- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2003

Anti-war demonstrators and pro-war onlookers yesterday said ignorance of the facts is plaguing the debate on the U.S.-led war against Iraq.
There was evidence to support the claims during anti-war protests in the District. When asked where U.S. troops were stationed before invading Iraq, one high school student answered, "Bangladad."
High school student Kim Sojka, 15, gave a blank stare when asked to define U.N. Resolution 1441. "I have no idea," she responded.
Protesters came up with a mix of answers some correct, others less so to general questions about Iraq, Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction.
Steve, a middle-aged man who wouldn't provide his last name, tried to shed some light on his fellow protesters' knowledge of the war or what seemed to be in some cases, the lack of it.
"What is there to be informed about at this point, except for that we're doing violent things in Iraq right now," he said as he carried a sign that read "Neanderthal President."
About 60 protesters were arrested during anti-war rallies in the District and Baltimore, and hundreds of others participated in similar demonstrations in cities across the country. Demonstrators in San Francisco defecated and induced themselves to regurgitate in protest.
George Mason University students Jessica Clinger and Stephanie Sauer traveled to the District to watch some of the protests, one of which took place near the White House at 16th and H streets NW. The two women said they thought that most of the protesters didn't have a legitimate reason to be there.
"A lot of people aren't educated about this," Miss Clinger, 19, said. "I don't understand what these people are protesting. If you don't think there's ever going to be war, you're living in a dream world."
A self-professed Democrat, Miss Sauer, 19, said she opposed any military strike against Iraq until she read up on the issue. "You have to dig below the surface. I did research. A lot of people are just anti-war in general," she said.
But Tokah Saleh, a George Mason student of Jordanian descent, argued that those who oppose the war are often more educated on the issue than those who support it.
"I go out of my way to do research and read editorials. I don't expect most people to do that, because that's the American way to be fed information," she said.
Miss Saleh, 18, said she would be open to reading pro-war material. But she admitted she would only read an opposing view in order to know how to better argue with supporters of the war.
D.C. high school student Miles Folley, 17, said he was reconsidering his participation in the anti-war protests. He said his perspective changed yesterday when he ended up reporting on the protests.
"When people are around each other and protesting, it seems right," he said. "But on the outside looking in, I was like, 'What?' Protesters should be aware of what they're protesting."
D.C. police arrested 26 persons during an afternoon protest at 16th and H streets. Small groups of protesters staged "die-ins" at major intersections near the White House. They lay down and drew chalk lines around their bodies, or smeared fake blood on themselves.
In Baltimore, police arrested 30 persons as they tried to block a driveway to the federal courthouse. During the protest, a group of University of Maryland students carried anti-war banners as they tried to enter the courthouse. When security guards blocked them, they fell to the ground to simulate war casualties.
Undeterred by mass arrests, demonstrators in San Francisco marched through the streets in what was the largest of protests in the country. Police arrested more than 80 persons yesterday, and nearly 1,400 Thursday.
At a Columbus, Ohio, rally to support U.S. troops, hundreds of people brought shaving cream, toothpaste and other supplies for servicemen and women. In return, the office of Gov. Bob Taft, Republican, passed out 1,000 red, white and blue ribbons.
As for the correct answers to the questions asked of the protesters in the District, U.S. ground forces were stationed in Kuwait, and U.N. resolution 1441 demanded complete and immediate U.N. access to all Iraqi facilities, set a strict timetable for weapons inspections, barred Iraq from harming inspectors and implied the use of force for noncompliance.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide