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Celebrity Interview: Graham Nash, Donovan, et al: Peace Sunday — A World Wide Movement for Justice & Disarmament

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The following interview from our Hall of Fame is republished as a New Year begins in the hope we all will come to our senses. Since I first published it in 1982, Corporatist Government, 9/11, worldwide protests against corrupt leaders — each could easily replace Nuclear Arms as the subject of this interview since their negative impact has underscored the timeless message of  Peace Sunday: Please Save Our World. Let the New Year be the dawn of  a better world where everyone wins …

More than 80,000 people filled the Rose Bowl in Pasadena California on June 6, 1982 to show their support for peace with justice and global disarmament. It was part of a worldwide movement.

Joined by world-famous musicians, religious leaders and peace activists were people of all ages, colors and beliefs assembled to celebrate “PEACE SUNDAY — WE HAVE A DREAM”.  In the week following, many of these same celebrities and humanitarians journeyed to San Francisco and New York City, where similar concerts were held. Over 500,000 attended the New York City event, making it the Largest concert crowd in American history.

What follows is a group interview conducted by the author, Alex N Scandalios, June 1982 …

Patty Davis (entertainer and youngest child of President Ronald Reagan — outspoken critic of her father’s nuclear policies): I think if I could make people understand anything, aside from the importance of the issue of nuclear disarmament, it would be that peace is important to my father, President Reagan.  No one wants peace more than he does. My difference of opinion with him concerns the best way to  achieve that objective — Whether you have a nuclear freeze now, or whether you start negotiations and then have a freeze.

I think both my father and I are open-minded to the facts.  But it’s not the facts we disagree on.  It’s the interpretation of them, what you should do about them.  Maybe the way he is doing it is more politically right, or strategically right, and I’m just more of an idealist.

But I think it’s time in the world for idealism.  I think the people of the world need a little hope that they have some time left.

I mean, I want to get very old.  I want everybody in this world to get very old.  Because what we’re playing around with here is our existence.  We’re not going to have it if it all goes.

Rev. Jesse Jackson (Nationally known civil rights leader, a Baptist minister, and founder/director of PUSH, People United to Save Humanity): We must not only have “Peace Sunday” and then leave this place and allow business as usual.  Tomorrow we must have Peace Monday and Peace Tuesday and Peace Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday. Today we cannot allow anybody in Washington to tell us that peace is not our business.  Foreign policy is domestic policy.

Today the world is paying $550 billion a year for overkill while 220 million children cannot go to school every day because of poverty.  Every time they raise the military budget by $1 billion, we lose 18,000 civilian jobs.  We must cut back and eliminate the military budget.  It is creating tension between the races, tension between the sexes.

Mike, does your involvement with the TV series, M*A*S*H, in any way increase your awareness of the need for nuclear disarmament?

Mike Farrell (“Honeycut” on TV’s M*A*S*H): I don’t think you can be in a milieu of warlike activity whether it’s in a motion picture, a television show or in reality, without coming to grips with some notion of what the value of human life is.  I’m still involved with M*A*S*H and will be for its last season.

I think that my interaction with people as a result of my involvement with a show probably has done a great deal to heighten both my awareness of the cost — the tremendous cost — not only of war but of the war mentality.

Most important, I am aware more than ever before that we, the people, have the power to do something about it.

What do you see as the difference between this demonstration and all the other demonstrations in the past?

Mike Farrell: The difference in this is the makeup.  The makeup not only of the people who are speaking, but the makeup of the people who are being spoken to.  We have a wide-based coalition of middle-class people, lower class people and upper-class people, if you will.  Church people, labor people, politicians — not just the kind of hippie generation that the news media has come to associate with the anti-nuclear demonstrations.  I think that what we’re seeing here today is the first and probably the most dramatic demonstration of one of the biggest ground swells ever to hit this country.

Ed, if you could send a message to President Reagan, what would you say?

