Anti-War Sentiments Bring Students Together

Michael Konigsberg
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Peaceful as hell, but not going to take it anymore, the Southern California Students Against War GCC chapter debuted on campus Dec. 6 with a video screening showing atrocities from two past U.S. military actions.

Pooling interests and audiences with ALAS, the Association of Latin American Students, the new SC-SAW chapter gave before semester’s end what will be the first in an extensive series of informative presentations, resuming in spring, to encourage alternatives to war.

Beginning with an excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, followed by spliced segments of television news magazine programs concentrating on the consequences of the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama and the current U.S. sanctions against Iraq, the presentation was an effort to draw parallels between the current war against terrorism and previous U.S.-led wars. As edited, the video created a discussion among several political pundits, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, debating the causes and intentions of U.S. military actions.

An image of former President George Bush – who previously had allowed Panamanian Gen. Manuel Noriega his drug traffic in exchange for political-military favors until Noriega began following his own threatening agenda – was seen swearing to root out the “indicted” general and “bring him to justice.”

Emilie Tarant brought SC-SAW to GCC in the hopes of extending education beyond the college classroom.
“I see a tremendous amount of apathy among the students on our campus,” said Tarant. “Hopefully, we can trigger some passion – of course, the well-educated kind.”

Tarant said several Glendale students had wanted to be active on campus in this cause for expanded political awareness and change for some time, but were hesitant about attracting criticism. With this organization, she hopes to provide a supportive, active, and visible network for students and faculty.
Securing this kind of support was not easy in the shell-shocked days after the attacks of Sept. 11. Referring to the group’s controversial critical take on the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan and sympathy for that nation, Tarant said that people did not want to talk about questions of rightness.

SC-SAW is a young alliance. Following a number of recent anti-war protests at the Westwood Federal Building, Tarant and fellow protesters convened at cafÇs and on street corners for sympathetic discussions over common ideologies and potential activism. Motivated by their growing enthusiasm, the students organized into a network of like-minded people.

The GCC weekly meetings average six members, but 15 students have subscribed to their e-mail group, and Tarant said she was excited to count 21 at the screening.

Considering they have only been a meeting for a month, Tarant thinks they are off to a good start. “More important than the numbers, though, is the commitment.”

The video screening brought key points to their developing message into relief when it presented linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky, curious that the U.S. campaign against terrorism is enthusiastically joined by Algeria, China, Indonesia, and Russia, allegedly some leading nations in terror, as well as historian Howard Zinn, who cautioned against the historical danger of placing moral authority in the political authority.
Tarant clarifies the spirit of that commitment, careful that this new campus presence not be confused with un-patriotism or reactionism. “The name of our group is Schools Against War,” she said. ” I hope that SC-SAW will remain active even during times of peace.”