sun shines on a day of anti-war protest
Aaron Stuttman, one of the 600 protesters gathered at the rally against
the war in Iraq at the State Capitol Saturday, did not seem the least
bit bothered by the rain. Stuttman said he hoped the demonstration would
send a message that public opposition to the war remains strong.
Daniel Sturm/City Pulse
Aaron Stuttman’s sign sums up many of the views expressed
by demonstrators who marched to the Capitol Saturday for a peace
sun came out – a change in the weather that fit the energizing
message Stuttman thought the rally should send: “There are two
types of energy. Some comes low and slow, and some comes fast and high.
We are going to send out high-frequency energy today.”
a banner with “Bush Lied, Thousands Died,” and “Save
the Bill of Rights” printed on it, the Capitol Area Green Party
member said he believed Bush should be impeached for dragging Americans
into an unwanted war with the world. “Bush deserves impeachment
much more than a president who had a promiscuous affair while in the
The research group, Iraq Body Count, reports that as many as 10,000
non-combatant civilian deaths have been the direct result of military
actions since the invasion last year. 582 U.S. soldiers have also died,
and more than 3,300 have been wounded.
Sponsored by the Greater Lansing Network Against War and Injustice,
the Lansing march, rally and teach-in was one of 11 such events Michigan-wide,
and one of thousands worldwide, marking the one-year anniversary of
the U.S. and Great Britain’s invasion of Iraq.
The demonstrators came from around Michigan, including 200 from Detroit.
Standing in front of the Capitol, they shouted slogans like “peace
now, peace now,” and listened to the music performance of Pat
Madden-Roth, and to speakers, among them State Rep. Rev. Michael Murphy
(D-Lansing) and Abayomi Azikiwe of the Detroit Michigan Emergency Committee
Against War and Injustice.
EVENTS AND RESOURCES
Corporate Nightmare or Nonviolent Dream.” Professor Michael
Nagler, Founder of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University
of California-Berkeley. 7:30 p.m. March 25 at MSU’s Wells
“National Call-In Day to Congress,” United For Peace
and Justice. March 24. Call Sens. Debbie Stabenow at (517) 203-1760
and Carl Levin (517) 377-1508, to voice opposition against the
war in Iraq.
“Keep Making Peace,” Workshops, Bible Studies and
Music. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 27 at Central United Methodist Church,
215 N. Capitol Ave. Lansing. Includes comments by Gov. Jennifer
Granholm and a lecture by Peter Storey, a national leader of the
Methodist Church of Southern Africa, appointed by former President
Nelson Mandela to select South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation
Commission. Call (517) 485-9477.
“Rape Trail,” Stop Violence Against Women. 8 p.m.
March 31 at MSU’s Spartan Statue. See further information,
“Peace Vigil,” Greater Lansing Network against War
and Injustice. Every Friday noon to 1 p.m.. at the State Capitol.
Further info, at www.peaceforiraq.org
For a running tally on the expenditure of the U.S. wars, see www.costofwar.com
end of the rally, participants moved to Lansing Community College’s
Old Central Building, where workshops were held on topics like the USA
Patriot Act, the domestic costs of war, global trade agreements, U.S.
world domination and U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, Palestine
At one workshop, titled “Are you a terrorist?” participants
analyzed the many uses of the concept of “terrorism,” internationally
and within the legal framework of the USA Patriot Act.
Anabel Dwyer, a professor of international law at Cooley Law School,
pointed out that the legal meaning of terrorism had changed as a result
of the USA Patriot Act. This act added for the first time the notion
of “domestic terrorism,” in the United States Code, Section
3077(1), Title 18. In its new legal definition, domestic terrorism includes
activities that “appear to be” influencing “the policy
of a government by intimidation or coercion,” or “to intimidate
or coerce a civilian population.”
Dwyer said that Americans experienced this redefinition for the first
time in November 2003, when police forces cracked down on the protest
against the Free Trade Area of the Americas Ministerial Meeting in Miami.
“What they’re assuming now is that anyone who gets together
in opposition could already be considered a terrorist under the new
The law professor said it was shocking to observe the congressional
appropriation of public and private funds for the sole purpose of deterring
political dissent. Congress authorized $8 million for the police actions
in Miami and raised an additional $3 million in private donations.
James Ridolfo, one of 30 Lansing-area activists who went to Miami, said
it was frightening to witness the level of violence exercised by the
police. “We were not a revolutionary threat,” recalled Ridolfo,
a member of MSU Students for Peace and Justice. “But the state
saw us as terrorists. They outnumbered us, and they attacked us for
Ridolfo, a graduate student studying rhetoric at MSU, said it was frightening
to see how this concept of “squashing” non-violent oppositional
voices and independent media (journalists refused to be escorted by
the police as “embedded reporters”) through force and rubber
bullets, was being seen as a model for dispelling dissent at future
Hassoun, an adjunct professor of anthropology at Michigan State University,
said she thought President Bush acted more like “a chicken with
his head cut off” when he ordered the carpet-bombing of Afghanistan
to hunt down Al Qaeda terrorists.
Hassoun, who has conducted interviews with more than 600 Arabs living
in America, believed the redefinition of terrorism began in the 1980s.
“All it takes is one person that’s been proven to be involved
with a terrorist organization, and they shut down the entire organization.
That’s already happened in the past.”
Daniel Sturm/City Pulse
of Detroiters joined Lansing residents for a peace march, rally
and series of workshops examining U.S. policy toward Iraq and terrorism.
agreed that terrorism was a vague concept, and argued that while U.S.
officials referred to all insurgency in Iraq as “terrorism,”
in Arab countries there is a counter-discourse that distinguishes Iraqi
“freedom fighters,” or those who are simply resisting foreign
Hassoun pointed out that military intervention in Iraq was never approved
by the United Nations, and also emphasized that it would be a mistake
to equate Al Qaeda military attacks, like the train bomb in Madrid,
with the self-defense actions of freedom fighters. The anthropologist
said that the image of the Taliban/Al Qaeda as “freedom fighters”
was actually created by the U.S. government when they were recruiting
Taliban soldiers to help defeat Soviet troops in the Afghanistan war.
This image was turned around after 9/11, when every Taliban member was
then suddenly a “terrorist.”
Hassoun warned against forcing the Arab world to define terrorism so
broadly. “This ethnocentric perspective could cause a huge backlash.
So what we’re actually doing is increasing terrorism and radicalism
in the Middle East.”
While exchanging the thoughts and reflections made in the various workshops,
at a final forum the peace rally participants agreed that local and
statewide anti-war actions needed to be intensified before the presidential
election. Doing something about the aggressive military recruiters in
Michigan high schools was emphasized. Others mentioned boycotting corporations
that profiteer from the military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq
and Haiti, and making the Democratic presidential candidates aware that
“beating Bush” is not enough.
The group expressed support for Bob Alexander, a Lansing area peace
activist and state campaign organizer for Democratic presidential candidate
Dennis Kucinich, in his probable campaign for Congress in the 8th District,
which includes Lansing, against pro-war Rep. Mike Rogers (R).
Also enthusiastically supported was the idea of a statewide peace demonstration,
brought to the table by Kenneth Harrow, an MSU English professor. Harrow
proposed co-opting the Mackinac Bridge during Labor Day, the only day
of the year when pedestrians are allowed to walk across the bridge.
“Let’s make Sept. 3 a Peace Day, let’s rename the
bridge the ‘Peace Bridge,’” Harrow said.
to respond? Send letters to email@example.com.
our Letters policy.