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ISSUE 116 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/7/2003

Letters to the editor

By Derek Zumbach
Contributing Writer


Friday, March 7, 2003

Dear Mess Editors,

I wish the focus of Meg Anderson’s Feb. 21 article on "The Vagina Monologues" had focused less on its economic success, being a "sold-out show" and a "fund-raising event," and more about why so many people were there and what that says about the needs of this campus.

People always talk about these events as raising awareness, when I think the bigger issue is creating a dialogue that sticks around for more than a weekend. It could have easily been mentioned that sexual assault advocates were walking around before and after the show as well as the presence of tables with information on topics ranging from sexual and transgender identity, domestic violence and acquaintance rape.

There were tables where an audience member could write letters to senators and other reps about tax cuts that could endanger programs working to end violence against women. These programs (many in the same sector as WomanSafe House) stress the importance of continuing to write letters after the show. It would have been helpful to provide this information in the footer of Anderson’s article. Awareness is "valuable" and active dialogue is "priceless."

Of more concern to me was the distancing approach Anderson used for the article. I was disappointed that activism for women's issues was portrayed as "challenging" and a subject for "nervous laughter," when topics of date rape, wife beating and female masturbation are as every day as waking up and going to class.

-Alicia Thompson '04

Dear Mess Editors,

I would like to respond to Mr. Zumbach’s Feb. 28 article, "Liberal protests are child’s play."

First, I love peace and I’m not ashamed to say so. I hope those in the U.S. Armed Forces would agree. War affects the country psychologically, economically, and socially in a way no other phenomenon does. Individual soldiers feel these effects; many veterans suffer debilitating flashbacks, Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome, Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and other emotional and physical injuries.

Second, it’s inaccurate to label all anti-war protesters liberals, pacifists, or "wanna-be-hippies". Hippies were predominantly white, with their own styles, and often used drugs and believed in free love. To act this way, they needed a lifestyle comfortable enough to finance it. This is untrue of the over six million people who gathered in over 600 cities worldwide against this war. A generalization can’t be made about this group except that they’re all against going to war at this point. They were not all liberals, pacifists, or hippies, and neither are the people who hope to initiate dialogue during Community Time. (If they obstruct your route another stairway and elevators are at your disposal.)

Third, the anti-war movement is also concerned about crimes against humanity. War results in ruined economies, psychological damage to innocent children and adults, destruction of homes and communities, rape, torture, and POWs. Worst of all, a country filled with hate and fear ready to raise children in an atmosphere of hate and fear. There are crimes against humanity occurring everyday on American soil.

People are jailed as "enemy combatants" and stripped of their rights. If you are concerned with domestic enemies please fight companies that that pollute our air and water, violent criminals, domestic terrorists, hate groups, drug dealers, and most importantly, the general lack of education that flourishes in our society.

Fourth, the UN sanctions in Iraq were set up in 1990. Since then, many in the international community, and several UN security generals have opposed them and called for reforms. But the United States and the UK have blocked efforts to remove or reform them. So, while the sanctions are not "somehow ours alone" the US carries much of the responsibility. As a result, many Iraqi children cannot access necessary health care, food and clean water and over 500,000 have died.

Finally, the anti-war protests and movement aren’t a hippie concept from an uneducated group of people. There has been many times through out history that a leader doesn’t represent the thoughts of the people they lead.

Saddam Hussein doesn’t represent his citizens and the anti-war protests are to let President Bush know that if he pursues war he isn’t representing the American interest. Many who are currently protesting aren’t against war in all cases but feel that we have not fully explored all available avenues to a peaceful resolution.

This is why I choose to protest war. I sleep at night knowing that I’ve made my voice heard and that I live in a country where I’m free to do so. You’re certainly entitled to disagree, but not on the grounds and in the disrespectful way that you did. I appreciate a variety of opinions, but please keep your criticism respectful. Much can be gained through peace.

Julie Schanzenbach ‘03

Dear Mess Editors

This letter is in response to Derek Zumbach’s denunciation of antiwar demonstrations in Buntrock in the Feb. 28 issue of the Messenger.

Mr. Zumbach’s letter displays an unfortunate amount of ignorance and an alarming disrespect for the power of grassroots activism. The anti-war demonstrations that have been occurring on Thursdays in Buntrock are indeed an inconvenience to St. Olaf students. However, to question their legitimacy and effectiveness is a slap in the face to generations of citizen activist leaders. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 march on Washington inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of citizens and government officials. Today it is remembered as one of the greatest moments in the history of democracy.

The Buntrock sit-ins have been far more substantive than Mr. Zumbach’s remarks indicate. The "smattering of leftists" protesting war in Buntrock actually included dozens of students, several faculty members and even the President of St. Olaf.

At the conclusion of Mr. Zumbach’s letter, he calls for an organized message from the protestors. I assume he was busy writing uninformed diatribes when the protestors staged a reading of the anti-war "Not in Our Name" statement, (available online at www.nion.us), on Thursday, Feb. 20.

Mr. Zumbach alleges in his letter that the "liberal left loves fascist regimes." When publicly ranting in the future, he may want to remember that another word for making insulting, baseless allegations in print is libel. He would be hard-pressed to find someone in the "stair crowd" praising Saddam Hussein’s human rights record. However, blowing up Iraqi civilians seems to be a most unusual retribution for Hussein’s crime of gassing the Kurds in 1988.

I wonder whether Mr. Zumbach is aware of Operation "Shock and Awe," the U.S. military’s plan to fire 600 to 800 cruise missiles into Baghdad during the first 48 hours of war. Civilian casualties from this operation alone could reach hundreds of thousands. Apparently, this is the price our nation is willing for "regime change."

Activism on America’s campuses breeds the leaders of tomorrow. Sooner or later Mr. Zumbach will realize that what he is witnessing in Buntrock on Thursdays is but one small slice of the largest citizen activist group in all of history. 12 million people took to the streets to protest war with Iraq on Feb. 15, which is incredible considering that war hasn’t even started yet.

Watch and learn, Derek, as we change the face of the world.

Carl Schroeder ‘05





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