On Monday, March 28, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that steadily increases California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years. This apparently went unnoticed by Million Student March activists, who on Thursday organized a protest in the name of “Tuition-Free Public Education, Cancellation of All Student Debt, $15 Minimum Wage, Divestment of Private Prison from ALL Colleges/Universities.” According to the movement’s national website, studentmarch.org, Million Student March joined forces “with Black Liberation Collective,” – the group behind the Mizzou Movement – to say “no” to racism and student debt!
The Black Liberation Collective group, of course, is the same movement which, together with student group Concerned Student 1950, demanded the removal of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe in November 2015 simply because he was white and was benefitting from “white privilege.” According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, racism is defined as “prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race…” By definition, the forced removal of Tim Wolfe was racist — all courtesy of the same group that claims to be fighting against racism and claims to be tolerant and inclusive of all backgrounds, creeds and religions, but I digress.
Apparently, words written in chalk now have the ability to grow legs, reptile skin, claws and turn into a college-student-threatening, race-baiting Godzilla.
According to the movement’s Facebook event page, a large focus of the protest was to speak out against the heinous “racist, sexist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, homophobic and transphobic” chalk statements that lead to an “intensification” of the campus climate that caused many students to feel targeted and threatened. First off, I seem to have missed the part when an intensification of the UCSB climate took place. Apparently, words written in chalk now have the ability to grow legs, reptile skin and claws and turn into a college-student-threatening, race-baiting Godzilla. This is beside the point, though.
As a Mexican-American college student and son of Mexican immigrants, I have experienced racism firsthand and agree that it is absolutely disgusting, and I understand why some groups of students would be offended by some of the chalk messages, particularly the ones with hate speech. However, the great thing about America is that you have the freedom to walk away from something you find offensive, and you don’t actually have to storm around a taxpayer-funded university campus in an angry mob demanding a certain vision of utopia.
The bigger picture is this: just because you disagree with someone’s political views does not mean that you get to shut them up.
It seems that the movement’s vision of utopia is one that amongst many things involves shutting down free speech by virtue of shutting anyone up who disagrees with them. It seems to be an unwritten rule on campus that you are not allowed to talk about politics if you are not a supporter of Bernie Sanders. The more I observed the march, the more this seemed true. When a group of Trump supporters walked up to the crowd outside of the SRB, many of the protesters stared at them in utter dismay, as if they had just committed a murder akin to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Some of the protesters then proceeded to cover up the Trump signs and started chanting the magical, “Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!” that is the solution to all that is wrong in the world.
College is supposed to be an environment where opposing ideas and perspectives are challenged, not censored.
The bigger picture is this: Just because you disagree with someone’s political views does not mean that you get to shut them up. The First Amendment was designed to give all citizens the right to free speech, not just those of a certain political perspective. College is supposed to be an environment where opposing ideas and perspectives are challenged, not censored. I don’t recall an outrage arising or any students feeling threatened when Bernie Sanders support was chalked all around campus last October. A protest that spoke out against Sanders, for instance, would undeniably be met with shame and ridicule. Isn’t the main goal of the movement to create an all-inclusive society where everyone is equal and has free speech? I could have sworn I heard these principles being preached in their speaker’s spiel.
I think one of the reasons that my family and other immigrant families came to this country is because of the basic belief that in America anyone from any background can go as far as their talent and work ethic takes them. One of the problems that I personally see with Bernie Sanders’ rhetoric and the rhetoric of some of the left-wing student movements on American college campuses today is it convinces minority students otherwise. It tells us that we can’t achieve our goals because there is some structurally rigged economy standing in our way and the only way we can defeat it is by paying God-like worship to a presidential candidate whose optics rival those of Doc Brown from “Back to The Future” and by thinking that government is the solution to all of life’s problems. Personal responsibility is important, and the bigger issue is that we should not compromise our constitutional liberties in the name of political correctness.