We all believe in “peace.” Of course, that means different things to different people. Marxists want peace. So do Islamists. Their idea of peace involves you — as a slave. Various hippies, lefties, and academics think the path to peace is to appease. Calmer heads — Teddy Roosevelt swinging his Big Stick of a Navy; Kipling explaining the philosophy of Dane-Geld; Churchill exploding over Chamberlain’s cave at Munich; Reagan turning back his opponents’ unilateral nuclear disarmament and Nuclear Freeze proposals — know that peace is best gained from a negotiating position that can be respected.
Like at your opponent’s throat. Peace, as we say, through superior firepower.
In the 1960s, the patchouli-and-hemp-scented hippies came out with the peace symbol, which has been the calling card of fuzzy-thinking utopians everywhere. “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” was the glib line of various well-to-do ingrate spratlings. They intended to be the nobodies in question, no matter how many of the less well-off, less self-absorbed, and perhaps more loyal to something greater than self, were going to have to show up in their place. So that was the line of 1968, at least, in those places where the line wasn’t “Gooks in the wire! Ammo up!” It was intoned from behind college lecterns, printed on posters and t-shirts, and, most often, intoned with confused profundity in voices hoarsened by cannabis sativa.
To give you an idea of just how lame that line was, some LA businessman put it in a song and the song was recorded by a bunch of session men for the fake music group, the Monkees, which were, amusingly enough, fake Yout’ Authenticity produced by a bunch of fiftysomething cigar-chomping corporate middlemen and lawyers in Los Angeles, to answer the question: “if we made a completely phony group, but advertised the hell out of it, could it get really big? Are our customers, the baby boomers, that stupid?” The war protest song was not a Number 1, but several other songs, which were written and recorded by a variety of studio pros and mimed-to by the Monkees, did. Question answered.
It didn’t take long for the symbol to be hijacked from its bong-sucking originators and modified with the legend, Peace Through Superior Firepower.
Not long after that there was a variant describing the original Peace Symbol, cruelly but accurately, as The Footprint of the American Chicken. (Accurately? Yes. The principal driver of the Vietnam War protests of 1966-71 was young men who feared being drafted. As soon as Nixon wound down the draft, the protests evaporated, except for a few diehards who would protest Christmas if it wasn’t cold out that time of year. Once liberal white college students didn’t have to risk going in the Army or Marines with poor people, they lost interest in protesting).
In fact, you couldn’t throw a rock at a “peace rally” without hearing that the real issue was the fact that people from Scarsdale and Brentwood were subject to having their kids’ pink bodies in the line of fire, and they were most absolutely not down with that. Military service was (and still is) for the other guy. The peaceniks even then had the media, and the universities, but in the part of the country that was neither radical-chic media land nor pointy-headed Tenurestan, their peace symbols continued to draw a public backlash… a backlash of ridicule. Hit “more” to see some of our favorites.
It didn’t take long for Peace Through Superior Firepower to find expression in a B-52 silhouette. This was particularly amusing, as the B-52 was particularly loathed by the NVA, and therefore by their Soviet sponsors, and therefore by the Soviet-sponsored “peace movement” in the USA.
Meanwhile the peaceniks didn’t give up. Here they are protesting that warmonger of mongers, Jimmy Carter, the only President of the United States to have considered requesting surrender terms from a swimming rabbit (we are not making this up, at least not the swimming rabbit terrorizing Jimmah bit).
The “Nuclear Freeze” movement these aging hippies represent was conceived, organized, funded and coordinated from the Lubyanka. It collapsed when the former USSR cut back on funding dezinformatsiya and agents of influence in the early 90s.
The B-52 style peace sign appeared in many different colors and designs. The one on the right is similar to the first one we ever saw, way back aroun 1970. People were already pretty sick of hippies and protesters then.
This two-color bumper sticker expresses the same sentiment. The hippies are all now 70 and glad Medicare is picking up their prescription costs. But the B-52 soldiers on! Nuclear bombers 1, hippies 0.
There are a lot of B-52 peace signs out there, but we’ve also seen them substitute in other planes, like a B-2 Spirit.
But our favorite version of the B-52 peace symbol is a more recent one, noting that the Stratofortress is still rocking at 50:
It’s not just planes, either. We’ve seen peace symbols made from guns, too, like these:
We’ve seen that with a bunch of different gun silhouettes, but these Desert Eagles are one definition of superior firepower.
Now, making the peace sign from bullets is an enigmatic approach. Are you saying “Peace through superior firepower,” or “We have beaten our swords into plowshares?” It’s kind of meta.
There are almost as many versions of the martial peace symbol as can be imagined. This one here steps away from the classic hippie-peace-symbol design, and speaks to us as fans of the early M16 series rifles:
(We had to say that).