“PEACE” GETS A FRIENDLIER HEARING IN THE U.S.A.
Maclean’s Washington Editor
THE WORD "PEACE" has been appropriated so frequently and distorted so much by the Russians that millions of people in the United States have for years associated it with communism, disloyalty and other things that the professional patriots lump under the heading of "un-American.” Most of the same Americans have looked with almost instinctive suspicion on groups identified as Peace groups. But lately the word and the new movements it stands for have been regaining respectability.
It may have been mere chance that it was chosen as half the name of the Peace Corps— that successful manifestation of the desire, widespread in the U. S.. to win friends and promote peace by sending out emissaries who are genuinely friendly and unpatronizingly helpful. It is definitely not chance that with national elections coming up in November a score of men and women are campaigning for Congress with the acknowledged backing of Peace groups, on platforms they frankly and unabashedly call peace platforms.
What this betokens is the new and rising prestige of the Peace groups and a growing realization by Americans that it is possible
to crusade for peace without being guilty of treason or starry-eyed folly. Actually, not one of the major Peace groups taking an active part in U. S. politics today is on the attorney general's list of subversive organizations — organizations the government believes to be dominated or heavily infiltrated by communists. Most of them have the same peace and disarmament goals as President Kennedy himself, although they disagree with him on how to attain them.
Candidates of the Peace groups are in the election race as Democrats, Republicans and independents but plainly label themselves Peace candidates. How they CONTINUED NEXT PAGE
Pacifists say they alone can save mankind but, so far, they’ve lost more battles than they’ve won; 32 went to jail after demonstrating (left) at the Atomic Energy Commission, New York
CONTINUED fare at the hands of the voters will cast fresh light on the strength of the American sentiment for disarmament. Yet the very fact that they are running at all is an indication of an emerging Peace movement that could eventually checkmate the influence exerted at Washington by right-wing extremists of the “let’s-drop-the-bomb-now” stripe, by weapon-makers who profit from international tension, and by missile-rattling brass hats who extol the virtue of “pre-emptive action.” the Pentagon phrase for striking the first blow.
The unprecedented number of Peace candidates — in the last election in I960 there was just one — is by no means the only sign of a burgeoning Peace movement. Indeed, so many Peace groups are being formed in so many places that Turn Toward Peace, which was set up as a co-ordinating body and has offices in New York, Washington and Berkeley. California, is having difficulty keeping track and has no estimate of their total membership.
While hardly anyone, right-wing, middle-ofthe-road or left-wing, doubts that most Americans want peace, so divergent are their views on what should be done to prevent war that even the avowed lovers of Peace subdivide into two categories — those who designate themselves, ironically, as “nonpacifist,” and those who designate themselves as “pacifist.” W’hile they co-operate closely and Turn Toward Peace embraces both factions, there are big differences in their ideologies.
The pacifists insist that the U. S. should disarm even if communist countries don't. They adamantly oppose military service and feel that it is immoral to pay taxes to a government that spends vast sums for military purposes. When they are conscripted most of them, as conscientious objectors, seek noncombatant assignments. A few go to prison rather than do any kind of compulsory duty. Still others are imprisoned for refusing to pay taxes or, as some do, for withholding from tax payments a percentage equal to the percentage of the federal budget allocated for defense. They tend to have deep religious convictions and quite a high proportion are Quakers. The pacifists I have talked with have, without exception, studied the life and teachings of Mohandas K. Gandhi. They arc antisegregationists and often participate in protests against discrimination.
NONPACIFISTS PAY FOR ADVERTISING . ..
The nonpacifists, while nearly all of them demand that nuclear testing be halted immediately on the grounds that it is unnecessary and is jeopardizing mankind, are neither conscientious objectors nor advocates of unilateral disarmament. They are for a negotiated stageby-stage multilateral disarmament, which is what President Kennedy and his Disarmament Agency have said they are for.
At the moment, it’s the nonpacifist Peace groups that appear to be growing fastest and doing best. Their lobbyists command a fairly
respectful hearing from Washington legislators. It's the nonpacifists who have financed most of the considerable amount of Peace advertising that has been inserted in the last four or five months in newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post, which are closely read by political leaders.
The largest nonpacifist group is the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy — generally referred to simply as SANE — which claims 125 chapters or branches and a membership of 25,000. Recently SANE paid $4,800 for a full-page advertisement in the New York Times. Three quarters of this was devoted to a striking picture of Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of the famous book on child care, looking gravely down at a tiny girl. The caption below the picture said, "Dr. Spock is worried” and what followed stated, in part: “As the tests (of nuclear bombs) multiply, so will the damage to children — here and around the world. Who gives us this right?”
