By Benjamin Roode
March 20, 2003
The Post (Athens, Ohio)
[Editor’s note, 2/23/13 — Readers of my site will surely see that I’ve spent a lot of time criticizing The Post. However, I’m also happy to point out when the Ohio University student newspaper is at its best — as was certainly the case in its March 20, 2003 edition. That day, The Post followed a front page headline announcing the U.S. attack on Iraq with four separate stories on different aspects of local anti-war activities, one on protests in Washington, D.C., an article on OU professors’ opinions of the war, a piece on students whose opinions on the war were either supportive or conflicted, an article presenting the positions of Ohio Congressional representatives on the war and more. All things considered, The Post did an excellent job providing relatively in-depth local context to a story of international importance. It is likely that some prior and subsequent editors and writers of the newspaper would not have handled the matter so well. However, in terms of its handling of this issue, The Post’s staff in the spring of 2003 gave an exemplary performance.]
WASHINGTON – Lily Stone was preoccupied throughout her entire school day at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va. She had something big on her mind. She was going to help with a worthy cause. She was going to an antiwar protest.
“People need to show our government this war is unjustified,” she said. “It’s a preemptive war and it’s illegal under the (United Nations) charter.”
Stone rushed from her last class to join protesters behind a fence separating pedestrians from the sidewalk and Lafayette Park.
Despite growing barriers around government buildings, war protesters took to sidewalks and parks around Washington in last-ditch efforts to convince the nation’s leaders that a war in Iraq was not what the majority of Americans want.
Toting “No War For Empire” signs and chanting pro-peace slogans, protesters screamed their sentiments across now wider gaps between the president’s residence and a vocal public. As part of Washington’s security plan before war, the perimeter around the White House and other government buildings was extended.
A Washington Post ABC News poll showing 71 percent of Americans in favor of a war in Iraq did not convince protesters Americans want war.
“I bet only about 20 percent are really for (the war),” said Carol Moore, a freelance writer and 30-year protest veteran. “A lot of people will go along with anything if you ask the right questions.”
Thoughts were similar in a crowd of about 50 protesters at the intersection of 16th and I streets in Washington.
“The way questions are worded must be why people agree with this,” Stone said. “I don’t look at polls anymore.”
Stone made her decision about the war after examining all the news and information she could – not something most high school freshmen do, she said.
“In December I took a hard look at the entire situation,” she said. “Half of the population in Iraq is under 18. That worries me.”
Teenagers and high-school students at Stone’s Westfield High School appear to be taking a more active role in the conflict, she said. Several peace-themed groups are forming as well as anti-war and anti-Bush groups. But opinions of protesters only count if they do not fall on deaf ears, she said.
“If the government paid attention to us, they’d know we don’t want a war,” she said.
Moore, who has taken part in numerous protests in her life and had more than one on her schedule yesterday, said group protests are effective.
“Basically, when you live under tyranny, you need something like a million people to get your voice heard,” she said at yesterday’s afternoon protest behind the White House.
“They’re allowed to arrest us under any pretense, so this is a tyranny.”