---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 10:39:27 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sen. Joseph Lieberman on the Jewish Sabbath. He choose the Sabbath to pitch
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
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
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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