... BUT PACIFISTS GET IT FREE
The day after this was published a woman walked into SANE's New York headquarters and plumped down a check for $5,000 “to help put Dr. Spock’s message in other newspapers.”
The size of her check was unusual. It’s seldom that a Peace group, pacifist or nonpacifist, receives a contribution that exceeds $25 and the average is between $5 and $10.
Practically all the peace advertisements in the U. S. press have been variations of the theme that nuclear testing cannot be justified and disarmament must be pursued with more vigor and less mistrust.
If the nonpacifists have been behind most of the advertisements, the pacifists have been behind most of the stories on the front pages. They’ve defied the authorities by venturing into nuclear test areas in the Nevada desert. They've tried to sail home-made boats to distant test zones in the Pacific, even to board Polaris submarines. They’ve staged sit-downs in Times Square, and picketed the Pentagon and the White House. They've endured Peace marches from San Francisco to Moscow, from Kittery, Maine and Philadelphia to the United Nations at New York, from the UN to Washington. In mid-June three parties of marchers reached Washington the same day, one from C hicago, one from Nashville, Tennessee, and one from Hanover, New Hampshire.
Shortly after, in a speech to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Assistant U. S. Secretary of State J. Harlan Cleveland said the Peace marchers proved that “we live in an open society in which baiting the authorities has not lost its zest” and that their slogans, clichés, banners and parades were fun. But if you talk with pacifists you realize that they don’t bait authorities because they find it zestful and that their slogans, clichés, banners, hikes and parades CONTINUED ON PAGE 36
CONTINUED ON PAGE 36
PEACE GETS A HEARING
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A 16-year-old found the perfect place to issue Peace pamphlets: the Pentagon. He was arrested
are far from a game to them.
I met a seventy-seven-year-old woman who was convicted of a breach of the peace and jailed for standing on the sidewalk outside the White House grounds reading her bible to herself and wearing a black armband on which was printed in white letters, "Bomb tests kill people.” 1 met a seventy-four-year-old man jailed for much the same thing. 1 met a sixtecnyear-old high school boy who had been arrested for distributing Peace pamphlets at the Pentagon, of all places, and a fifty-three-year-old clergyman who, when imprisoned as a pacifist demonstrator, ate no food for twenty-five days. I met a brilliant scholar who quit Harvard halfway through his course because he felt working for Peace was more important than working for a degree.
The seventy-seven-year-old woman, Helen Corson, is a Quaker and a former social worker. In 1952 she was fired by the Pennsylvania Department of Assistance for refusing to sign a loyalty oath. She refused because she said to sign was against her religious principles. From July 1, 1959. to March 30, 1961, on the hottest days and the coldest, in blazing sun, pouring rain, driving snow, she was one of those who stood duty in a picketing marathon at the Fort Detrick, Maryland, biological warfare base.
The man who fasted for twentyfive days — and lost twenty-six pounds — was Lawrence Scott, director of the Peace Action Centre at Washington and a leading figure among pacifists. Scott was born on a Missouri farm, and worked for two years for the Engineering Bureau of the U. S. War Department. In 1941 he took a master's degree in theology and became a Baptist parson. In 1947 he left the Baptists and joined the Quakers.
The twenty-one-month vigil at the Fort Detrick biological warfare base was Scott's idea. "We picked the base,” he explains, "because it represented a particularly obnoxious kind of weapon — bacteria, viruses, plant diseases. A lot of its research, of course, is constructive, for immunization and to fight epidemics, which is part of defense, but we were concerned with the part of it that prepared bacteria as an offensive weapon."
When he launched the vigil, Scott was with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a respected and long-established organization of religious pacifists. The Peace Action Centre, which he now directs, is the Washington rallying point of pacifists who believe in Gandirían tactics. PAC's headquarters are a house in a slightly rundown section. Scott and half a dozen colleagues not onlv work but live there. Those who have money to pay board, pay board; those who haven't, don't. Nobody draws a regular salary.
Scott and all the pacifists I talked with are tormented by doubts, and
wonder whether they are getting anywhere. They are sure that if they fail there will be a war within ten years, and they are afraid that their progress is too slow to prevent it.
