23 September 2007

Goodbye, Old Friend

Walt Crowley died Friday evening, September 21. He was 60 years old, three years younger than I am, and he was a friend of mine. The best article about his life appears on the website historylink.org, which he co-founded in 1997. The warmest personal remembrance of Walt was written by Seattle City Council member Jean Godden, a former newspaper reporter and columnist.

I met Walt when he and I worked at the Weekly (now called Seattle Weekly) in the mid-1980s. We had neighboring desks in the open newsroom and soon became friends. I enjoyed his keen intelligence, playful sense of humor, personal integrity, and compassion. He knew a lot of people, some of them movers and shakers, and had a lot of friends.

Walt believed in engagement. He was not one to withdraw into cynical detachment in the face of appalling official injustice and cruelty. He sought to do something about it.

"As we know from any reading of the morning papers, liberty is never at a loss for ambitious enemies," said Lewis Lapham, former and longtime editor of Harper's magazine, in a salute to Molly Ivins last year. "But the survival of the American democracy depends less on the magnificence of its Air Force or the wonder of its fleets than on the willingness of its citizens to stand on the ground of their own thought."

Walt Crowley was more than willing to stand on the ground of his own thought. I'll miss him as a friend, and I'll miss him as a model of what a citizen should be.

14 September 2007

Unsafe and Insecure

With the 2008 presidential race already rolling along, we're hearing a lot of noise from the candidates, Democratic and Republican alike, about "keeping America safe" and "securing our borders." It's all nonsense, of course.

No one can keep you safe from anything. Here are the facts: You are not safe, you are not secure. Life is uncertain. But you do have a choice. You can accept the reality of uncertainty, or you can deny it and convince yourself that this or that presidential candidate will do a better job of making you "safe" and "secure."

In the wake of 9/11, Bush and Cheney established a cabinet-level mega-department, Homeland Security, to protect us from terrorists and evildoers. Now we all know that B & C are tough guys, eager to dispatch the Air Force bombers and Devil Dog Marines. Shock and awe, baby!

Endless and ill-defined "war on terrorism," colossally inept Homeland Security department, disastrous invasion of Iraq ... you tell me, do you feel safe and secure? Well, do you?