The new peace movement needs marketing help

Mike Royko

October 29, 1990|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

HAVE THEY GOT this new peace movement going yet?"

asked Slats Grobnik.

Yes, over the weekend, rallies and marches were held in many cities.

"Then it's in trouble; I think it looks like a big flop."

But how can it be a flop when it has just begun?

"I'll tell you how. The people who are running it don't know nothing about marketing."

What does marketing have to do with an anti-war movement?

"You get dumber all the time. Marketing has to do with anything you peddle, whether it's a political candidate or a beer that ain't got no taste or an anti-war movement. You got to go on TV and move the product."

But they've been on TV.

"Yeah, I know. I happened to see the Ted Koppel show. Lot of people watch that show, right? A few million?"

Yes, although the size of the audience fluctuates. It goes up during war scares or a hostage crisis, and goes down when Koppel drags out society's underprivileged.

"Well, this was about the anti-war movement and by the time the show was over, the peace-monger they had on almost turned me into a war-monger."

Ah, some aging Yippie?

"Nah, it was this guy Kovic, who they made a movie about."

Ron Kovic, the Vietnam vet, whose painful life was portrayed in the movie "Born on the Fourth of July"?

"That's him."

But he has become a living symbol of the anguish and suffering of the Vietnam war veterans.

"Then he ought to stay off TV shows and do his suffering somewhere else. He gets on there and he says that somebody should ask the mothers and the fathers how they feel about their kids being over there in the desert."

I suppose mothers and fathers would be concerned.

"Sure they are. But when a guy enlists in the Army or the Marines, he don't take an oath that says: 'And if I got to go overseas and there might be fighting, I expect you to ask my mother and father if they want me there, and if they don't, I want you to fly me back home right away.'"

That would be impractical.

"Right. I don't want to see anybody get hurt, but this Kovic don't seem to understand that everybody over there enlisted. And when you sign on to a job shooting people, it means that when you get sent to shoot at someone, you go and do it."

Yes, that is the harsh reality.

"So what's he doing on TV saying that President Bush should check it out with their mommies and daddies?"

He might have thought that this would be a good way to twang America's heart strings. What else did he say?

"Oh, he says that wars are really terrible, and that people get killed and wounded, and we don't want to get involved in something like that."

He's right, of course; wars can be devastating.

"What, you and him think people don't know that? It's like I was sitting there thinking that us and Iraq are going to have a pillow fight, or use toy squirt pistols?"

No, I suppose people understand that.

"Right. So he's there on TV, and there are millions of people watching, and he's talking for this peace movement, and all he's got to say is -- hey, surprise -- you can get killed in a war."

But what would you have him say?

"I wouldn't have him say anything, because I don't think he knows what to say. They made a movie about him, so now he's going to have a career going on TV and not saying anything."

Then what would you say if you had the same opportunity?

"Me? I'd start out by saying that if Bush is going to put us in a war, I'd like to know exactly what we're fighting for. Never mind fast answers like how we got to stop naked aggression. All my life there's been aggression -- naked and with its pants on. Most of the time we look the other way. If we had jumped in every time there was naked aggression, we'd have been in 20 wars at the same time. Hey, some of our friends were naked aggressors. So how come all of a sudden we got to go to war for the billionaires in Kuwait and the billionaires in Saudi Arabia? Are we fighting for them? Are we fighting for Japan's oil supply? Or Europe's oil supply? Or to keep Israel out of it? I think Bush ought to slow down and tell us just who we're fighting for and why, don't ya' think?"

Yes, there is a certain vagueness to our motives.

"Sure. And I'd ask why Bush don't want to cut Congress in on the action like the Constitution says. Maybe Congress ain't too popular these days, but who would you rather have deciding when we're going to war -- your congressman or that bunch of off-brands at the United Nations? At least you can call your congressman's office and yell. If you call the U.N., you'll probably get some guy who's eating a boiled snake."

But it is a global problem.

"Then let all those eel-eaters send their troops to the desert. And if I was a peacenik, I'd do one more thing. I'd start talking about bringing back the draft. I'd say we ought to draft every kid right out of high school, and clean out the college campuses, too. Rich, poor, football players, chess players, A-students, D-students, everybody goes right now."

Are you crazy? This country would never stand for that.

"I know that. But it sure would get their attention."

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