[Hpn] Anti-war protest in NH

wtinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Wed, 19 Sep 2001 06:53:17 -0400


September 19, 2001

ANTI-WAR PROTEST:
Quakers, others in NH
decry rush to battle
By JOHN DiSTASO
Senior Political Reporter

Bringing terrorists to justice appears to be a universally shared desire in
New Hampshire and the country. But not everyone in the Granite State is
eager for war, particularly if it costs the lives of innocent people.
“We would be out front and active against war, but also out front and active
for justice under the law for the people who committed violence against
humanity,” said Arnie Alpert, program coordinator of the New Hampshire
chapter of the American Friends Services Committee and a longtime social
activist in the state.
AFSC is a self-described Quaker organization that includes people of all
faiths “committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service.”
AFSC has “an 84-year record of opposing war and trying to help the victims
of war,” and has been counseling conscientious objectors since World War I,
Alpert said yesterday.
Alpert said he backs bringing the terrorists to justice for their Sept. 11
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but said, “the harboring
part and the wrath part is different than the justice part.”
Alpert said that before Sept. 11, President George W. Bush “was known for
unilateralism, for not worrying much about building international alliances.
That’s now changed and we believe that if we have any hope of pulling
justice out of this wreckage, it needs to be done with an international
consensus.”
A Granite State Quaker leader agreed.
“This is a criminal investigation,” said Elizabeth Cazden, a Manchester
attorney who is also a former presiding clerk of the New England Meeting of
Friends (Quakers). She said there are approximately 400 Friends in New
Hampshire.
Even if Osama bin Laden is found and apprehended, he should not be executed,
said Cazden.
“Friends have been against the death penalty for several hundred years and
have not wavered, whether it’s Osama bin Laden or Timothy McVeigh,” she
said.
Cazden said that while politicians in Washington “are personally threatened
by this and are engaged in inexcusable war-mongering, that’s not what I’m
hearing on the streets of New Hampshire.
“I believe that people want to make sure we bring the people responsible to
justice, but, regarding war, I think the politicians are not reading the
country correctly,” Cazden said.
Cazden said the “religious challenge” for Quakers and all who believe in God
is to “forgive those who have trespassed against you. People have been
reciting those words for a week, but how do you do it when it’s something
this unforgivable? That is the challenge.”
New Hampshire Peace Action, meanwhile, released a statement this week urging
against “rash and misguided actions that, seeking to achieve justice, would
instead result in more innocent suffering.” The group said this would place
the U.S. “dangerously close to falling into the same moral category as the
terrorists.”
The national Libertarian Party holds much the same view.
Its Web site condemns the terrorist attacks but urges the United States “to
be sure that any response is appropriate and measured.
“Action should not be taken that will cause innocent people in other countri
es to be killed because of the action of terrorists. Such a response would
only continue the cycle of violence and revenge.”
In New Hampshire, Howard Wilson, the party’s political director, said he
backs “sending a small-scale force to do a seek-and-destroy mission, but a
large-scale force would generate so much ill will nationally that we would
be better off not doing it.”
But John Babiarz, a Libertarian candidate for governor, sees the situation
differently and parts ways with his party.
“Even though Libertarians don’t believe in the initiation of force, we do
believe in defending ourselves, and, unfortunately, our government, with its
lack of security, failed to defend us here,” Babiarz said.
Babiarz, an Air Force veteran, said he considers the U.S. now in a war. “In
a war, unfortunately, there is collateral damage,” he said. “After all, we
had 6,000 people wiped out.”