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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SDS holds teach-in to protest “war on terror”

Published: March 23, 2007
Section: News

This Tuesday, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), previously known as the Radical Student Alliance (RSA), held a teach-in to protest the “War on Terror. Approximately 35 students showed up to listen to four speakers who presented anti-war opinions.

The first speaker was Justice Williams, representing the organization Boston Mobilization, which organizes local pro-peace and democracy campaigns. She was followed by Professor M. Shahid Alam, a professor of economics from Northeastern University, and two veterans from the organization Veterans for Peace, Nate Goldschlag, and Tony Flaherty.

Each of the speakers presented their disapproval of the war from a different perspective. Williams spoke mainly about her organizations attempts to combat the influence of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) program in inner-city schools by educating students about other ways that you can get opportunities.

I get people [who consider joining JROTC] to start thinking why are you doing it? Williams explained.
Williams also speculated about the nature of the many anti-war protests. The funny thing is we all take pieces of something, she said, adding that in reality, its about being a whole.

Alam gave students a brief talk about the war from a more academic perspective. He pointed out the United States longstanding conflict with Iraq in the form of economic sanctions, explaining that if you count the years since the sanctions were put into place we are in the sixteenth year of that war.

Alam also urged students to question who exactly the United States is fighting in the war on terror. Terrorism is a tactic, he said, and you cant wage war against a tactic.

It will spawn terrorists, Alam said of the War on Terror. It has been documented.

Both veterans presented some of their own personal experiences with war and spoke about the effects of combat upon returning soldiers. Goldschlag, who attempted to raise an anti-war protest within the military during the Vietnam War, concentrated mainly on the effects of war upon veterans.

Youve got huge numbers of veterans who come back [not only] physically-broken people, but also mentally-broken people. Thirty- to forty-percent of homeless people are veterans, he said.

Goldschlag also urged students to look around Brandeis, to see what they could do to protest the war. Is there military contracting here? he asked.

Flaherty presented his own experiences of war to students. I was raised like too many children that [Williams] talked about, he said. There are no choices.

He spoke about seeing a young Vietnamese woman with two children during the Vietnam War, and thinking of his own children. That was a moment of consciousness, he said, then went on to explain the extreme rarity of such moments during wartime.

Im a veteran for peace, but I dont know much about peace, said Flaherty. I dont know anybody who suffered the experience of war that would send anybody else in there.

At the end of the teach-in, SDS co-facilitator Daniel Duffy 07 urged students who attended the teach-in to sign a petition asking the Student Union to pass a resolution voicing its opposition to the war.

According to Duffy, the teach-in and this petition are part of a larger SDS campaign both to protest the war, and to obtain enough student support to declarethat Brandeis is an institution that formally opposes the war.

Duffy explained that SDS had chosen the four speakers for the evening because we wanted to have a presentation that showed the broad-based consequences of the war on terror [by] bringing in these different voices.

Students who attended the teach-in seemed motivated by the speakers. Im glad to see that there are a lot of people here, added Adam Schwartzbaum 07. I think the petition is a great idea.

Tom Charging Hawk 10 explained that the personal stories of the veterans were especially moving to him. When you hear somebody talking [about their experiences], youre like, this is what it is.