The brilliant Harvard student who quit in the middle of his course to concentrate on the Peace movement told me cynically and sadly that the movement is "merely a twitch." Yet he said, with conviction, that it's humanity's one hope. His name is Gene Keyes, his age is twenty, and he had majored in political science at Harvard. When 1 talked with him in Washington he looked neatly groomed, fresh and alert, although he had walked from Chicago — 820 miles by the route he took. He and the others in his party of marchers lived on a dollar a day per person, slept out-ofdoors when nobody offered them shelter, and each wore out a couple of pairs of shoes. When a car bearing their luggage was wrecked in the West Virginia hills, they carried w'hat they could on their shoulders. There were towns where they encountered jibes and sneers. But Gene Keyes, who had been on the Peace march to the UN in the spring of 1961, noted that hostility and bombardments of rocks and overripe fruit had diminished, and that this time more well-wishers offered money, soft drinks, food.
The peace marchers who reached Washington in mid-June had all set out on Easter Sunday, and had all spent two months on the road, living on their own meagre savings and donations picked up en route. Those from Tennessee probably had the worst time for they had a Negro pacifist w'ith them. Bob Gore of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. They thus had to face the w'rath of both the anti-integration and the antipacifist elements. They subsisted on sixty cents a day apiece, and their diet was mainly oatmeal, rice and peanut butter.
But the marcher with the most on his mind was probably twenty-oneyear-old Paul Salstrom of Rock Island, Illinois, who was with the Hanover-Washington party. He'd been convicted of refusing to report for army induction and was out on bail. The day after he reached Washington he had to fly to Chicago and appear in court for sentencing. He drew the maximum: three years in penitentiary.
By any normal yardstick, the victories of the Peace groups are still far outnumbered by the rejections and defeats. Although most of the Washington marchers had blistered feet after hiking hundreds of miles, they straggled straight to the White House without pausing to rest. They bore signs with slogans like "No bomb tests— East or West” and "End the arms race — let mankind live." Within minutes they had clashed with police, for Australian Prime Minister Robert G. Menzics was at Blair House, the residence the U. S. maintains across the street from the White House for distinguished visitors, and there is a rule that prohibits picketing the White House when there are foreign visitors either at the White House or Blair House. After an argument with the law' four of the demonstrators wound up in court, but the judge found them not guilty of a charge of failing to move from the sidewalk when ordered to do so by police. That night and on subsequent nights they spread their
blankets on the floor of a church that had volunteered to shelter them.
The next day they drove in battered trucks to Germantown. Maryland, twenty-five miles from Washington, to picket the Atomic Energy Commission. and the day after that they picketed the Central Intelligence Agency, in Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, and in the evening held what had been billed as a "mass meeting." It was in the dingy cellar of an ancient church — not the church they slept at — in an almost entirely Negro district that whites ordinarily stay away from. There had been no advance publicity in the press. Thirtyeight people were present, if you counted the Peace marchers themselves. and while the speakers tried to look cheerful and enthusiastic, it was a thoroughly depressing affair. It seemed to me to underline the frustrations and disappointments that confront pacifist demonstrators, whose tactics are designed to rivet public attention on the cause of Peace and who. when they are ignored or virtually so, know that they might as well have stayed home.
But as compensation for the failure of the meeting, the following morning —the last on which they were demonstrating in Washington — was, by their lights, a success. They assembled at the Pentagon, posters a bit tattered and rain-stained but still held high, and fifteen of them attempted to enter the building to hand out Peace pamphlets. When police closed in they sat down and refused to budge. They call this "non co-operation” and point out that when they sit, and will not stand or walk, it takes two policemen to lift each striker and lug his dead weight to the paddywagon. A court found all of them guilty of disturbing the peace but fourteen of the fifteen were given suspended sentences when they undertook not to return to the Pentagon. The fifteenth, nineteenyear-old Huw Williams, a college student from Spokane, Washington, and a nonregistrant for the draft, would not promise to stay away from the Pentagon and. as l write this, is in jail and reportedly on a hunger strike.
The Committee for Nonviolent Action, which organized the peace marches to Washington from Nashville, C hicago and Hanover, is probably the most aggressive of the pacifist Peace groups in the United States. It was founded in 1957 and has its headquarters in a decrepit building on Grand Street, New York City, in a section where warehouses predominate, and where trucks are constantly loading and unloading. Neil Hayworth, its pleasant young secretary, told me that it has a board of directors of sixty, about a quarter of them Quakers, but that its monthly CNVA Bulletin and the pamphlets it issues are sent to a mailing list of 12,000. It is financed by contributions, mostly of $5 or $10. from those on the mailing list and had a budget of $55,000 last year.
CNVA refers to its "actions” the way a regiment refers to its battles. There was the Nevada Action of 1957, to protest nuclear tests on land. There was the Golden Rule Action of I95X to protest nuclear tests at sea. with four members attempting to sail the small yacht Golden Rule into the Pacific test zone, being intercepted by
the U. S. Navy and spending two months in jail in Hawaii.
