A circle of peace
Protesters sat in a circle for several hours on the lawn north of Cooper Hall Thursday, playing drums and handing out fliers.The Protesters, members of the Campus Green Party, were demonstrating against the war in Afghanistan.
Green Party member Stacy De-Lin said the protest was aimed at the plight of Afghan civilians who are suffering in the current conflict.
“We’re having a protest to symbolize the upcoming winter in Afghanistan,” De-Lin said. “The bombing efforts have stopped any humanitarian efforts from coming into the country, so there are 7.5 million people at risk for starvation.”
De-Lin said the Green Party wants to provide people with information that is not normally discussed in the current political climate.
“We want to provide an alternative viewpoint,” she said. “There are some things you’re not going to hear on the six o’clock news going on out there.”
De-Lin said it is hard being in a group with an anti-war opinion at this time. She said the group has been notified of threats.
“Sometimes we’ve encountered some hostility,” she said. “We just try to give people an opposite opinion and let them decide on their own. It’s hard to be in the minority, but I feel that what we’re saying is right.”
Some students passing by the protest displayed disapproval. Senior political science major Gino Sierra stood shaking his head while watching the protest. He said he was sickened by the display.
“I think pacifism equals terrorism,” he said. “I don’t see these people in any better light than I do any of the hijackers or any of the Islamic fanatics that are committing atrocities in their own countries.”
During the protest, Green Party members handed out fliers expressing their viewpoints. Among their arguments is the idea that dropping bombs on Afghanistan hurts the Afghan people more than it destroys the Taliban leadership. The party believes the best solution is to indict Osama bin Laden in an international court and support the Afghan people with provisions.
Alumnus Jarret Stone, who handed out fliers during the protest, said he believes military action will only make the hatred of Americans worse.
“(I believe) in more of a legal manner than passion vengeance,” he said. “Pursuing the legal aspect would be using your brain a little more.”
Stone said the bipartisan support from the government for bombings in Afghanistan has been saddening.
“I think a lot of people are still upset by Sept. 11, and that’s understandable,” he said. “I don’t think we should act on that by revenge.”
Sierra said he thinks the government already attempted to avoid war with diplomatic means, but the Taliban did not cooperate.
“We gave them every chance in the world to turn over the terrorist networks,” he said. “They didn’t do it. Now they’re paying the price.”
Sierra said the idea of going through the international court system also would never work.
“The international court of justice is a joke. It’s a kangaroo court, with nothing but highly anti-American sentiment running rampant,” he said.When asked if he agrees with the government, Sierra answered simply,
Stone said it’s disheartening to be in the minority with his views and see much of the country in support of the war effort.
“It’s difficult, but it’s fulfilling to know some other people believe in the same things I do,” he said. “You just can’t ignore your own beliefs just because it’s not popular opinion.”
Freshman Gene Good said while the Protesters have the right to express their opinions, he doesn’t agree with them.
“It really saddens me when you think in the last month and a half 7,000 American citizens have died,” he said. “They’re not waking up tomorrow morning, their families are not going to see them again, and (the protester’s) response to this is ‘Hey, let’s do nothing about it.'”
Good said he doesn’t think diplomacy would be effective in this case.
“Diplomatic means, when they’re taught to hate everything we stand for, will do very little,” he said. “You may say President Bush may not be doing the correct thing, but at least he’s doing something.”
The protest was held during the busiest part of the day on campus. While De-Lin and Stone handed out fliers, a group of about 15 Protesters sat wearing blankets to symbolize the upcoming winter in Afghanistan and the suffering of the Afghan people. Around the Protesters were signs calling for peace.Protester Brian Smith, who is a graduate student studying Spanish, said he is trying to let the public know that not everyone is pro-war.
“I think (that opinion) is a very dangerous statement to make,” Smith said. “But some of the world’s greatest sages and leaders have made dangerous statements. Gandhi was not always popular.”
Smith said he respects the opinion of those in favor of war, but disagrees with their arguments.
“Well, I’m not certain (what to do), and I don’t have all the answers, but I think we could pursue this more as a criminal action,” he said. “(We should) try whoever is responsible as a criminal against humanity and not as a military leader.”
During the protest, a few students stopped and shouted at the Protesters. At one point, a man walked around the circle, giving the Protesters fliers advertising night clubs.
Graduate student Jason Kreitzer stopped to express his opposing views to the Protesters. He said he thinks the Green Party’s argument is not practical.
“I think they’re being unrealistic,” he said. “The idea for a peaceful resolution to what happened on Sept. 11 is out of touch, and they’re seriously not thinking.”
Kreitzer said he doesn’t believe diplomatic measures are the solution.
“The only way to respond is through military force and for absolute destruction of the enemy,” he said.