[sixties-l] A Peace Movement Emerges (fwd)

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Date: Wed Oct 16 2002 - 04:15:08 EDT

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    Date: Tue, 08 Oct 2002 14:39:47 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: A Peace Movement Emerges

    A Peace Movement Emerges


    Tens of Thousands Rally in New York and Other Cities to Say No to War With Iraq

    by Sarah Ferguson
    October 7th, 2002

    In the first major sign of popular opposition to a unilateral war with
    Iraq, an estimated 20,000 people filled the East Meadow of Central Park on
    Sunday to pledge their resistance to President George Bush's military plans.
    The diverse crowd ranged from seasoned activists, many of them veterans of
    Vietnam War protests, to college and high school students, business
    professionals, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and concerned parents, some of
    whom traveled from the Midwest to voice their dissent.
    "I've been waiting for this since 9/12," said Bruce Olin, 52, who flew in
    from Springfield, Illinois. "The reason the terrorists did what they did
    was to provoke the exact response that America has had. They were relying
    on the fact that we have an idiot for a president," said Olin, who owns a
    pharmaceutical testing verification firm.
    Beverly Walker, a 50-year-old customer service rep from Crown Heights, had
    never attended an antiwar rally. But she felt compelled to come out on
    behalf of her sons who are of draft age.
    "I think there should be long and patient negotiations in the U.N. to
    decide how to best deal with Iraq. We need to give peace a chance," said
    Walker, adding, "People are suffering already in Iraq. This is going to
    make it 10 times worse." The rally, which was organized by a diverse
    coalition of
    groups operating as the Not In Our Name project, coincided with smaller
    peace rallies in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and other
    In New York, organizers were joined by Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of
    Georgia and several celebrity activists, including Martin Sheen, who plays
    the U.S. president on NBC's The West Wing.
    Sheen read an excerpt of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech
    and invoked the diplomacy used by President Kennedy to avert war during the
    Cuban missile crisis.
    "This is the first public debate that I've really seen," Sheen commented
    backstage, "so I'm grateful to New Yorkers for being here today. I can't
    remember a time in my country, in my life, when there has been such an
    overall stifling of public debate on such a critical issue."
    Taking on Bush's effort to impose a new U.S. doctrine of preemptive
    strikes, actress Susan Sarandon demanded, "Do we the people really want to
    be a new Rome that imposes its rule by the use of overwhelming force
    whenever its interests are threatened? Even perceived potential threats? We
    do not want endless warfare."
    Calling the proposed military action in Iraq a "war for oil," Sarandon gave
    out the phone numbers for local Congress members and urged people to "make
    But Sarandon's companion, Tim Robbins, also cautioned the antiwar crowd to
    be careful in the way it frames its dissent. "This is not the chickens
    coming home to roost," Robbins said. "Al Qaeda's actions have hurt this
    burgeoning peace movement more than any other.
    "Our resistance to this war should be our resistance to profit at the cost
    of human life," Robbins argued. "Because that is what these drums beating
    over Iraq are all about . . . . In the name of fear and fighting terror, we
    are giving the reins to oil men looking for a distraction from their
    disastrous economic performance."
    There were also heartrending testimonials from relatives of victims of the
    World Trade Center attacks who oppose military action, and Afghan women who
    had lost family members during the bombing campaigns against Al Qeada.
    Shokriea Yaghi, an Afghan immigrant, spoke out on behalf of her Jordanian
    husband, a pizza parlor owner in New York for the last 15 years who was
    deported in July after being detained for nine months without charges.
    "I have not seen my husband for 15 months," said Yaghi, a mother of three.
    "Now we are being told that he cannot return to this country for 10 years.
    I am here to fight for my husband's rights," she cried in tears. "I am here
    to fight for my children's rights. My father and brother died in
    Afghanistan trying to run away from the civil war there. I was orphaned at
    10. I do not want that to happen to my children or to the children in Iraq.
    I want my husband home."
    At a time when polls show the majority of Americans do not support a
    unilateral invasion of Iraq, many in the crowd voiced their frustration
    with Congress for not representing their views.
    "We were promised a real debate and a statement from the president about
    why Iraq is such a threat now, and we're not getting it," said Rick Jones
    of Highlands, New Jersey, who sported a homemade sandwich board that read:
    "Hey Congress! Killing Iraqis for Votes Is Pathetic!"
    Jones said he had been calling his New Jersey representatives every day for
    the last three weeks to ask their position on a war with Iraq, but has so
    far received no responses. "Getting re-elected seems to be their only
    concern. They're all sitting on the fence, hoping to wait it out."
    There was also widespread anger at the mainstream media for failing to
    represent antiwar views. "The establishment, AOL, Disney, GE, Viacom,
    Murdoch media, they're not going to bring us pictures of the Iraqi dead and
    dying any more than they did in 1991 [during the Gulf War]," said Laura
    Flanders of New Yorkers Say No to War.
    "They aren't going to show us Iraq any more than we've seen the bombings of
    Kandahar or Tora Bora or Mazar-e Sharif," she told the cheering crowd. Many
    said they were skeptical about the real motives behind President Bush's
    stepped-up campaign against Saddam Hussein.
    "If he had the proof of all of what he's been saying about Saddam, why
    would the rest of the U.N. be against him? It doesn't make sense," said
    Mark Shafer, an 86-year-old veteran of World War II.
    There were some off-key moments on stage, like the anti-cop rhetoric of
    some Boston rappers, or the throwback stridency of one young woman from the
    Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade.
    Her curse-filled tirade was overshadowed by the simple speech given by a
    nine-year-old girl: "We have more than enough money to buy oil," she told
    the crowd. "So why do we choose to steal it?"

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