Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Florida is the deep south. People sometimes forget that. We've probably got more out-and-out racists, KuKluxers, and other crazies than most other southern states.
Marion County is in the north central part of the state. It's a beautiful place with rolling hills, tons of horse farms, huge forests and a gazillion lakes.
It is also a hotbed of ultra-conservative racists who vote ultra-conservative racists into public office. The city of Ocala is the county seat of Marion County. Ocala, by reputation, attracts ultra-conservative racists from the north. Ocala teems with such nut-cases. The political leaders in this area hold unconstitutional public prayer events in the public squares and they're not praying to Allah or Zeus, but to their own particular version of the old Hebrew god, Yahweh, aka Jesus.
Following the recent shooting in a North Carolina church, the racist commissioners of Marion County decided it might be wise, politically speaking, to remove the Confederate flag flying at the Veteran's Memorial in Ocala. So they did.
A few local rabid racists became all excited. Y'all are desecrating our heritage, they cried.
The racist commissioners of Marion County were so moved by such an emotional challenge that they changed their collective minds and ordered that the Confederate flag be flown once agin at thet thar Veteran's memorial jest to honor the good ol' heritage of the south, ya know.
Oh, and they're gonna put a plaque there 'splaining that this flag ain't about slavery or racism but the other southern heritage - ya know - states' rights. After all, wasn't that what the south was fighting for - states' rights? Didn't have hardly nuttin' to do with slavery.
Well, no! Actually, the Civil War was NOT about states' rights. It was about the right of white people to enslave black people, to work black people to death, to beat black people to within an inch of their lives, to rape black people whenever they got so inclined, to sell black people, breaking up families if they wanted, whenever they wanted, to lynch black people who got too "uppity" or took umbrage at their horrible treatment.
And if you want to stress states' rights, well, OK, the Civil War was about "states' rights" to the extent the southern states didn't want the federal government to interfere with their right to engage in the practice of enslaving other human beings for their own benefit!
That's the heritage of the Confederate flag!
And that's the shame of Marion County and Ocala, Florida!
More than 100 demonstrators braved a Washington D.C. heat wave at high noon on a workday to join us outside the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s board meeting on June 15th. Together we delivered a whopping 552,545 petition signatures calling on the museum to kick David Koch—a climate denier who has spent tens of millions to fund lobby groups that spread climate science disinformation—off its board.
The event was organized by The Natural History Museum and Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, a network of faith leaders calling for bold action on climate change. Reverend Lennox Yearwood, President of the Hip Hop Caucus, delivered a speech called “Fossil Free at Last,” and climate scientist Joe Romm offered a critique of the Smithsonian’s Koch-funded Hall of Human Origins exhibit, which has come under fire for making misleading statements on climate change.
Read about the demonstration here.
Field Expedition: Toxic Risk, Climate Change, and Human Health
On this recent field expedition, The Natural History Museum staff, scientists, and local community members explored the coastal community of Sunset Park, Brooklyn—an environmentally overburdened area within New York City’s storm surge zone. The neighborhood is a designated Significant Maritime Industrial Area (SMIA) with a clustering of heavy industrial and polluting infrastructure along the waterfront.
Scientist Linda S. Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), joined the expedition with an interest in assessing contamination exposure risks to human health and threats from extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy.
The expedition was led by Elizabeth Yeampierre, Director of local community group UPROSE, and Eddie Bautista, Director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance. In addition to mapping environmental threats, these organizations are advocating for an overhaul of NYC’s coastal zone management plan in light of climate change impacts.
Exhibit and Video: This Changes Everything
At the end of May, The Natural History Museum developed an exhibition inspired by author Naomi Klein’s bestseller This Changes Everything: Climate Vs. Capitalism, as a backdrop for a programming series of the same name, organized by The Foundry Theatre.
The series featured an international group of thinkers, activists, journalists, policy-makers, and artists who examined the impacts of climate change at the scale of the body, the community, the country, and the planet.
The Natural History Museum’s Beka Economopoulos moderated a fascinating conversation with scholar, journalist and author Vijay Prashad and Paulina Helm-Hernandez, activist and director of the movement-building organization Southerners on New Ground (SONG). The panel explored the role of nation-states in both mitigating and propelling the climate crisis. How should we transform our relationship to our countries in order to safeguard a sustainable and equitable future?
Check out video from the panel discussion here!------------------------------------ The Natural History Museum is a new, mobile museum that highlights the socio-political forces that shape nature. The museum made headlines this Spring when it released a letter signed by dozens of top scientists, including several Nobel laureates, calling on science museums to cut all ties to the fossil fuel industry. The Natural History Museum is an independent museum that does not take money from the fossil fuel industry or corporate polluters. We rely on individual donations from people just like you. Please consider making a donation to support our work: http://thenaturalhistorymuseum.org/donate.