Since it became apparent last fall that the administration was resigned to fight a pre-emptive war in Iraq, anti-war sentiment has ballooned in this country and around the world. One of the most unfortunate side effects of this has been the dreadfully off-point comparisons between the modern movement and the “movement” of the mid-to-late ’60s in America.

We have quite a few bones to pick with those who classify “anti-war” protesters as nothing more than pot smoking hippies looking for a good time. First, and most importantly, this position evades the fundamental question raised by the protesters – is the war in Iraq just? The right wing of this country would rather name call than actually tackle this essential issue.

Unlike the idealized notions of the ’60s that pervade this country, the decade was actually full of turmoil, violence and division. Just a few names and places ought to remind us of this – Birmingham, Selma and Watts, where white cops were “protecting our freedom” by using fire hoses and billy clubs on already disenfranchised blacks. In the ’60s we lost John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy just to name a few.

If you have ever been to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington you will surely understand the immense gravity of that conflict. To say that the modern anti-war movement wants to rekindle the spirit of the ’60s so they can skip classes, smoke pot and protest for the hell of it is not only ludicrous, but repugnant as well. It just goes to show the utter ignorance of chicken-hawks.

The other major ignorance that the neo-conservatives possess is that the anti-war protesters are somehow “pro-Saddam.” This, too, is a gross error in judgment. The protesters have no love for Hussein, his regime or any war criminal. However, at the core of the protests is the idea that through peaceful means we can effect the change necessary to eradicate the Baath party or any other repressive regime.

One needs only to look at the Serbian situation of the past six years. Through peaceful means, despite military pressures from the west, Slobodan Milosevic was ousted and a democratic society began to emerge. There were options other than a pre-emptive military strike to reform the situation in Iraq. Smart sanctions, which the United States vehemently opposed, were never given a chance and “Food for Oil” was beginning to show promise in at least feeding the Iraqi people.

So perhaps before the war hawks and Richard Perle wannabes start spouting uninformed, self-righteous rhetoric they should pick up a history book and figure out what the real history of this country was, not the imagined reality of a ’60s flower power utopia.

Khan is a Take Five Scholar and can be reached at Zeiser is a sophomore and can be reached at

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