Famous signs, strange friends, and state funding

IssueNovember 2005
Comment by The Mole

The Mole spotted something strange on the NATO website recently. Under “What's New?” were several childishly ill-drawn, but quite recognisable, versions of the famous Nuclear Disarmament symbol.

No, there hasn't been a revolution in Brussels which no-one noticed (can you name any famous Belgian revolutionaries?). It's just NATO up to its normal Orwellian tricks - celebrating this year's UN International Day of Peace. It ran a design-a-greeting-card competition at its international school for families of NATO staff. Naturally, when the kids had to come up with “peace” ideas, some of them included that universally recognised symbol.

It would be nice if there were something to be done to stop NATO using a symbol linked to organisations they would usually denounce. But the symbol doesn't belong to a specific organisation. As pedants - whom The Mole completely supports - have spent years insisting, the symbol is definitely an ND symbol, not (as frequently claimed) a CND symbol.

But one thing on the website met with The Mole's approval. It correctly identified the International Day of Peace as a United Nations initiative, an annual Day since 1981; and simply noted it was on 21 September this year. What NATO haven't done is fall for the propagandising of that strange bunch called Peace One Day. The PODers spent a lot of time and money lobbying to change the date of that UN Day (before you ask - no, it's a mystery); since they succeeded, they've been promoting the Day (fine), but letting people think that the whole idea for the Day was theirs.

What's ironic is that many peace organisations have ended up parroting the POD myth, but NATO haven't fallen for it. You might think they'd be sympathetic to people who spent a fortune on a diversionary campaign rather than on real peace work.

Who's your friend?

Walter Wolfgang - the perfectly un-threatening Labour Party member notoriously thrown out of its conference for pointing out the obvious fact that the government's line on Iraq is nonsense - was in one of his other regular haunts recently. This time it was the CND conference; and this time, of course, he wasn't thrown out.

A few other people were, however... Some Iranian exiles were removed for refusing to shut up in the face of CND granting a platform - literally - to the Iranian Ambassador, official representative of a regime which (amongst many other things) strangles gay teenagers to death in public. Apparently, some in CND thought that the presence of a real live ambassador would bring them some kudos. But then CND also co-organises demonstrations with the Muslim Association of Britain, most of whose members also seem to think that gays shouldn't exist - though perhaps the MAB policy is to kill them more gently.

Funding freedom

A couple of hundred people attended the Freedom to Protest conference in London in October, and found it held in a rather nice venue, with better-produced conference packs than at many such events, and no begging letters beforehand to raise money for the publicity. All thanks to government funding! Remember how the McLibel Two won damages from the UK in the European Court of Human Rights? Well, being Dave and Helen... And the free vegan sarnies were good too.

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