From: Monica Haines
I am writing in relation to a letter by Susan Houck of Columbia, published in the Sunday, Jan. 27 issue ("Pacifists don't belong on the front page").
Houck criticized the judgment of the editor in running a front-page story about Atholton High School students who marched in Washington for peace in the Middle East.
Ms. Houck argued that it was insulting to her that such a story was placed in the paper just four days after the United States went to war, since the troops were "there to protect our peace."
In addition, she is "a parent and friend of many who have been deployed in Saudi Arabia since Aug. 6."
To begin with, the article about the students was appropriate to the Jan. 20 issue, for it ran just three days after the students protested in Washington.
More importantly, though, was the correct judgment of the editor to report on a normally avoided or biased topic-- anti-war protest.
Since the beginning of the year, many anti-war protests have taken place. The majority of the protesters are peaceful and abide by the law. Yet, as in all protest situations, some violence has resulted.
This violence is what has often been reportedon in the newspapers, radio and television. One such example was thewidespread reports of a small number of San Francisco protesters whoset fire to a police car and threw bottles during a protest.
Instead of reporting on the issues brought up by the thousands of peaceful protesters, these violent acts were emphasized.
In this way, themedia distorted the truth of the protests and therefore created the illusion of anti-war protesters as being anti-American and anti-troops.
This is a false accusation since the majority of anti-war protesters are pro-troops. One reason we support the troops is that they are our brothers, sisters, friends, daughters, sons, parents and neighbors.
We support the troops and their families through protests sothat they will not have to experience the mental and physical anguish caused by war. Simply put, we want them home alive, not in body bags.
In addition, the people in Israel, Kuwait and even Jordan and Iraq are our brothers and sisters in the sense that we are all humans.
We do not want the people of this country or any other country to die in a politically and economically motivated war.
The accusation that anti-war protesters are anti-American and therefore unpatriotic is also false.
On the contrary, anti-war protesters are patriotic because they express their constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly.
Patriotism is defined as "devotion to one's country." Patriotism does not mean total agreement with present political views and policies.
Although the anti-war protesters do not support the policies related to the war, this does not mean they are against the policies on which America was based.
Furthermore, this war is aboutprotecting oil interests and liberating Kuwait; it is in no sense about defending our country and its basic freedoms.
The judgment of the editor in running a very informative and unbiased story on the anti-war protesters is commendable.
By doing this, the editor has helped the community to recognize the fact that anti-war protesters arenot anti-American, unpatriotic or anti-troops. They are patriotic, pro-American and pro-troops because they protest.
Editor's note: The writer is a member of the University of Maryland-Baltimore Campus Coalition Against The War, but did not write the letter as a spokeswoman for the group.