9/11 remembered by peace activists for resulting in more violence

09/11/12 Janelle Irwin
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While groups around the country are remembering the victims of 9/11, other groups are marking the day for a different reason. A group of Peace activists rallied at USF and downtown Tampa today to remind people that American lives weren’t the only ones lost as a result of the attacks that day. Gonzalo Valdes with the group Tampa Against the War on Terror said more people were lost post 9/11.

“9/11 was the beginning of this war on terror. That’s when the world changed. I personally feel that the world changed for the negative. Civil liberties were lost after that, the homeland became more militarized. We’ve gone to more war, our economy has gotten a lot weaker because of this war. We’ve spent over $1.3 trillion on this war – that’s the U.S. government’s own estimate. I’ve seen estimates that range in the $3-4 trillion ranges.”

And Students for a Democratic Society’s Matthew Hastings said the amount of money being spent on the so-called War on Terror is taking away from things Americans should be able to count on.

“Teachers and students hurt by attacks on education were told the money’s not there, but the money is being dropped on the civilians of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.”

But Valdes, from the group Tampa Against the War on Terror said there are other costs too. According to his research, more than 200,000 civilians have been killed in Middle Eastern countries as a result of U.S. occupation and of those many were women and children.

“The cost on women’s rights in places like Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq – women have gone backwards since our involvement there.”

Drawing attention from other students and faculty inside the Marshall Student Center, the group of activists dropped a banner from the third floor emboldening war stats. It showed the disparity between casualties and financial loss on 9/11 verses how much since then. He said people who claim that the U.S. military is trying to bring peace and democracy to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan have it all wrong.

“As of 2011 - according to the Democracy Index which is a widely recognized measure of government transparency and lack of corruption – ranked Iraq as the eighth worst country in the world and Afghanistan as the third worst country in the world. They are basically part of the eight worst government regimes – most authoritarian regimes in the world.”

But across the city at Joe Chilura Courthouse Square a Christian group called Cry Out America was holding a prayer vigil asking people – all people - to return to Christian values. Organizer Jesten Peters said of course she wants peace.

“But, I mean, there’s always been wars and I guess there always will be wars.”

When asked if the group also prays for Muslims who have been killed, Peters had this to say.

“We’re strictly on the spiritual side of it and praying for our nation.”

Hillsborough County School Board candidate Terry Kemple went to what that group called an awakening. Kemple is known in the county for his public outrage against Muslim speakers in public schools. He claimed during several School Board meetings that people of Muslim faith are trying to spread Sharia Law. After the prayer vigil Kemple held a press conference at the school board building where he said he would be,

“Calling people to awareness that there are signals and evidence and facts that are out there right now.”

Kemple, along with members of the Education Coalition are presenting a policy that would ban Muslim speakers in public schools to the Hillsborough County School board at their regular meeting. And later, the group will gather for a remembrance ceremony where school board member Stacy White is expected to speak. White is the only board member who voted against Muslim speakers.

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Whenever I hear a Floridan talk about a return to "Christian Values," I wonder if they are thinking about the "Christian Values" that made Florida safe for chattel slavery. Values exampled by the perfidious signing of treaties, such as the Adams-Onis Treaty that granted Seminoles, the rights of citizenship, dishonorable treatment of the white flag, under which Osceola was captured, burning of peaceful villages and destruction of cropland, capture and enslavement of Seminoles, not to mention Jim Crow Florida, that I lived to see the legal end of.