Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

Transvestites, foxy felines and Bobby Kennedy
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The Independent Online

We were expecting a grand do but were ushered into a shabby church hall teeming with environmentalists, soccer moms, several transvestites and lots of foxy felines moonlighting as tree-huggers.

When Kennedy arrived, there was a stampede led by one of the transvestites. He was crushed against a wall by hordes of foxy felines, each with a fast line in eco-chat. Fighting my way through I managed a brief but meaningful sentence about the state of British pig farming before being sucked into a sea of soccer moms.

"Ladies, please!" We were sent to the church downstairs where the lecture was to be held. The packed church listened spellbound as Kennedy explained why the right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water and eat food from unpolluted earth is a diminishing luxury.

George Bush's election campaign was hugely subsidised by large corporations and now it's payback time. The energy industry alone gave him more than $118m in six years and is now reaping billions of dollars' reward in regulatory relief. The President has repealed more than 300 laws that once protected the Commons - the air, water, public lands and wildlife - thus enriching political contributors who are able to strip and pollute the land with impunity.

By using our oceans and rivers as a rubbish dump, emptying them of fish, chopping down our ancient forests and annihilating the wilderness in our hunger for oil, said Kennedy, we are converting the Commons to cash, destroying our capital and creating a barren moonscape for our children.

Bush's polluting cronies, Kennedy continued, invoke Christianity to justify the rape of the land, violating Christian precepts that require us to be careful stewards. This goes largely unreported due to an indolent US press, now controlled predominantly by Republican conservatives whose sole concern is to boost revenue.

Kennedy reminisced about trips to Europe in the Sixties with Uncle Jack and father Bobby, where he witnessed the popularity of the US abroad. A popularity that took years of careful US policy to build up has now been shattered.

That evening, the media screamed nonsense about the Michael Jackson trial. No major media outlet in North America is brave enough to broadcast the true headlines. For many years, the USSR was the main threat to world peace and stability. Many people now fear the US is a far bigger threat.

I took my friend Connie to the lecture. She is not an environmentalist but she was much chastened. Like many people there, she will change how she eats, what she buys, what she watches, what she reads and how she votes.

It's easy to feel hopeless in the face of institutionalised corruption but the most powerful changes in history have occurred from the grass roots up. We have no choice - our survival depends on this.