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Bin Laden reaction: Antiwar activists say death could encourage more violence

May 2, 2011 | 12:26 pm

Mike Prysner

Many antiwar activists say they do not feel any closure after Osama Bin Laden's death and instead worry that it will be used to further perpetuate violence.

Mike Prysner, who fought in the Army in Iraq in 2003 before leaving to found a veterans antiwar group called March Forward, said Monday that Bin Laden's death might be important to families of those killed in the 9/11 attacks but that it does not signal the end to violence.

Photos: Osama bin Laden dead

"Bin Laden's death is being touted in a symbolic way, but the reality is our friends and family are dying in two wars that have nothing to do with protecting ourselves from Al Qaeda," he said.

"It's great if people are heartened by the death of Bin Laden," he continued, "but what about the deaths of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians that's going to continue after he's dead?"

Jollene Nelvid, 28, said she found Bin Laden's death ironic and alarming. Ironic because he used to be on the payroll of the U.S. government payroll, which years later spent large amounts of money to find and kill him, and alarming because so many civilians and soldiers have died in the wars, which she said seem to have no end.

"When does it end? What's the goal?" asked Nelvid, national chair of the women's anti-imperialism group AF3IRM.

Ian Thompson, Los Angeles coordinator for A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, said he was worried about "hyper-patriotism" following Bin Laden’s death and that he hoped Islamophobia would not spread.

"It gives people the opportunity to unfortunately go in that direction of being very patriotic, which has not, especially since 9/11, been at all helpful and has resulted in hate crimes against Arabs or Muslims," he said.

Antiwar activist and former state Sen. Tom Hayden said Bin Laden's death could be used by the antiwar movement to raise questions about continuing U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's all about whether you use the occasion to end a cycle of violence or perpetuate it," Hayden said. "And I'm afraid it'll be used to perpetuate it."

"There are some saying that this is an opportunity to declare victory and bring the troops home," he continued. "I share the sentiment, but I think this event reinforces the use of military solutions, and these wars will go on until public opinion and the burden of economic costs is too much."

Hayden said he thought Bin Laden's death added to President Obama's stature as commander in chief but also bolstered the reputations of what he said were advocates of war -- the CIA and the prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.

"Unfortunately, the role of the CIA and special forces and secret operations will be celebrated and fortified," he said.


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Photo: Mike Prysner protests outside Santa Clarita City Hall on Jan. 26, 2010. Credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times