Ed Asner (Star of Emmy-award winning Lou Grant TV show, whose series was canceled because of his outspoken political beliefs): I’ve heard it stated very well the other day, when it was stated that the Reagan approach to peace, and the expectation for peace, is, “okay, we’ll dismiss this many missiles if you dismiss that many.”  In essence, this is saying, “we’ve got to get a hernia, strangled hernia if necessary, stockpiling ourselves  with weapons of every kind so that when we get to a point where the Russians will say, Whoa, boy. We can’t keep up with you; what do you want us to do?  How can we satisfy you that we will never go to war against you?”

But it’s not going to happen that way — no country in the world is ever going to go along with such a program. Before that happens, I dare say the Russians will fire these missiles regarding it as a lost cause.  I regard this as a way that, in essence, is going to bankrupt us.

I would hope that Mr. Reagan would address himself to honest, generous means of seeking peace — which as this turnout here suggests, is something the rest of the world would emulate.

How optimistic are you that demonstrations such as this can actually accomplish something?

Ed Asner: I think the way the administration is behaving now indicates they have modified their position enormously from the bristling stance evidenced when they first took office.

Do you realize what happened in Europe when Reagan first spoke about a limited nuclear war there?  The people poured into the streets, protesting, creating such a powerful backlash, that the administration has been running backwards from their initial position ever since.

We saw then as we see today that maintaining such pressure as this can only result in influencing more people, influencing the media, and influencing, eventually, the last people in the world to learn: the politicians.

How can we control the development of nuclear energy and technology so that it doesn’t get sloughed off on the military industrial complex and used as a marketable and salable item?

Michio Kaku (Professor of nuclear physics at City College, New York): Let me say right now that about 50% of all physicists in theU.S. are hooked up to the Pentagon.  For example, if I wanted to double my salary, I could spend two months of the summer consulting for the Pentagon at the rate of $500 per meeting whether or not I show up.  This is the kind of wasteful consulting that goes on among nuclear physicists.  One way to stop this is to stop the government funding of these projects.  Government funding is being taken out of social services programs, taken out of food programs, Medicare, Social Security, and the money is being dumped into the Pentagon to pay the salaries of people that are in the scientific establishment.  There is an organization called Jason, for example, which was one of the architects of the electronic battlefield in Vietnam.  This organization was the one that designed a flutter bomb, a butterfly-like object with a small charge, just enough so that when a child picks up the bomb it blows their jaw off, but doesn’t kill you.  Because if you kill a child, you only mobilize one Vietnamese adult, whereas if you blow the jaw off a child you mobilize up to five Vietnamese adults.  This is based on studies done by Jason, one of the largest scientific advisory committees in the United States.

I have friends of mine that spend their adult life sticking pins into the Soviet Union.  Each pin is worth 200,000 deaths.  Each pin is worth one warhead and we stick 10,000 pins into the Soviet Union.  I’m sure that somebody in Russia is sticking 8000 pins into the U.S. as well.

But what can we do to stop this?

Michio Kaku: I think that we’re going to have to get the budget and dry up the money that funds scientists.  Scientists will pretty much work for almost anybody that has money for research and I think that by the slogan, “Money for jobs, not for war,” we will automatically dry up the money that goes into the Pentagon’s war research and, thus, to nuclear physicists.

You accuse the Reagan administration of fancy footwork on strategic arms talks.  Are you doubting their sincerity in wanting to limit these arms or what exactly are you saying by making that statement?

Michio Kaku: I think that the START talks are a Trojan horse.  Every magician, for example, knows the trick that you watch one hand while the other hand does the actual dirty work and comes out with a magic trick.  Every magician knows that.  Every military man knows that trick.  It’s called the Trojan war.  So while we talk about the zero action in Europe, while we talk about limiting land-based missiles, while we talk about START talks, Reagan is bringing online the MX missile, Triton 2, the Cruise Missile, the neutron bomb and the B-1 bomber. That’s why we have to have a freeze as a precondition to any START talks, otherwise we’ll have a whole new generation of weaponry.  The cruise missile, for example, is so accurate that if you launch it from Vandenburg Air Force Base you could hit the men’s room in the Pentagon.

