Political activist: Multiple avenues of activism the way to stop war in Iraq

Jackie Valley

Political activist Tom Hayden said the time has come to “apply memory to the future” because the “past is a resource to understand where we’re going.”

“The struggle for memories is a very important one for the beginning and end of any social movement,” he said.

Hayden, a founding member of the political organization Students for a Democratic Society, said the first response to the success of any social movement is usually denial, but Kent State’s remembrance of May 4, 1970, highlights the ability of memories to live as constant reminders.

“You’re here as testimony that those enemies of memory have failed,” he said. “You are not prepared for oblivion.”

Hayden compared the current feelings of the Iraq War to the Vietnam War, especially the “Vietnam Syndrome” that he said former President George H.W. Bush claimed to have defeated in 1991.

“In our generation, that syndrome is back,” he said. “The ‘Iraq Syndrome’ is nothing more than an extension of the ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ to the present.”

Hayden said, like the Vietnam War, the current Iraq War will end when the resources needed for war are extinct.

Instead of looking for a single way to end the war, Hayden said Americans must take responsibility by exercising their power as citizens. He said the war can be ended by turning public opinion against the war, advising people not to join the military, ending bipartisan support for the war, opposing the funding of the war and encouraging church leaders to oppose it.

For those who believe the current anti-war movement does not matter, Hayden said the following examples are proof of its efforts:

  Eight demonstrations since 2002 with more than 100,000 people protesting the war.

  165 cities in the U. S. have passed resolutions against the war.

  Gallup Polls indicate American public opinion has turned against the Iraq War quicker than it turned against the Vietnam war.

  The impact of Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.

  Votes cast in favor of candidates who were against the Iraq War in the November 2006 presidential election.

Hayden said the commemoration of May 4, 1970, at Kent State is a way to honor the slain students and continue their activist legacy.

“What we have to understand is that the energy of Kent State is still alive,” he said. “We honor their memory by ending this war.

“Flowers can grow from a grave, so have anti-war movements grown from the graves of those fallen ones.”

Contact student politics reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].