What do Anti-War Activists Have Planned for the Republican Convention?

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, December 26, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST:  The Republican National Convention (search) isn't until next summer, but that isn't stopping anti-war activists from planning ahead.  Massive protests are already in the works, including a march to Central Park (search) on August 29. 

So what do protesters have in store for Republicans come convention time?

Joining us here in our New York studio, anti-war activist and organizer for the group United for Peace and Justice, the group organizing the protest, Leslie Cagan. 

Leslie, good to have you with us. 


COLMES:  Let me ask you a question.  I'm probably more on your side politically than Mr. Hannity is.  But let you ask you, do these...

HANNITY:  What a shock.

COLMES:  What a shock.  Do these protests ever do any good?  Do they ever work to change policy?

CAGAN:  Well, I don't know that any one demonstration does, but over time when you have protest after protest, and not only protests, people writing their elected officials...

COLMES:  But up until the Iraq war last spring...

CAGAN:  Right.

COLMES:  ... there were protests all over the globe, hundreds of thousands in Europe...

CAGAN:  Right.

COLMES:  ... marching in the streets on Broadway here in New York City.

CAGAN:  Right.

COLMES:  Didn't change one iota what President Bush did. 

CAGAN:  Well, we think it did have some impact in that we think that they were not able to conduct the full shock and awe plan. 

COLMES:  But that wasn't because of your protest. 

CAGAN:  No, it wasn't because of us. 

COLMES:  They went into and they invaded Iraq.  They took over the country, and they did it in spite of you. 

CAGAN:  That's exactly right.  I think it did -- The way the Bush administration responded not only to the domestic but the global anti-war movement I think showed the arrogance in this administration

COLMES:  But they're not listening to you. 

CAGAN:  No, but that doesn't mean we give up and go home.  That means you just have to try harder. 

COLMES:  What do you have to do differently to make sure the world and the president listens to you?  Or will this president never listen to you?

CAGAN:  I don't know if this president ever will.  What we hope is that at some time there will be elected officials in the presidency and in the Congress that do listen to the people.  And that it's not one demonstration.  It's demonstrations.  It's lobbying. It's writing letters to the editor.  It's a cumulative effect.

COLMES:  But do you feel that the world -- and I say this to you as someone on your side of the spectrum -- that after September 11 has moved right?  The country has moved right.  That it's harder to get across an anti-war message in the wake of 9/11?

CAGAN:  No, actually I think in some regards it's not harder.  I think that the country was moving to the right since the Reagan years.  I don't think that...

COLMES:  But especially after September 11.

CAGAN:  I think concerns about our security at home heightened after September 11, understandably.  September 11 was a horrible tragedy. 

COLMES:  But the Americans, a lot of them are less tolerant, and I'm not saying they're right.  I'm simply presenting you with what I see going on. 

A lot of people are less tolerant, although they are right ideologically, but less tolerant of a point of view that says, you know, we want to protest war; we want to protest Iraq.  People feel threatened, whether or not logically or not. 

CAGAN:  Right.  But at the same time I think a lot of people understand that going to war doesn't necessarily solve the problems, and it doesn't necessarily do away with terrorism. 

COLMES:  Would you agree we had to some extent respond to terrorism after September 11?  We had to go to Afghanistan.  We had to go after the Taliban and al Qaeda, that there was some response necessary?

CAGAN:  I do think obviously response to terrorism is necessary.  I'm not in any way condoning terrorism by any means.  We have to stop it. 

We also have to look at the root causes of it.  And I think further escalation of tensions between people by going to war does not stabilize the situation. 

HANNITY:  So what you're saying is we should not have attacked after 9/11?  We should not have done that?

CAGAN:  I'm not sure that attacking innocent people...

HANNITY:  We're not attacking innocent people.  We attacked the Taliban. 

CAGAN:  I think that the Taliban (search) and Al Qaeda (search) are two different entities.  And, again, I have no love of Taliban. 

HANNITY:  That's not the point.  Let me ask you on a personal level...

CAGAN:  Yes.

HANNITY:  ... somebody breaks into your house, wants to rape your daughter, rob you blind, has a gun -- well, what are you going to do if somebody breaks into your house?

CAGAN:  Well, first of all what I'd like to do is try and, before that happens try and make sure that people have jobs, proactive, so they're not breaking into people's houses. 

HANNITY:  Somebody breaks into your house...

CAGAN:  You call the police. 

HANNITY:  You call the police.

CAGAN:  Right.

HANNITY:  Excuse me.  With all due respect, you are dead.

CAGAN:  The U.S. military...

HANNITY:  You'll be dead.  Would you defend yourself?

CAGAN:  Of course.  I believe you have a right to self-defense.

HANNITY:  What would you do to somebody that broke into your house?  Would you use physical force to stop them?

CAGAN:  Yes -- I probably wouldn't because I'm chicken.  But I think people have a right to, absolutely.

HANNITY:  People have a right to.

CAGAN:  Of course.  Self defense is a basic human right. 

HANNITY:  Because you said the world says no to war, the pin that you're wearing here today.  And America was attacked.  We lost 3,000 of our friends and neighbors and co-workers here.

CAGAN:  Right.  Right.

HANNITY:  And this notion that we could somehow negotiate with these animals, and that's what they are, that have no respect for human life, I think, is beyond silly.  It is dangerous for future generations. 

CAGAN:  I do believe that when an individual or an organized group of people commits an act of terrorism, that they have to be brought to justice. 

HANNITY:  And that means war.  The world says yes to war then.  You say yes to war. 

CAGAN:  No, I don't.  I do believe also that we are hopefully at the point in...

HANNITY:  We're going around in a circle.  Then what do we do?  What do we do?  But what do we do?  We were here on September 11.  What would you do?

CAGAN:  Well, I would have -- I would have had I been in charge -- I would have tried to convene an international...

HANNITY:  International.

CAGAN:  ... international forum...

HANNITY:  Forum.

CAGAN:  ... and perhaps even...

HANNITY:  And bring Usama to the table?

CAGAN:  Perhaps even -- No, no.  Perhaps even an international military force. 


CAGAN:  And figure out...

HANNITY:  And do what?

CAGAN:  I don't have the same kind of intelligence information that the president, and the CIA, and the Pentagon should have. 

HANNITY:  We're going to sit around the table at the United Nations and sing "Kumbaya"?

CAGAN:  No.  I mean, that would be nice to do after all the problems of the world are solved.  No one is suggesting that we sit around and take these lightly. 

HANNITY:  Leslie, you're a nice woman.  You really are. 

CAGAN:  Thank you. 

HANNITY:  This is so naive to me and so lacking in understanding that evil that thinks virgins are awaiting these people in heaven when they slaughter us, you cannot negotiate.  You cannot sing "Kumbaya."  You must defeat them, or else they will ruin and destroy our lives. 

CAGAN:  I think the first step for defeating them is dealing with the problems that create them in the first place. 

HANNITY:  We didn't create their problems or their madness. 

CAGAN:  And that's why we can't solve the problems alone.  We have to be part of an international community.

COLMES:  Now, that's a policy of preemption.  thank you very much, Leslie, for being with us.  Good to see you. 

CAGAN:  OK.  Sorry we didn't get to talk about the Republican convention. 

COLMES:  And -- well, I'm sure next time.

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