Letters from the West

Boise Rep. Rubel, healing from burns in Utah, returns to decry Trump’s climate deniers

Nearly 1,000 people marched on the Idaho Capitol Saturday to participated in the nationwide Climate March.
Nearly 1,000 people marched on the Idaho Capitol Saturday to participated in the nationwide Climate March.

Ilana Rubel got out of the Utah Burn Unit Friday to come home to Boise and invoke Harry Potter’s battle against Voldemort in a impassioned speech to nearly 1,000 participants at the Climate March at the Idaho Capitol.

Rubel, 44, was one of seven speakers at the march, which was part of a national campaign in support of action to combat climate change, an effort the Trump Administration has been dismantling. Soren Pierce Heartman, a sixth-grader at Anser Charter School in Boise, spoke out for the impacts his generation will face if the people in power today don’t do enough to reduce greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels.

Rep. Rubel, a Boise Democrat, suffered second- and third-degree burns when a pot of hot cooking oil burst into flames at her home April 12. She was admitted to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center and later went to the University of Utah Hospital Burn Unit for skin grafts on her arm.

On Saturday, she covered up with a long coat and a floppy hat to protect her from the sun to address the marchers. She began by telling the crowd about her own fight to get a public hearing on climate change in the Idaho Legislature earlier this year. It became the biggest hearing of the session, attracting hundreds who came to hear scientists from the University of Idaho and Boise State University explain the causes, the proof and the impacts of global warming on Idaho.

But Rubel really fired up the crowd with a reference to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” alluding to the election of Trump and the deniers of human-caused climate change he has placed at in government including at the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Her call was understood by young and old alike.

“The Ministry has fallen!” said Rubel, referring to Lord Voldemort’s coup of the Ministry of Magic in J.K. Rowling’s modern classic.

Rubel also acknowledged the challenge for protesters who have marched on the Capitol several times this year on causes ranging from public lands, refugees, women’s rights and a week ago science.

She made another pop-culture reference, urging protesters to keep on coming — like the character The Bride played by Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill” who killed two members of a gang of ninjas.

“You can’t just kill two ninjas, you have to kill all 99 ninjas!” Rubel said, acknowledging she was on lots of medication.

In the movie the figure was actually 88 — the Crazy 88 — but whose counting?

Ultimately, Rubel called on the crowd to stay active and do even more.

“It is our duty to fight for our planet,” Rubel said. “It is our duty to win.”

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker