Read John Nichols’ tribute to Molly Ivins, who died on wednesday.
Many Nation readers know that the inimitable, invaluable, iconoclastic columnist Molly Ivins has been battling cancer. It started in her breasts and now has spread throughout her body. This past weekend she was back in the hospital for the third time since the disease was first diagnosed in 1999.
In the second-to-last syndicated column she’s been able to write she declared herself on an “old-fashioned newspaper campaign” and vowed to use every column she had to “write about this war until we find some way to end it.”
But since then she’s only managed to write one more column. That one ran on January 11 and opposed President Bush’s proposed “surge” escalation of the war. In strong language — even for a writer famous for plain talk — Ivins stated: “We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war.”
At the Washington peace march this past Saturday, which Ivins had promoted in her latest column, actor Sean Penn echoed her refrain: “We are the deciders” to the delight of tens of thousands of protesters.
And now, with Ivins too sick to write, the rest of us will have to carry her “old-fashioned newspaper campaign” forward.
With that in mind, the Berkeley Daily Planet is hereby launching what it is calling the “Molly Ivins Festschrift.” As executive editor Becky O’Malley wrote in today’s edition:
“A festschrift is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a volume of writings by different authors presented as a tribute or memorial especially to a scholar.” Academics are wont to create festschrifts on the occasion of a revered colleague’s sixtieth birthday, for example. Molly’s already sixty-two, but no time like the present to catch up with what we should have done two years ago. And we might call it festschrift if we could reliably remember how to spell or pronounce that German word, but let’s just call it the Molly Ivins Tribute Project.”
O’Malley’s idea is that Ivins’ colleagues in the journalism world should take over and intensify her campaign to make every effort to end the war. “It would be nice,” O’Malley adds, “if a lot ofthese columns could be funny, since skewering serious subjects with humor is what Molly does best, but that’s not required.” Who, after all, can write about serious subjects as amusingly as Ivins without trivializing them?
The Berkeley Daily Planet has created a special mailbox to receive the offerings. Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The paper will publish them as they come in at berkeleydailyplanet.com. The best ones will also be published in the paper’s Tuesday and Friday print editions. The suggested length is 600 to 800 words. Please also forward this call for contributions to any columnists you read regularly, and to any publications which might circulate the results or highlight the project.