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Dr Helen Caldicott versus the nuclear industry

Caldicott,H1The hashtag crusaders, The Saturday Paper MIKE SECCOMBE 9 May 15 
How does ‘clicktivism’ stand up against the old-fashioned footslog of offline campaigning? Since she first set out on a course of social activism well over four decades ago, Helen Caldicott’s dedication to the anti-nuclear cause has taken her to some unusual places.

Perhaps no twist in her journey, though, was more unexpected than the one that took her in early 1982 to United States president Ronald Reagan’s White House via the Playboy Mansion, the Los Angeles pleasure palace of Hugh Hefner………

In her address, Caldicott invited the film stars to go outside, look at the real stars and contemplate the probability that while Earth held the only life in the universe, it was threatened by the madness of nuclear weapons. Some wept.

“And afterwards this girl came up and said, ‘I think you might be the only person who can change my father’s mind’,” says Caldicott.

It was Patti Davis, the daughter of then-president Reagan.

Caldicott with Reagan……..Dr Caldicott came away from the meeting having made three diagnoses: Reagan was not very bright – she assessed his IQ to be “about 100, very average”; he was showing the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease; and he was unshakable in his belief that the best way to avoid nuclear war was not disarmament but deterrence……..

Her dedication has been heroic. Even now, at 76, she continues to write, to hold symposia, to run the Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear Free Future, to advocate for her cause. She will be among a who’s who of advocates for progressive causes, including US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and anti-family violence campaigner Rosie Batty, speaking to 1200 people gathered in Melbourne over coming days to discuss issues and techniques at the Progress 2015 conference. (Full disclosure: The Saturday Paper’s editor, Erik Jensen, was also a speaker.)

The point is, Caldicott soldiers on. And she worries a bit about an apparent dearth of new, young people prepared to commit to long-haul campaigning.

“Kids don’t do it,” she says. “They’re all on their cell phones, and texting each other and playing on Twitter and Facebook.”………..


May 13, 2015 - Posted by | general

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