Many of us are old enough to remember the anti-war days of Woodstock and the hippie movement. I’m talking about the 1960s. The Vietnam War was at its worst, and the anti-war hippie subculture was out in force protesting the war.
They burned their draft cards; some fled to Canada; they marched in the streets by the hundreds of thousands; they organized sit-ins of government buildings and college administration buildings; they painted anti-war slogans in bright colors all over their Beetle vans; their “LBJ, LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?” slogan was seen on signs all over the country; and they eventually helped bring an end to a war that America should have never entered.
At the time, I was the quintessential gung-ho-for-war guy. It was all my dad could do to convince me not to drop out of high school and join the Marines so I could go fight in Nam. I am so thankful he did.
The hippies were wrong regarding their promiscuous sex and drug-infested (even though the government’s “war on drugs” has been a constitutional disaster) lifestyles; and those misguided lifestyles brought much heartache and mischief to both themselves and our country for many years to follow. But their anti-war crusade was righteous. (It took me a long time to figure that out.)
To be sure, many of the national organizers of the anti-war movement back then had less than pure motives. They weren’t necessarily anti-war as much as they were pro-communist. These radicals opposed the war for leftist political reasons, not for the promotion of peace. Many of the 60s radicals within the hippie generation grew up to become some of the biggest warmongering politicians in America.
However, millions of common everyday hippies were genuinely pro-peace and anti-war for the right reasons.
For those of you who are too young to recall the days of which I’m speaking, you might be shocked to know that back then even the news media was anti-war. Every night on the three major networks’ news shows, we were subjected to non-stop videos of the hideous results of war: dead and mangled bodies lying in village streets, parentless children wandering around naked looking for something to eat, the emaciated and starving faces of the elderly, etc.
Those were the days before the Israeli lobby became the dominating, controlling force over the news media and U.S. government that it is today.
So, where are the anti-war peace activists today?
They certainly aren’t found in our churches. Evangelicals are some of the most rabid cheerleaders for war in the world. They aren’t in the newsrooms of America’s newspapers and news magazines. They aren’t in the television news studios. They aren’t in the faculties of America’s education establishments.
Where are the anti-war hippies when we need them?
Oh! Just about everybody claims to be anti-war—until a war breaks out. Then suddenly they become zealots for war.
Nobody thinks of themselves as a warmonger, but then the spin machine gets going and before you know it they’re spouting the slogans they’ve been programmed to spout and waving the flags they’ve been programmed to wave and consenting to whatever the imperial war machine wants in that moment.
Virtually everyone will tell you they love peace and hate war when asked; war is the very worst thing in the world, and no healthy person relishes the thought of it. But when the rubber meets the road and it’s time to oppose war and push for peace, those who’d previously proclaimed themselves “anti-war” are on the other side screaming for more weapons to be poured into a proxy war that their government deliberately provoked.
This is because the theory of being anti-war is very different from the practice. In theory, people are just opposed to the idea of exploding other people for no good reason. In practice they’re always hit with a very intense barrage of media messaging giving them what look like very good reasons why those people need exploding.
Being truly anti-war isn’t easy. It doesn’t look like what people picture in their imaginations. It looks like getting smashed with a deluge of information designed to manipulate and confuse and working through it while getting screamed at by those who’ve fallen for the brainwashing. It’s not cute. It’s not fun. It’s not the feel-good flower power time that people intuit it is when they look at the part of themselves that seeks peace. It’s standing up against the most sophisticated propaganda machine that has ever existed while being offered every reason not to.
When people think of themselves as “anti-war”, they’re usually imagining themselves as anti- another Iraq war, or anti- some theoretical Hitler-like president starting a war because he likes killing people. They’re not picturing the reality of what being anti-war actually is in practice.
