`Daisy' ad revived for Iraqi war

Peace group airs TV spot to highlight nuclear threat

January 16, 2003|By Johanna Neuman | Johanna Neuman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WASHINGTON - The television ads begin airing today, raising the specter of nuclear war if the United States attacks Iraq. They depict provocative images of a mushroom cloud that are aimed at stirring controversy and galvanizing public opinion.

With U.S. military forces poised for possible action in the Middle East, the peace movement has turned to a perennial show-stopper: the daisy ad.

A remake of the commercial first shown during Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 presidential campaign against Republican Barry Goldwater, it shows a little girl counting flower petals in a field of daisies only to have her image replaced by a nuclear explosion.

The ad, to air in 13 major markets, is part of a campaign by a coalition of peace groups - from hard-hat union locals to oil-weary environmentalists - to build momentum against war.

Anti-war rallies are scheduled Saturday in San Francisco and Washington. For Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, activists are poring over the civil rights leader's speeches for sentiments about the war in Vietnam that still resonate. And Tuesday, citizens who oppose war plan to descend on district congressional offices to urge more time for U.N. inspections.

"When the stakes are this high, when we're walking into a situation so dangerous, running a controversial ad seems like the least that we can do to make sure our leaders are thinking about the consequences ..." said Eli Pariser, an organizers of MoveOn.org, sponsor of the ad.

MoveOn.org was formed during the Clinton impeachment trial, an effort to get Congress to "move on" to other issues.

The ad is carefully crafted to avoid seeming sympathetic to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein or hostile to the fight against terrorism.

Johanna Neuman is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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