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Refusing to be silenced by pro-war hawks

April 23, 2004 | Page 4

HATEM BAZIAN is a lecturer at the University of California-Berkeley. After speaking out against the U.S. occupation of Iraq at a rally earlier this month, he became the target of right-wing activists who have begun a campaign of complaints to the university.

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Dear Socialist Worker,
On April 10, 2004, I gave a speech at an emergency rally and march organized by the ANSWER Coalition to bring attention to the current increase in hostility directed at the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. In the short unwritten speech, I called on people to have an "intifada" in our country and begin a process for fundamental political change in America.

Considering the circumstances, my speech was passionate, but it was in no way a call for or an urging of individuals to engage in violence to bring about political change. As a matter of fact, after the initial introductory part of the speech, I realized that someone might misunderstand or have a malicious intent due to the use of "intifada" terminology. Thus, I made sure to say that I am calling for "a political intifada," and many agreed with the spirit of my call.

I opposed the war and have been an outspoken critic of it from day one. The current developments in occupied Iraq are a vindication of what I and others have said all along--that this was a badly conceived idea.

The attempt to smear my name and attack me as being unpatriotic is shooting the messenger, rather than heeding the message. Also, a true patriot is the one who speaks out to bring the nation's attention when it is committing something fundamentally wrong, which I believe Iraq to be such a case.
Hatem Bazian, Berkeley, Calif.

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