Two days before sentencing, Susan and Bix sit down to talk to Mike McCormick of Mind over Matters, KEXP 90.3 Seattle. Above is a video of the 30-minute interview, and below is a written excerpt in which Bix and Susan discuss the justice system, the importance of conscience, and how they view the consequences.
Bix: It’s really hard to tell the truth there. You know, in a court of justice, it’s like a gag order on the truth. There are all sorts of gymnastics you have to go through in the whole system there. The judge went with what all the federal judges seem to do, they go by precedent. They follow down what has happened before. So you get a whole set of legalisms that are binding, but you don’t ever get a sense of justice.
The whole thing was reduced to, “Did you cut into the fence?” Of course we did, we had to witness to the truth, witness to the power of nonviolent love. And we had to be there to do that.
But as for a real sense of justice happening? It doesn’t, I haven’t experienced that. Judge Settle is a good man, he’s right on, but he’s caught in that system. Where do you seek redress when your Congress is tied into the war industry and the courts are as well? Schools are closing in Seattle, parks being ripped up. Welfare reductions, more people on the streets, more people with mental illnesses.
In our world there’s a sense of hopelessness that stems from our possession of nuclear weapons, so many of which are in the United States. When are we going to say “enough”?
Susan: We went into the base to take personal responsibility for the weapons and try to begin to disarm them in some important way.
It is so important for all of us to take personal responsibility. It’s so normal for us to get into a job, into a role, put on a uniform. “I don’t really agree with the policy, but I have to do it this way.”
The minute we say, “I’m not going to take personal responsibility, I’m just going to do what my orders are,” that’s when we start doing things we wouldn’t normally do. No matter what our job is, it’s important for us to take personal responsibility for our actions and say, “I’m not going to do anything contrary to my conscience.” I would hope the judge, even though he has his robes on, would do that when he sentences us on Monday. I hope we would all, every time we make a decision, ask, “Is this really in line with my conscience?”
Would it still be worth it, if you receive the maximum consequences?
Susan: For me, yes. We’re living in a death-dealing culture, a death-dealing empire, and I feel that it’s very important to say no to the nuclear weapons that threaten all life on earth.
Bix: Not only is it worth it, I feel privileged, honored, commissioned to do it, to be with these four people. It wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t this combination of people. Certainly if it was me alone it wouldn’t have happened.
I’m also thankful for the action and the chance to address that idolatry that’s there at the base. Not only is it worth it, it’s an honor, whatever may come of this.
Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen called the base the Auschwitz of Puget Sound. I can only agree with that wholeheartedly. Would we let people condemned to death behind the gates of Auschwitz die?
I think we have to be liberators. The people of the United States have to start taking responsibility for the lives of one another. There is a special responsibility for those of us in this area – the submarine base is in our backyard. Puget Sound has been turned into a military pond. Is this what it was intended to be, where even the dolphins are trained to be watch guards of nuclear weapons? There are lots of ramifications to this, we’ve got to say no.
Susan: We are resolved to go into the courtroom for sentencing in the same spirit we went onto the base, into the trial—a spirit of nonviolence, love, and compassion, with hope in our hearts.
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