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Jesus Christ, this is news?!

I can’t believe this story on AOL’s news ticker. Yes, Nixon wanted to nuke North Vietnam, but this isn’t “news” — I sat in the Hampshire dining commons four years ago and listened to Daniel Ellsberg tell us the exact same thing; it’s not new, it’s not a revelation at all. If that’s news, the next time I pitch a story about the Trail of Tears, the New York Post had damned well better run it in big block letters on their front page.

The way the rest of the article goes is fscking berserk. Nixon planned to nuke Vietnam. He said he didn’t care about civilians there. He observed that pandas don’t know how to mate unless they watch other pandas doing it. Then he called Martha Mitchell “sick.” The writer observes that the Watergate tapes were full of holes and hard to hear. Nixon inquired about George Wallace’s health after he was shot. “We can’t lose 50,000 Americans and lose this war,” he told Bob Hope. The narrative is less coherent than your average music video, and I mean the weird kind of music video which has nothing to do with the lyrics.

The lede here, buried in the fourth-to-last paragraph, is that Nixon made some “outlandish remarks” on tape. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there are some real fscking deadbeats on the AP payroll. To read this, you’d have no idea whatsoever that Watergate changed politics as we knew it in the US. There’s no reason to even run this as a historical-interest piece. The remarks are barely “outlandish.” Nixon was actually prepared to use nukes in Vietnam; if I recall correctly he talked with Kissinger about it on something like fourteen occasions. That’s not outlandish; that’s a very real and very threatening diplomatic calculation. Prove to me that Nixon suggested he and Pat should teach the pandas how to mate. Then I’ll buy outlandish.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that some 35,000 cases of cancer around the United States were caused by Cold War atomic testing, and that’s far beyond ground zero in Nevada. A friend sent the article to me under the subject line “crimes against humanity.” I’d like to see the data backing it up, because I can’t help but think heavy pockets of fallout in Iowa and Tennessee might indicate something else going on there, but still, it’s chilling to think about.

I’ve been frightened of nukes ever since I was really small. Lately I’ve thought at least once a day that our lack of collective intelligence and memory has already doomed us, and there’s no getting out of it.

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