September 11 Digital Archive

[MAPC-discuss] fwd: Campus anti-war movement growing...

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[MAPC-discuss] fwd: Campus anti-war movement growing...

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2001-10-30

September 11 Email: Body



http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-000085915oct28.story

On Campus and Off, Antiwar Movements See New Vigor
Reaction: Opposition to military action builds with a more polite,
thoughtful
approach than in days of Vietnam.

By ELIZABETH MEHREN
TIMES STAFF WRITER

October 28 2001

AMHERST, Mass. -- As never before, their dance cards are full.

Scholars of peace and diplomacy say that with little effort--and no
exaggeration--they could schedule three speaking engagements per night.
Elder
statesmen of this country's antiwar movement report a similar surge in
demand
since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Academics who study terrorism or the
Middle East are taking part in teach-ins that generally are packed.

Off campus, the voices of nonviolence are heard in such places as Worcester,
a
working-class city where a weekly vigil during rush hour draws cheers from
passersby. And in Northampton, where a draft counseling center has
opened--even
though, at the moment, there is no military draft. Any organized campaign to
oppose U.S. military force in Afghanistan "is still in the process of taking
shape," said Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee in
Cambridge. But, he said, momentum is building.

"It's big and it's diverse," Gerson said. "I think it can be described as a
peace movement and an antiwar movement and a justice movement."

The energy is evident in increased traffic on the Internet, where new peace
sites are complementing existing sources of information about the
war. But   along with the vast virtual audience, actual crowds are
growing. In longtime centers of peace activity such as Berkeley and
Madison, Wis., large demonstrations began before the first bombs were
dropped.

But New England, long a focal point for activism, is where much of the
antiwar
action is unfolding.

The new pacifism feels almost polite, lacking the stridence of earlier
generations of American protest. Resistance to the U.S. military involvement
in
Afghanistan is thoughtful, reflective. It is tempered by angst, anguish--and
most of all, a fundamental abhorrence of what happened to this country when
hijackers commandeered four jetliners and killed more than 5,000 people.

The focus still is diffuse; there is no monolithic chorus of dissent. No
charismatic leaders have yet stepped forward. And if there is a single
defining
trait, at present it is a thirst for information.

With foundations in the vast and growing antiglobalization campaign, the
evolving peace movement draws on long-standing, traditional organizations
and
philosophies. Days after Sept. 11, Quaker groups organized the first peace
rallies. The War Resisters League, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and
other
old-time pacifist groups are back on the radarscope. Again and again, a
well-worn chestnut from Mahatma Ghandi--"an eye for an eye leaves the whole
world blind"--shows up on handouts and bulletin boards.

"I'm seeing a lot less of the knee-jerk kind of stuff," said Stephen Zunes,
a
Middle Eastern specialist who directs the peace and justice studies program
at
the University of San Francisco. "People are concerned, and they
oppose the war.

But they realize this is a different kind of situation. They need the facts.
They want more information."

A recent two-day speaking swing took Zunes from the Bay Area to Los Angeles
to
Eugene, Ore. His audiences were "big and enthused and agitated, but I
think in  more reflective, responsible way than we have seen
sometimes."

"Certainly there is passion out there, but it is a responsible
passion--one that has been tempered by the fact that we witnessed
this enormous tragedy on Sept. 11."

Boston University history professor Howard Zinn said he has been "besieged"
by
invitations to speak about terrorism and the war in Afghanistan, with "more
requests than I could possibly deal with." At 79, Zinn approaches the
stepped-up demand as an eminence grise of the antiwar movement and as
a bombardier from World War II.

What he sees, Zinn said, is a massive appetite for information and a
resistance
effort that is fast churning into action.

"Things are starting earlier now than they did with the Vietnam War,"
Zinn said.

"In the spring of 1965, we had 100 people on the Boston Common. Just a week
or
so ago, we had 2,000 people at Copley Square. It's starting earlier, and I
believe it will grow. Immediately after Sept. 11, if you talked about
American
foreign policy as having anything to do with the problem, people were
horrified.

