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War Toys Campaign is no game

Nancy MacMillan — December 1983

“Don’t Buy Military Toys. War is No Game.” This simple message was carried to those watching this year’s Santa Claus Parade by 15 peaceful clowns — all members or friends of Women’s Action for Peace, one of the constituent groups of the Alliance for Non-violent Action (ANVA).

The 15 peace clowns were able to actually lead the parade, ensuring good viewing of the antiwar toy slogan that covered huge and colourful balloons.

The leaflets handed out to the adults at the parade explained how the goal of the military is to win the “hearts and minds of the people,” and that this is the purpose behind the sale of violence-oriented toys. These toys and video games boast of being right up to date with the latest and most sophisticated war machinery, the purpose of this machinery being to computerise the mind of the user, to sever any connection between the use of weapons on people and the fact of human suffering.

Reaction to the event was mixed. Many were pleased to see the message. However, others were angry, as though something sacred had been violated. Some yelled back at the leafletting peace clowns that they had already bought their military toys.

Though this kind of comment was disheartening, at least the notion of war-centered toys being controversial was initiated. And, as one of the clowns commented, “this was the biggest and easiest demonstration we’ve ever organised!”

The need to address the ongoing and varied forms of militarisation in our society was identified through discussions at monthly ANVA meetings. The feeling was that people who mobilise against war must also identify the daily realities of how their children are raised, what they buy and consume, and what corporations they support. The people behind the “Stop Military Toys” campaign see it as one important link between militarisation and a consumer lifestyle.

Organised efforts by Women’s Action for Peace have centred thus far around the Santa Claus Parade. However, further leafletting is planned at Eaton’s, the Bay, and especially at Simpsons, where a man dressed as G.I. Joe greets children. Of course, all of this depends on there being sufficient volunteers.

Although it is too late for a concerted campaign this year, people and groups interested in peace are invited to consider how action can be taken on an ongoing basis, especially looking toward next Christmas. It will take a very broad-based movement to prevent the military and business world from capturing the hearts and minds of our children.

For copies of leaflets and buttons from the “Stop Military Toys” campaign, or to volunteer for leafletting, please call xxx-xxxx or xxx-xxxx. You can contact the campaign c/o the Alliance for Non- Violent Action, 73 Bathurst St., Toronto M5W 2P6.

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