When I came to CSU just over two years ago, I expected to see part of what I see on the Plaza these days — big crowds around a speaker expressing their opinions. However, I expected the crowds to be arguing over political actions, like the possible war with Iraq, rather than arguing over the Bible.
Almost every day in the past month, I have heard of more and more people who are against a war against Iraq on some level. The responses range from people who are against any and every war like Joe Ramagli, who heads the Action Awareness student organization at CSU, to people who say we must give the weapons inspectors a chance and get a broader coalition before we decide to invade Iraq. The question is: why are we not seeing large protests on the Plaza?
Protests have begun at many campuses across the nation. According to a story in the Denver Post on Thursday, 100 students protested the visit of Dick Cheney to Colorado Springs last Friday at Colorado College, 700 signatures were collected against the war at Fort Lewis College and University of Colorado students are planning a protest in Denver. Ramagli led 12 people to Laramie when Cheney visited, but only 10 were students. At least 135 campuses in 35 states have protests planned, according to the Post.
Action Awareness is planning an anti-war protest in early November. But I seriously doubt the number will be very high. The Post story said the highest number a campus protest has reached is about 300. I believe there are many reasons why people don’t feel the need to protest.
First, we are not at war yet and there is a chance war can be averted. Thanks to Secretary of State Colin Powell, maybe the only voice of reason in Bush’s cabinet full of hawks, a deal has been reached to where the United States would have to consult the U.N. Security Council and only attack if inspectors say they are being hindered. This is a step in the right direction, but I think it will only delay an invasion of Iraq. People need a concrete reason to protest many times, like one of their friends or family members being shipped off to a war that would be far worse than the Persian Gulf War.
Second, I think Saddam Hussein is a madman with destructive capabilities who slaughters his people. When listening to Bush speak, I agree with a lot of what he says; Hussein is a ruthless dictator. But the question is why now? The answer Bush comes back with every time is Sept. 11. That does not answer why we are pushing for demands right before the election. Why we are attacking Iraq and not any other of the dozens of countries (including our own) that have al-Qaida terrorists in it and why Bush thinks Iraq will attack outside its boundaries now, when it is already probably the most monitored nation in the world and would get crushed if it attempted anything of the sort?
Third, I think many people aren’t protesting because of what many people associate with protests. While there were a couple students that went up to Cheney’s Laramie protest that were just against action in Iraq, most were against all wars, some Green party voters and some were vegan. While unfortunate, I think this is what many CSU students associate war protesters with. If they are not of that ideology, it may deter them from protesting.
Finally, I think students may think that what happens with Iraq will not effect them much. The country is half a world away and a war could last only a few months and Saddam will no longer be in power. However, I’m studying political theorist Herbert Marcuse and he says advanced industrial governments always create a common enemy so problems at home are not at the forefront. Marcuse’s theory might not totally apply with the Iraq situation, but it can be applicable. Also, this war would hit the college age people hardest because many students could be shipped off to war.
While I am in the category of opposition to the war if harsh demands are made and enforced, I still technically am against a war tomorrow. College students have the reputation of being the most active in expressing their minds. Maybe this will happen at CSU, but I’m not holding my breath.