The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday December 2nd

Latest Teach-In Relates Religion, Afghan Bombing

Graduate student Michal Osterweil says the teach-in will differ from the previous two, which occurred before the bombing began.

The event is called "Inter-Faith Responses to September 11" and will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Hanes Art Center auditorium to discuss the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

The teach-in is co-sponsored by the University Program in Cultural Studies and Progressive Students, Staff and Faculty, known as PROGRESS.

"The people speaking are all from different communities of faith," said Michal Osterweil, a graduate student in anthropology who was involved in planning the event.

The speakers will include Sister Evelyn Mattern from the N.C. Council of Churches; the Rev. Robert Seymour, minister emeritus of Binkley Baptist Church in Chapel Hill; the Rev. Curtis Gatewood from the Durham chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; an active Catholic; and a practicing Muslim.

"I think that we feel like there hasn't been a whole lot of opportunity for discussion of September 11," said Osterweil, an active member of PROGRESS.

"We really, really underestimate the importance of creating these spaces for open discussion -- people are terrified to speak out."

The last two teach-ins generated strong reactions -- both positive and negative -- as a result of what some people perceived as the teach-ins' leftist points of view.

But Osterweil said there are many people who think the U.S. government has responded poorly to the recent terrorist attacks.

"It looks like America is united, but there's folks that aren't," she said.

Osterweil said she hopes some of those who disagree with America's response will attend, as well as people who are ambivalent and who support the United States' military action.

She said tonight's teach-in will probably generate some debate because of the response to the first two.

"In these days, there's going to be a response to anything that's seen as anti-mainstream, but that's all the more reason it should happen," she said.

After the first teach-in, activist David Horowitz posted articles on his Web site criticizing the University and teach-in participants. The articles gained the attention of conservative members of the media, including Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy.

Seymour, one of the speakers at the event, said he is not concerned about a negative reaction to the teach-in.

"I'd like for people to have a better understanding of the risk we are taking with this course of action and an understanding of the alternatives," he said.

Seymour said he was chosen because the organizers were looking for a representative from the Christian community, indicating that religion will play a key role in the discussion.

"My understanding is that it will be an interfaith dialogue in which we share the reaction of the faith community, and I will be speaking on that topic," he said.

Seymour declined to comment further on the specifics of what the speakers would discuss.

But Osterweil said that as well as the focus on religion, this teach-in will be different from the last two because the bombing had not yet begun when they were held. She said, "It's going to be a different conversation -- one that we haven't yet had."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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