The neutron bomb equals tremendous devastation.  The Reagan administration has called the neutron bomb the “Humane” bomb.  It’s the humane bomb because it’s humane to buildings.  I like to call it the landlord’s bomb.  It’s really a very clever way to evict tenants.  In Europe they call it the capitalist bomb, because it preserves profits not the people.

What do we do with the 50,000 warheads after disarmament?

Michio Kaku: I think we can follow the example of the Reverend Philip Berrigan who with only a hammer dismantled a warhead.  Another way is to simply remove the plutonium trigger which makes the lithium deuteride inactive — remove the plutonium trigger and burn it in a nuclear power plant. You can literally rid the vault of plutonium by taking a trigger out and burning it in a nuclear reactor and then shutting down the reactor.  This is the way to dismantle a hydrogen bomb.

In Europe during the last six to eight months, there has been a tremendous outpouring of anti-nuclear sentiment on the part of the European people without their having to be organized and motivated by a group of rock stars and entertainers.

Why doesn’t that happen in America?  Why does it take a rock ‘n roll concert to get 80,000 Americans to turn out and show they care?

Bob Walden (Actor who played the reporter “Rossi” on the Lou Grant TV show): We are about a year and a half to two years behind the enthusiasm and organization that is happening in Europe.

I just got back from Paris where I was truly surprised to see posters all over against Reagan.  I was stunned to find out that our country was that disliked by other countries.  It is great to come back here, today, and see everybody trying to be proud again.

Right now we’re trying to catch up, but we’ll be able to set an example soon.

Donovan (The Flower Child, ‘60s singer of “Mellow Yellow”. Peace Sunday, because of its importance, marked his first American appearance in a very long time.): What happened with the nuclear disarmament movement in Europe is that the churches were always involved.  So smaller government bodies were always involved.  It seems much more serious in Europe because there were always establishment people involved with the musicians.  Now you have the churches involved here and I think that is very important to the success of the movement.

Howard Hesseman (Stars as Johnny Fever on WKRP Cincinnati): It seems also that Europe benefits, as it were, from a long history as a battleground.  Most European countries have been invaded, bombed, pulverized in some fashion or another, and we in this nation are fortunate in that that has never occurred on our land.

Perhaps this is one reason why Europeans don’t need rock stars and entertainers to galvanize them into some sort of action designed to keep themselves alive.

Graham Nash (Singer/songwriter, member of the Folk-Rock Band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, a co-founder of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame): It’s like Howard says, the Europeans have had the shit pummeled out of them for thousands of years and they’re not going to wait any longer.  We’re waiting because we’ve never been bombed.  No major city in this country has ever had planes throwing bombs at them.  We all in Europe have faced that for many, many, many centuries.

What will happen, though, is that once the Americans pick up the ball, they will run faster than anybody.  I believe we may be off to a slower start, but that now we can lead the rest of the world towards what Europe has been doing for the last 20 years.

What about the objection that the pressure we are placing on our government hamstrings its effectiveness in dealing with Russia, whose people can’t put similar pressure on the Soviet government?

Graham Nash: That’s not true.  That is not true!  When 400,000 people can march in Romania, with their premiere at their lead, you’ve got to understand that this word travels beyond the Iron Curtain.

When the people of Austria can build a $1.8 billion plant and say, “No.”  — we’d never have the courage to do that.  We never did that with Diablo and we never did it with San Onofre.  In Austria, they said, “No,” and that plant did not go on line.  In fact, it was turned into a museum.

Howard Hesseman: The New York Times carried an article about a Soviet Union peace movement, that is recognized by the government in Soviet Russia.  The leaders of the movement stated in a press conference they sought not to draw more oppressive attention to themselves from the government of Russia, but they felt that because Russia had, for so long, spoken of itself as a proponent of peace and nuclear arms reduction, that they were not violating the party line — the attitude of the governing body of Russia.  This is a legitimately recognized peace movement within Soviet Russia.