Because selling the war to the public is a built-in component of all war strategy, the war will always look necessary from the mainstream perspective, and it won’t look like those other wars which we now know in retrospect were mistakes. It’s always designed to look appealing. There’s never not going to be atrocity propaganda. There’s never not going to be reasons fed to you selling this military intervention as special and completely necessary. That will be the case every single time, because that’s how modern wars are packaged and presented.
This is why you’ll always see a number of self-described leftists and anti-imperialists cheering for the latest US war project. They are ideologically opposed to the idea of war in theory, but the way it actually shows up in practice is always different from what they pictured.
Our entire civilization is shaped by domestic propaganda.
Propaganda is the single most overlooked and underappreciated aspect of our society. It has far more influence over how the public thinks, acts and votes than any of our official mechanisms for doing so, yet it’s barely discussed, it isn’t taught in schools, and even the best political ideologies barely touch on it relative to their other areas of focus.
Propaganda only works on those who don’t know they’re being propagandized. The US-centralized empire’s ability to hide its propaganda machine is a foundational element of its brilliance.
It takes work to see things clearly enough to form a really truth-based worldview. But unless you do this it’s impossible to be truly anti-war, because you can’t skillfully oppose something you don’t understand. To fight the imperial war machine is to fight the imperial propaganda machine.
And never forget that the “propaganda machine” includes at least 80% of America’s evangelical churches. Just as evangelical churches became part of the Covid propaganda, so now they are part of the Ukraine War propaganda—even going so far as raising millions of dollars from the pockets of gullible Christians for the moral reprobate and bloody butcher who calls himself a president in Ukraine.
It never ceases to amaze me how evangelicals can possess such strong pro-life convictions regarding abortion (which is admirable) yet possess such strong pro-death convictions when it comes to fighting unjust wars (which is deplorable).
And you might be surprised to learn that the vast majority of the world sides with Russia over the U.S. on Ukraine. “Out of 195 countries, only 30 have honored the US sanctions on Russia. That means about 165 countries in the world have refused to join the sanctions. Those countries represent by far the majority of the world’s population.”
For Biden to lecture Russia on war crimes is the height of hypocrisy. Since G.W. Bush launched the horrifically homicidal “war on terror,” the U.S. (Bush, Obama, Trump and now Biden) has murdered 6 million innocent people (including babies), and that does not include the more than 5 million Palestinian people that the U.S. has helped Israel murder since 1948.
Twice (2008, 2012) America had the opportunity to elect a genuine Christian constitutionalist president, a real man of peace: Dr. Ron Paul. And twice so-called Republican conservatives and Christians rejected Dr. Paul’s candidacy and nominated establishment warmongers.
And here is one more incredible irony regarding the way Christian conservatives rejected Ron Paul: If the rumor is true that the Supreme Court has decided to overturn Roe v Wade, Christian conservatives everywhere will be dancing in the streets—as will I.
But here’s the rub: For years, Dr. Paul would introduce the Sanctity of Life Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, by which Republican presidents and congresses could have overturned Roe. And every year Christian conservatives would yawn and totally ignore it—and, in some cases, outright reject it.
If we can rely on the Politico story that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe, the decision will likely be a carbon copy of Dr. Paul’s proposed Sanctity of Life bill—or Ron’s bill might actually have been stronger. Had pro-life Christians gotten behind Dr. Paul’s bill and pushed the GOP to pass the bill many years ago, millions of unborn babies would have been saved.
So now they will applaud a Supreme Court decision that replicates a decades-old proposed bill that was sponsored by Ron Paul—a bill evangelicals openly opposed.
And why did they oppose Dr. Paul? Because he was neither a warmonger nor a Zionist toady. Evangelicals like their politicians to be War Hawks and Zionists. But then, the two go together.
Considering the way evangelicals rejected Ron Paul and considering the way they cheer and applaud death and destruction on a global scale via unjust war, it seems clear that many evangelicals are only pro-life when it is politically expedient.
As I said, where are the anti-war hippies when we need them?
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book, Kevin MacDonald’s Metaphysical Failure: A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and Identity Politics. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.