It was too close. People thought you were diminishing the tragedy. I think
as
time passes, it will be easier to think in more long-term ways."

From the Fields of Revolutionary Past

Out here in western Massachusetts, fertile territory for alternative
views since the American Revolution, opposition to capitalism and
corporate power was
already fueling many students.

Right away, said professor Michael Klare, head of peace and world security
studies at Hampshire College, "protests were organized by students who were
already geared up for antiglobalization protests." They have a perspective
that
makes them distinct from many other undergraduates Klare has encountered in
his
post-Sept. 11 flurry of speeches and seminars. "Most students don't even
have
that. They're just bewildered," he said.

But some students--and many nonstudents as well--crave involvement as a way
to
stave off feelings of helplessness. Over lunch one recent day, a table full
of
Hampshire College students talked about how and why they have plunged into
action, forming a local branch of a group born at UC Berkeley on Sept. 12:
Students for a Peaceful Response.

Their principles of unity, they explained, begin with a condemnation of the
attacks of Sept. 11.

From there, said 21-year-old Kai Newkirk of Shepardstown, W.Va., "we have
the
priority of stopping the mass murder of millions. We have a window of a few
weeks."

Sydney Hoover, 17, a freshman from Upper Coe, Md., said she already
was involved in an antiglobalization protest aimed at the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. After Sept. 11, that
effort hastily shifted focus to initiate a campus dialogue with a
group called Activating Peace.

The loosely knit group launched nonviolence training seminars and began
preparing speakers, Hoover said. With the goal of creating "some kind
of visible dissenting presence," they reached out to local high
schools and community groups, organized teach-ins and held a daylong
walkout at Hampshire, a private school with 1,200 students.

The process unfolding at Hampshire reflects a powerfully American quality,
said
Dale Bryan of the peace and justice studies program at Tufts University,
near
Boston.

"This voice that for many represents rancorous discourse actually it is bona
fide, genuine American participation," Bryan said. "It is what the country
does
well, to assemble and participate freely, and we always have. And sometimes
it
is directed at the government, and the Constitution says, well, sometimes it
should be."

For those in "the movement"--a timeworn sobriquet that the peace effort has
clung to--"this is how it is being realized: in day-to-day, face-to-face,
ordinary conversations," Bryan said.

Signs of Growing Opposition in Streets

At Lincoln Square in Worcester, an industrial-era city in central
Massachusetts, this theory plays out each Tuesday at a street vigil.
Mothers, lawyers, clergy, students--the number stays constant at
about 50, though the participants change--stand at a busy
intersection. They chant, wave signs, hand out leaflets and often
hold conversations with people who come to a stop in their cars.

Out on the street in his suit and tie, Philip Stone, a 47-year-old attorney,
said: "I think this is a fairly typical example of the kind of
grass-roots peace activity that you will see going on all over the
country. This is a location with high visibility, a place where we
can demonstrate that there is thoughtful opposition to the policies
of the current administration."

Kindergarten teacher Kathleen Connelly Legg, a 45-year-old mother of
three, said she never protested during Vietnam and thought hard
before showing up at Lincoln Square. She was troubled, Legg said,
that "we, as the most powerful nation on Earth, are bombing the most
destitute."

Though small, the weekly demonstration will help the seeds of a new
peace effort to take root, Legg said.

"It spreads and it spreads as information gets out. I am hoping we are
laying
the groundwork for something much larger. I am hoping that we get that kind of time."
--

September 11 Email: Date

Tuesday, October 30, 2001 9:13 PM

September 11 Email: Subject

[MAPC-discuss] fwd: Campus anti-war movement growing...

Citation

“[MAPC-discuss] fwd: Campus anti-war movement growing...,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed February 24, 2020, https://911digitalarchive.org/items/show/1214.