Winthrop students, faculty protest war in Iraq

Jessica Schonberg,, March 12, 2008

An anti-war protest at Winthrop University today wasn’t huge like war protests in the 1960s, but protesters said the rally’s message mattered more than its size.

A crowd that fluctuated from a couple of dozen to about 50 people held signs, sang, danced, chanted and gave speeches in opposition to the ongoing war in Iraq. This month marks the five-year anniversary since the United States first invaded the Middle Eastern country.

“It seems like a lot of people have forgotten about the people in Iraq, our troops that are fighting daily for a war that shouldn’t be going on,” senior Nicole DuBose said. “So I hope more people will stand up and help force the government and tell them that we are ready to have our troops home.”

Students and faculty members who took part in the one-hour event said there is no good reason for staying in Iraq. Many expressed frustration about perceived changes in the reasons given for the war.

“I’ve been against it since the beginning in March of 2003 and I’ve hated it ever since,” said Patrick Dukes, a sophomore in a tie-dyed shirt waving a flag with a peace sign. “I’m not really against war in general, I’m just against this war because it’s unfounded and we shouldn’t be in there, and we need to get our troops out of there.”

Today's protest was part of a national movement to protest the war for the next week, said Stephen Smith, a political science professor.

No counterprotesters were at the event.

The war has been in the spotlight recently as Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls each try to convince voters they would be the best commander-in-chief. Republican nominee John McCain has said he supports staying in Iraq for the long haul, while Democratic hopefuls Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both want troops brought home quickly.

War supporters say withdrawing troops would open the door to increased terrorist activity and religious violence.

But American public support for the war, which was above 75 percent in 2003, is declining, according to Gallup, an independent polling agency. As of Feb. 2, more than 50 percent of Americans say sending troops to Iraq was a mistake.

Protesters today seemed pleased with the growing opposition to the war, saying they would like more people to speak up about the issue.

“I never did trust our reason for being there in the first place, and I think that they simplified the reasons to get the average person whipped up into a false sense of patriotism and also a false sense of fear with the weapons of mass destruction,” said Laura Dufresne, a professor of art history. “What amazes me is that now you see all sorts of people saying, ‘We were lied to, we were lied to,’ but we knew it was a lie before it started.”

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