[sixties-l] Protesters Dislike Anti-U.S. Rhetoric (fwd)

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Date: Mon Oct 28 2002 - 13:59:52 EST

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    Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 10:39:27 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Protesters Dislike Anti-U.S. Rhetoric

    Protesters Dislike Anti-U.S. Rhetoric


    Some Of Those Traveling To Washington Today Are Uncomfortable With
    Rhetoric That Has Dominated Past Demonstrations

    October 26, 2002
    By CAROLYN MOREAU, Courant Staff Writer

    John Black, a 78-year-old Quaker from New Canaan, is going to Washington
    today to join
    what could be hundreds of thousands of people protesting the notion of a
    war in Iraq.
    He is going despite a foreboding that no one in his group of 47 members of
    the Society of
    Friends is going to like what they hear from other protesters. Two weeks
    ago, Black left a
    peace rally of 10,000 in New York City - where anarchists called for a
    general strike and
    social justice activists led obscene anti-police chants - and quietly shook
    his head. Black
    expects he will hear more of the same at this weekend's march from shrill
    angry voices,
    whose discontent extends well beyond opposition to the Bush
    administrations' policies in the
    war against terror.
    "We anticipate we may hear and be considered in the same boat as some whose
    rhetoric is really hostile and anti-American," said Black, a retired
    architect. "We are not anti-American. We are anti-war."
    Therein lies the dilemma of the American peace movement as it tries to
    mobilize opposition to the
    showdown with Iraq. The most visible face of the anti-war movement are the
    demonstrations organized by coalition groups like Not In Our Name and
    International Answer.
    These coalitions came together after spending the past decade fighting
    largely separate battles against globalization, corporate fraud, human
    rights abuses and poverty.
    Although their combined voices can produce a roar, some, like Black, fear
    their message is
    too radical and diverse for many Americans. Instead of uniting a broad
    group of protesters
    against a war, Black and others fear, such virulent sentiments will scare
    away middle
    America - a block of voters whose opinions mean the most to politicians.
    "I do not like being associated with these people," said Black, a World War
    II veteran who
    became a Quaker 10 years ago. "Some of them are more anti-American than
    Black is going to D.C. anyway, to march in what members of International
    Answer say will
    be the biggest anti-war rally since Vietnam. He hopes that his quiet
    presence and his sign
    "God's Way is Love Not War" will somehow temper any angry speech.
    International Answer is billing this nonviolent march to the White House as
    a day of protest
    around the world against the policies of the Bush administration, which
    they say is seeking a
    war with Iraq to gain control of that country's oil reserves. If its
    message appears to be
    anti-American, it's because International Answer views the Sept. 11 attacks
    as the angry
    backlash of people who have long been repressed by American foreign policies.
    "The only way to stop terrorism is to stop the oppression that the U.S. has
    been largely
    responsible for in the region," the group's website states.
    Some companion demonstrations today - in Mexico, Belgium, Italy, Spain and
    Denmark - have
    stated missions that go beyond opposing U.S. unilateral action in Iraq.
    In Rome, the call will be for no war in Iraq and solidarity with Palestine.
    In Copenhagen, the
    march is "to stop the war on terror," according to the website.
    "Using the brush of ^A'fighting terrorism,' the U.S. government wants to
    brand all causes for
    justice as terrorist, and crush resistance to corporate and military
    globalization," the website
    states. "The U.S. wants sweeping powers and rationalization to go after all
    the peoples of
    the world who have waged determined struggles against U.S., British and
    Israeli occupation
    of the Middle East and elsewhere."
    For Warren Goldstein, head of the University of Hartford's history
    department, linking the
    opposition to a war in Iraq with the Palestinian cause is problematic
    because it dilutes the
    focus. He organized a teach-in at the university this week - a form of
    protest that arose on
    campuses during the early years of the Vietnam War - in which various
    speakers offered
    reasoned arguments against a war in Iraq.
    It would be difficult to organize a teach-in if the participants, who all
    opposed U.S. unilateral
    action in Iraq, also had to reach an agreement on Palestine, Goldstein said.
    Groups taking more extreme positions are always in the vanguard of protest
    because they can organize quickly and they know how to get attention, said
    Todd Gitlin, a
    professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
    "The groups who are mainstream, who are inviting people to oppose
    unilateral action in Iraq,
    but not inviting them to participate in anarchy or communism, I think they
    are largely religious
    groups," said Gitlin, author of "The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage."
    "They are trying
    to figure out how to be more visible, but they are not very well organized."
    But these groups will need to get organized if the peace movement stands
    any chance of
    forcing the government to rethink its policies, said Peter Wirth, a media
    consultant in
    Syracuse, N.Y., who works with social justice groups. Peace groups need to
    send a simple,
    focused message to rally the public's support and not let the issue get
    linked to other
    causes, he said.
    "The White House is carefully choosing its message, symbols and
    spokespeople to make
    sure they reach middle America," Wirth said. "A handful of people in the
    streets - and even if
    100,000 show up in D.C. - that is still a handful, will not stop the war.
    Unless we reach out
    to veterans, Democrats, Republicans, Rotary members, waitresses, the folks
    who bowl on
    Saturday night, the 99 percent of people in our community who will not show
    up at any of
    our events, in addition to us peace activists, we will fail."
    Jake Weinstein, a circus performer and peace activist from New Haven,
    struggled with the
    same issues two weeks ago when he staged a 24-hour picket outside the home
    of U.S.
    Sen. Joseph Lieberman on the Jewish Sabbath. He choose the Sabbath to pitch
    a tent
    alongside Lieberman's front lawn, he said, to make the point that the
    senator is a hypocrite to
    call himself a religious man and then support a war against Iraq. The
    protest was not a slap
    at Lieberman for being Jewish, Weinstein said.
    "I am Jewish," Weinstein said. "This is one of the most meaningful Sabbaths
    I can
     From the number of cars that honked support as they passed his makeshift
    camp, it was
    obvious that his message of opposing military action in Iraq was striking a
    Yet Weinstein is unsure where the peace movement should draw the line in
    making its case.
    The Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is unjust, Weinstein said, and
    social change in
    America must happen sometime. But most people are not ready to consider it
    and will be
    turned off by that message, he said.
    The street protests are but one face of the anti-war movement, however, and
    for Vijay
    Prashadassociate professor and director of the International Studies
    Program at Trinity
    College, they should not be taken as a representation of opposition to the war.
    "Demonstrations are always organized and attended by a very small
    minority," said Prashad,
    who organized Trinity faculty to sign a petition against the war.
    But it is important to let the peace movement include as many people as
    possible, so it can
    have the greatest impact, he said.
    "The views we hear from the left are not completely outside the mainstream.
    Bits and pieces
    of all ideology makes sense," Prashad said. "In moments like this, the
    broadest position is
    better than the narrowest against the war."

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