Thursday, March 24, 2005

Schiavo, Iraq Vets Vs. War, Free Speech on College Campuses

Today, I really couldn't avoid this Terry Schiavo business, as everywhere I looked on the subway, people were reading AM New York, New York Metro and the Post, all of which had Schiavo headlines. As I noted the picture of the woman arrested for attempting to bring Schiavo a glass of water, it occurred to me that while DeLay and his cronies may have picked this issue as a convenient distraction from the any number of more important events, such as growing opposition to the 2 year old war, many people have glommed on to her as if she represents "the right for the unwanted to live."
One right-wing evangelical blogger, Dory Zinkand, whose blog Wittenberg Gate advertizes its function to "apply the scriptures to every sphere of life," was quoted in an abc news story on the Schiavo-blogging, "Terri's situation is important, not only because of her precious life, The truth is, many people are killed because someone decides their life would not be worth living." This speaks to some great sense of worthlessness among those who identify with Schiavo and make bizarre arguments about her supposed victimization by her husband. It's interesting to me that these concepts of life as valuable are always made in the case where life is an abstract quality that doesn't speak or act, a brain-dead woman, or a foetus. It is literally the concept of life that these people are defending, not the actual living people that we share our world with every day.
Juan Cole's March 22nd post on Schiavo and the "Islamization" of the Republican party is astute. I have to admit that I learned of his analysis not because I was diligently reading his site, but because I was listening to a two-day old podcast of "The Majorty Report" while I was watching people read about Terry Schiavo on the train today.

More importantly, there is real news to report. Yesterday, I heard several great speeches, including one by one of those CCNY students who were arrested for protesting military recruiters on their campus. The latest information is that three students were suspended and banned from the City College campus, accused of "posing a continual danger." A staff member was also arrested in connection with the events and is now the fourth of the group to face criminal charges. They are holding a town hall meeting in the NAC ballroom at City College on Thursday March 31st at 12:30pm, so if you're in the neighborhood, it should be worth going. You can reach them for more information at this email address:

Alex Ryabov, Victor Paredes and Carl Webb also gave great talks last night about military resistance. Ryabov, a 22 year-old Brooklyn college student, who returned from Iraq and helped found Iraq Veterans Against the War continues to impress with his clear presentation of his own story, politically astute without being strident or ideological. One of the things that all three agreed upon was that most people who go into combat don't go because of the mission that they are on, but because they are told they are going to protect their buddies in the military, to watch each others' backs. This kind of loyalty usually trumps people's political and personal opposition to the war, and explains why a lot of people will go even if they know the war is for oil, as Ryabov's commanding officer told his squad before they left for Iraq. They also talked about how much they disagreed with Op-Truth's analysis of the Fort Bragg protest as being "anti-troop." It was interesting to hear Webb and Ryabov, both members of the military, talk about what the best way to reach out to people in the military might be. All together, if you get a chance to hear them, I recommend going.
These people talk about the importance of valuing the lives not only of those guys that they served next to, but those of the people that they recognized as civilians left by the side of the road after they had been firing ammunition rounds.

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