some argue for war|
Even as several busloads of Oberlin students
will travel to New York this weekend to join an international
protest against a U.S.-led war on Iraq, a small contingent of less
vocal pro-war students hold on to the conviction that deposing
Saddam Hussein is the best way forward.
major Ronnie Goines, whose mother is a survivor of the Sept. 11
attacks on the World Trade Center, counts himself among this
minority. He believes that the Iraqi regime is working with
terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, and poses an immediate threat to
the American people.
“I’m all about putting an end to terrorism,”
Goines said, adding that he thinks Saddam Hussein probably helped
support the Sept. 11 attacks. “You can’t sit back and let people
think that they can do things like that to you,” he said.
Goines’ opinion, many anti-war students do not know how to defend
“People here come from privileged backgrounds,
most of them, and I really think that they kind of jump on the
bandwagon when crises happen,” Goines said. “Right now in Oberlin,
the bandwagon is ‘let’s make peace, not war.’ [But] my point of view
is so strong… they really don’t have much to say.”
students say they’ve had a different experience at Oberlin.
Sophomore Curtis Ferguson, a Log Cabin Republican who says he would
support a war as long as the U.S. received support from its European
allies, claimed that he knows no other students who support Iraqi
disarmament. Furthermore, when he mentions his conservative beliefs
to his Oberlin friends, he often receives nothing but
“It doesn’t bother me,” Ferguson said, “because Oberlin
is a diverse community.”
Still, some other Republican students
expressed discouragement, claiming they have often felt reluctant to
express their opinions for fear of public backlash.
Miguel Villafana, an outspoken campus Republican, is no stranger to
such negative attentions. He supports a war on Iraq despite having
family members on military duty in the Middle East.
popular, I get hate mail,” he remarked. “You get used to it after a
while…I don’t want this fight any more than you or the next guy, but
I’m not a coward.”
Similarly, junior Ryan Silakoski, sports
editor of The Oberlin Review and member of the U.S. Marine Corps,
said he sometimes feels that his ideals put his safety in jeopardy.
“My biggest beef with anti-war people on this campus is that they
refuse to have a dialogue… It’s threatening to be honest… I get in
arguments with people if I speak up,” Silakoski said, claiming that
in the past students have vandalized the door of his dormitory room
because he decorated it with a bumper sticker displaying the Marine
Corps motto, “Semper Fi.”
“Oberlin preaches about diversity,” he
continued. “Being someone from the military and being Republican, I
add to that diversity, even though I’m a working class white male.”
Silakoski he fears the results of last semester’s student
referendum asking for the College to officially oppose the war. “At
some point [if it passes], when I’m looking for [military] security
clearance, they’re going to look at my transcripts and see that I
went to a college that was officially against the war and against
the commander in chief’s wishes.”
In fact, Silakoski claimed that
he has made attempts to talk with campus anti-war activists and has
often run into an impasse because many people stop talking when they
discover he is a Republican and member of the armed forces, although
he did cite one exception.
“I will tell you that
[representatives from Oberlin Coalition against the War] did listen
to me. I was very impressed with them, and if everyone respected my
views like I respected theirs, [Oberlin] would be a much better
Despite his strong beliefs, Silakoski does not have any
plans to start a campus conservative organization.
“If I were to
put up a poster, it’d get ripped down 30 seconds later, [and for]
people who are pro-war, it’s difficult for them to express that
because they know what will happen. There are a lot of them around,
[but] they feel like it’s a lost cause [on this campus]…” he said,
claiming that some campus liberals “forget that [soldiers] are human
too, that we don’t want to have to go to war… War is evil, plain and