The images appear hauntingly familiar: folk singer Joan Baez singing antiwar ballads and verbally jabbing at Henry Kissinger before a responsive Washington audience; the Rev. William Sloane Coffin standing in front of the State Department denouncing the war effort; college student organizations protesting the prospect of military draft, and still another political coalition announcing plans to march on Washington to protest what it sees as American militarism.
The American invasion of Grenada, following so closely the killing of at least 225 U.S. Marines in Lebanon, has left many citizens numbed and angered by the violence. It has also sparked the inevitable comparisons to Vietnam and prompted antiwar groups to redouble their efforts to promote a Nov. 12 march here to protest the Reagan administration's growing involvement in Latin America.
Yesterday, at a press conference outside the State Department, leaders of civil rights, Hispanic, and religious groups announced the kickoff of a local and national advertising effort aimed at bringing large numbers of protesters here in two weeks for a mass demonstration against U.S. intervention in Latin America.
"We have come here to put the Reagan administration on notice that American people are not happy, and that we will be back here November 12th to tell them that 'No, we don't want another Vietnam,' " said Marcie Mersky, spokesperson for the groups planning the demonstration.
The organization, which calls itself the Nov. 12 Coalition and claims to include some 400 groups in more than 70 cities, said it has started a billboard advertising campaign in 62 cities, featuring a dramatic image of soldiers jumping from helicopters, with the caption: "Central America . . . Our Next Vietnam? Let's stop it now. March on Washington."
The coalition said it supports withdrawal of troops from Grenada and an "end to interference" in Central America, arguing that American involvement should be limited to financial assistance and support for political rather than military solutions to strife in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
The United States Student Association, an umbrella group of student organizations representing some 3 million of the nation's 11 million college students, said in a statement yesterday that it supports the demonstration and that growing numbers on campuses are turning against American policies.
"Student leaders nationwide are appalled that again our fellow Americans are suffering in faraway lands due to the militaristic policy of our nation's president," said student association President Gregory Moore of Ohio University, whose statement noted that "millions of students are in jeopardy, with escalating demands for military strength which could necessitate implementation of the draft."
Coffin, the former chaplain of Yale University, and Arnoldo Torres, the executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said at the press conference that armed American intervention is turning public opinion against the United States, especially in South America.
"We have become the bullies and the villains of the western hemisphere," said Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who said American intervention "violates the integrity of nonwhite and Third World nations."
Joan Baez, in an appearance Wednesday night at Constitution Hall, made reference to the sense of de'ja vu evoked by Marines landing on foreign shores and by former secretary of State Kissinger's involvement in administration policy making. "Here we are back at square one," she said in opening her concert. "The world is blowing up and I'm back playing Constitution Hall."