Saturday, Feb. 15, 2003 – millions around the globe unite in an unprecedented outcry against both the upcoming war in Iraq and the United States’ ruthless foreign policy. Protesters marched in countries of all colors, with governments both opposing and supporting the war.
Saturday, anytime in January, February and Lord knows how much longer – the local liberals and anti-war activists gather on State Street to march down and protest the action in Iraq. They were one of the many cities to participate in the worldwide protest. But I don’t know how many have them every weekend.
Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2003 – a rowdy crew marches in circles around Storke Plaza raising a ruckus, shouting some sort of question and response chant, ˆ la C.U.E.’s unfair labor practices protest.
Leader: “What do we want?”
Leader: “When do we want it?”
Well, that’s what I heard from my office under Storke Tower. And what I heard when I ran out to stand directly behind the straggling protesters. To find out what they were bitching about, I had to run down a girl distributing fliers and collecting petition signatures.
“Would you like to sign a petition?”
“Well, maybe if I knew what it was for. All of us under the tower were trying to figure out what the hell you guys were yelling about.”
“Oh,” she replied with that activist’s excitement at smelling fresh ink-fodder for her petition, “We’re protesting for the freedom to marry.”
“Yeah, I’ll sign. I totally thought I heard somebody yelling that they wanted a free Tibet.”
Another helpful protester chimed in at this point, “Oh, no, that was last week.”
“We’ve got an informational kiosk to raise awareness!”
No wonder people don’t take protesters seriously anymore.
Go ahead. Yell and shout and walk in circles around the plaza, keep on stomping down State Street. But ask yourself, just once: “What am I accomplishing through all this wandering around?”
Are you raising awareness? In the case of the war, I think just about everybody already knew about this whole war thing before the marches. It’s one thing when folks the world round unite as one people to speak against their leaders – or other people’s leaders – but it’s quite another to drag the same geeks down the same streets weekend after weekend.
Try taking that time to write your senator or house representative. Call them. Signing petitions is also a nice way to get the message across that people aren’t happy with what’s going on. You can send those to the appropriate parties so they know what we the people think of this war.
If that is their concern at all. Theoretically, yes, it is. Actually – well, now we’re delving into a whole other issue for another column some day.
If you really believe in protest, do it in D.C. Or at the Bush’s ranch in Texas. You want to really make a difference? Try to work through the system, provide viable alternatives to what is currently going on. Run for office. Get elected. Get rich and buy the government. Become influential, or make influential friends that have their hands at least near the wheel.
Or, if you want to be really humanitarian, start putting together aid packages for those starving Iraqi children that everybody always wants us to, please God, think of. Won’t you, sniffle, think about the children? Or do one of those Christian Children’s Fund rent-a-kid deals. Priced to move at under a dollar a day, you too can support a poor starving child.
As for those on campus protesting everything that seems wrong with this campus, community and world: Protesting is not an end in and of itself. It should be done for a reason, with clear goals in mind. You should know exactly what you want to happen as a result of your protest.
Or don’t protest, and work through the system to make what you want to happen actually work, instead of running around and yelling about it. That’s more of a last resort.
Don’t get me wrong, protest is a very important right of ours, and a powerful way to make change – the civil rights movement, for example.
But these were oppressed people who had no chance at working through the system. You probably do. So do it.
Daily Nexus assistant Opinion editor Cory Anthony works for the system.