Rosie the Riveter Rises Again

As South Carolina flounders in the aftermath of a 1000-year deluge, record fires, droughts and storms rage around the planet, and costs related to these disasters smash our international piggy banks. Meanwhile, the long lineup of GOP presidential candidates continue to ignore the reality of our global climate crisis.  

Two weeks ago a small group of concerned citizens representing an activist organization called The Climate Mobilization staged a fun demonstration at the fairgrounds in Des Moines as supporters lined up to enter a dinner event attended by 8 of these GOP presidential hopefuls.

The women in our group were dressed as the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” to remind the crowd that America has the capacity to respond quickly and powerfully when threatened.  In 1942 we tightened our belts and changed our entire manufacturing sector and economy for the war effort in less than a year.  Our point, of course, was that we can and must do so again to curb the undeniable threat of the rapidly accelerating climate crisis.

Then, during a media interview with Senator Ted Cruz when he was speaking about the terrorist threat, I jumped in and asked him, “What is your response to the fact that the Pentagon tells us that climate change is the biggest threat to America’s security?”  His response: “You don’t have the right to ask any questions, because you’re not a member of the media.”  The media, meanwhile, was not doing its job.  

Yesterday, another small group of concerned citizens from Des Moines and Iowa City stood with several hundred supporters in Waterloo for 2 hours waiting to hear from Donald Trump. He was more than happy to inform the crowd that he is currently leading the GOP lineup according to many polls.  We knew we would not have any opportunity to politely ask Mr. Trump about his position on the climate crisis.  

So while he was arousing the crowd with promises to build a Berlin-style wall around America to keep “illegals” out and create the “biggest army America has ever had,” we interrupted his speech with a brief chant: “CLIMATE ACTION NOW!” 

Immediately signs were torn from our hands and we were pushed and yelled at by some of the crowd. As planned, we peacefully departed.  As we made our way toward the exit, several Trump supporters thanked us for what we had done. We were politely escorted from the hall by the Waterloo police and informed that we would be arrested if we returned.  

I was frightened.  I am 72, and I felt threatened to be roughly shoved and yelled at.  But I cannot ignore the blatant disregard of billionaire candidates and corporations who deny this scientific reality and who profit from the ever-increasing extraction, transport, refining, burning and export of fossil fuels.  

We know how to fix this.  For a few years there may still be time. The COP21 climate negotiations in Paris in December will be a huge test as to whether the global community is willing to work together to make it happen. We must demand accountability of legislators on every level of our government. Theoretically, they work for us and for the wellbeing of all Americans. In Iowa we can work to prevent the construction of the dangerous Bakken crude oil pipeline across our farms and waterways. Like the “Rosies” of the past, we can, once again, mobilize and create the massive changes we must make while creating new jobs and insuring a livable planet. 

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Read more about reactions to the Trump rally disruption here.

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