Anti-Racist Action vs. Madeleine Albright in ’98

by Kdog
Members of Anti-Racist Action unfurl banner during Albrights  speech.
photo for educational use only. courtesy of GettyImages and CNN

“1-2-3-4 We Don’t Want Your Racist War!”

In February 1998 Anti-Racist Action and others disrupted a Columbus OH Town Hall meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who was trying to build up support for another war with Iraq.

I believe that the disastrous Town Hall and the media coverage it generated actually pushed back Clinton’s war plans – making the action one of ARA’s greatest accomplishments.

Members of Anti-Racist Action prepare to confront and disrupt
Albright’s visit to Columbus, OH.  Photo for educational use only.
Courtesy of Getty Images and John Ruthroff.

Two years earlier Albright had called the half-million dead Iraqi kids worth the cost of sanctions against the regime.

“Lesley Stahl (asking about US sanctions on Iraq): We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it. —60 Minutes (5/12/96)”

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen (to her right) 
at Ohio State, Columbus, OH. Photo is for educational use only. 

Courtesy of Getty Images and John Ruthroff.

1 thought on “Anti-Racist Action vs. Madeleine Albright in ’98”

  1. I wasn't part of ARA, but I remember this event well. The Columbus town hall was a serious miscalculation by the Clinton administration. They wanted to rouse popular support for intensifying war on Iraq (which had never actually ended after the 1991 U.S. invasion), and they probably thought that Columbus, Ohio was a safe Middle America locale where they could expect a friendly and docile crowd. They didn't realize that the city was a major center of militant anti-racist activism. Along with the chanting and banners, there was a beautiful moment, broadcast live around the country, when an audience member challenged Albright's rationale for attacking Iraq and then scolded her for avoiding his question.

    A pretty good CNN account of the event is here:


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