Skip to comments.Most blacks oppose war in Iraq [diatribe how Bush to attack people of color and defund programs]
Posted on 03/14/2003 9:01:02 AM PST by LurkedLongEnough
Marc Edwards could not be more appalled as he watches President Bush push ahead with plans for war. If the United States invades Iraq, a disproportionate number of blacks will be among the troops, said the 45-year-old Harlem resident.
Other minorities will be the war's victims, he said, adding that black families will be especially hard hit by its costs.
"It's a war that's threatening to send this economy reeling and that's going to really hurt black people," Edwards, a bookstore marketing supervisor, said while standing on 125th Street.
As Bush and his Cabinet continue trying to line up support in the United Nations Security Council for military action against Saddam Hussein and other countries prove difficult to sway, opposition at home among many blacks is unyielding.
In interviews in Harlem, outside the United Nations and in the northern suburbs, blacks were overwhelmingly against a war and almost uniformly suspicious of Bush and his motives. Few thought the United States had made a persuasive case for a pre-emptive strike. Many said Bush was playing on American fears following Sept. 11.
Bonnie Walker, a 42-year-old representative for Tiffany & Co., lost a friend when the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists.
"But still I wouldn't want to settle it by going to war," she said as she hurried along 125th Street.
The Bush administration's attempts to link Saddam Hussein with al-Qaida had done little to convince most of those interviewed of the need for an invasion. Some, like 24-year-old editor and writer Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, think antiwar activists should acknowledge that terrorism is a threat, but she remains against the war. Trying to strong-arm the rest of the world will simply make the United States even more hated, others said.
"So many people are trying to be so patriotic, and that's wonderful," Hazel Smith, 62, the retired managing editor of the New York Beacon, a black newspaper in New York City, said on 125th Street. "We love the flag, all of us. We love this country. But our country's beginning to disappoint us a little bit. I hate to believe we're becoming the ugly Americans they used to talk about years ago."
A survey this month of New York City residents found sharp differences among racial and ethnic groups in attitudes toward an impending war. A full 62 percent of blacks opposed a war under any circumstances, compared to only 26 percent of whites. Hispanics fell in between with 51 percent opposed, according to the poll conducted by Blum & Weprin Associates for Newsday/New York 1.
The results match national figures. A Pew Research Center poll last month similarly found black support for the war at the lowest level of any group questioned 44 percent, compared to 73 percent among whites and 67 percent among Latinos.
"Blacks have historically been against a large number of wars," said Walter Stafford, a professor of urban planning and public policy at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service, who recently wrote about black opposition to the war in the Amsterdam News.
A lack of civil rights at home spurred a reluctance to fight for democracy abroad, he said. Wars overseas, he added, often meant rights were undermined, as occurred when President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society was derailed by the Vietnam War. Blacks see a racial dimension to this war, he said, as evidenced by the slur "sand niggers" to demean Arabs.
When the United States attacks developing countries, he said, "Blacks who live on a precipice themselves understand what it means."
The opposition is reflected in last year's vote giving Bush authority to wage war on Iraq if Saddam fails to abandon his biological, chemical and nuclear arms programs. Thirty-four of the 38 members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted against the measure.
Solid opposition in the black community has not translated into large attendance at peace marches. Blacks should be protesting, but may be wary of appearing unpatriotic, says 44-year-old Yao Cunningham, one of the few black men at a recent rally in Cortlandt.
"It's against innocent people," said the Peekskill resident. "Get Saddam out, yes, but don't kill innocent people."
To be sure, not all blacks are against military action. Saddam has had enough time to disarm, said Willie Lee, a retired postal worker from White Plains who served in the Army in Germany in the early 1960s. The United States must act; its citizens need to stop second-guessing their president's motives.
"We just got to do what we got to do," he said. "Get it over with, that's all. Wars today are not going to take that long, not going to be that destructive."
Vietnam veteran David C. Smith, a Chestnut Ridge resident who was a paratrooper in the Army, said he sided with Secretary of State Colin Powell. The Sept. 11 attacks were not aimed at a specific race or ethnicity, he said, but at all Americans.
"When you look at the flag, it doesn't depict black or white," said Smith, 59, the president of Paragon Systems, a Spring Valley company that makes corrugated boxes. "It's red, white and blue. That's the freedom we enjoy."
"I believe the administration has tried to be patient," he said.
Powell presents a dilemma for many black Americans, observers said. On the one hand, they are proud of his position in the government; on the other, he works for a president who drew only 9 percent of the black vote in the 2000 election. Edwards conceded that part of what drives the antiwar sentiment among blacks is a deep distrust of Bush.
"There's almost a knee-jerk reaction: If this guy says it's OK, there's something wrong with it," he said. "And I don't think that's necessarily a bad reaction for black people to have."
A community already suspicious of Bush's motives worries too about the amount of money to be funneled to military uses. Like many blacks, Nanuet resident Charles Butler believes social programs especially needed in the black community will be hurt. Butler, a retired photographer, served in the Korean War.
"If we do go to war, it's going to be in the billions," he said. "I see us spending more money on guns than butter. Our social service programs are going to be on the back burner. The problem of AIDS in Africa is going to be on the back burner. I hate to see them close down good butter-type programs."
And if blacks fear social programs are to be slashed at home, they also believe black men would unfairly bear the brunt of the fighting overseas. Black men and women are disproportionately represented in the armed forces: 22 percent of the enlisted forces was black in 2000, compared to 12 percent of the general population, though studies have shown combat casualties are not as high.
Beyond the deaths among the military, there is the likelihood of civilian casualties among the Iraqis, much on the mind of most interviewed.
"I don't think war solves any problems," said Dwayne Davis of Tarrytown, a 37-year-old office employee of Westcon Associates, a company that distributes computer parts. "I think it causes more chaos than anything. Plus innocent people are going to die."
And among some is the suspicion that Bush would be less eager to go to war if the adversary were a European country.
"The fact that these are people of color has a lot to do with Bush's readiness to just drop bombs on them," Edwards said.
Black conservative ping
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1. Blacks are not overrepresented in combat units.
2. To the extent the economy is "reeling," it has little or nothing to do with the war in Iraq.
3. One of my criticisms of the President is that he has not been willing to cut the domestic budget to fight the war on terrorism and reduce the deficit.
4. Since when did Arabs, a semitic people and the last enslavers of black people on earth, become "people of color?"
In short, this article bears little resemblance to the truth and is just another attempt to remind black people that anything backed by a Republican is bad.
Someone should tell him that the Iraquis are not Black.
Clear demonstration of the premise that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. And it has the unfortunate side-effect of making people liberal. The Iraqis are not arabs. They are, in fact, caucasian.
LOL...they're NOT Arab either...they're Persian.
Cleopatra and Hannibal were from Africa professor.
Are people being told what to think and how to feel?
A friend of mine married a white woman from South Africa and she is now an American citizen, but she is not an African-American.
What's up with that?
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