Ronald Takaki said his “dream for peace involves transforming the anti-war movement into a peace movement.” The University of California at Berkeley professor said the anti-war movement has to be not just what we’re against, but what we are for.
Emphasizing the theme of this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world,” Takaki spoke about America’s war against terrorism and the importance of individual commitment to action in “A ‘Dream’ for Peace” speech at the Michigan Union Ballroom last night.
With increased focus on terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks, Takaki examined three reasons for President Bush’s war against terrorism – partisan politics, oil and Bush’s frontier mentality.
“Partisan politics help win elections and they are planned to help in 2004,” Takaki said. “Bush has not mentioned oil a single time, yet we know our economy is dependent on oil imports from the Muslim countries.”
Takaki went on to ask “why has Bush made this war against terrorism an endless war?”
Drawing influences from historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s “The Significance of Frontier in American History,” Takaki said the language Bush has used, like “hunt them down, smoke them out,” is the language of the frontier mentality.
“This frontier mentality is dangerous to the U.S.,” Takaki said. “It could lead us to mistakes we would regret later.”
Instead of waging a war against terrorism, Takaki proposed nonviolent solutions. He said America must acknowledge that it is a diverse nation, racially and religiously by emphasizing multiculturalism at every stage of a person’s education. “Diversity has been and will be our manifest destiny,” he said.
If the war is about oil, Takaki said he believes the President should urge Congress to pass a law requiring 40 miles per gallon for all automobiles. “We would not have to import a single drop of oil from the Middle East,” he added.
An alternative energy plan, like windpower, should be pursued in the U.S., Takaki added. “We need to see the future, not just the war,” he said. “We expect to exhaust energy by 2060.”
Takaki said in order to change the world, one must make an individual commitment to taking action.
University President Mary Sue Coleman said in a written statement that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sacrificed his life in grassroots struggles to make the world a better place.
“If Dr. King were here, he would urge us to expanisvely connect the dots of the civil rights movement and the movement of conservation with the movement of peace,” Takaki said.