Chanting “stop the war” and “U-S-A,” anti- and pro- war student groups clashed verbally yesterday on the Diag over the subject of U.S. military actions and policy.
Luke Massie, a member of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and Integration and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, organized the group”s anti-war demonstration. He said it is important to organize against the prospect of a prolonged “real war.”
“We”re linking the fight against racism against a racist war abroad,” he added, commenting on the racist hysteria he said is now taking place against Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs. Massie said that the Coalition to Stop Scapegoating and the War is being formed to respond to and take action with regard to current events.
LSA junior Justin Wilson stood among a crowd holding American flags in the middle of the Diag. Wilson, director of Young Americans for Freedom, said that the goal and focus right now needs to be unifying Americans.
“We”re not caught up in the cause, we”re caught up in being Americans, whatever it takes,” he said.
“This is not a racist war, this is a war against racists,” Wilson added. “These people want to eradicate America and all that it stands for.”
BAMN supporter Jodie Masley said even though she lost an uncle in the World Trade Center attack, she does not support military action.
“It”s appalling to me that people would use the suffering of the people who died to justify an unjust war,” Masley said. “An escalation of the same U.S. foreign policy that led to these attacks will mean a further escalation of reciprocity and an increased of hostility towards our country.”
LSA senior Peter Apel, chairman of Young Americans for Freedom, said he feels that people are more focused on the peripheral issues than the fact that the United States was attacked.
Apel said there is a need for action and a unified community to be behind the U.S., supporting its efforts. He added that he feels patriotism on campus is one of the necessary elements missing right now.
YAF students also took issue with what they called BAMN”s “opportunism.”
“These people are capitalizing on tragedy to garner support that has nothing to do with this,” Apel said.
“On the way here this morning, I heard them on the radio, and they were talking about this event in total disgust. That”s the general sentiment outside of campus. This demonstration brought disgrace on the campus in the eyes of the public,” YAF supporter and LSA sophomore Jon Book said.
Philosophy Prof. Rachana Kauntekar said she attended the rally to protest the idea of war.
“I”m here today because I want the United States to not go to war and not to escalate the attacks on innocent civilians that I”m afraid will continue,” Kauntekar said.
Dawn Wolf, from the Green Party of Michigan, also spoke out against war.
“I”m not proud to be an American, I”m proud to be a human being,” she said, talking about the need for people to learn to live together. “We must answer even their hatred and their fear with our pride and our love.”
Department of Public spokeswoman Diane Brown said DPS estimated about 200 protesters were present on the Diag.
Michiganians who oppose going to war are greatly outnumbered, according to poll numbers. About 92 percent of the state”s voters expressed support for military action against terrorists in a poll released yesterday by Marketing Resource Group Inc.