Massachusetts Daily Collegian

An act of opposition for vets and students

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Courtesy Flickr/US Army Africa

On Wednesday night, the eve of Veterans’ Day, Amherst Town Meeting members voted 76- 32 to pass the “Bring Our War Dollars Home, Stop the Killing” resolution. This Act would resolve to make the town of Amherst one officially opposed to the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Did the Amherst Meeting members consult the Veterans of Amherst or the University of Massachusetts? No they did not. Did these people think of the message it sends to the many Servicemen and Veterans living at UMass and in Amherst? No they did not. Do those 76 individuals who voted for such an irrational measure ever think of the students their actions affect (especially those who are currently serving)? No they did not.

The passage of this resolution reflects a very dangerous trend we are seeing in America: self-righteousness and arrogance disguised as altruism to voice opposition to the previous administration. President Bush has gone to great lengths recently to state that mistakes were in fact made during his Presidency and that he regrets them.

The members of the town meeting are so wrapped up in their anti-Bush fanaticism that during a debate over zoning that lasted three hours (yes, zoning), one member accused another of “fear tactics akin to the previous President.” When this was said, a number of people in the audience fervently nodded their heads in agreement like church parishioners. I would not have been surprised if meeting members had stood up, thrown their hands in the air and yelled “Hallelujah!”

 These are the people who pass laws that directly affect over 15,000 students living in Amherst. It is also worth mentioning that the Town of Amherst gets to count all these students as residents and therefore receives a large sum of state funding – more than it would otherwise – yet, they neglect and insult us.

UMass SGA Sen. Nathan Lamb proposed a resolution in the Senate that would make the SGA opposed to the town’s actions and that would require the Speaker to voice such opposition at the Town Meeting. The resolution passed 13-11 with four abstentions, but only after SGA President Brandon Tower had his say on the matter – suggesting to the Senators that Sen. Lamb’s motion was not the SGA’s business.

What then is our business? If the SGA is not to have a say in this matter of the Town of Amherst, then we should not have a say in any other matter. I suppose the SGA has no say in the keg ban, or the raising of the by-law violation fines all up to $300 – a direct and purposeful assault against students. The SGA, as the representative body of the students of UMass Amherst has an obligation to voice its opposition to such egregious measures including the “Bring the War Dollars Home, Stop the Killing” resolution passed Wednesday night.

The Town of Amherst ought to be ashamed. The students of UMass ought to feel outraged. The veterans who live in Amherst and UMass feel betrayed. Why must the town move to pass such political motions? Is it their place to attack and alienate so many people? To do so on Veteran’s Day is especially sickening. I think the time for students to start taking a stand against the town has come.

I wish my opinion editorial could have been a more celebratory and thankful message of goodwill for our troops and veterans on this day, but the day has been tainted for me by the Town of Amherst’s actions Wednesday night.

God bless our veterans, and I am eternally grateful for all your service and sacrifices.

Justin Thomas is a UMass student and can be reached at [email protected]

12 Comments

12 Responses to “An act of opposition for vets and students”

  1. Andrew on November 12th, 2010 12:23 am

    You’re right, it’s totally disrespectful of veterans to pass a resolution against the pointless slaughter of American men and women in uniform. Getting shot is awesome. How DARE the town of Amherst tell soldiers that they should no longer get maimed and killed!

    The SGA must immediately pass a resolution making it clear that we think there should be more soldiers getting blown to bits for the greater glory of US oil companies. That will show our respect for veterans.

  2. PS on November 12th, 2010 9:57 am

    Awesome Justin!

    It is truly sad that UMASS students have to be located in a town where the arrogance and ignorance regarding this country and what has made it the greatest nation and most sought after country to live in on the planet resides. Amherst is an “outlier” from the core national sentiment and values which make this country strong. So, thank you for your comments of sanity and for your words of appreciation, respect and pride for the men and women that have and continue to put their lives on the line to protect us from those that wish us harm. Let’s be thankful these idiots in Amherst have no real power.

  3. Jr Boucher on November 12th, 2010 3:50 pm

    What are the odds that if Amherst was under attack those would be the first people looking for troops.

  4. Brandon on November 12th, 2010 7:14 pm

    Onward, good Christian soldiers.

  5. Ben on November 13th, 2010 9:59 am

    Andrew, what’s happening in Afghanistan is neither pointless nor a slaughter. It’s a mission, and an important one that we have to accomplish.

    I was at the Veterans Day observance on the town common this week. It was sparsely attended just as it was last year. One veteran remarked to another that attendance was extremely low. “Well, this is Amherst you know.”

    The point I’m trying to make is that Amherst has a history of being anti-military and anti-American. Whenever a resolution like this one appears, some yahoo (such as yourself) will attempt to rationalize the resolution as actually being pro-troops. Obviously, Amherst–being reflexively against every war–is the actually stridently pro-soldier. They’re more pro-soldier than those people who want to send our soldiers to die! Yeah!

    But that’s just not the case. Amherst doesn’t give a hoot about the soldiers. Their resolution had nothing to do with “supporting the troops”. Amherst has never supported the troops, at least not as long as I’ve been around.

    I tell you as a veteran myself–undermining the trooops’ mission is not support. When the troops have a job to do, you can whine and cry and protest all you want. It’s your right. Just don’t call it support, cause that would be a lie.

