Chicagoans speak out against war with Iraq

CHICAGO – As the “hawk” whipped around the corners of the Federal Plaza here in the Windy City, nipping at toes and noses alike, Dorothy Friezen held an anti-war sign at the building’s entrance as workers and demonstrators went inside. “I value life, everyone’s life, on this planet,” she said. She and hundreds of others were moved to take a stand against war with Iraq.

On Dec. 10, the 54th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, the Iraq Pledge of Resistance called for a campaign of nationally coordinated nonviolent civil disobedience to oppose war in Iraq. Seventeen were arrested here.

“People are getting more and more concerned that the drumbeats of war are getting louder and louder,” stated Sr. Dorothy Pagosa of the 8th Day Center for Justice, part of Iraq Peace Pledge. “We do not feel that war should be seen as inevitable. Citizens of this country are getting concerned that we might be close to an invasion of Iraq.”

Bok Dong Jeong, who is a part of a Catholic lay mission, held up her “No war” sign. “As a Christian, war is not our option,” she said.

The faith-based community promised the Bush administration a “faith-based revolt” against their unilateral war-first policy in the early weeks of December.

Tom Webb, one of the Iraq Pledge organizers, told the World the political debate back in October was conducted in a “climate of fear.” Our representatives were bullied by the Bush administration, he said. No one is disputing that Hussein heads an authoritarian government, he said, but “this war has been planned since 1992. The public is being manipulated into supporting this war. Most people aren’t aware of the effects of the sanctions on Iraqi children.”

Terra Rummel from DePaul University said she was moved to demonstrate for many reasons. “On a selfish level, I don’t want my younger brother going off to kill or be killed,” she said. Rummel’s brother is 17 years old.

One of the Bush administration’s main arguments is tying a war on Iraq with a war against terrorism, but Rummel disagrees. Terrorism cannot be fought “by taking up arms. Violence begets violence,” Rummel asserted, but working for justice is the best way to counter terrorism. “When you work for justice you are fighting terrorism,” she said. Most people want justice in the world, like health care, a safe place to live and clean water to drink, she said.

The author can be reached at talbano@pww.org