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Page 10 of Blue-Tail Fly, December 1969

Part of Blue-Tail Fly

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interview: John Beckman by NICK DEMARTINO Dr. Benjamin Spock's position in the peace movement is a sort of translator. He champions the cause of peace, of the young, of the black, of the non-Establishment--as a highly respectable and influential member of that Establishment. The desired effect is to carry some of those views to those people who admire his respectability, but who maybe aren't so anxious to pat themselves on the line without some support, and to support the young people who are working for the same goals. Whether or not his efforts will do much after a day and a half in Louisville last week is doubtful. He spoke to about 1, 400 people Friday night and made lots of side appearances while he was here, each time pounding away, in almost the same words, how he came to his strong convictions against the war and the society that allowed it to happen. He won loud and repeated approval from his Friday audience--split between Louisville's longhairs and older Mberals, many of whom are members of the sponsoring )rganization, the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union. The older people in the audience were liberals who generally oppose the war and the kind of people who were utside the Atherton High School auditorium with picket igns--''Spock raised the kids, now let's lower the hippies"; Spock wants to get rid of Santa Cause (sic). " Spock ffered his 65 years, his reputation, his wisdom, and all hat which they respect. To the young (and for him, that means the Left, even n Louisville) he offered the example of his actions--as one if the Boston Five, he was indicted, and later freed, on charge of conspiring to aid and abet young men to avoid he draft. A lot of what he said at his speech (which was an exten-ion of what he said to almost every other group during he two days) was calculated to fan support from his idniirors. lie outlined the history of the Vietnam war--a war that * "not just illegal and immoral, it's a total abomination, olally illegal. " America, he said, "has been in the 10 Dr. Benjamin Spock business of beating a country into a bloody pulp. And the government then has the nerve to say that I and men who refuse to fight the war are illegal!" Much of what he said was considerably more radical than what most people in the audience would be expected to support. "The plight of the Black Panthers is the plight of everyone in this room" he said, to loud applause and cheers. He called for dissent, for militance, for action to end the war and the draft, and he explained how the middle-aged and the reticent--the Silent Majority? - -could be effective without violating the law or resorting to violence: picketing, pamphletting, letter-writing, symbolic sit-ins, applying pressure, giving money. The message he brought was for sympathizers, his older admirers to his political Right, and those younger than he, presumably to his Left. He cemented the two with a call for unity on the political Left, repeating again and again all day his unwillingness to attack anybody that's "on his side. " And he repeated the carefully honed explanations --a personal response and example of opposition to the war. At every appearance he repeated his history of involvement in the peace movement--how he joined SANE in 1962 to work for a test-ban treaty, how he campaigned for "peace candidate" LBJ in 1964, how he was betrayed when Johnson escalated the war, how he signed the "Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority" and participated in anti-war and anti-draft activities that led to his indictment. One time when he dropped the prepared spontaneity was in a 45-minute hotel-room conversation on Friday afternoon with a Louisville Times reporter and myself. Here are some of his less well-known opinions: btf: Would you agree with or deny that your book Baby and Child Care has helped bring about the kind of thinking that's coming out of the younger generation? December, 1969