There was the Omaha Action of 1959 against land-based missiles, with demonstrators, one of them Penny Young who was then fifteen, climbing over barbed wire barriers that surrounded the missile base. There was the Polaris Action against sealaunched missiles, started in I960 at New London and still continuing today.
There have also been, of course, the various peace marches, the longest the one from San Francisco to Moscow in I960 and 1961, which culminated in a demonstration against militarism in Red Square. CNVA has close ties with Bertrand Russell’s Committee of One Hundred in Britain, which has organized series of peace marches.
Peace groups like the CNVA have long been accused by their critics of being under the thumb of communists whose aim is to use them to weaken U. S. defenses and pave the way for a Soviet victory. 1 asked Neil Hayworth, the CNVA secretary, about this. He said he didn’t think there were communists in the CNVA, since it opposes Russian militarism and Russian nuclear tests just as strongly as it opposes U. S. militarism and tests. If the CNVA did happen to have any communist supporters, they were certainly not dictating its policies.
Hayworth says; “If present policies arc pursued we arc almost certain to have thermonuclear war in ten or fifteen years. I feel obligated to do what I can to prevent this but I doubt whether it will be prevented.”
David Me Reynolds, field secretary of the War Resistcrs League, headquarters of which arc on New York’s Beekman Street, is not so pessimistic. He told me there is no doubt that the Peace movement is gaining momentum and that it can wield a strong influence. The league has an annual budget of about $25,000, mails its literature to 3,500, and is supported by the donations they send. It includes pacifists of unorthodox views —anarchists and socialists.
"We may have communists in the league,” says McRcynolds, a tall, lean man who majored in political science and economics at the University of California, and has been a writer and editor. “If so, I assume we have FBI agents too. Actually, though, I doubt whether the communists would be naïve enough to bother with the league. We have always been as much opposed to Soviet as to American militarism. and against totalitarianism. For the communists to infiltrate the league would be like Christians trying to infiltrate a Jewish synagogue to convert the Jews: simply a waste of time.”
Both the War Resisters League and the Committee for Nonviolent Action had members who took part in the Times Square demonstration March 3, which was a reaction to President Kennedy’s announcement of the resumption of U. S. atomic testing. So did the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the biggest and best-financed of all the pacifist groups, which has 15,000 members and a budget of about $150,000 a year. But the three groups were unhappy about the way the affair went, for when the police riot squad charged at the crowd of 5,000
that was blocking traffic, it got out of hand. Before it was over, fortyfive persons had been arrested and roughly toted off to jail on charges of disturbing the peace.
Perhaps the most effective demonstration thus far was that of more than 5,000 university students from all over the U. S., none of whom were arrested. They descended on Washington on a mid-February weekend by plane, train and chartered bus. The Student Peace Union, which now has 2,400 members scattered over dozens of campuses, has desk space in the office of the War Resistcrs League, and got David McReynolds to help when the Washington project came up.
It began quietly with a handful of students at Grinnell University in Iowa chartering a bus for Washington late Iasi fall to picket the White House and stage a hunger strike. The idea spread, and other university delegations followed. Dawn Lander, twenty, a history major, was one of nine girls from the University of California who traveled to Washington in a Volkswagen van with the word “peace” smeared on its sides. All day long for three days they picketed the White House and fasted. “When it was time to break our fast, at 9 p.m. on the third day, we were too tired to eat,” says Dawn, who didn’t return to California and now is an employee of the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington.
In the big February demonstration the 5.000 students picketed not only the White House but the Soviet Embassy. They visited three hundred congressmen and sixty foreign embassies, and were addressed in the State Department auditorium by top advisers of the president. The students, relatively few of whom arc out-andout pacifists, were billeted in churches, schools, private homes, hotels, motels. They asked the U. S. government to adopt the American initiatives for peace recommended by Turn Toward Peace, among them the abandonment of military bases near Russia and the creation of a disarmed safety belt in middle Europe.
Turn Toward Peace calls itself a “joint co-operative effort by national organizations concerned with achieving a just peace and preserving democratic values.” It was set up by groups like SANE, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the American Friends Service Committee, to co-ordinate the Peace movement, at the instigation of well-known liberals like Norman Thomas, the venerable American socialist leader, and Norman Cousins, editor of the Saturday Review. It includes among its sponsors the famous Dr. Spock; Leonard Bernstein, the composer and conductor: Harry Belafonte, the entertainer; Eric Fromm, the psychoanalyst and author; and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the desegregationist leader. Among its co-operating organizations arc the American Veterans Committee, the Brotherhood of Sleeping C ar Porters, CNVA, the Committee for World Development and World Disarmament, the Postwar World Council, Students for a Democratic Society, the Student Peace Union, the Catholic Worker, the War Resisters League, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. It also has “com-
municating organizations” with which it consults; three of these are the United Automobile Workers, the International Union of Electrical. Radio and Machine Workers, and the National Association of Social Workers.
