Local supporters of military action against Iraq have spoken, and their message is clear – Saddam must go, and it’s America’s job to clear him out.
Young Americans for Freedom rallied under the Diag flagpole yesterday to add their voices to the rising global controversy over war in Iraq. YAF National Director Karl Eggers, the rally organizer, estimated that 40 people, most of them YAF members, attended the “Liberate Iraq” rally to support war against Iraq.
Eggers said the rally showed that young people in America do support the president.
While organizers had originally intended to burn French and U.N. flags to “demonstrate how upset we are with their obstruction to freedom and democracy in the Middle East,” Eggers said friends advised him against burning the flags. “We did walk across them, which is also symbolic,” he said.
The rally drew war supporters from across the state as well as students. Ann Arbor resident John Kinzinger, a veteran of the Vietnam War and member of many Washtenaw County veterans’ organizations, said he came to support students at the rally.
He said he hoped to remind anti-war activists that a war would liberate Iraqi citizens, especially women.
“The dictatorship will rape someone’s wife just to get them to talk,” Kinzinger said. “Protesters in Iraq will be killed. That’s a big difference between Iraq and here.”
“Anyone who says that we’re going to war for oil is crazy,” he said.
Law student David Anziska said the rally showed the strength of support for war against Iraq. “I think we’re a greater part of this student population than we realize,” he said.
Other students objected to the aggressiveness of the rally and the general support for war in Iraq.
LSA sophomore Megan Williamson, an Anti-War Action! protester, objected to walking across the flags. “The demonstration that they had was not very convincing. It was disrespectful and showed a lack of analysis of the current situation to walk over the U.N. flag,” she said.
Despite his support for war in Iraq, LSA junior John Turpening said he found the rally too militant.
“Ideally, you could have a rally where everyone is dialoguing, but the nature of rallies today is the mob effect – you get people fired up and yelling things,” he added.
LSA sophomore Elizabeth Ayer, an organizer of the anti-war protest, said it was necessary to have a presence at events where students show support for war against Iraq.
“Our plan is to have a silent presence with clear messages because we don’t want to prevent YAF from their right to voice their opinion,” Ayer said. “We want to counter YAF’s message that a war is to liberate the Iraqi people and (we want) to show that in fact you can’t liberate dead people and to expose the real reasons and results of a war against Iraq.”
Eggers said in a written statement that the rally was part of a series of national YAF demonstrations, including one in California where protesters dumped more than 60 bottles of French wine into the sewer.
A debate today will continue the war dialogue on campus. Doctoral student Justin Shubow, supporting a war, will debate Residential College Director and economics Prof. Tom Weisskopf, opposed to war, will be in room 1210 of the Chemistry Building at 7:30 p.m.