Nothing inflames passion like war.
Two student groups gathered in the lounge in the Wilkinson Center at Brigham Young University Friday, one to rally support for U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf and the other to rally support against U.S. involvement there.They stood just 10 feet apart, but they were miles apart in ideology.
BYU student Todd McKinnon, fed up with anti-war protests, erected a butcher-paper banner about 1 p.m. in the lounge with the message "BYU students support our troops." He invited students to sign the banner.
To the left of McKinnon's group, the BYU Coalition Against War in the Middle East advertised its sentiments. "No blood for oil," read one poster.
They handed out fliers advertising a peace march and rally to be held Saturday at noon at the Federal Building in Salt Lake City and encouraged students to join with them. Friday they gained 15 to 20 supporters, according to Kristin Rushforth, 21.
"It's not Berkeley but it's interesting," said Kelly O'Reilly, 24.
By 6 p.m., McKinnon and his friends had gathered more than 2,000 signatures on three banners.
"We're just giving students the opportunity to thank our troops," said Jason Randall, 23.
The group plans to gather signatures through next week and then send the banners to U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf.
Laurie Thayae wrote: "You're doing an incredible job! We are very proud of you. We love you and hope this war ends soon and you'll be home. Thank you for keeping and working for freedom."
Rushforth thinks peace wasn't ever given a chance in the Middle East. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq was just an excuse for the United States to invade the Middle East and establish its strength in the area, she said.
"For 15 years we've needed control of the Middle East because of our dependence on oil," Rushforth said.
Her group plans to remain in the lounge through next week seeking support for the use of peace to end conflict in the Middle East.
The coalition's stand is provoking heated reactions from some students. One ripped up a pile of fliers and tossed them at a coalition member. Another grabbed a peace banner the group held during a sit-in Thursday in the lounge and ran off with it.
Still, the group is committed.