In conjunction with over 100 campuses across the nation, a group of UW-Madison students and professors gathered on Library Mall Thursday afternoon to protest military intervention in Afghanistan
Led by the new “Stop the War” coalition at the University of California-Berkeley, the nation’s campuses rallied at noon for three principles: to stop the war, to end scapegoating and harassment of Muslims, and to protect civil liberties.
At UW, various student, faculty and community activists called for peace, tolerance and prudent information-gathering in deciphering the actions of the U.S. government in response to last week’s terrorist attacks.
“We are in a crisis right now because of our ignorance,” said Tshaka Barrows, co-chair of the Multicultural Student Coalition. “We are in a crisis because as a society we don’t know what the hell our country is doing to the rest of the world.”
Barrows called on the hundred or so protesters, carrying signs and banners, to put their arms around each other, put a fist in the air and join him in a moment of silence.
“It’s time for you all to redefine what it means to be an American,” Barrows said. “It’s time that we demand to be seen as a different people — as people who care about other human beings. They say after Tuesday it’s never going to be the same — well, I hope for damn sure it’s not.”
Florencia Mallon, UW professor of Latin American history, said if Americans do not push for peace, the United States could make the same mistakes it has in the past.
“I don’t believe there can be a contained, rational, surgical operation,” Mallon said. “So I’m left with only once concession: If we really want peace, we have to do the hard thing. We have to work for justice.”
Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive Magazine, criticized the U.S. government’s handling of the situation thus far.
“We see [President] George W. Bush talking about a crusade — about a “campaign of infinite justice,” Rothschild said. “We are here to say war is not the answer. It will not make us more secure. It will make us more in peril.”
Many speakers used the platform to inform students about the various anti-war causes around campus, and of upcoming rallies, forums and teach-ins.
“I would urge you all to take a little action,” said Sarah Kaikow, a member of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition.
Kaikow invited the crowd to vigils every Friday in front of Memorial Library at noon and an upcoming teach-in sponsored by the Palestine Right to Return Coalition.
Speakers also emphasized speaking out to elected officials. They passed around a collection of phone numbers of local and national politicians and a petition displaying the groups’ disappointment with U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
“Tammy is a great ally, but we need to let her know we’re very disappointed of what she’s done,” said rally emcee Carl Camacho.
Baldwin supported a congressional move to give President Bush funding to support military movement in response to last week’s attacks.
“[We’re going to] let her know we don’t stand by what she did,” Camacho said.
Baldwin plans to speak with students and other community members on her vote and the crisis in Room 411S of the Capitol building at 10:00 a.m. Saturday.