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Looking at Beyond War

November 03, 1985

I read with interest Kathleen Hendrix's article on the Beyond War group ("Beyond War: Movement Takes Disarming Approach to World Tensions," Sept. 15). At one point, she raised the question: Are these people for real?

The feeling of unreality was one I had one day as I listened to a presentation by two of the group. I could not believe they had been paying attention to the real world for a long time. Their answers to the few permitted questions were vague and noncommittal. Answers to questions about their source of funds were equally vague and mysterious. When asked if they had read books by experts on Soviet-American relationships, they admitted having no knowledge of them. Afghanistan, the KGB, Sakarov, the attempted assassination of the Pope appeared irrelevant to them.

They also seemed to be poorly informed about the period before World War II when the pacifists of that time were appeasing Hitler while he marched and enslaved. Also uninformed about the fact that the nations of Europe were unable to defend themselves because they were militarily unprepared and misjudged the aggressors. People who lived through that period and learned from it recognize the importance of negotiating from strength, not weakness. We also learned you can't buy "peace in our time" for the price can be the enslavement of present and future generations.

Some of the Beyond War people are probably sincere searchers for peace, but I hope they can understand some of us who want to question pacifists (I can understand why they "balk" at the word) deeply about their goals and methods. They endanger us all if they are wrong. I believe they are.

Hendrix found the television show put on by them "visibly moving" and "a joyous experience." Frankly, I found it frightening. Propaganda can be effective, and this was propaganda that could be effective with the gullible, the naive, the ignorant and those who desire peace at any price. I felt that people from never-never land were trying to manipulate me into their unrealistic world. Had those smiling faces never heard of gulags, labor camps, stukachi, censorship, internal passports, Solzhenitsyn, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Lech Walesa and so many other people and things? Where have they been?

FLORENCE RICHARDS

Whittier

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