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Whatever Happened to Anti-War Protests and Protesters?

Week of January 28, 2004


Rev. Ronald Clingenpeel
Dean, Christ Church Cathedral
"There'll always be pacifists and anti-war activists who'll protest, but the general population is not going to get on board until they believe the war unwinnable and the cost of life unacceptable. It's a sad commentary that a good part of the American public is apathetic or resigned to the current occupation, although that could change. Bush has declared the war over, yet there've been more killed since the 'end' of the war than during the war itself. The longer the war drags on, the more likely the anti-war faction will strengthen."

Meredith Reuter
Psychology Major, Washington University
"There was a big anti-war rally on campus. They had a couple professors speaking and people were making signs and trying to get students to write letters. After that it just sort of went away. I think we all got caught up in our daily lives. It's easy to forget what's happening in Iraq, and it's not pleasant to think about either. Ultimately, I think there was a sense that there's nothing we can really do about it, and we were going to just blame the evil government and say, 'Well, this isn't our problem anymore.'"

Keith Wilcox
Maintenance Supervisor, Missouri National Guard
"I was in a going-away ceremony for one of the units, and there was a state senator there and he said the war in Iraq never hit home for him until one of his son's friends went. That about says it. I think people look at what's going on as the right thing to do, but more and more the attitude seems to be 'as long as it's somebody else's kid's butt on the line.' [They feel] patriotism is okay to a point until it's their son or daughter who has to go, and then they reconsider what they have to pay. Freedom is not free -- they forget that."

Alyssa Hoog
Photographer/Cook, Carnegie Café
"I think young people get frustrated and feel nothing will come of it. It's like, 'Yeah, I can protest, but what is it really gonna do? Just piss a lot of people off, but there's no real change.' You look at Martin Luther King: How many marches did he go on where people threw bottles and rocks and called the marchers names? And I think you see that same thing with war protests. You're branded unpatriotic, you're basically called a bad American -- which is ironic since protest is the greatest form of patriotism."

James Fitzgerald
Manager, Wild Oats Natural Marketplace
"People feel disempowered and removed from Washington, and they don't believe they can do anything to change the course we're on. Around here, protest was not that vocal to begin with -- I saw one march down Delmar -- and then it just fizzled out. There's also the factor that war is really good for St. Louis, always has been, because of the military-friendly industry here."