Graham Nash: When Brezhnev’s personal doctor came here to meet with the physicians for social responsibility, they poked him full of horror about what could happen, what they had found out in their past experience.  He went back to Russia, went on national TV for an hour, telling the Russian people that there was a movement happening that is for them, meaning that we’re not talking about pro-America or pro-Russia.  We’re pro-living!

We’re trying to say to all people throughout the nation and throughout the entire planet, that we’re all mothers, fathers, husbands, friends, boyfriends, sisters and brothers.  And that’s the basic fact.  We have been fractionalized and separated for too long.

And we are all the people of this planet.

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21 Comments - (Leave a comment! »)

  • Alisha – Kansas said:

    I found this article really interesting because of the interview with Graham Nash, but as I read further, I found that Peace Sunday occurred in 1982. What occurred on this date is extremely relevant to the way people should approach their day- to- day lives and to be more grateful and loving, but there have been more events since then that included the same concept. However, I did enjoy the way you formatted this interview with the different speakers and interviewees. It was well put together and brought a well-rounded view on how people can change the world through their actions and thinking. I found Michio Kaku’s comments quite alarming and you allowed his words to hold up a good portion of the interview.

  • Nathan - New Mexico said:

    I enjoyed reading this piece and found the content engaging and inspiring. However, if there was a point of contention I had with the piece it had more to do with the style than the content. In your interview with Ray Kroc you definitely pushed back against some of his “dog eat dog” type business comments and held him to his word, which I really enjoyed. In contrast, I found the Peace Sunday article surprisingly weak. You served the celebrities you interviewed softball questions and allowed them to get away with vague and uninformed answers. I would have liked to see you really push back against your subjects and ask them how specifically they would have changed the U.S. nuclear policy and how their movement was bringing about that change.

  • Alex the editor said:

    Nelson,

    I agree with you regarding President Reagan’s success against Russia. I consider that the best thing to come out of his presidency.

    But that is where my agreement with you ends. You need to quit listening to Fox news and supporting the Party of No. They, more than anything else, are the biggest cause of America’s problems today. The U.S. Congress in the first two years of Obama’s presidency passed more bills than any other previous Congress in the last 100 years! Almost all of those bills were defeated in the Senate by the Party Of No and their misuse of filibustering. Had some of those policies been passed, we would not be in the problem we are in today.

    As a result of that failure of the Senate to act in the best interest of the American people, the Party Of No took over the Congress in the 2010 election and since then have rejected everything Obama has tried to pass for their simple, clearly stated reason, of defeating him this coming November. Their policy was very simply, clearly expressed by Mitch McConnell, “We cannot be concerned with the American people’s best interests. We want the White House at any price.”

    So don’t blame President Obama. Blame yourself for voting the Party Of No into power. Stupidity, not Pres. Obama, is our nation’s biggest enemy. Fox News is not journalism! It is entertainment if you like that sort of thing, but that is all it is. Stop being a sheep, get educated on the real facts, and stop blaming President Obama for your failure to think for yourself.

    I consider the Party of No and Fox news to be tied for the honor of Public Enemies #1.

  • Nelson Morais said:

    Looking back on his policies, it’s now apparent that President Ronald Reagan’s commitment to protecting this nation with a space-based missile defense system (denounced by critics as wishful-thinking “Star Wars”) and increased defense spending forced the eventual collapse of that awful, freedom-robbing Communist system behind the Iron Curtain. Reagan was right to not take the advice of peace-loving liberals, nor even of those in his cabinet, apparently. Reagan was good at cutting taxes, but history shows he had difficulties in cutting spending, which is politically more difficult to do. Now we have a president with an ideology of bigger, more invasive government programs, and a chance to end that in November’s election. President Obama’s goal, I believe, was not the nice-sounding “Yes, we can” form of government involving citizens, but rather, “Yes, I can — and I will, no matter what.” There were warnings in the right places if you looked before the election in 2008, but the liberal mainstream media were star-struck with a minority candidate (Hillary as president would have made them just as happy), and glossed over some of his extremist beliefs and extremist friends and upbringing. True peace can only come through a relationship with God. Unfortunately, that will only happen with Jesus Christ sets up his millennial rule over the world. Until then, we’re just called to spread the very good news of the Gospel message to everyone who will hear.

