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Forum Denounces Military Retaliation

Speakers at the forum, titled "Understanding the Attack on America," urged a a standing-room-only crowd in the Great Hall of the Student Union to support a peaceful American response.

"We offer this teach-in as an alternative to the cries of war and as an end to the cycle of continued global violence," said Elin Slavick, a UNC art professor who moderated the forum.

Slavick opened the forum speaking behind a sign that read, "An eye for an eye makes the world blind," and many speakers forcefully argued a similar sentiment.

"An Israel-like response to these attacks will bring an Israel-like state of war on a global scale," said Stan Goff, author of a book on U.S. foreign policy with Haiti. "We will tumble from chauvinism into the abyss of recession and tribalism."

Rania Masri, author of "Iraq Under Siege" and a national member of the Peace Action Board, said the attention of the public must be diverted away from retaliation and toward an examination of the motives behind the attack.

"The question we should explore is not who we should bomb or where we should bomb, but why we were targeted," she said. "When we have the answer to why, then we will have the ability to prevent terrorist attacks tomorrow."

William Blum, an investigative journalist and founder of the Washington Free Press, addressed that question by pointing to a history of aggressive U.S. foreign policy.

He cited statistics that named the United States as responsible for the attempted overthrow of more than 30 foreign governments and the bombing of more than 20 countries since 1945.

"These are the actions that will turn an Arab into a fanatic," Blum said. "These acts of terrorism will not stop as long as we are intervening in civil wars that are none of our business besides serving the interests of U.S. corporations."

Catherine Lutz, a UNC anthropology professor, said an aggressive U.S. retaliation would only serve the interests of the U.S. military establishment, and she compared such a response to the dawn of the Cold War. "The parallel to (Sept. 11) is not Pearl Harbor," she said. "It is February 1947, when a new war was declared."

Several speakers also criticized the U.S. government and the mass media for placing too much emphasis on a television clip that shows citizens in Palestine celebrating the day of the attacks, an image which they said creates a hostile environment for American Muslims.

"Every media outlet has been showing that same clip over and over again," Masri said. "They fail to state that every major Palestinian organization has condemned the attacks."

A focus on preserving the safety of Muslims made the speeches appealing to Nermeen Arastu, a freshman from Greenville who attended the forum.

"As a Muslim, I've been overwhelmed by the support on campus and the effort to end the oppression of our people," she said.

"This (forum) recognized that war would only further that oppression."

Whitney Ward, a freshman journalism major who also attended the forum, said the speakers succeeded in presenting an alternative perspective on the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. "It was very informative in explaining the leftist viewpoint," she said. "It showed a side that the media doesn't usually cover."

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