionary act in this context. Isn’t that what Tom Paine did in Common Sense? We have carefully, meticulously constructed an illusion that threatens to strangle us. We are dangerously close to transforming a self-imposed silence into a silence that appears “sacred” or natural. Recently a quotation from The Grapes of Wrath appeared on the front page of the Amarillo newspaper: “I got to figure,” the tenant said. “We all got to figure. There’s some way to stop this. It’s not like lightning or earthquakes. We’ve got a bad thing made by men, and . . . that’s something we can change.” How true. Troy Martin, writing in the Canyon News, said that “if we heed the advice of Sienie Strikwerda and Volkmar Deile, the United States will have ceased to exist by the turn of century.” I think Mr. Martin is wrong. If we can’t hear that advice in openness, trust, and without prejudgment that forecloses debate, this country has already ceased to exist in any meaningful sense. It’s up to us, I think, to see that this doesn’t happen. Shall we keep reminding ourselves that it’s not like lightning or earthquakes? This is a bad thing made by men, and that’s something we can change. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13