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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

’United’ rally supports U.S. military action in Afghanistan

Fearful that peace activists have incorrectly portrayed the Madison community as unsupportive of recent military action, a group of UW-Madison students organized a rally Thursday in an attempt to alter that image.  




Participants demonstrated their support of American troops by holding flags, singing the national anthem and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Speakers, including Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow and former congressional candidate John Sharpless, spoke of freedom and justice as they asked students to remain united behind the country and its military.  




Held exactly one month after the Sept. 11 attacks, the rally was organized in response to the numerous peace demonstrations held in the past weeks, said Tony Blodgett, a rally organizer. Attended by what he calls 'a few radical, anti-American activists,' Blodgett said the anti-war gatherings have misconstrued the Madison community as unpatriotic.  




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He said this distortion, along with the Madison Metropolitan School District's recent perceived ban of the Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms, is misleading. Most UW-Madison students and Madison community members agree with the 90 percent of Americans who support military action, he said.  




'We are compelled to respond because students across the nation and in Madison have been misrepresented as unsupportive of the government. That is just plain wrong,' said Louis Crisostomo, also an organizer for the rally. 'We are here in support of our country. ... This really isn't pro-war. We just want to protect the freedom to disagree right here in Madison.'  




Blodgett said the image peace demonstrators have portrayed of Madison, as well as the perceived ban on the Pledge of Allegiance, is 'embarrassing and disgracing.'  




Though initially small, the rally eventually developed into a crowd of more than 100 people. Peace demonstrators were also in attendance, holding signs that read 'War: I Didn't Vote For It' and 'Innocent People Are Dying.'  




Dane County Sup. Echnaton Vedder, District 8, an anti-war demonstrator, said he did not believe peace activists are misrepresenting students; they are merely partaking in their right to demonstrate, he said. He also said he is wary that many students are blindly supporting the military actions as part of a newfound patriotism that has swept the country.  




Vedder said he is distressed that the Bush administration has not offered options beyond military rebuttal.  




But Sharpless said he is disturbed by many of the peace activists' arguments, including the idea that Americans deserved the attacks because of past foreign policy decisions. He also questioned what kind of options peace activists are looking for instead of military action.  




'Should we have a bake sale? All-night basketball? Do they think we are dealing with troubled youth'? Sharpless said. 'Close to [5,000] people were lost in less than an hour on our homeland. ?? Sometimes you have to respond with violence to protect yourself.'

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