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Book Review: No Innocent Bystander – Riding Shotgun in the Land of Denial by Mickey Z.

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It is never easy to communicate wisdom. Even more difficult to do so in an engaging way that makes it very, very easy to read and understand. Mickey Z. has accomplished this difficult task in his new book No Innocent Bystanders. This book is designed to reach deep into a person’s consciousness, pierce normal psychological defenses, and overcome a lifetime of facile rationalizations. This is a book to inspire a revolution spirit in Americans, the kind needed to achieve what Thomas Jefferson had the wisdom to say our nation would need: a revolution every generation or so.

Throughout the book are wisdom-droppings that readers need to hold onto for a few minutes before moving on. One of my favorite examples: “Protesting can be a bonding experience but it rarely achieves its intended goal.” I liked this because a central theme of the book is that so many people have found ways to justify their lifestyle and even their political independence, but that, for the most part, are just empty beliefs and actions that accomplish next to nothing.

Along that line of thought here is a terrific tongue-in-cheek list that could qualify for the David Letterman show:

Top Ten Ways to Change the World
1. Wear a "Free Tibet" t-shirt
2. Switch to recycled toilet paper
3. Watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert
4. Adopt a Third World orphan
5. Start a discussion about Africa

6. Eat free range chicken
7. Drive a hybrid SUV
8. Subscribe to The Nation
9. Chant for peace in your yoga class
10. Vote Democrat

Mickey Z. has written consistently in ways that appeal to dissidents, but also sees the ugly truth about most of us, namely that “this is all about dissidents finally blaming
everyone who deserves blame (including ourselves).” Which makes me believe that this book would make a wonderful gift to anyone who thinks of themselves as a political dissident, and even more so for any younger person, still in school or college, that thinks they see Truth in the world around them.

One recurring theme that I particularly liked was the view that it has become far too easy for Americans to blame those in power, like George W. Bush, but that ultimately each and every one of us must take responsibility. Listen to Mickey Z.: “Their participation in the two party farce and their acceptance of lesser evilism, however, are not seen as the problem by those in the know. It's all Bush's fault. …There are No Innocent Bystanders when our money and/or rhetoric support the world's most powerful military and the corporate status quo. But if we just keep telling ourselves it's all Bush's fault, we can sleep better—our innocence wrapped around us like a big white SUV.”

In other words, there really are No Innocent Bystanders. This easy-to-read and conscience-raising book is now available at Amazon.com. Take responsibility. Get it.

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About Joel S. Hirschhorn

Formerly full professor Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, and senior official Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and National Governors Association. Author of four nonfiction books and hundreds of articles.