As we pursue the world’s most dangerous extremists, we are also denying them the world’s most dangerous weapons, and pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Earlier this year, 47 nations embraced a work-plan to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years. We have joined with Russia to sign the most comprehensive arms control agreement in decades. We have reduced the role of nuclear weapons in our security strategy. And here, at the U.N., we came together to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Barack Obama, Address to the United Nations General Assembly
New York, N.Y.
September 23, 2010
The above exerpt from Mr. Obama’s speech today to the United Nations sounds eerily familiar to the philosophy and passions of Dr. Benjamin Spock, his fellow peace activists and the organizations that sprung up more than 50 years ago.
SANE, also called The National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy was founded in 1957. On November 15, 1957, SANE published an ad in the New York Times under the banner “We Are Facing a Danger Unlike Any Danger That Has Ever Existed”. Following this ad, SANE chapters began springing up around the country, with tens of thousands of members. Student chapters were organized and a Hollywood SANE sprung up with many celebrities.
Dr. Spock, one of the visible and influential trusted advisors to mothers and increasingly to American politicians, joined forces and lended his name and voice to the cause. In March of 1962, Spock joined the national board of SANE on the basis that a nuclear test ban treaty was a necessity in order to avoid the potential for birth defects and cancer resulting of fallout radiation.
He was recruited as a national sponsor; a “Dr. Spock is worried” ad appears in the New York Times, and is reprinted in 700 papers worldwide. Graphic Artists for SANE is organized, including Jules Feiffer, Ben Shahn, and Edward Sorel.
On November 27, 1965, SANE sponsored a march in Washington DC against the Vietnam war that drew tens of thousands of people. SANE announced that only signs with authorized slogans would be allowed at the march. Speakers included SANE spokesperson Benjamin Spock, Coretta Scott King and Students for a Democratic Society president Carl Oglesby, who noted that this war had been set in motion by US liberals.
He was co-chairperson and remained actively involved until resignation in 1967.
Forty-three years later, without the voice of the activists and the organizations that defined the most troubled decade in our nation’s history, the question remains, who is carrying the torch and what actions will be taken following the words that were heard today.
Is anyone else worried?