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      Longtime protestor Tom Hayden visits USC, shares wisdom on war and baseball

      This article originally appeared on

      By John Monk

      Some things never change:

      Former radical 1960s antiwar activist Tom Hayden came to Columbia last weekend and gave modern-day activists a blueprint on how to end the expensive U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      But some things do change:

      Forty years ago, Hayden almost certainly would have been tracked by the FBI and declared an "outside agitator."

      This time, he not only spoke at a University of South Carolina symposium on 1960s and 1970s student activism and advised local activists, he wound up going to a university baseball game with USC president Harris Pastides.

      "At a faculty reception Friday night, Tom Hayden was there, and when I mentioned I was going to a game and we had this great new baseball park, he said, 'Baseball, I love baseball You know I'm a baseball player?' And I said 'No.' And he said, 'Can I come?' and I said, 'Sure,'" said Pastides, who said Hayden told him he still plays in a men's league back in California.

      So on Saturday, Hayden, two professors and Pastides sat together above the first base dugout for six innings at the stadium.

      "He's a very informed baseball aficionado," said Pastides.

      On Sunday, Hayden didn't talk baseball: he counseled local activists at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church in Shandon on how to work to get the U.S. to wind down its wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      After the Iraq war, which will cost an estimated $3 trillion, the Afghanistan war will cost an estimated $1 trillion, and the "secret war with a secret budget" the U.S. is waging in western Pakistan with Special Forces troops and drones will also be costly, he said.

      Hayden said the Pentagon is planning on what military strategists call "the long war," an undeclared battle he likened to the Cold War because of its cost and length. It could last "50-80 years," he predicted.

      All that war spending, and future deficits, "guarantee there will be no money for health care, no money for schools, no money for tuition to college," he said.

      Hayden blamed both Republicans and Democrats.

      "The Republicans are in the vanguard of spending money they don't have on wars they can't win," said Hayden. But many Democrats are terrified of being accused of being to be soft on terror, so they vote with Republicans on war funding issues, he said.

      Hayden proposed:

      - Citizens contact Democrats Reps. John Spratt and Jim Clyburn, both D-S.C. - two high-ranking House of Representatives officials - and urge them to seek hearings on the "long war." The hearings should get the answers to questions such as how much the wars will cost.

      - Peace groups must work with groups suffering from budget cuts and groups worried about spending - telling them what the wars are costing them.

      The best argument is to tell people that the "long war" - especially now that al-Qaida has been driven out of Afghanistan - is "playing right into al-Qaida's strategy of overextending the American military and exhausting the American economy," he said.

      Near term, Hayden said, people should support President Barack Obama on the health care issue.

      "The war now is to save the Obama presidency and the Congress from the Tea Party right wing," Hayden said.

      It doesn't matter if the health care bill is imperfect, for many laws are later refined, he said. "If you pass something, you can improve it ... It's part of what makes America a better country."

      Hayden, now 70, has been a California state senator, university professor, community organizer and an environmental and animal rights crusader.

      Part of Hayden is definitely not revolutionary - such as what he drank at Saturday's USC-Tennessee baseball game.

      "He had a smoothie (a fruit shake) - that, for the record, he paid for on his own, by the way," said Pastides.


      Long-time political activist Tom Hayden made a public appearance Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Columbia. Part of the discussion had Hayden listening to audience members' own opinions and questions.

      - Rich Glickstein /The State

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      Reader Comments (1)

      I seem to recall something about this event . . .

      March 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave Snyder

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