A protest, a picket, a pocket full of posies
Written by Bwog Staff
So the Columbia Coalition Against the War (the War defined broadly at this point) is planning a picket of the main forum/speakout/thingy tomorrow. CCAW released another statement last night, reprinted after the jump, and is waiting on approval from the Dems for another consensus statement that’s expected to announce they’re all getting along again.
Also, it seems that the Republicans would have liked to stage a protest of their own on Furnald lawn, but couldn’t get cleared by security–meaning they had to submit to a 15 minute slot with the Columbia Coalition, just like everyone else. Chris Kulawik was spotted this morning on the Today Show as well, agreeing with SIPA Dean John Coatsworth, whom Fox, Youtube, and Drudge have made more famous than he’s ever imagined. Low Library, which typically doesn’t give Fox the time of day, must not be pleased.
Meanwhile, these guys are bringing at least 434 students–out of at least 8,000 invited–and estimates range as high as 10,000 people flooding the streets. The facebook groups and events are multiplying rapidly.
UPDATE: CCAW and the Dems have released their statement (added below) and all is right with the activisty world.
Why You Should Oppose a U.S. Attack on Iran on Monday
The Columbia Coalition Against the War issued Friday an “Open Letter to Progressive Opponents of Ahmadinejad” calling for groups and people opposed to war with Iran to avoid endorsing Monday’s “Columbia Coalition”-sponsored rally. We hold to the belief that opponents of war who participate in Monday’s rally will, despite their intentions, have their message co-opted by right-wing forces favoring an attack on Iran. However, we understand that many will disagree with our strategic position and will choose to speak. If they do, the circumstances demand that they be explicitly antiwar in their statements.
There are many good reasons to denounce Ahmadinejad and his oppressive policies and intolerant views. However, in the current political climate, a rally expressing this position which is not explicitly antiwar risks lending weight to the drive to war, whatever the declared intent or format. We are in the midst of an Islamophobic campaign by everyone from the New York Post to John McCain to demonize Ahmadinejad, occurring in a broader context where the next target for the Bush administration is Iran. A rally with a clear message of hostility to Ahmadinejad but only a muddied message on the means by which we must oppose his reactionary policies will play into this campaign.
The central duty for progressives in this country in the lead up to the Iraq War was to oppose further US intervention, the sum total of which has turned Iraq from a country with among the highest standards of living in the Middle East, to a country that, after years of US war and sanctions, is now amongst the most decimated and impoverished in the world. The campaign to demonize Saddam Hussein was never about any concern for the Iraqi people; after all, it was when he enjoyed US support that he carried out his most heinous crimes. Rather, the campaign against Hussein was used to justify the US invasion. It would have been a mistake for progressives to support an anti-Saddam Hussein rally in late 2002 which did not have a clear antiwar message, and it would be a mistake for progressives to support a similar rally regarding Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday.
In these circumstances, we think it is imperative that, on Monday, there be a clear antiwar voice. We are calling for a contingent of students and others who oppose aggression against Iran to form a picket by the side of the Low Plaza rally, whether or not they choose to also participate in the main rally. A strong and visible picket will send an antiwar message that has the potential to resonate on a national scale.
The College Democrats have retracted their statements that the Columbia Coalition Against the War is engaged in a “campaign of misinformation” and a “ploy for attention”, and have apologized to CCAW for misreading its letter. The College Democrats continue to believe that the rally will provide the best opportunity for the campus to actively engage in the speech as well as provide a much needed forum for open discussion on Iran with representatives from all sides of the debate.
CCAW acknowledges that it was not informed of all event particulars. CCAW continues to believe that, in the current U.S. political climate, opponents of war who participate in Monday’s rally will, despite their intentions, have their message coopted by those favoring a military attack on Iran. CCAW believes that progressives should not allow this to happen.
Both groups applaud efforts to simulcast the event with Ahmadinejad and increase participation and free speech and look forward to the open, academic discourse that the event should, in the best case, provide.