UNITED STATES: Opposition to Bush's war drive grows

Issue 

BY NICOLE COLSON & ERIC RUDER

Within a week of the attacks in New York and Washington, every major city in the US and many more towns and college campuses saw events of all kinds to oppose Bush's war drive and the tide of racist attacks on Arab Americans.

In New York City, more than 2000 turned out on September 14 to Union Square, the site of a round-the-clock vigil ever since the attack. "Mourn the victims, Islam is not the enemy, war is not the answer, fight for global peace and justice", was the crowd's message.

A week later, 5000 marched from Union Square to Times Square — the site of a US army recruiting station. The march joined up with a vigil of Muslim and Arab people at Madison Square Park.

Citywide planning meetings for an anti-war coalition have drawn nearly 400 people. Elsewhere in the country, the stories are similar.

At the University of California-San Diego, when campus administrators tried to turn one vigil toward pro-war patriotism, anti-war activists led the crowd in singing, "War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing". A "Protest for Peace" rally later in the week attracted more than 400.

In Boston, nearly 1000 people took part in a silent vigil for peace, and 300 stayed for an organising meeting to plan the launch of a citywide anti-war coalition.

Peace demonstrations in Washington, DC, and Madison, Wisconsin, drew 1500 and 500, respectively. Five hundred came to a panel discussion at the University of Iowa, where Iowans for Peace is planning a rally.

At the University of North Carolina, 800 people attended a teach-in. In Portland, Oregon, two peace marches drew more than 2000 people each. Portland Peaceful Response, which called the demonstrations, said that it was united "to see a peaceful resolution to these events, and to promote and protect the peace of those who may be unduly discriminated against as a result".

College campuses across the US have become centres of anti-war organising. Within days of the attack, students at Wesleyan University in Connecticut formed Peaceful Justice, a nationwide student anti-war network. The network coordinated a National Student Day of Action for Peaceful Justice on September 20. "We started sending out emails Friday morning, and by Sunday, we already had 80 schools", Wesleyan sophomore Mary Thomas told ABC News. In all, some 150 campuses in 36 states participated — although the events were largely ignored by the mainstream press. In Boston, students at eight campuses held anti-war activities, including a 600-person rally at Harvard and a 150-person rally at Boston College. Students from both schools joined together and marched through downtown Boston and Cambridge.

In New York City, an anti-war teach-in organised by Columbia students drew more than 400 to St. John's Cathedral, and at Hunter College, 200 gathered to express a pro-peace, anti-racist message.

Even on Bush's home turf, opponents of the war drive took a stand. Just two days after the attacks, an anti-war rally at the University of Texas in Austin drew 200 students. Some 900 people turned out at the state Capitol building later in the week. In Atlanta, Georgians for Peace held a rally of more than 250 people to oppose war and anti-Arab racism. The biggest turnouts were in the Bay Area. At the University of California-Berkeley, some 5000 people marched in opposition to war.

[Abridged from the September 28 edition of Socialist Worker, fortnightly paper of the US International Socialist Organisation. Visit ]