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[casi] Re: (CASI) Water, A!, Forum on Iraq and My Deep Apology

>world's public can't find it on a maP? Don't think so. >Two and a half
million people in Hyde Park, five million >in Rome - Malaysia, [...]

And yet there are many in the US who support Bush, or don't care. I live
in a small conservative town. On my block, on my left is a man who
disapproves, but will not risk disapproval. On my right is a man in the
reserves who said we should nuke Iraq because it is responsible for 9/11.
Next to him is an ex-marine who justified the war because "Saddam gassed
hundreds of thousands of people". Across the street is a woman who
complains of the ingratitude of the third world for all the aid the US
give them. These people are profoundly ignorant, and not atypical for
Americans. There are a lot like this, and many, mostly in the more urban
areas, who know better won't get involved.

The people in the peace movement are among the smartest, and you in CASI
are among the elite. It is the average -- the peasant -- of America who
empowers Bush, through ignorance, informed by FOX News (which gets the

>When I or Tom speak anywhere, in any country on the >subject and on Iraq
and Iraq's people, (along with many >others) it is not only standing room
only, it's
>people unable even to get in, but waiting outside the

I post an article below from a (maybe the) major paper in this area. We
in the local peace groups think this may have been staged somewhat, and
that the reporting is likely biased (*speaker* disrupts), but it is
significant, and important to understand the meanness, perceptions and
attitudes of many people here in the hinterland concerning Iraq and the
war. (And Illinois just elected a Democratic governor -- due to Chicago,
I suppose.) I don't even want to think about the trash in the local paper
here in Dixon -- "the Boyhood Home of Ronald Regan". Don't underestimate
the degree of hatred and ignorance in the US: recall that we have one of
the worst public education systems of the industrial nations, and a
largely monopolized media.

LOCAL NEWS: Rockford
Speaker disrupts RC graduation
A New York Times reporter delivers an antiwar speech that offended many.
By CARRIE WATTERS, Rockford Register Star

ROCKFORD New York Times reporter Chris Hedges was booed off the stage
Saturday at Rockford College's graduation because he gave an antiwar

Two days later, graduates and family members, envisioning a "go out and
make your mark" send-off, are still reeling.

Guests wanting to hear the author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter are
equally appalled.

And College President Paul Pribbenow is rethinking the wisdom of such
controversial topics at future commencements. This is Pribbenow's first

Hedges began his abbreviated 18-minute speech comparing United States'
policy in Iraq to piranhas and a tyranny over the weak. His microphone
was unplugged within three minutes.

Voices of protest and the sound of foghorns grew.

Some graduates and audience members turned their backs to the speaker in
silent protest. Others rushed up the aisle to vocally protest the
remarks, and one student tossed his cap and gown to the stage before

Mary O'Neill of Capron, who earned a degree in elementary education, sat
in her black cap and gown listening. She was stunned.

She turned to Pribbenow and asked him why he was letting the speech
continue. He said it was freedom of speech. Pribbenow later said when
people stop listening to ideas, even controversial ones, it is the death
of institutions like 157-year-old Rockford College.

In tears, O'Neill left the ceremony.

Her husband, Kevin, sat in the audience with their daughter and was as
indignant as his wife.

"This is a ceremony. ... The day belongs to the students. It doesn't
belong to a political view," he said.

Hedges, a war correspondent, criticized military heroic ideals that grow
during war. The fervor sacrifices individual thought for temporarily
belonging to something larger, he said.

Hedges sympathized with U.S. soldiers. He characterized them as boys from
places such as Mississippi and Arkansas who joined the military because
there were no job opportunities.

"War in the end is always about betrayal. Betrayal of the young by the
old, of soldiers by politicians and idealists by cynics," Hedges said in
lecture fashion as jeers and "God Bless Americas" could be heard in the

After his microphone was again unplugged, Pribbenow told Hedges to wrap
it up.

Elinor Radlund of Rockford read Hedges' book on war and was horrified at
what she said was the audience's rude behavior. She was indignant she
couldn't hear the speaker.

"They were not behaving as people in an academic setting, where you're
supposed to be open to a great many ideas," Radlund said.

Pribbenow said Rockford College takes no political stance, but the job is
to challenge students. He reminded audience members of the liberal arts
college's commitment to listening to other viewpoints.

It didn't happen.

Spontaneous reaction led 66-year-old Gerald Kehoe of rural Boone County
down the aisle in his first time to protest anything. He was hurt to hear
a verbal attack on the country. He attended Saturday's commencement to
watch his daughter graduate, the fourth from Rockford College.

Rockford College political science professor Bob Evans said it's a
reminder of the "raw edges of emotion" on the issue.

A student who rushed the stage could face reprimand although he still
received his diploma.

"It's important to go on the record that it's inappropriate behavior,"
Pribbenow said.

Contact:; 815-987-1242=20

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