Scenezine: Chicago’s Official Peace and Music Festival Magazine, Spring 1990

SANE/FREEZE Merger of the Millennium for Non-Nuclear Action

What happened when the nation’s two largest disarmament organizations merged? The Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign became SANE/FREEZE: Campaign for Global Security. Within the new name is the basis for the work SANE/FREEZE does as a peace lobby with almost 200,000 members across the country. We realize that the security of one nation is linked to the security of all nations. Obviously while any one country has the bomb the entire Earth is in jeopardy. SANE/FREEZE works to redefine the way people think of national or global security. No longer can people look at the military and say that a strong military means a strong nation. Real security means a safe environment, jobs, food, shelter, health care and all the other basic human needs that are not being met. The United States government spends 52% of all federal tax dollars on the military. For the environment, housing, education and food and nutrition they spend 2% each. With this kind of unbalance it’s easy to see why we’re in such a mess.

When most people think of SANE/FREEZE the main idea that comes to mind is the work we do to lobby against weapons systems and bilateral disarmament with the Soviet Union. This a big part of our work but SANE/FREEZE is a peace justice group. We also work against intervention in other countries like Central America and against apartheid in South Africa. We lobby for human right s issues here in the U.S. too.

Over the past year we have diversified our campaigns in several areas. Currently our top priority is the military budget. Our state office in Illinois has done research and held workshops to determine how much or our taxes leave the state for military purposes compared to how much money comes back. The figures are alarming to say the least. Illinois is next to the last state (New York is the last), in getting money back from the government. The good news is that we don’t have weapons materials plants here or a lot of military contractors. The bad news is the fact that we have 40,000 homeless people in the city of Chicago and the average congressional district in Illinois loses $600 million a year to the military. Our Illinois office has helped form a group called the Coalition for New Priorities with almost 30 other Chicago organizations. The coalition is currently made up of groups working for housing, the environment, and unions and religious groups. We are still growing and looking for others to join. The group is part of a nationwide movement, called the Citizens Budget Campaign, which is working its way across the country to reduce the military budget and put our tax dollars back into our communities.

The second new campaign we have worked on this year is the Department of Energy nuclear weapons materials plant. There are seventeen plants around the country that are producing plutonium, uranium, and tritium. There are the radioactive elements used to make nuclear bombs. These plants had become so contaminated and cancer rates were so high that the government finally shut them down . At the time they had plans to reopen them. That’s where SANE/FREEZE came in and lobbied with other environmental groups to keep them shut. It worked! Recently the government announced that they would not be reopened. Now we are focusing on the environmental clean up that needs to be done. Estimates say it will cost from $150 to $250 billion or more to clean up all the plants like Rocky Flats in Colorado and Fernald in Ohio. We are lobbying to take money out of the military budget for the clean up which will probably take at least twenty years once it has begun. People all over the country are suing the government because the radiation has caused cancer and other health problems in their families and destroyed their land.

Another issue we are working on is getting a worldwide Comprehensive Test Ban. SANE was the group responsible for the lobbying behind the Limited Test Ban of 1963. This said there could be no more above ground or ocean testing of nuclear weapons, 120 countries signed on. Part of that treaty stated that we must continue to work toward a world free of all nuclear testing. In the United States we have a test site in Nevada where we have been testing nuclear bombs underground for over 30 years. About once every three weeks the United States government rapes the Earth by putting a bomb inside her and exploding it. This land in Nevada belongs to the American Indians and for many years was held sacred before the government stole it away. Now the people who live around this land have some of the highest cancer rates in the country and the Earth has been destroyed for hundreds of years to come. Every spring the American Peace Test organization holds large actions on the site and around 2,000 people are usually arrested there each year in protest. Of course you don’t hear about things on the evening news. Currently in the United Nations countries all over the world are calling for a Partial Test Ban Treaty Conference to be held in 1990 or 1991. This treaty would stop all nuclear tests and put a major halt in the proliferation of the arms race. There are three countries that have veto power. The Soviet Union, who very much wants to quit testing; the United States; and Britain, who will go along with the U.S. as long as Thatcher is around. As you may have guessed, Bush has already said he would veto the treaty. Why? Because too many of his friends in the contracting business are getting richer everyday from testing and building new weapons systems.

Now, you may ask: what can we do to stop all of this destruction to the Earth? Educate your friends and relatives, and educate your congress people! We must let our legislators know that we won’t stand for this anymore. Keep up with what legislation is in Congress and help get it passed or get new bills introduced. SANE/FREEZE has local chapters around the state with phone trees to let people know of upcoming legislation. We also send out Local Activist Mailings to members who are not connected locally. Get involved and save the Earth!

Give us a call for more information

Canvass Office: 312-527-0110
State Office: 312-372-7867

Mary Helen Lee
Chicago Canvass Director

If you would like to join SANE/Freeze or help out in any way, please give us a call. We can always use volunteers. Currently, we have positions open for canvassers to get out and spread the word. Full time and part time work is available.

April 7, Illinois SANE/Freeze state conference. Atlas Millar Chapel at Northwestern University
April 22, Earth Day 1990 Lincoln Park
May 20, Illinois SANE/Freeze Performance for Peace Concert by members of the Chicago Symphony. St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Hyde Park
June 22 – 24, Chicago Peace and Music Festival. Cricket Hill at Montrose Harbor

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