  • Hier said:

    I have to say that for the last couple of hours i have been hooked by the impressive posts on this site. Keep up the wonderful work.

  • Rolf Smejkal said:

    The points you made in this article are very clear and I completely agree. Your opinion is educated and I hope to see more work such as this from you.

  • Kurtis – New York said:

    This article is stellar in it’s movement. Your magazine, Winners Within Us showcases articles that truly capture the people, the moment. This article leaves a permanent mark of joy on the human Spchyche, emotion to know that there are others like me in the world who respect human life beyond words with their actions of peace. It is infectious to lead by example and I am contaminated with joy and peace, which your magazine firmly represents.

    The Best!

  • Alex the Editor said:

    I am the author and I got the quotes in person on Peace Sunday by interviewing them. They were all there in support.

  • Janie – New Mexico said:

    I explored your Entertainment section and saw you were covering global issues. I was impressed by this article. But I wondered how the author got all of those quotes. It looked as if they were gleanings from other sources. To get that many A-list interviews takes some pull as a journalist. I couldn’t score that many, though I’ve interviewed Donovan’s son. I have also covered several large music festivals.

  • servicii seo said:

    I am not sure I fully agree with you on this post. On the other hand I am always amenable to fresh ideas. Probably will have to feel about it. Good site by the way.

  • LPM — California said:

    Your article featuring the reprint and discussion of Peace Sunday immedialteyl caught my attention. That was the first music festival that I was ever credentialed for as a proper press photographer. Indeed I photographed the show in great detail. It may have been the greatest single factor that led me to full time music journalism in the last decade. I was so taken by the speakers and performers that day, that all I really wanted to do after that was travel the world covering all the musical festivals organized for a cause from No Nuke benefits to Farm Aid.

  • Seth – Pennsylvania said:

    Just finished story about peace and nuclear disarmament, it was a good read, although i disagree with alot of it, but then again it was written a while back. I myself am more of a conservative and think that our government has the moral duty to protect the citizens of our country in every way shape and form possible.

  • Matoosa Ferrera -- Florida said:

    Highly politicized piece. Just politics. Would expect better from an editor. You’re only trying to gag a liberal minded readership. People like yourself. That’s not being open minded. We need to have a national dicussion, not just more of the same the lopsided partisanship. The country is coming apart at the seams. Scandalios is a left of Pelosi Democrat – not exactly a soldier of love amd peace – but he sure think so.

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    Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!

  • Mireya Tian said:

    awersome blog

  • Sharla Gilroy said:

    I really like everything about your site

  • 9vn6 free sex 8qsf said:

    Peace sunday a world wide movement for justice disarmament.. Reposted it :)

  • TS -- Pennsylvania said:

    I really appreciate how you have kept your focus on the uplifting while remaining ever fresh and surprising. Your vintage interview on Peace Sunday and the need for nuclear disarmament is so true, and even more so today.

  • bryonw said:

    I wish we had another Peace Sunday

    Those were the days. It seems now that passion for ending the war is sorely lacking. Maybe it is because of Bush’s censorship of the media.

  • Designer said:

    When I look at the world of music all I see is “bling-bling,” “I got my nine,” “swear word, swear word, swear word.” and more swear words just for the sake of swear words. But these guys here they made a difference and it was for the better. Donovan and Graham Nash were singing to make a difference. The whole peace and love hippie counter-culture was fueled by the music. I believe if we would still have that kind of music now we wouldn’t be in this war we are in now. Influence on a widespread range is achieved through the use of media. With the hippie counter-culture it was influenced by the music. Now all we have is music to kill each other, drink my forty, and don’t tell the police if you watch someone kill someone else. We got to look at what influences our culture, and our lives, where we have been and where we have left to go, it’s a journey I would rather go on being happy instead of angry or anything like that.

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