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COLUMN SIXTY-FOUR, OCTOBER 1, 2001
(Copyright 2001 Al Aronowitz)

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PEACE DEMONSTRATIONS

Subject: Against Terrorism & War
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 18:35:42 -0400
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Miami Herald  
September 21, 2001

Voices of peace and restraint begin to emerge on campuses

BY SARA OLKON, BETH REINHARD AND LISA ARTHUR

larthur@herald.com

After a week of absorbing the shock and mourning the dead, those who oppose full-scale military retaliation to the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history have started to stir, straining to be heard over the growing drumbeat for war.

Students at more than 140 universities from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., to the University of California at Berkeley held peace rallies at noon Thursday calling for a diplomatic, peaceful response to terrorism.

Locally, Miami-Dade Community College and Nova Southeastern University staged peace forums that drew more than 4,000.

A diverse nationwide coalition of religious leaders, social activists and business leaders---organized by Rosa Parks, Harry Belafonte and others---have issued a message that echoes what's being said by some on college campuses: Those responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon should be brought to justice, but indiscriminate military retaliation would incite more violence, not end it.

By Thursday, nearly 1,500 religious leaders had endorsed a statement by the National Council of Churches of Christ USA calling for ``sober restraint,'' not military retribution.

Those calling for restraint are decidedly in the minority. A recent Gallup/CNN USA Today poll found that 88 percent of Americans favor military action not only against the guilty parties, but also against countries that harbor them. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Judith Steim, a political scientist at Florida International University, said despite being outnumbered, those disagreeing with war might have an easier time expressing their views than in past military conflicts.

The attacks on Sept. 11 left little room to argue whether the U.S. has a valid reason for being involved in a war, unlike the debate over Vietnam. The disagreements center on how we should respond.

``This isn't a situation like Vietnam where you are going to have sharp divisions, with pro-war and anti-war people lining up on different sides,'' Steim said. ``Everyone I've talked to, especially my students, reacts with anger, grief and disbelief to what happened. . . They are not against all military action, but they are not saying let's go out and bomb a country or the entire region.' ''

Some local students feel they need to keep their views to themselves.

``I believe in nonviolence and peace,'' said Gabriel Hermelin, 35, who is completing a graduate degree in conflict resolution at Nova Southeastern and attended Thursday's peace forum.

``You don't have to be pro-war to be a patriot. . . .I find myself in inner conflict because I turn on my radio and hear people getting lambasted for wanting to hold prayer vigils. I feel like I have to keep quiet.''

The discussion about nonviolence was one of four forums on the university's campus in downtown Fort Lauderdale Thursday afternoon. About 60 people attended.

Howard Simon, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, said his organization has received several calls from people feeling intimidated about expressing their beliefs.

``A doctor in mid-state is getting sanctioned for saying `America got what it deserved,' '' Simon said.

Those who believe U.S. foreign policy has caused many to hate America so deeply they are willing to die to hurt its citizens are cautious about voicing that unpopular opinion.

``We don't really seem to care that we got bombed for our politics. It wasn't jealousy over our materialism,'' said Christy K. Sweet, 40, of Key West. ``I have had to be very choosy about where I say these things.''

For others, the reluctance to join the call for war is rooted in concerns for their children.

``I am nervous because I have two teenage boys, 17 and 15, and I feel that it's easy to say `let's go to war' if you are going to send someone else's boys,'' said Robert A. Hittel, 49, who owns Hittel Books in Fort Lauderdale.

Judy Keane, whose husband, Richard, was killed in the World Trade Center attacks, would understand Hittel's reluctance despite having a burning reason for seeking vengeance. She helped organize a prayer vigil near her home in Wethersfield, Conn., Sunday evening. The event drew more than 5,000 people.

``The World Trade Center [attack] was in retaliation for something else, and that was the retaliation for something else,'' Keane said in The Washington Post Wednesday. ``Are we going to continue this in perpetuity? We have to say at some point, OK, let's find another way of doing this.''

Herald staff writers Draeger Martinez and Nicole White, as well as Tony Pugh of the Herald's Washington Bureau contributed to this report, which was supplemented with Herald wire services.

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Nebraskans for Peace holding event on north steps

http://nebraska.statepaper.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2001/09/21/3babc8ad6cb43

Anti-War Rally Set for Monday at Capitol

By Samuel McKewon September 21, 2001

LINCOLN -- No doubt, any rally opposing U.S. military action against the terrorist organizations behind the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington and foreign nations harboring those groups is bound to catch the heat of nationalism in the name of patriotism.

But Nebraskans for Peace will go ahead with its demonstration Monday on the north steps of the State Capitol at 5:30 p.m. The group's president, Carol McShane, said Friday that each anti-war rally captures a certain amount of scrutiny, and Monday's should not be any different.

The group that bills itself Nebraska's oldest organization in defense of justice and peace firmly believes, McShane said, that any military action against terrorist cells or states that support them, such as Afghanistan, will be counter-productive and possible invite more attacks on American soil.

