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Making love, not war


Make love, not war“ is an anti-war slogan commonly associated with the American counterculture of the 1960s. It was used primarily by those who were opposed to the Vietnam War, but has been invoked in other anti-war contexts since, around the world.[1][2] The „Make love“ part of the slogan often referred to the practice of free love that was growing among the American youth who denounced marriage as a tool for those who supported war and favored the traditional capitalist culture.[3]

The phrase’s origins are unknown. Several people claimed to be the inventor of the phrase, including Gershon Legman[4][5] and Rod McKuen.[6] Radical activists Penelope and Franklin Rosemont and Tor Faegre assisted in popularizing the phrase by printing thousands of „Make Love, Not War“ buttons at the Solidarity Bookshop in Chicago, Illinois and distributing them at the Mother’s Day Peace March in 1965. They were reportedly the first to print the slogan.[7] However, historian Ben Truwe, who studied the matter, has claimed that the phrase actually first published in an article written by New York Times Magazine journalist Mitchel Levitas.[8] It has also been acknowledged that the Chicago Mother’s Day peace march where Penelope and Franklin Rosemont distributed „Make Love, Not War“ buttons occurred in May 1965, the month after a person discussed in the New York Times article had written the slogan for an anti-war rally.[8]

In April 1965, at a Vietnam demonstration in Eugene, Oregon, Diane Newell Meyer, then a senior at the University of Oregon, pinned a handwritten note on her sweater reading „Let’s make love, not war“, thus marking the beginning of the popularity of this phrase. A picture of Meyer wearing the slogan was printed in the Eugene Register-Guard, after which a related article turned up in The New York Times on May 9, 1965. This date was also acknowledged to be Mother’s Day 1965.[9] In an interview with the Mail Tribune in 2010, Meyer denied that she had ever read the slogan before she wrote it and attached it to her sweater, stating „It just popped into my head — I remember I started giggling when I wrote it,“ and that „“I know I hadn’t read it anywhere before.“[8] Truwe also backed Meyer’s allegations, stating „She is absolutely the first one — I’ve checked everywhere.“[8] Levitas, who was also present at the University of Oregon rally, did not identify Meyer by name in his article, but wrote that „A pert coed decorated her sweater with a card that carried the sensible entreaty: ‘Let’s make love, not war.'“[8] Truwe stated that the slogan „does not appear anywhere before the New York Times article.“[8]

When the slogan was used during a protest in California in 1967, then Governor Ronald Reagan joked: „Those guys [the protesters] look like they can’t make either of both“.[10]