Friday, December 22, 2006

Religion and Rubber

The continued debate, or crazy-hate, over Keith Ellison taking his oath of office on the Koran, and "The Virgil Goode" position on immigration, is pretty silly. Without the sideshow of intolerance, if this thing happened simply and quietly, I think it could have gone a long way to salve the wounds and suspicions of many non-Christians on the conduct of government, a government that convenes its legislatures every day with Christian prayer.

It reminds me that many people do not know of ultra-right wing groups like Free the Eagle, their histories and agendas:

But when [Libertarian] [Gary] Nolan touted his affiliation with/appointment to the board of an organization (Free the Eagle) as a campaign qualification, it was 'dirty politics' to ask what that organization was about, what it did and who its principals were (Free the Eagle was originally founded to provide covering fire for the Iran-Contra ring, but by 2004 its leader, Tammy Lyles, had switched tacks — to demanding the expulsion from the US of 17,000 refugees from Muslim nations)," Thomas L. Knapp commented June 13, 2006, on Small Government Blog.

If and when I am sworn into elected office, I think I would be tempted to take the oath holding a giant Psilocybe cubensis mushroom in my hand like a sceptre. Or perhaps a sprig of Banisteriopsis caapi. After all, those most clearly represent truly American spirituality... my drift towards Islam being interrupted by the fact that DHS doesn't seem to like me travelling abroad at this time, and there are not so many affordable avenues to really learn Arabic within the homeland.

I was rummaging through some of my old books and paperwork a month or so ago, and found a neat book I once loved, Terence McKenna's True Hallucinations. It is so full of mystery, biology, adventurous travel and references to Enochian magick, that weird European mysticism that cropped back up into the public's YouTube consciousness in the paranoid drama of Lonelygirl15 and Daniel Beast. More weird than that, though, is the fact that during the hottest parts of the Cold War, during Vietnam, etc. that American youths were backpacking all over the world, trying to figure things out for themselves and comparing the madness of the Russo-American nuclear stand off with the madness of cultures that had persisted for ages without developing the technological capacity to destroy life on Earth.

Deep in the Amazon jungle, the McKenna brothers met a mushroom that desperately wanted to get off the the earth and colonize new worlds.

They also met a character who told the story of ravenous, colonial greed for the blood of the rubber tree, a strategic commodity:

I spent several hours that day with El Senor Brown. He was an extraordinary person, at once near and yet ghostly and far away, a living bit of history. He had been the personal servant of Captain Thomas Whiffen of the Fourteenth Hussars, a British adventurer who explored the La Chorrera area around 1912. Brown, who is described in Whiffen's now rare work, Explorations of the Upper Amazon, was the last explorer to see the French explorer Eugene Robuchon, who disappeared on the Rio Caqueta in 1913. "Yes, he had a Witoto wife and a big black dog that never left him," mused Brown.

John Brown spoke Witoto and once had lived with a Witoto woman for many years. He knew the area into which we were going intimately. He had never heard of oo-koo-he , but in 1915 he had taken ayahuasca for the first time - and at La Chorrera. His description of his experiences was an added inspiration to continue toward our goal.

It was only after I returned from the Amazon that I learned that this was the same John Brown who had exposed the atrocities of the rubber barons along the Putomayo to British authorities. He first spoke to Roger Casement, then the British Consul in Rio de Janiero, who had gone to Peru in July 1910 to investigate the atrocity stories. Few remember, so strewn with horror is the history of the twentieth century, that before Guernica and Auschwitz the Upper Amazon was used as a rehearsal stage for one of the episodes of mechanized dehunization so typical of our age. British banks, in collusion with the Arana clan and other lassez-faire operators, financed wholesale use of terror, intimidation and murder to force the the Indians of the deep forest to harvest wild rubber. It was John Brown who returned to London with Casement to give evidence to the Royal High Commission investigation. [True Hallucinations, Terence McKenna]

The requirement for rubber and rubber products in the military industrial complex continues to threaten our freedoms: US Army might break Goodyear strike.

I think its time that Fair Trade activists take on not just rubber as a commodity, and help producer cooperatives in the third world find fair prices, but apply fair trade principles and support unions, globally, achieve fair wages and safe working conditions in the manufacturing plants that produce tires and other rubber goods. There might be a great deal of good in tackling environmental pollution caused by rubber compounding and the production of carbon black, which can be done in ways that produces less atmospheric carbon emissions. A green tire would be a good thing to wrap around the wheels of the hybrid car you think driving might help save the planet.

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