Elevate Difference

No Innocent Bystanders: Riding Shotgun in the Land of Denial

I have enjoyed reading Mickey Z.’s feisty, politically charged writing in the pages of VegNews magazine and on his website and was excited by the opportunity to review his latest book, No Innocent Bystanders: Riding Shotgun in the Land of Denial. New York City based writer Mickey Z. is a “cool observer” who “likes: sunsets, rainbows and anarcho-syndicalism” and “dislikes: mean people, traffic and factory farming.” 

No Innocent Bystanders is a collection of short essays, poems, parables, quotes, lists and a pop quiz that express thought-provoking commentaries on what the US Government is up to. The book opens with a disclaimer for those of us that haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid of flag-waving patriotism, “WARNING: This book has not been approved by the Department of Homeland Security. You are reading at your own risk.” 

Among the qualities I’ve always appreciated in Mickey Z.’s writing is the smart, cheeky, pissed off tone. I love it when a writer unapologetically calls out the things that you aren’t supposed to, the kid pointing out the emperor’s (lack of) new clothes. Mickey calls out the “hypocritical white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” of the United States and writes with a natural sarcastic humor that leads me to nod my head in recognition at the absurdity of the systems that prevail in “the land of the free.”

Mickey Z. questions the assumptions and causes blindly supported by the average American, quietly eating what the Government is feeding. He muses on dissent, advocacy for animals, the planet and our selves and challenges the symbols we assign to speak for us. He asks if we can be anti-war but pro-troops and parallels war to “the morally indefensible and scientifically fraudulent enterprise of animal experimentation.” 

There are no innocent bystanders because in this age of information, there is no excuse for ignorance. The facts are everywhere, and it is our responsibility to pay attention. 

Written by: Matsya Siosal, April 18th 2009