Dina Soliman told the crowd she was confused. She said anxiously that she had been called a communist in one of her college classes for discussing her opinion of the Persian Gulf war.

Others said they also are hassled or derided as unpatriotic and un-American on campus because they oppose the war.

But at the "Rally for Peace and Justice" at Western Maryland College on Wednesday evening, peace was not considered a dirty word.

About 50 people turned out for the public rally inside Baker Memorial Chapel.

Many of the students, faculty members and others who spokeat the rally said they are not sure how they feel about the war.

That uncertainty creates "a lot of inner tension," said Laura Lee Wilson, the campus religious life coordinator.

"If I say that I'm against the war, I'm against my brother," said Wilson, whose sibling serves as an Army chaplain.

"And yet, if I go the other direction," she said, "I am going against the morals of Jesus -- the Christ that Isay that I follow."

Wilson said she has solved her personal dilemma by saying she supports human life.

"I can love those people from the U.S. who are there serving, even though I don't like what they're doing," Wilson said.

It is a distinction that protesters against this war appear to be trying to make in their signs and in their speeches.

"The policy in this war is a lot like (that in) Vietnam," said Meeghan Ziolkowski, 21, a religious studies major and one of theprotest's organizers. "But a lot of the protesters have really gone out of their way to say they are not against the people there. They do not support the orders to kill the Iraqi people."

Wilson and PatBlackman, another WMC student who organized the protest, quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in their addresses.

Blackman, a 23-year-old religious studies major, said he sees similarities between the treatment of King because of his stance against the Vietnam War and the ill feeling toward today's war protesters.

"King was accused ofsabotaging the war," said Blackman, "just as we are accused of sabotaging the war against Iraq."

Blackman said many who question the war often feel that they are alone in their views.

"Those who feel uneasy about the war are intimidated by the onslaught of red and white and blue," Blackman said.

The colors of the flag were conspicuously absent from the rally, replaced instead by the yellow, white and black ribbons some students pinned to their clothing.

Wilson said she feels she can wear a yellow ribbon because, historically, it has been the symbol of waiting for a loved one's safe return.

She saidshe feels comfortable wearing a white ribbon because "it means I'm praying for peace."

Soliman, 21, one of the few who spoke at the rally without a prepared text, seemed to sum up the feelings of those who don't know a lot about the politics of Iraq, the influence of oil companies or the intricacies of military strategy and hardware.

"It seems to me that people have stopped asking why," said Soliman. "It's so much easier to sit back, watch CNN and accept this war. So, when you ask questions, people around you start to get suspicious."

Richard Hill, a representative of the Baltimore Coalition Against the War in the Middle East, encouraged students at WMC to join forces with students from other Baltimore-area colleges to protest the war.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad