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Date: Tue, 08 Oct 2002 12:59:28 -0700
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: U.S. Peace Movement Finding Footing
U.S. Peace Movement Finding Footing
Oct 8, 2002
By JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - With Congress on the verge of approving the use of
force against Iraq, anti-war activists around the country are struggling to
generate fervor for peace.
On Sunday, thousands of protesters rallied in a dozen cities, with as many
as 10,000 each in New York's Central Park, in San Francisco's Union Square
and outside a federal building in Los Angeles.
But most demonstrations around the country have been more modest in size,
with turnout of no more than a few hundred people.
"There's an inhibition about opposing American foreign policy, even where
there's a strong conviction that it's badly mistaken," says Todd Gitlin, a
Columbia University professor and author of "The Sixties." "There's the
general sense that we're at war we were attacked."
Others note that it took years before protests against the Vietnam War
gathered the critical mass to make the nation's leadership commit itself to
"An ocean is made up of one drop of water at a time peace movements start
the same," Javed Chaudhri, a professor at Keene State College, told the
crowd at a rally in Brattleboro, Vt.
Still other observers of American protest movements are confident the
anti-war cry is growing louder, even though the movement is scattered.
"I'm more optimistic about my country now than any time in my entire life,
because of the hundreds of thousands of smaller efforts," said folk singer
Pete Seeger, who at 83 has shared the stage with generations of anti-war
activists. "We don't all agree all the time, but we all agree it's better
to talk than shoot."
Recent polls show that a slight majority of Americans supports sending
ground troops into Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein. However, a majority
opposes unilateral U.S. action, without allied help.
Sunday's demonstrations were organized by the Not in Our Name coalition, a
group that includes prominent intellectuals, civil rights activists,
authors, actors and others, among them Noam Chomsky, Gloria Steinem,
Russell Banks, Susan Sarandon and Edward Said.
Another citizen group, Common Cause, challenged Bush administration policy
in a full-page newspaper ad signed by former anchorman Walter Cronkite,
historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and
others. Also, the U.S. Conference of Bishops wrote the president, saying a
pre-emptive strike against Iraq is not justified.
Nearly every major city has seen some protests. Some demonstrators have
occupied federal offices, leading to arrests in Washington and
Minnesota. Weekly vigils and silent protests have also been held, from
Nebraskans for Peace, to Quakers in Baltimore and Albany, N.Y., to
Catholics in St. Louis and Cleveland. Ithaca, N.Y., and Santa Cruz, Calif.,
passed resolutions against attacking Iraq.
Marches scheduled for Oct. 26 in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco could
be the biggest demonstrations yet.
Many of the speakers at rallies around the country have stressed that
al-Qaida, not Iraq, was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, and warned
that targeting Saddam Hussein now could spawn more terror attacks.
"People stop and thank us for being brave, some people actually get out of
their cars and join us," said Gary Gillespie, a spokesman for the Baltimore
office of American Friends Service Committee, an international Quaker human
rights organization. "Occasionally someone yells at us, 'Bomb em!' But
there are far more peace signs these days."
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