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ISSUE 121 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/7/2008

War deconstructed

By Elizabeth Mitchell
Associate Editor


Friday, March 7, 2008

This past week, the Progressive Christian Fellowship, along with Student Congregation and Political Awareness Committee, hosted Peace and War in the Heartland, an event intended to raise awareness about the war in Iraq and what students against the war can do. Peace and War in the Heartland is an ongoing multi-campus organization also involves several other Minnesota colleges, including Augsburg College, Macalester College and the University of Minnesota.

At St. Olaf, Peace and War in the Heartland was planned primarily by PCF leaders Magdalena Wells '08 and Joel Bergeland '08 and held on Feb. 28 through March. 1. St. Olaf's activities began with a chapel speaker, Frank Kroncke of the Minnesota Eight, a group of eight college-aged men who raided various draft boards in non-urban Minnesota on July 10, 1970.

The eight men who were caught at Alexandria, Little Falls and Winona on July 10th went to trial, where seven pleaded guilty and were sentenced to five years in federal prison, and one pleaded guilty and was given probation.

Kroncke, who spent two years in prison, is a former monk and seminarian with a Catholic background. In his speech on Wednesday and later to a group of students at lunch, he spoke of his belief in the need to end what he called a "warrior society." Said Kroncke, "In today's society, you can either be a peace criminal or a war criminal."

Students were encouraged to further consider this choice Thursday afternoon, when Kroncke and an actor from Heart of the Beast Theatre Company of Minneapolis led a draft simulation, aided by students from Progressive Christian Fellowship. In the simulation, the actor, dressed in fatigues, invited passers-by to find out their draft number and learn what they would have had to do, where they might go during the war, and what might happen afterwards if they had been drafted.

The following evening, Friday Feb. 29, a group of students then attended "Peace Crimes." Written by Doris Baizley and currently in production at the University of Minnesota Rarig center until March 9, the play is about the Minnesota Eight and begins from the first draft raids which they and others carried out through their trials, imprisonment and eventual release.

Saturday, the final day, St. Olaf hosted a series of speakers at three different sessions during the day. The first, "Faith and War," was given by Frank Kroncke and Rev. Tom Duke, Ph.D, of the St. Paul Area Council of Churches, St. Paul Interfaith Network. In this session, both men discussed their views on pacifism in a time of war, including conscientious objection, the act of showing through religious, moral or ethical beliefs that one is unfit and incapable of fighting in a war. In the second session, "Social Justice and the War," Mel Duncan, former director of the Nonviolent Peace Force and Jane Evershed, a poet, artist, and activist formerly of South Africa, and discussed different ways and reasons they saw for acting against not only current wars, but war in general.

Marv Davidov also spoke, telling about his time in the Honeywell Project, when he and others challenged the Honeywell Corporation's involvement in production of supplies for the Vietnam War. The third and final session, "Veterans and the War," was given by Chante Wolf, a member of Veterans for Peace who served in the air force during the first Gulf War. Wolf spoke about her involvement with Veterans for Peace and her concerns about the welfare of soldiers in the current war. Peace and War in the Heartland is continuing with more events at other campuses across Minnesota. Students interested in learning can go to PWH's website at http://www.pwh-mn.org/.





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