"Clean coal." He said it. His acceptance speech sounded so good until he got to that phrase. To hear such a beautiful and inspiring speech be soiled by such a dirty myth, I couldn’t help but immediately respond by shouting expletives.
But it’s not like I didn’t see it coming. Walking the streets of Denver during the Democratic National Convention I was constantly insulted by messages of "clean coal." That’s because the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) spent more than 2 million dollars this week on a pervasive advertising campaign, targeting delegates and attendees of the DNC. During the blaring heat of the late summer days, paid programmers of the coal industry passed out cardboard fans, which read, "I’m a fan of coal." They even passed out water bottles stating "someday, coal will be as clean as this water." This is what we’re up against, people.
The industries that are killing us are lying to us. This, of course, comes as no surprise. But it is utterly alarming to see such an aggressive campaign of disinformation at what is believed to be one of the most progressive turning points of our time. And to hear the symbol of hope for the future, the O man himself, plug "clean coal" in the forefront of his energy plan (followed by nuclear, and then solar, as a remote footnote)... all I can say is, "Oh Man!" No actually I can say a lot more than that.
It’s a reality of the corporate-governmental structure, that anyone who speaks out directly against the most powerful and polluting industries could not make it to the office of President. If Obama spoke out against coal, he wouldn’t get the coal states. It’s that simple. But why is he is actively propagating the destructive and deceiving myth of clean coal?
I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he’s taking their money and paying them lip service, just so that he can get into a position of power where he can change things. Maybe one if his first acts as President will be to ban the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining and then to take up Al Gore’s challenge of freedom from fossil fuels by 2018. But then again… maybe not.
I don’t want to get too far out here, but perhaps this is all part of the Empire’s plan. Give the people a leader that they are happy with. Someone articulate, charismatic, someone who can relate to their struggles, someone who promises change and everything they want to hear. Lull them back to sleep, back into apathy. And then continue on with business-as-usual.
Look at how involved people have become in response to the ridiculousness of the Bush regime. People (youth, especially) are actually starting to give a damn about the state of the world. Won’t it be so much easier to sleep at night when you trust the man in charge? Don’t worry. He’s got it under control. Go back to school. Go back to work. Go back to sleep.
Let’s hope that’s not the case. Perhaps what he says about McCain is also be true about himself. "It’s not that he doesn’t care, it’s just that he has no idea." Maybe we just need to help him understand. Let's offer him and Michelle a romantic flyover of the Appalachian Moonscapes of Southern West Virginia. Let's get him in the same room with Larry Gibson or Maria Gunnoe and have them tell their stories.
Whatever the case is with this particular presidential candidate, one thing is clear: we have our work cut out for us. Those promoting the myth of clean coal have all the dirty money in the world at their disposal. And the fact that they are spending as much as they are to spread lies tells us something: They are threatened by the work that we are doing. They are threatened by what we have, which they will never have: the Truth. And they know the more people know the truth, the less powerful they become.
Defeat the myth. Spread the truth. By whatever (non-violent) means necessary.