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A crowd of roughly fifteen locals gathered to protest the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s appearance last night at Harvard Square’s First Parish Cambridge Church, a scene that a passerby said resembled “The Ghost Writer.”
Wearing Palestinian flags, banging on pots and pans, and brandishing signs that advertised a “peace-loving Iran,” the protesters heckled the hundreds of people lined up for blocks to hear Blair discuss his new book, “Journey: My Political Life,” with noted British journalist Tina Brown.
“Prosecute Tony Blair for genocide! He’s a mass murderer!” protestors yelled.
“Americans, Brits, Iraqis died! Could it be because Tony lied?” they screamed.
“Hey people, use your noodle—don’t waste a dime on Bush’s poodle!” they shrieked.
“It’s an interesting statement, stopping war on peace-loving Iran,” said Kevin M. McKenna, who was waiting in line outside the church to hear Blair speak.
Inside the church, Brown confronted Blair about his decisions regarding the war in Iraq.
“In the book, you say that Iraq is not a regret and that if you were to do it again, you would. But I get the sense that you aren’t still at peace with it,” she said. “You were teasing out your point a little too much. I think you were still a bit uncertain.”
Blair responded saying that it is “inhuman” not to “consider your actions” ex post facto, “in light of what happens.” Even still, he maintained, “these risks are incredibly difficult to judge.”
On Iran, Blair’s views were clear.
“If I was a decision-maker today, I wouldn’t take the risk of Iran with a nuclear weapon, even acknowledging the risks of a Pandora’s Box.”
Outside, sentiments on Iran did not exactly mirror those of the former Prime Minister.
“I like Ahmadinejad,” said Elaine C. Antonia of Stoughton, Mass., adding that his Holocaust denial was “irrelevant.” “He was duly elected by his people. Every one of those protests we see on CNN was probably funded by the State Department.”
Halfway through the speech, the protestors attempted to move around the church to the side exit, where Blair’s convoy awaited his return, but Massachusetts police officers told them to clear the sidewalk.
“Did you ever hear of free speech?” said Mary Corcoran. “They clearly don’t believe in free speech. I think it’s disgraceful.”
In an interview after the event, Brown said that she thought Blair’s talk had gone well.
“I thought he was most interesting on how partisan ideology is over for the 21st century,” she added.
For her part, Antonia said she hoped she would be able to catch the attention of just a few.
I’m disappointed in Harvard,” she said. “During Vietnam this school was a hot bed. Now there’s people my age out on the street, and the students don’t even support us.”
—Staff writer James K. McAuley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Aditya Balasubramanian contributed to the reporting of this story.
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