    By the way, have you forgotten that we were attacked on September 11th?

  6. Andrew on November 14th, 2010 12:18 am

    Ben: There is a mission in Afghanistan? Please tell me what it is, because no one in government seems to be able to do so. What ARE we supposed to achieve there, exactly?

    The people who attacked us on September 11th nine years ago are either dead or in hiding, and the ones who are in hiding haven’t been seen for years. The current combat in Afghanistan has nothing to do with 9/11 – just like Iraq had nothing to do with it.

    I can’t speak for the whole town of Amherst, obviously. I can only speak for myself. I support the troops and want them all to come home, because there is no real mission or job to do. Not in Afghanistan, not in Iraq, not anywhere. America was never attacked by terrorists native to Afghanistan (let alone Iraq). We were attacked by terrorists native to Saudi Arabia, who were born in rich families and went to college in the West. Pretty much the only reason we still have troops in Afghanistan is because it would make us look bad if we left. Screw that. Our reputation is not worth soldiers’ lives.

  7. Tom on November 14th, 2010 12:59 pm

    Thank you Justin for your important and persuasive opinion. The Town of Amherst is indeed an extreme outlier, and indeed has no power with these frequent, symbolic and tiresome pronouncements.

    You make a great point that even 2+ years into Obama’s presidency, the root motivation for this proposal is anti-Bush rage.

    Interesting to note: now that GWB is off center stage, see how the current President (the one who has escalated the Afghanistan war, simultaneously declared it un-winnable, and prematurely announced our 2011 retreat and withdrawal) is not mentioned in the resolution!

    Were Bush still in office, the blood would have been dripping form Ruth Hooke’s lips and his name spattered all over the proposed resolution. However, since Obama is in office, the Amherst Town Meeting took pains to ignore his role because he is a sainted figure who can do no wrong.

    In actuality, Obama has guaranteed the worst possible outcome for troops and for the USA in these wars. For which the Amherst lunatic fringe will celebrate him.

  8. JR Boucher on November 14th, 2010 9:19 pm

    Andrew – the troops are the brave and you’re the free.

    When I pulled my two tours in vietnam we had a phrase; “you’ve never lived til you’ve almost died. For those who fight for it life has a flavor the protected will never know.

    Amherst has no concern about the welfare of soldiers. Their only concern is about themselves.

    Someday they might understand this is a dangerous world. A small percentage of our young people choose to protect the majority. Those men and women of the military are our nation’s best and brightest and they are insulating the good people of Amherst from unspeakable violence and fear.

  9. students dad on November 14th, 2010 9:56 pm

    Thank you for giving voice to the Veterans. Although not all Veterans may agree with your point of view you made an good arguement for student involvement in amherst town politics. In so many ways the town of Amherst needs a wake up call on how much it needs the UMASS community.

    There are certain professors that have encouraged many students to register to vote in the town of Amherst during the 2008 presidential election. How many of those students were told that they cannot register to vote in a town that is not registered on the financial aid documents as the primary residence. These professors know this or should know this. The town then gets state and federal finacial aid based in part on the students that claim residency in amherst.

    The SGA needs to reflect on the matters not directly related to the campus as those matters will, sooner or later haunt them. Illegal immigrants have sanctuary in the town of Amherst. Illegal immigrants going to umass drain the university coffers of money and resources that are better spent on military veterans or their dependants on instate tuition for instance for out of state military members. The town of amherst by edict has said it will not enforce law when it comes to illegal immigrants. Under the “equal protection” section of the United States Constitution do the students of UMass enjoy the same selective enforcement of law as the illegal immigrants do??

    The SGA needs to realize that the Town of Amherst is ripe for change . change to benefit the students represented by the SGA .

  10. Josh on November 14th, 2010 10:49 pm

    As a veteran I’d just like to say that what this town did was completely inconsiderate, especially to do it on the day prior to Veterans Day. That’s akin to spitting on the veterans themselves. What goal did they have in doing this? Do they expect the current administration to stand up and listen to one town in western Massachusetts and be like, ” Well apparently Amherst,MA doesn’t want this war to continue, so we should probably end it immediately”. I am however happy to see that UMASS Amherst wasn’t in support of this, especially because I would definitely like to attend a university of higher moral fibers than the unfortunate town it resides in. I am not for the war, but I have fought beside many good friends and I’ve seen a few die. Seriously though, so close to a day that is supposed to honor the fallen and the veterans? Good article by the way, I believe it has just the right amount of outrage towards those governing the town of Amherst.

  11. Andrew on November 16th, 2010 12:10 am

    I’d like to note that there is still no response to my question: What exactly are we supposed to achieve in Afghanistan and Iraq, and why is it worth sending soldiers to their deaths?

    All I see here are empty platitudes equating support for the wars with support for the troops, without any reason or explanation about why they believe these wars are good.

  12. Hope on November 29th, 2010 1:38 am

    Andrew,

    It was the eradication of violent dictators who often sheltered those who were sympathetic to anti-US view “students,” also known as Taleeba. You, as a primary English speaker would know this as the “Taliban.”

    And if the wars were for oil, it would have been far easier to invade Canada or the failed state of Mexico under “humanitary aid” and take those nations, as they provide more oil the Iraq and Afghanistan ever will.

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