Food Not Bombs: or, Free Bread and Soup is a National Threat
Although Daniel Quinn hasn’t amounted to much since his breakthrough book Ishmael, still: hot damn, that was one hell of a book. The realization that I lived in a culture that locked up it’s food in order to force us to work was a brutal shock. Come to think of it, it still is a brutal shock, because that’s one of those “hidden in plain sight” secrets that’s easy to forget for months at a time.
One of the best illustrations of how absurd and horrific our Great Nation really is would have to be the saga of Food Not Bombs, an activist franchise that’s dedicated to the radically dangerous act of feeding homeless people. Yep. They set up public kitchens and give away meals—generally vegan and organic, to boot—to anyone and everyone who wants some food.
The story of how America has responded to these allegedly peaceful and well-intentioned terrorists will make your heart swell with patriotic pride. Or, it might make you puke.
Food not Bombs promotes organization and democracy. This is a problem for most people in power here in the US. The clear message that has been sent for 20 years straight now is that charity is something that should weaken people.
Observe the Faith-Based Initiatives for a resonably firm proof of this. The Salvation Army is another fine example. Poor people are not being told how to actually improve their quality of life, they are instead given a deeply sick rationalization for their suffering, coupled with the promise of an afterlife that will be better. This is a pretty disgusting lie—sorry if that offends any of our readers.
Perhaps most hilarious of all, Food Not Bombs has been identified by numerous government, military and intelligence organizations as a terrorist group. Considering that Christian charitable organizations such as World Vision have been implicated in heroin smuggling, supporting death squads, and boast a roll call of former employees like Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK), Sirhan Sirhan (RFK) and John Hinkley Jr. (Reagan), you’d think they might be listed as a terrorist threat, too.....but no, World Vision in fact gets millions in federal grants and subsidies.
So what possible rationale could sane humans use to object to free food for the least fortunate?
The following news article, this one from Colorado, is pretty typical of the response:
There is no city regulation dealing with the mass feeding of people at a public park, Sanders said. And since there’s no allowance for it, then it can’t be done, he said. Of course, there isn’t any prohibition, either.
Permits are required for gatherings of more than 25 people, Sanders said, but mass feedings are not among the accepted activities.
Groups such as Bridge of Hope, Heritage Christian Center and Food Not Bombs see it differently. They’ve been offering free meals to the homeless in the park for years and think the city suddenly wants them out of sight.
“They said they want to end homelessness and I guess one way to do that is to starve them out,” said Cameron Morrow, a Parker resident who volunteers twice a week feeding the hungry at the park. “It just seems like they don’t want the homeless people in the park.”
Not so, says Jamie Van Leeuwen, project manager of Denver’s Road Home, the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness. “We just want to ensure services are as coordinated as strategically possible,” he said.
Another shining example of our culture’s violent insanity would be the response to “freegans” or “dumpster divers”. Observe:
As an example of the absurd measures people take to protect their garbage, he describes the scene behind the McDonald’s at Main and Rosewood. A large cinder-block building is locked tight by a metal gate. On top of the structure, broken bottles have been cemented onto the blocks. And then there’s concentration-camp-style razor wire on top of all of that. Inside the building are one Dumpster and a grease trap.
“Who wants a Big Mac anyway?” he asks.
His 27-year-old housemate, Nicole Caldwell, adds, “It’s like they’ve got gold in there or something.”
Razor wire is but one of the dangers faced by Dumpster-divers. One 26-year-old participant in the Houston chapter of Food Not Bombs, who asked not to be named, was shot two years ago while diving with a friend in Oakland.
“We were digging through, finding great pastries to bring back to our friends, when I began to notice a car had passed by us at least twice before,” he says. “I climbed out of the Dumpster and on top of the fence when I heard a terrifyingly loud blast. I did not see much and did not feel any pain, but felt numb and knew something was wrong.”
A Mercifully Brief Reality Check
So what’s the frequency, Kenny? What are the raw numbers?
For starters, the USDA estimates we throw out about 10 tons of perfectly good food each month here in the US. They also estimate that 11.9% of all US homes suffer from the hilarious euphemism of “food insecurity” --- in other words, they don’t have enough f***ing food. That’s bad enough, but remember this is US homes, not US shelters and streets.
Considering that, at any given moment, 3-7 million americans are homeless, that means that one in nine Americans can’t get enough to eat. Restaurants in the US make $240 billion annually, and grocery stores rack up $550 billion annually.
Although it’s beyond the scope of this article, at least consider how food is actually created and delivered in the United States. It is depedent upon chemicals and giant “agribusiness” corporate farms, dependent upon underpaid and literally disposable immigrant labor, dependent upon a fleet of millions of gas-burning trucks for delivery, and dependent upon unskilled, minimum labor to stock shelves and check out your purchases. In other words, it’s a system built for waste and dangerously prone to collapse.
Stakes is High
Now for the darkness.
Why would the US establishment be so consistently and firmly opposed to feeding the poor and the homeless? I would propose it’s because there’s an unspoken --- and occasionally explicit --- belief that these people are better off dead. If that sounds alarmist or extreme, you have not been paying attention.
Let’s take a look at Hurricane Katrina. Although the storm ended more than a year ago, the devastation is ongoing and mostly swept under the rug of national consciousness.
First, read this --- very real --- excerpt from this Army Times article entitled “Troops Begin Combat Operations in New Orleans”:
NEW ORLEANS—Combat operations are underway on the streets “to take this city back” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome. “We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.”
Dozens of military trucks and up-armored Humvees left the staging area just after 11 a.m. Friday, while hundreds more troops arrived at the same staging area in the city via Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.
“We’re here to do whatever they need us to do,” Sgt. 1st Class Ron Dixon, of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 1345th Transportation Company. “We packed to stay as long as it takes.”
While some fight the insurgency in the city, other carry on with rescue and evacuation operations....
Bear in mind, of course, that “the insurgency” was poor black people trying to get out before they died. Hopefully this will give the reader a sense of what time it really is, here in 2006.
Finally, consider this particularly chilling excerpt from a Fox News article on the aftermath of Katrina:
New Orleans - Finis Shellnut is wealthy and he isn’t hiding it, even in the difficult times following the Katrina disaster. The 53-year-old real estate magnate sits in front of one of his buildings in the French Quarter, enjoying a chilled bottle of French champagne.
The man is a walking glitz machine, from the diamonds on his Rolex to his gold-framed glasses to the silver cross dangling on his chest under his half-open shirt. Shellnut is doing well these days, extremely well. He senses a lot of post-Katrina business coming his way. “Our party’s about to get going again,” he says. He sits next to a flyer depicting his face and advertising his phone number. “The storm destroyed a great deal,” he says, adding, with a smile, “and there’s plenty of space to build houses and sell them for a lot of money.”
Shellnut wasn’t particularly hard-hit by the storm and the flooding in New Orleans. “My real estate is in the city’s better neighborhoods,” he says, clearly pleased with himself, “a tree fell down here and there, but otherwise everything’s just fine.”
Despite all the chaos and destruction, the storm and the floods came with a silver lining for people like Shellnut. “Most importantly, the hurricane drove poor people and criminals out of the city,” he says, “and we hope they don’t come back.”
Shellnut has even conjured up ancient Gallic legend to support his theory of Katrina’s supposedly sanitizing effects. He says that the name “Katrina” once symbolized a kind of cleansing process that only leaves behind the purest elements of a society.
Jeff Wells has a very strange and interesting article: The Ballad of Finis Shellnut, which I highly recommend.
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