How far is left?
Lara Masri, a graduate student and member of the Campus Anti-War Network, recently penned a letter to the editor criticizing the GW College Democrats (Sept. 27, p. 4), who organized a turnout of 200-plus for the anti-war protest on Sept. 15, for not participating in the “true, anti-war rhetoric the demonstration upheld” that she herself admits to be “radical.” This statement incites an interesting debate, but one that is nonetheless inimical to our cause. Asking questions like “how far left is left?” only distances our locations on the ideological spectrum to an even wider degree and inhibits us from joining together for the common goal of extricating our troops from Iraq.
Masri’s statement demands the question: what precisely is genuine anti-war rhetoric? And why is she and her self-admitted minority of “radicals” on campus the purveyors of anti-war rhetoric?
The protest we attended was organized by the ANSWER Coalition, a group that chose to lump the Iraq War into a plethora of other unrelated issues, thereby undermining the necessary effort of legitimizing the anti-war movement so that its voice is taken seriously. The College Democrats as an organization fundamentally disagree with the anti-Israel and 9/11 Truth crowds, among others. Masri herself references the estimated millions of Iraqi deaths and 3,700 plus troop casualties as a result of this war. Shouldn’t that be a sufficient basis for warranting a movement of its own instead of joining it at the hip with a dozen disparate causes?
Nonetheless, our group felt as though this protest would be a powerful expressive outlet to defy the misguided Republican party. We attended to march among thousands of others, to amplify our voice and to send one simple message to the Republican party: bring our troops home.
We are guilty only of choosing not to chant anti-Israel, anti-soldier and anti-America slogans that seemed to be the soundtrack to this protest, and if this is the “true, anti-war rhetoric” that Masri accuses us of not participating, then we will gladly embrace the accusation. We respectfully chanted “keep it on Iraq” when speakers began tirades about “Zionists” and we walked away (with many others outside our group, I might add) when our advice was not heeded. We did, however, gather respectfully behind the veterans and did not march until they walked first.
We are not oblivious to the atrocities of the war as Masri suggests. But we choose to exercise our political agency in a way that is most efficacious. Our generation recognizes both the necessity of acting and the need to control how that action is perceived by those in power. Masri’s contempt at our unwillingness to march in lock-step with ideals which we do not hold to be our own is painfully reminiscent of the strategies employed by pro-war Republicans.
It precisely because ANSWER failed to focus its mission on the Iraq War alone that we did not yield more than the 200 students that attended, a number which Masri suggests to be “meek,” but given the relatively diminutive turnouts from other D.C. universities and the recent history of GW’s protest involvement is actually quite monumental. Many students opted out of attending the protest because they felt alienated by the brand of “true, anti-war rhetoric” Masri espouses. I am confident, as someone who organized that crowd, that so many more would have marched had ANSWER severed the unrelated issues. But to Masri, this dearth of affiliation with “radicals” on campus is emblematic of GW’s political apathy – which smacks of her sheer ignorance of the very powerful ways our students work to affect change in the political system every day.
The goal of the College Democrats is to channel the activism of as many students against this war as possible, regardless of where they sit on the ideological spectrum. We want to construct a united front against this war, because that is the only way we will force an end. In the ’60’s, GW students shelved their idiosyncratic political and philosophical differences to crystallize their opposition to a war that was wrong. We welcome CAN and all students at GW, left or right, to join us in doing the same today.
Cory Struble, Director of Communications, GW College Democrats
Funding failure is fair
I, for one, applaud the students of GW for voting for some fiscal restraint in the Student Association. While I as a student do benefit from the services from the SA, when do we ask the organizations to fundraise for themselves? I understand that it is not just the big organizations getting a funding raise, but how about we limit the funding to those larger organizations currently receive and require them to act a little self-sufficiently?
The SA should first and foremost support the smaller student organizations that cannot, without the support from the SA, bring meaningful programming to the University. Yet the SA continually pumps money into the larger organizations, such as the College Republicans and College Democrats, which could probably run without any SA money if they wanted to. Larger organizations such as the College Democrats and College Republicans should try first asking for support from their members then from an increase in funding from the student body at large.
Jon Gottschalk, Junior