The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 have generated intense national feelings across the country. The majority of Americans are directing these feelings against the perceived “enemy,”?i.e. Osama bin Laden, his terrorist network, the ruling Taliban leadership in Afghanistan. The majority supports full U.S. military retaliation against the guilty terrorists and possibly the Taliban itself. The majority supports President Bush’s war against terrorism. The majority, for the most part, speaks for this intense American nationalism.
The minority view, however, cannot be discounted. Its members share equally intense feelings about what the United States should do next. This group opposes war against the ruling Taliban government. It favors a more peaceful response to the current one proposed and some might go so far as to blame past U.S. Middle East policy for the attacks. This minority view might not stand out nationwide; it does, however, stand out at Georgetown.
The minority view can be found in the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, the well-know campus activist group that gained prominence three years ago for its sit-in in the office of then-University President Leo J. O’Donovan to protest working conditions in overseas factories that produce Georgetown clothing apparel. Last week Solidarity staged demonstrations in Red Square protesting possible violence against Afghanistan citizens and the use of U.S. troops in the upcoming conflict.
A handful of Georgetown students also joined last week’s city-wide anti-war demonstrations that urged the United States not to launch what they consider to be an unjust war against Afghanistan. War, the protesters argued, would not root out terrorism and would generate greater anti-American feelings abroad.
The minority anti-war view is not well received nationwide. During the protests, for instance, one counter-demonstrator held up a sign that read, “Osama thanks fellow cowards for your support.” This is certainly an extreme view, but it is true that the anti-war contingent is far from representative of the general American attitude. That doesn’t make this view wrong. And it certainly doesn’t make this minority view un-American, as the sign would have us suggest.
In fact, the minority view is as intensely and fervently American as the majority view. It is unfair to say the anti-war protesters support terrorism or support bin Laden; what they oppose is military countermeasures that they feel will ultimately hurt more than help the country.
The Georgetown minority might not speak for Georgetown or the country, but it speaks well for the importance of political activism. If nothing else, they speak their minds about what is important to them; as the United States looks poised to fight its first war of the 21st century, the rest of us can’t afford not to.