Macalester College Peace & Justice Committe and Students for a Democratic Society

By

For the past five years, we have watched our government kill more than a million Iraqis and thousands of Americans, waging war against a civilian population with total disregard for the Geneva Conventions, covertly torturing thousands who have been abducted without judicial review and the positioning of mercenaries outside the reach of both U.S. and international law. The American people, too, have become the target of unethical governmental policies, as unwarranted domestic surveillance tactics proliferate to an unprecedented degree and legislation like the Patriot Act continues to pass, denying us our basic civil liberties.Despite our widespread knowledge of, and opposition to the current U.S. military occupation of Iraq, we have carried on with life as usual because, for many of us, stopping the war represents an overwhelming task. Some have registered their opposition through voting, letter-writing, book-writing, lobbying and even marching in the streets, yet there is still no end in sight.

We have called on the student body, faculty and staff at Macalester to leave our classes and workplaces today, Nov. 16, to come together for a day of education and protest. As a part of this general strike, we are also calling for an official withdrawal from the U.S. economy by not purchasing goods or services today. While it is clear that one action alone will not stop the war, we believe that strike is an effective form of protest. Effectual protest should open dialogue as a means of building an inclusive community of resistance to this illegal and unethical war. Effectual protest should also make a collective stance that disrupts the flow of everyday life, making the statement that until the government stops the war, we will stop business as usual.

In coming together as a community to participate in workshops and discussions, we can create a space to educate ourselves about the war and organize to end it-we see this strike as only the beginning. In refusing to maintain the illusion of political normalcy, we will acknowledge our complicity in the violent tactics employed by our government, offer hope to those who unwillingly risk their lives in this conflict that the people of the United States will work to stop the war, because our government has not.

At a meeting of Macalester faculty in October, a motion was proposed to cancel classes and participate in a general strike in order to demonstrate institutional opposition to the war in Iraq. Although the motion was never voted upon, we support those faculty who believe that ending the war should be a priority on the Macalester campus. Our educational community is not only an appropriate, but necessary place for inciting collective intervention against policies that ask us to remain knowingly complicit in extreme acts of violence.

College campuses have always been politicized places. From the Jackson State and Kent State shootings of student protestors, history tells us that we are in a position of immense political relevance.

Past anti-war movements have taken their cues from college campuses as places of critical debate, and as a means of carrying thought into action. What has been lost in the discussion of “preserving neutrality” is that any stance with respect to the war-protest or not-is itself a political position. Laying claim to an apolitical or moderate stance is coercive rhetoric, and is employed to pacify those working to stop a war that is being fought in our name.

Macalester will participate in the strike today along with University of Minnesota students, high school students throughout the Twin Cities and millions across the country taking part in the Iraq War Moratorium-a national day of resistance to the war. Because we are calling for staff and faculty as well as students to strike, we are demanding that there be no administrative retaliation for participation.

By maintaining the status quo, we are communicating to one another, to our government and to the rest of the world that we accept this war, and that we will allow it to be prolonged indefinitely. Take action today, Friday, Nov. 16. Walk out of class and work and participate in a day of workshops, organizing and protest to stop the war.

Contact MPJC-SDS at [email protected]