Last March our Prime Minister announced that there was "no reluctance" among the Canadian public to enter the S.D.I. ("Star Wars") program. Any objections were mere scare tactics by the opposition and the N.D.P.
As a member of this misquoted Canadian public, I could not let the P.M. attribute enthusiasm for Star Wars to me, and I wrote to advise that reluctance was too mild a word for the anxiety and horror I felt at this dangerous escalation of the arms race. It was a rather severe letter, ending with a plea to resist the Reagan administration's steamroller progress toward war.
Mr. Mulroney, nevertheless, was happy to have received my letter and thus to have an opportunity to explain his government's policy on national defence. When I read it, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry
He explained that for more than 15 years our armed forces had been neglected so that we couldn't protect "our soil or shores." The Liberal government was to blame for this, but his own administration's "prudent and responsible" position would allow Canada to work unceasingly to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and prevent their development and use. "We will need patience and perseverance for, in this endeavor, even the smallest progress is worthy of the greatest efforts," said Mr. Mulroney piously, and he thanked me again for writing, sent me every good wish, and said he was mine sincerely. But he ain't. I won't have him.
Not one syllable on the subject of Star Wars, and he apparently hasn't noticed that there is no defence against nuclear bombs, so that building up our armed forces (while it may please a few dimwitted generals) is a big fat waste of money.
The arms race is, and has always been, about money. Huge amounts of money. A total of $24.2 billion has been allocated to research the Strategic Defence Initiative for five years. Of the $1.7 billion already awarded to develop the weapons of S.D.I, $1.4 billion went to ten top arms contractors, who are also ten top contributors to Republican campaigns. Politicians and arms manufacturers continue to play the game on the assumption that the public is too stupid to recognize their gambits, and that ultimate weasel word, "defence," continues to be used as an excuse for this obscene waste of tax money.
Victoria Branden, Waterdown, Ont.
Jennifer Kinloch's article on media manipulation (June '85) prompts me to write of a similar situation in Boston. After a referendum on Central America in the fall, the results went unreported in the Boston Globe-the ultimate effrontery in a long series of misrepresentations. A friend and I bought 200 postcards, addressed them to the paper, and went to a local event where we got people to write their demands for more coverage until we ran out of cards. People wrote their names and addresses so the paper knew it was 200 separate individuals.
Weeks passed and I felt the action had had no effect. Then the paper's ombudsman devoted a column over a foot long on the editorial page under the heading "Referendum Deserved Own Story." They were quite shocked by the "deluge" of mail, as they termed it. Many months later, 500 activists were arrested protesting the embargo against Nicaragua here. We got on the front page and the first page of the city section. As over 25 were detained for noncooperating, we repeated the coverage the following day!
A Canadian myself, I always take American advice to other movements with a grain of salt. This idea might not work but it may be worth a try.
A final note from Noam Chomsky-if you're being maligned by the press, there's a good chance you're having an impact.
Greg Bates, Boston, Movement for a New Society
You are fantastic! I get more out of you than any other publication I
receive relating to the peace movement. In fact you are inspiring. It isn't easy to get me to write a letter, but I do believe that, inspired by you, I shall force myself to write protesting "Star Wars" once more.
Jane Forster, Thornhill, Ont.