Students Take to Streets to Protest Bush’s War

(U-WIRE) STANFORD, Calif. — In what appears to have been one of the largest protests in recent years on the Stanford University campus, approximately 400 anti-war demonstrators — countered by a small pro-war contingent — gathered in White Plaza at noon Thursday to oppose President Bush’s plans for a war on Iraq. After listening to anti-war speeches from faculty, student and community representatives, the majority of the crowd marched to Hoover Tower to protest the Hoover Institution’s role in the war-making process. “I think the rally was a demonstration of the broad opposition to the current belligerence of the Bush administration,” said senior Calvin Miaw, a member of the Stanford Community for Peace and Justice, which organized the event. “Students from a wide range of campus communities came together to take a political stand on these issues, and they were supported by Stanford faculty and people from around the Bay Area. Our goal as organizers was to bring together diverse critical perspectives on U.S. foreign policy.” Around 30 students and community members took part in a simultaneous pro-war counter-demonstration organized by the Stanford College Republicans. After picketing at the fringes of the main protest in White Plaza, they formed a defensive line on the steps of Hoover Tower in front of the anti-war crowd, waving American flags and chanting pro-Bush slogans. In White Plaza, speakers presented on subjects ranging from U.S. involvement with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s under the Reagan administration to probable economic motivations for war within current the Bush administration to possible environmental-justice repercussions of an invasion. Thursday, among the standard protest fare — banners, flags, posters, chants, bongo drums and the occasional sharp exchange between persons of differing opinions — some participants used unconventional methods to express themselves. During the speeches, senior Wes Hermann, covered in red paint to symbolize “smart bomb juice,” protested a possible invasion by lying on the ground as “a casualty of war” in the middle of the crowd, next to a highway sign that read: “Your tax dollars at work.” “A considerable amount of my tax dollars are being used towards the death of human beings instead of valuable social programs — which is especially ridiculous given that there is no credible threat from Saddam Hussein and that our own CIA says that the risk of terrorist attacks is greater if we invade Iraq,” Hermann said. Along with the Stanford Community for Peace and Justice, representatives from a wide range of groups — including the Asian American Students Association, Students for Environmental Action at Stanford, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztl??n, Resistance Art and Social Protest, the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, Stanford Labor Action Coalition, the Young Communist League and the Pilipino American Students Union — spoke out against a possible war. History Prof. Joel Beinin and Religious Studies Prof. Thomas Sheehan spoke at the protest. “Key policy advisers around Bush — [Dick] Cheney, [Donald] Rumsfeld, [Paul] Wolfowitz . . . and others — have been plotting to remove Saddam Hussein from power since 1996,” Beinin said. “They believed that 9/11 gave them the opportunity to convince the U.S. people that the war was necessary. They have no credible evidence to go to war, and they certainly have no credible evidence that Iraq had played a role in 9/11. But they’re demagogically playing on the fear of the U.S. people to go to war. “Why are they doing this? They’re making a statement [that] we’re the empire, [and] if you don’t go along with us, you’re dead. There is no real military challenge to invading Iraq and occupying the country. “To the best of my knowledge, a large number of the members of the Defense Policy Board — the advisory board to the Defense Department — are members of the Hoover Institute. The Board, after 9/11, met on Sept. 19-20 and decided to make plans for attacking Iraq.” Pro-war demonstrators stressed the moral imperative of the Bush administration’s foreign policies. “The rally was a show of support for America, because we believe that goodness and liberty are greater virtues than peace,” senior Joe Lonsdale said. “The weak will appease evil, and the strong will stand up to evil.” Stanford College Republican Communications Director Bob Sensenbrenner, who helped organize the pro-war rally, agreed. “We support the liberation of Iraq because we want freedom throughout the world,” he said. “Unlike many un-democratic states, Israel is a free nation. Furthermore, Prof. Beinin has been known to say many anti-Israeli . . . remarks. And we don’t want this forum to turn into an anti-Israeli rally.” While holding an Israeli flag, Sensenbrenner concluded, “I support freedom throughout the world.” Although these students support Bush’s policies, others are continuing to speak out against them. “Hopefully, more people in the community will realize how important it is to show their discontent with some of this country’s policies,” junior Leigh Torrence said. “There is going to be a pro-affirmative action rally next Wednesday, at the same time and place as today’s protest, because there has also been a backlash against minorities [from the Bush administration].”