It was standing room only at a lecture entitled "The Case Against Invading Iraq", led by Dr. Samuel Freeman, a political science professor at The University of Texas Pan American Thursday, March 6.
Freeman, a Vietnam War veteran and a leader of a local anti-war movement, is considered an expert in U.S. foreign policy and teaches classes on the Vietnam War and on the Office of the Presidency.
More than 200 students, faculty and staff members listened as Freeman discussed the reasons for his opposition views on the pending war at the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building.
While he condemned Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, he said the war would be more of a war against the people of Iraq not Hussein. During his lecture, he encouraged the audience to not fear being called unpatriotic in questioning the war.
"Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that it is our duty to rebel if the government is wrong or pursuing policies detrimental to our country," Freeman said.
Freeman began his lecture with a series of somber slides depicting scenes from the Sept. 11 destruction of the World Trade Center Towers posed side by side with similar scenes taken in the aftermath of the U.S. bombing of Belgrade under the Clinton Administration in 1999.
Freeman said he hoped the scenes of destruction and anguish would instill empathy and understanding in people that the U.S. is not the only country that has suffered from such occurrences of terrorism and bombing.
During a question and answer session, Freeman accused the U.S. of intervention on motives based on "arrogance, oil and Israel" and recommended the U.S. develop alternative energy sources and pursue a "Manhattan Project for Energy" in the U.S.
The Manhattan Project - conducted during World War II - was an intense U.S. government research project that produced the first atomic bomb.
Simon Tu, a political science and economics senior at UTPA and an organizer of a peace rally held March 4 at the University, said he was pleased with the turnout.
"Dr. Freeman's speech was well delivered...scholarly but also humorous in his reference to the 'Mad Cowboy' (President Bush)," said Tu.
In closing, Freeman invited people to participate in anti-war demonstrations being held every Sunday from 4-5 p.m. at the corner of Business 83 and Bicentennial Boulevard in McAllen.
The lecture was one of a series of presentations sponsored by the Center for International Studies.