Left Justified: Another war, another demonstration

Left Justified: Another war, another demonstration

By Stanley Campbell

My friend, Rev. Bob Edgar went to Iraq, and he didn’t even get a mention in the Rockford Register Star. He’s the general secretary of the National Council of Churches (that’s the Protestants’ “Vatican”). Bob went to Iraq with other religious leaders on a mission of peace. Before he left, he stopped off here in Rockford and spoke to a large gathering of local church and peace activists. This newspaper was kind enough to advertise the program, but I’m afraid the daily newspaper was not so kind. What Rev. Edgar said here was quoted in publications such as the Christian Science Monitor.

What he said was, “This could be the first war that the people stop before it starts,” which means we have a chance to turn away America’s military might from slicing through Iraq’s civilian population to get to that tinhorn dictator, Saddam. If enough people protest, our country may use means other than bombs and infantry.

It was an important message, and I hope Rockford hears it. There is another national demonstration this Saturday, Jan. 18, in Washington, D.C. At least six local residents are traveling by bus with local support and blessing.

Rockford Peace & Justice Action will host a small rally and picket in honor of the national demonstration. You are welcome to join us at noon at the corner of East State and Alpine. We will have signs that say, “No War on Iraq.” An hour before, at 11 a.m., we’ll rally at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4848 Turner St., just four blocks north and four blocks east. There, we’ll make signs, listen to speeches, say some interfaith prayers and then march down to what could be the busiest intersection in Rockford. That’s this Saturday, Jan. 18, in solidarity with our friends who will be marching in what may be the largest anti-war protest since the Vietnam era. Hopefully, you will hear about it on the local news.

We will welcome our traveling demonstrators upon their return at a dinner at the India House. On Tuesday, Jan. 21, Rockford Urban Ministries will co-sponsor a benefit in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. This will be a vegan buffet meal at the India House, 6430 E. Riverside. Fifteen dollars will get you as much as you can eat anytime between 5:30 and 8 p.m. Reserve a seat by calling Wendy Laird at (815) 389-3203.

When Rockfordians protest war, it is remarkable. Sundstrand is here. Many veterans and conservative patriotic groups call Rockford home. It’s not that being anti-war is unpatriotic, but it is so unlike Rockford, that it should be noted. Maybe even celebrated. Following lock-step behind everything any president says is, well, scary, especially when it involves death and taxes. And war is the greatest expenditure of both. So it should be looked at closely, and with a jaundiced eye.

And this war in Iraq looks like a lot of hullabaloo over a thug that our government used to support but now got out of line, and could be treated with better by an international committee and some hardheaded diplomats. But our president may want military action that could cause untold civilian deaths, and that breeds hatred, the roots of terrorism.

Someone else wants us to attack Iraq—Osama Bin Laden. Remember him? He needs more recruits. If the United States bombs Iraq, Osama will have many more helpers, and our children will be facing the children of the Mideast a long time from now. Let’s turn the spiral of violence around.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!