Nebraskans for Peace favors an alternative plan where terrorists responsible, including Osama bin Laden, should be taken to the International Criminal Court to be tried for war crimes, much as the criminal court in Nuremburg, Germany did to Nazis after World War II and the newly convened court has done to Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

McShane said she'd "be smiling" if 50 people showed up for the rally, though she was encouraged by a recent rally at Union College along similar lines, which had success when signs asked cars to honk for peace.

"With each wave of traffic two to ten cars honked," McShane said.

Three other speakers are planned for the rally: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Foundations Professor Paul Olson, of the "Turn Off the Violence" project in Nebraska, UNL Associate Professor Jessica Coope, who specializes in Islamic history, and the Rev. Steve Ratzlaff of First Mennonite Church.

Retzlaff said he was shocked by the attacks, but was against military retaliation.

"I don't think the right thing to do is give the government a blank check to fight terrorism all over the world."

Instead, he said, it might be helpful to "try and figure out why people hate us so much" and attempt to solve those disagreements.

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http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/la-000075791sep21.story

Los Angeles Times

September 21, 2001

On Campus, Rumblings of Peace Reaction: Protests return to colleges, inspired by concerns as varied as the multiethnic student bodies.

By BETTINA BOXALL RICHARD COLVIN and REBECCA TROUNSON TIMES STAFF WRITERS

"My thoughts before last week were: Where am I going to work? Where is my future?" said Nicholas Newell, a 21-year-old senior at USC. "Now I am thinking: Am I going to be in a foreign country dodging bullets?"

The events of Sept. 11 have introduced profound new worries at college campuses across the nation. Fears that the government might reinstate the draft are widespread, despite U.S. assurances that there is no immediate plan to do so.

Many students also voiced generalized fears about terrorism and the prospects of a war like Vietnam--a conflict most know only from their parents or history classes. In a nation gearing up for a war on terrorism, these fears among   students prompted nationwide demonstrations for peace on Thursday. Only days   into the fall semester, students staged a coordinated series of peace rallies, candlelight vigils and petition drives at more than 150 campuses, from Caltech  and UCLA to Harvard University and MIT.

The events, evoking images of 1960s activism, were aimed in part at remembering the dead and perhaps in larger part at encouraging a restrained response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"For this to turn into an excuse to have a war and kill more people, it seemed like it would just be too horrible," said Sarah Norr, a junior at Wesleyan   University and one of the demonstration organizers.

Whether or not they demonstrated, many students were worried.

One expressed uncertainty about attending a football game at the Rose Bowl---a   place, when filled with 70,000 fans, that could be a tempting target for terrorists. Worries were even greater among students here on visas from the   Middle East; some were preparing to return home rather than risk being stranded in the United States if war breaks out. As many as 30 dropped out of Cal State Long Beach.

"Personally, this is the biggest tragedy I've seen in my lifetime---[and that]   anyone my age has seen in their lifetime," said Michael Duignan, a film major at UC Berkeley, where 12,000 students attended a memorial service on Monday. "Everything will be different forever."

Berkeley, a focal point of antiwar radicalism in the 1960s, was again the center of a storm this week when 100 protesters jammed the offices of the student-run newspaper to demand an apology for a cartoon perceived as belligerent toward Arab Americans.

The mood on Thursday, as nearly 2,000 students rallied in Sproul Plaza, had calmed, and clearly opinions were mixed. Antiwar signs---"An eye for an eye makes the world go blind"---competed for attention with American flags.

Biology student Renee Floyd, distracted from her studies, said she'd been involved in vigorous discussions with her antiwar friends.

"I think war is kind of inevitable," she said. "If you don't take action, events like this can occur again."

Floyd conceded she has never experienced the hardships of war. "Everything has been so secure. Now I know America isn't completely impenetrable. We actually   are vulnerable. I don't know what I should feel or what I should do. . . . I've been thinking about this nonstop. It's pretty hard to concentrate."

Antiwar sentiment was a pervasive theme in rallies that were sparsely attended at some campuses. "Nerds Against War," declared one of the student-made signs at MIT. "War Is Also Terrorism," proclaimed another sign at Harvard. About 350 students in Boston disrupted rush-hour traffic with a march from Copley Plaza to Harvard Square.

Some demonstrators acknowledged uncertainty about their antiwar message coming  so soon after the attacks, and some restaurant diners observed with disapproval. "I think they're sick," said a man named Bud, a 66-year-old MIT graduate who declined to give his last name.

Yet the marchers kept up a chant: "One, two, three, four---we don't want another war! Five, six, seven, eight---stop the violence, stop the hate!"

At Occidental College in Eagle Rock, 94 people signed up for membership in Students United for Peace, a new campus club. It was sign-up day for all clubs, but organizer Robert Wallace was nonetheless pleased with the response.

"There's people out there who are working for war 24-7," the freshman said, "and we felt it was foolish for us not to put in the same effort."

At Cal State Northridge, students expressed conflicting feelings of fear, anger, confusion, patriotism and anti-patriotism. The day after the hijackings, military recruiters set up tables on campus, and they have been there ever   since, students said.

"I get students who come in and say: 'I'm ready, dude. I'm ready for war,'" said professor Roberto Lovato, head of the Central American studies program. "I ask them: 'Can you find Pakistan on a map? Do you know the history of U.S. foreign policy? Have you been in a war?'"

Lovato, along with several other professors, organized a discussion Thursday about the tragedy and its effect on everyday life. Speakers focused on Afghanistan, Middle Eastern politics, civil liberties and the emotional fallout of the crisis.

"CNN is like a 24-hour Bruce Willis movie," he said. "In the media, in pulpits, on the streets, on this campus, I have never seen such a blatant disrespect for objectivity."

A similar discussion at USC on Wednesday drew some 300 students to a lecture hall, while Muslims took to the quad to distribute literature about Islam. Not  far away stood a memorial for attack victims decorated with candles, stones and peace signs.

Although experts have said a war against Afghanistan would probably involve a   relatively small number of special forces units, rendering a draft unnecessary, the subject dominated the conversations of many young men.

Art studies major Rafael Matos, 23, said his stepfather was on the ground floor of the World Trade Center's north tower when the first hijacked plane struck; he survived. Matos, though, was in no hurry to avenge the attack by joining the armed services, and he did not want to be drafted. He would rather go to jail, he said.

"As a man of color in this society, I get treated as a second-class citizen no matter what," Matos said, while helping fraternity members collect donations for a New York City relief fund. "If I go fight in a war and come back, I'm still going to be treated like a second-class citizen."

USC's Dante Manalo, 21, the American-born son of immigrants, indicated he would serve, but with reluctance.

"My parents came to America for a better life," he said. "For me to die in a war would defeat the whole purpose."

Josh Zimmerle and his friends sat at a lunch table at Oxnard College, imagining the scenarios and scheming to stay out of the Army.

"I'll pretend I'm gay," Zimmerle said. "I'm against war. It's scary."

Gilbert Camarillo spoke up, saying his father returned from Vietnam "all crazied out."

Schisms formed everywhere. At Moorpark College, fitness instructor Bobby Prokenpek, 21, termed himself a "perfect candidate" for the draft and said:

"It would be a big life change. It would scare the hell out of me. I don't know who exactly we're going to war with, but I would risk my life for my country."

Andrew Stevens, at the same school, disagreed: "There's a very good chance you might find me in Canada."

Dozens of students from Arab nations are dropping out of colleges and returning home, though the exact numbers are unknown. As of Thursday, USC reported only   one, a Kuwaiti man, while Cal State Long Beach has lost 30, according to the   director of that school's Center for International Education.

Officials with several Middle East embassies in Washington said they have not---contrary to some reports---ordered students to leave the United States, but   they are offering to help make arrangements for any who want to. Meanwhile, some feared their visas might be revoked, although State Department officials say there are no plans for that.

Many fleeing students were being ordered home by their parents, embassy officials said. Some students feared reprisals for the attacks.

"I understand people are looking for some way to show their anger," said a 24-year-old Muslim student at Santa Monica College who vows to stay. "But I came here to get an education."

But seven other Arab or Middle Eastern students have quit the school, one official said. A dozen more have entered counseling.

So far, there have been no significant reports of anti-Arab incidents on American campuses. However, one group of departing students was detained by FBI and immigration agents Tuesday night at an apartment in Irvine. Mohammed Saheed, 21, was to fly home to Yemen today with his brother, Abdullah, 20, and a cousin, Gassha Saheed, 18.

The three men, enrolled at colleges in Orange County, were seen packing up by a neighbor who imagined they might be terrorists and called police.

Ramzi Mekhail, an 18-year-old math student at UCLA, said he shaved his beard last week to look "less like an Arab." His parents are Jordanian, but Mekhail is an American. Despite the backlash against Arab Americans, he said he would still die for this country.

He was on his way to donate blood.

"I'm not one of them [terrorists]," he said. "I'm not [Osama] bin Laden. I'm not Saddam [Hussein]."

The attacks are already changing the course of studies at many campuses, professors said. Kassem Nabulsi, who teaches history at USC and Pierce College, said his classes usually center on recent historical events, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Now he engages in live analyses of the unfolding   story.

"First of all, this will give students better perspective and incentive to understand the presidency and the larger context in which it exists," Nabulsi   said. "And now the students are much more interested in the Middle East and   Islam."

* Times staff writers David Ferrell, Martha Groves, Erika Hayasaki, Hilary Mac Gregor, Scott Martelle, Zanto Peabody, Eric Slater, Matt Surman, Margaret Talev and Holly J. Wolcott contributed to this report.  ##

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