Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Anti-war rally attracts student support

Hundreds of University of Wisconsin students and Madison citizens gathered on Library Mall Wednesday to voice their opposition to President Bush’s plans for attacking Iraq.

Bearing signs with slogans such as “No blood for oil” and “Drop Bush, not bombs,” protestors united to voice their opposition to Bush’s current attempts to initiate war with Iraq.

Stop the War!, an arm of the Student/Youth Caucus of the Madison Area Peace Coalition, organized the rally to create a strong anti-war movement on campus and in the country.

“We’re here to vocalize our opposition to this war in Iraq and to build the largest possible anti-war movement America’s seen since Vietnam, and maybe even surpass that,” Stop the War! member Neil Loehlein said before the rally began.

The demonstration featured speakers from six university and Madison-area organizations.

“I’m outraged that the reasons Bush is giving us for why we should go to war are nothing but lies and propaganda,” said Student Labor Coalition member Josh Healey. “Attacking Iraq won’t stop terrorism; it would only inspire more anti-American hatred throughout the world.”

Several speakers suggested that in planning to attack Iraq, Bush had reasons other than the United States’ national security.

“The people of the world understand that this war is more about oil than it is about national security,” Healey said. “It’s more about midterm elections than it is about world peace.”

“Bush is trying to duck the economy,” said Madison Area Peace Coalition member Rae Vogler.

Stop the War! member Melea Carvlin argued that weapons of mass destruction are no longer a concern in Iraq. She quoted Scott Ritter, former leader of the US inspection team in Iraq, who has said that “chemical, biological, nuclear and long-range ballistic missile programs” in Iraq “had been rendered harmless.”

Healey proposed several solutions to end the Iraqi conflict.

“We could support more long-term solutions, such as ending the sanctions, actively working to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and working with other countries to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction,” Healey said.

Following the rally, dozens of participants marched up State Street to the Capitol Square where they stood outside the office of U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl as a way to put pressure on him to vote against the war resolution that is currently before congress. Several war protestors have also been engaging in a sit-in at Kohl’s office.

The late-afternoon rally brought out a diverse population of enthusiasts, including students, faculty, staff and Madison-area residents.

“I think it’s good to see a lot of people show up for this,” said Madison resident Sanhita SinhaRoy. “Getting the community here, getting the students here, faculty here; just having a sort of unity shows that there is opposition, no matter how much the Bush administration keeps telling us the people support this war.”

However, not all students are opposed to U.S. military action in Iraq.

“The bottom line is, Saddam hates America; he has for the last 13 years,” said College Republicans president Tim Rash, who supports the war. “Any man or any country that tries to make biological weapons and hates America so much is a threat to this country.”

Several adults at the rally noted that the anti-war movement is much stronger now than it was in the early years of the Vietnam War.

“In the early days of the war protests in the ’60s, people were beaten up for carrying signs; people were ridiculed,” said Madison School Board president Bill Keys, holding his granddaughter on his shoulders as he watched the rally. “People couldn’t even get a room to hold a workshop or a teach-in.”

“Opposition to the war in Vietnam grew over a 10-year period. The fact that this is only an issue of maybe a year and there’s already this proportion of people and students who are opposed to the war means that there’s not going to be a lot of support for this war,” Vietnam veteran Jerry Lemucke said.

Rash, however, didn’t think that the movement against war in Iraq is any stronger than other recent anti-war movements at UW.

“I think there’s always been a certain level of anti-war protesting,” Rash said. “There will be some people who speak out no matter what.”

Stop the War! member Loehlein said he was pleased with the turnout.

“I thought this was a really positive rally; I think we filled it up pretty well,” Loehlein said. “The main priority is making this movement even bigger. We need more people to get involved, and we need more numbers on Library Mall each time.”

To loud cheers, rally speaker Carvlin suggested that if public opposition continues to grow, the tide will turn in the president’s administration.
“Pretty soon it will be Bush who’ll have to go along with what our plans are,” he said.

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