Formidable as TTP's lineup of cooperating and communicating organizations is. it doesn't begin to cover the field of Peace groups, which has been proliferating at an amazing rate. Women Strike for Peace, which has branches in sixty cities and associates in forty-one countries, provides a case history. Bertrand Russell, the renowned old philosopher, was jailed in Britain last September 1 for pacifist activities, and among those outraged were two women who live in Washington. One was Mrs. Margaret Russell, an historian who is married to an official of the U. S. Department of Interior. The other was Mrs. Dagmar Wilson, an illustrator of children's books and the wife of an aide at the British Embassy. They talked on the telephone about the sentencing of Lord Russell. “Mrs. Wilson,” Mrs. Russell recalls, “wanted to hire a jet and fly to London to protest. I said I didn't think we could afford that. But we wanted to do something.” What they did was invite friends to a meeting at Mrs. Wilson's home, at which Women Strike for Peace was born. They — and the friends — all wrote letters to other women and the group
grew. By November 1, supporters of WSFP, 1,500-strong, held a Peace demonstration in Washington.
Another 50,000 supporters, as nearly as Mrs. Russell and Mrs. Wilson can estimate from reports, demonstrated simultaneously in other U. S. cities. On January 15 of this year, after he’d seen a WSFP demonstration from a White House window. President Kennedy told a news conference he knew what they were trying to say and that they were “extremely earnest” women. One of them, on that occasion, propelled herself up and down the sidewalk in front of the White House in a wheelchair. She was Mrs. Cyrus Eaton, wife of the Nova Scotia-born financier who is one of the richest men in the United States, and who for years has sponsored the Pugwash meetings of intellectual leaders of both the eastern and western worlds.
On April 1 this year fifty members of WSFP. carrying Peace petitions with 50,000 signatures, flew from New York to Geneva, where they were joined by fifty women from other countries. They gave the petitions — and their views — to all the delegates to the seventeen-nation disarmament conference, bluntly telling both U. S. and Soviet delegates that they were too inflexible.
Another women's group that seems to be growing almost as rapidly in the United States as WSFP is the Voice of Women, VOW. which has spread across the border from Canada. It was founded in May 1960, at Toronto, by Mrs. Fred Davis, wife of the television performer. WSFP and VOW have now taken a place in the U. S. next to that occupied by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, which was founded in 1915 by the great social reformer, Jane Addams, on whose suggestions President Woodrow Wilson based his fourteen points for peace in World War 1 in the United States.
The importance of VOW on the international scene is one of several indications that the Peace movement in Canada, in relative terms, has at least kept pace with the Peace movement in the U. S. Canada's Combined Universities Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has 4,000 members, compared with the 2,400 members of the Student Peace Union in the whole of the U. S., and the Canadian Committee for the Control of Radiation Hazards has a high reputation.
In the U. S. the Peace movement now shows promise of gradually developing into a force that could counter the Americans who believe it's still possible to win a war. U. S. Senator Joseph S. Clark said in February: “The president is hampered in implementing his disarmament policy objectives by an alarming political lag in the country as well as in Congress. No more than a handful of my colleagues in the Senate are familiar with the president's disarmament plan. Hardly any of them take disarmament seriously. A majority of them think total and permanent disarmament is the rosy dream of a few impractical idealists. . . . Such a Senate can
hardly be expected to ratify a farreaching disarmament agreement without an enormous amount of educational groundwork.”
Clark, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is hoping that the twenty Americans who have come out as Peace candidates for election in November will get enough support to convince congressmen that peace is good bait. In California, one of these candidates, George Brown, has a strong chance of beating a candidate the John Birch Society is running as a Republican. Brown, with SANE and Women Strike for Peace working for him, won the Democratic primary in his district.
In Massachusetts another Peace candidate. H. Stuart Hughes, professor of history at Harvard, has been seeking enough signatures on a statewide petition to run as an independent against candidates who include President Kennedy’s young brother, Ted.
The Peace candidates don’t have to win to achieve their purpose, and the majority of them probably won't. The majority of right-wing extremists won't either. But if the Peace candidates can show strength in the contest they’ll devalue the right-wingers. That could change the balance of U. S. politics and vastly improve the chances of President Kennedy’s most striking request to the two cold-warring worlds: "End the arms race, not the human race.” ★