Monday, January 25, 2021

Mother's Day at the War Show

 It was the "Mother of All Air Shows!" The highly-militarized National Capital Air Show in Ottawa, Canada, was held on Mothers' Day, May 11, 1997. (Ironically Mothers' Day was conceived by Julia Ward Howe an American abolitionist and suffragette who wanted to inspire women to rise up against men's wars...)

The vast majority of the aircraft performing stunts at Canadian air shows are war planes, and most are America. In 1997, COAT received permission to have a booth inside Ottawa's air show. Once there we displayed original paintings by Iraqi children. Their artwork, collected by Canadian peace activists in Iraq, graphically showed US and allied warplanes bombing that country during the 1991 war.

The film juxtaposes jarring images and interviews from inside the war show with footage from Iraq. For example, we see:

* War planes zooming overhead to entertain families with young children

* Pentagon footage of these same varieties of war planes that bombed Iraq

* Iraqi children’s art depicting war planes dropping bombs

* Degrading paintings of women on the fuselages of warplanes that bombed Iraq

* Thrilled kids and youth describing their favourite war planes 

* Interviews with Iraqi victims of war

* Children enjoying fair-ground rides at the war show in mini-bombers with toy machine guns

* Peace activists inside the war show, including the documentary-maker interviewing his mother

* Images of devastation and suffering caused by war planes in Iraq

* Smiling spectators touching war planes and their missiles; and children in cockpits

* Statements by former US Att. Gen. Ramsey Clark in Iraq in 1991 describing the sanctions program which the UN said caused the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five

* Proud pilots on the runway posing with their war planes for photos by adoring fans

For years after 1997, until the show was cancelled, COAT held events outside its gates, including a Festival of Peace. COAT also produced materials about war shows and urged activists across Canada to draw attention to these events locally. Many did.

This 30-minute documentary was narrated by Marion Dewar, the former Mayor of Ottawa (1978-1985), an NDP Member of Parliament (1986-1988), and a mentor of COAT.  The film was written and produced for COAT by Richard Sanders.

war Iraq military technology aircraft Ottawa airshow propaganda

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