To protest or not to protest

By By Davey Davis

By Davey Davis

Dayne Goodwin, U custodian, felt the need to mobilize in 2003 as he foresaw the United States’ attack of Iraq.

Goodwin, a lifelong activist, wanted the U community to take a larger part in anti-war efforts. In February of that year, he and a number of professors and graduate students created the Campus Coalition for Peace and Justice to organize and publicize anti-war events.

“The U was kind of slow to have any anti-war activity. There was no organized campus peace group until we created CCPJ,” he explained. “You could feel the tide coming in. People wanted to express their opposition to the impending war; it was easy to organize things and get a strong response.”

But shortly thereafter, the tide fell, following President George W. Bush’s declaration of victory.

Three years later, the committee has continued to sponsor events such as the Wheels of Justice Tour last October and the reading and discussion group held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Union Building, Room 311.

Most recently, CCPJ sponsored the Winter Socialist Conference held on campus.

The conference took place Feb. 16 to 19 and was co-sponsored by the Utah Socialists. Jeff Mackler, the national secretary of Socialist Action, spoke on international current events.

In his lecture, “How to End U.S. Military Intervention in Iraq,” he supported Democratic Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha’s suggestion to place our troops in the periphery and negotiate a solution with the ruling elite of the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions, perhaps by giving them a higher percentage of Iraqi oil.

“That is an ideal approach. I wish that we could pull our troops out of Iraq and bring them home,” said Josh Newbury, a social work and political science major.

But Newbury thought the lecture was unrealistic in its depiction of socialism and wanted a practical solution that involved reform within our government.

Mackler compared the Iraq War to the Vietnam War, pointing out the changes in context between these two periods of history.

“Vietnam took place in the context of unprecedented American prosperity. The United States was the world’s greatest creditor nation,” he said. “Now the United States cannot effectively compete on the world market. Today the U.S. is the world’s largest debtor, with $8 trillion in debt.”

He stressed that continuing the war will require beginning a draft, which would have disastrous results.

“The social explosion that would result from a draft would be combined with a crisis-ridden economy, with workers suffering massive layoffs, with people linking lack of Hurricane Katrina aid to excess war funds,” he said.

The Vietnam era saw the first mass protests during the war itself, a history that activists can build off of today.

The CCPJ encourages U students to take part in the April 29 anti-war mobilization, a national rally based in New York that CCPJ is helping coordinate locally.

The next CCPJ meeting is Friday, Mar. 10 at 12 a.m. in the Union, Room 411. The coalition is also sponsoring a public forum, “Support the Troops, Bring Them All Home Alive Now,” held Sunday, March 19 at 2 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium.