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education | imperialism & war | youth

Im middle eastern student and was at the Crazy Berkley Conference

i can't believe this happend, what is wrong with this people?
Hi this was only my second time going to such a big conference, im only 18 years old and im a student at a community college. I went this weekend because people told me that it would be so good and fun to talk and work with solidrity with many others during this awful time when so many people are dying. Im from Pakistan and I have family that lives in Afghanistan, so this issue is very close to my heart. At my school we've had teach ins with speakers as teachers, and students but we always work in a way and make decisions to make sure that everyone has a voice and is able to be heard.
Sometimes our meetings are big, and sometimes they are not, but at least we let people talk and don't cut them off in the middle and move on. This conference and the voting was so fast and everyone was cut off, everything just felt so rushed. Nothing was really being discussed or explained. I mean they want us to report back to our schools, but how could we do that when we can't even sit down and talk about these things? how is that even possible? it was all so confusing.
Another thing that bugged me a lot was that they didn't tell us how were going to vote, they just told us to raise our cards and put them down, and they actually didn't explain the process to us. At some point this girl went up there and said it was really undemocratic and wanted to know if we could vote another way called Consenting, but nobody explained what consenting was, they just had us vote on consenting and majority voting, and the majority vote was for majority voting, it seemed so hypocritical to me.
These two people stood up and said they were from Iran and said that they didn't feel like middle eastern people were being left out of the process of making decisions, and they said that middle eastern people didn't feel like they didn't have a voice, but later on we foudn out the 2 people that stood up actually were ISO members and defending themselves because they felt attacked by the people speaking out against the process. This one other girl from a school in Orange County stood up and said that she didn't feel excluded, she said she felt like she could talk. I guess that's cool of her, but I raised my hand 8 times to talk and say that yes a lot of middle eastern people these white people are leaving us out and not asking us anything about this peace movement, and not including us, but doing everything in our name. That's how i feel, but i raised my hand and nobody ever called on me. During the whole 6 hour process I never even got a chance to speak out about anything, not even once.
I just don't get it, I don't know about this group ISO, but later on when we talked to a lot of people who were involved in the Berkley Stop the War Coalition, they told us that the ISO had controled everything, and not let them have other speakers or people up there facilitating.
I know im young to all this, but I just don't understand why this is going on? I wont ever stop anti-war organizing, but I don't want to work with people who are like the Democrats or Republicans, everything is all political and controling like this for them. I don't want to deal with that. I would rather just work with some cool people at my school and around my school and do some hardcore grassroots work with them.
White people have no right to do this shit, they have no right to push their own political agendas in our names, it's not fair, it's not right, and it has to stop. You guys are dominating us already in so many ways, you can't even see it you are so blinded by it, stop dominating us and thinking that you know what's best for our people. you shut us out this weekend, made me personally feel very isolated, and the one girl who was Iranian and defended you of course she did, she planned this confernce, she's not going to put it down, the other guy that defended it was an ISO guy. The other man who looked african/middle eastern who stood up and wanted to talk, he said the same thing that middle eastern people were being left out, and everyone ignored him. Just like the victims of S11 are being used to push a right wing agenda and take control of Afghanistan. That's the same thing these organizers, ISO or whoever they were tried to do, they are using the victims and tragedy of the Afghan War to control, dominate and shut out middle easterns form the anti-war movement. It's the same exact thing, and I don't knwo what to do about that coalition now, Im so confused and discouraged, but I'll keep on organzing on my campus.
Good, bad 14.Nov.2001 22:29

Jacob Rosenblum

I'm glad to hear such a passionate perspective in such isolated times. I think it's really good that you shared how you felt about the conference.
But realize that those with political agendas who have no time for personal realities and stories are in themselves individuals, and not necessarily representative of "white" people, so please avoid generalizing as such. I know the PC gig is played out... anyhow I wish you luck with getting people to support popular reform. I know very little of popular empowerment in the area, other than of RAWA who is widely cited.
The anti-war movement is not about those people who organize it. Shout it to the face of those who reject you. It is about opposing war, and if you feel the pain along with the victims, you should be a part of the movement. Overall, avoid the divisive slander which causes people to believe that there are fundamental differences between peoples. Good luck, and peace be with you.

hmm 14.Nov.2001 22:35


your post and the previous one on this site referring to the CSAW conference spurred me to check out the SF Bay Area indymedia to read more. i found a lot of confirmation of these extremely disturbing issues from folks who were there, and similar stories from the North East and Midwest student anti-war conferences.
i wanted to thank you, and Carmenita for bringing these problems to our attention, and to express hope for strong, anti-oppressive student organizing regionally and nationally.

was anyone from Oregon or Washington at this conference? or was it mostly just California?