Hundreds Gathered At Tufts To Seek Solutions and Organize

“We do not want war and we are not comforted by the bombing in Afghanistan.” These are the words of 28 year old Amber Amundson whose husband, Craig Amundson, was killed in the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon. This past Saturday, Amber spoke to over 450 attendees of a conference entitled “After September 11: Paths To Real Security and Justice” held at Tufts University in Medford Massachusetts.

Organized by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization, the purpose of the conference was to provide information and alternatives to those who feel that military action is not the solution to the terrorist threat. The day offered workshops on topics such as recent U.S. policy in the Middle East, non-violent alternatives to war and terrorism, and defending civil liberties. The crowd was diverse and included religious leaders, grass-roots activists, and citizens from all points in the North Eastern U.S. Among them were several local residents. Christine Freeman, a freshman at Haverford College, said she came because she wanted to “try to understand a very complicated war and find out how it can be addressed with peaceful means.” For Christine, “socio-economic inequality and a lack of cultural understanding” are the true roots of terrorism. A Pennsylvania resident, Ben Wachtel, said that he came in order to “talk to others that feel war will create an even more dangerous situation and to get more information about what is happening”. Both Christine and Ben echoed the sentiments of many others. Most expressed the feeling that war will create a stronger cycle of violence which will in turn increase the number of potential terrorist recruits and attacks abroad.

World reknown linguist and author of numerous books on U.S. foreign affairs, Noam Chomsky, offered the keynote address. Mr. Chomsky told the crowd that the Administration was committed to “pursuing force over peace” and did not seek UN approval for its actions because the government, as the world’s lone super-power, is intent on acting as if “there is no need for a higher authority than its own.” He went on to remind the government of U.S. sponsored terrorism in places such as Haiti, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.

In all, the day offered no easy solutions to the current war. It did however highlight the fact that a growing chorus of voices in the region are expressing concern and opposition to the war in the Middle East. The overall message of the day was perhaps best captured by Ryan Amundson, brother of the slain Pentagon employee Craig Amundson. In his speech he said, “humanitarian workers have been hit, American troops lives have been lost, millions risk starvation, and we are promised that this is only the beginning. Is this the path leading to peace, justice, and the assurance of safety for American citizens in the years to come?”

A full account of the Amundson family’s recent walk for peace and letter to President Bush can be found at:

Jon Bailie is a counselor for at risk youth and writer

Family of September 11th Victim Speak Out
For Peace At Conference
By John Bailie

Posted on the Independent Newswire on 12 December 2001

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