Protest: The Banners of Dissent

  • Share
  • Read Later

(8 of 10)

They charged that SANE —founded ten years ago as the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy and virtually devoid of purpose since the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty—was schizophrenically split. The chasm existed "between those who support the use of democratic means to bring about change in[U.S. Viet Nam] policy and those who believe the society must be overturned before peace is possible." In their letter of proposed resignation, the dissenters found particularly "intolerable" the fact that Spock served simultaneously as a spokesman for SANE and co-chairman of the National Conference for New Politics, "a group that has denounced Israel as 'imperialist,' that has come out in support of 'wars of national liberation,' no matter what their political character or threat to world peace, that has contemptuously dismissed the democratic process and allowed itself to be manipulated by spokesmen for crudely nationalistic views." In a separate protest, every officer of SANE's Northern California regional office resigned over the same basic issue.

"New Action Army." Organizing the march on the tactical level was a manic task. Originally it was planned for Capitol Hill, but the Mob ended by adopting Rubin's suggestion that the Pentagon would be a more inviting and symbolic target. As rallyers offered their services, the committee divided them into 22 contingents, ranging from notables (Spock, Mailer, Poet Robert Lowell) to a Vietnamese contingent. A hippie outfit calling itself Wagon Wheels East purportedly set out from California replete with Shoshone Indians, trail scouts and medicine men ("compliments of Chief Rolling Thunder"), plus "junk cars, stolen buses, motorcycles, rock bands, flower banners, dope, incense and enough food for the journey." A caravan organizer warned in the East Village Other, a New York underground biweekly: "The caravan will pass through some very hostile territory, and many will die on the trip." It survived.

Others made it to Washington in Mob-organized car pools, a Pennsylvania Railroad special train, or in some 200 chartered buses (at $8.50 a head, round trip from New York). Mob financing came easily: when an antiwar ad ran in the New York Times recently, Bellinger & Co. quickly called each of the more than 200 signers and tapped them for cash. More money came in through box-office receipts from speeches by Mailer and Rap Brown, while individual contributions ranging as high as $5,000 in cash helped fill the till. The Mob also made money by selling green and white antiwar pennants, buttons and high-camp posters. One, "Join the New Action Army," showed a handcuffed Captain Howard Levy, the cashiered antiwar Army doctor, being led away after his court-martial last June.

Lace v. Mace. The wildest plans, of course, spiraled from the turned-on brains of the hippies, to whom the Pentagon was not so much a symbol of America's aggressive Far Eastern policy as a religio-esthetic abomination. "Everybody knows that a five-sided figure is evil," said one New York hippie named Abbie. "The way to exorcise it is with a circle."* Abbie and a hippie poster painter, Martin Carey, last month "measured" the Pentagon to determine how many hippies would be needed to encircle it (answer: 1,200).

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10