I hope that those who participated in Thursday’s strike against the war have sufficiently convinced themselves that they were taking part in a greater cause rather than simply indulging in their own laziness and taking advantage of time out of class.
As pointless as the strike was as a whole, its lack of purpose and result was not its worst offense. The faculty members who participated, encouraged students to attend, canceled class or gave extra credit should not only acknowledge their moral reprehensibility, but should also be subject to disciplinary action by the school’s administration. Although academia escapes so many of the functions of capitalism, professors should not overlook the fact that they are actually professionals, hired to perform a job. In the real world, professionals risk the chance of losing their paychecks or jobs every time they skip out on work. Additionally, they rarely possess the luxury of being able to convince their customers, colleagues or clients to do the same.
Students, their parents and the government are expending huge amounts of money in order to provide a quality education to this generation, and professors disrespect the value of that expenditure when they cancel class to support their own partisan cause. While I am a great supporter of active citizenship and a politically aware and engaged public, I cannot dismiss my inclination to think rationally about actual means to sway votes, political action and public opinion — and Thursday’s strike certainly did not qualify as those means. What indeed was accomplished?
Well, the roughly $70 per lecture that students’ tuitions work out to were utterly wasted and another priceless day that held the potential to enhance, educate and enrich the intellect of students of this campus passed without accomplishing those things. The salaries supplemented by the federal and state government and paid for by student tuitions also went to waste. Tangible changes in university policy toward the research and production of bomb materials or national policy toward the war are negligible. Perhaps a few troops stationed in Iraq will hear of Thursday’s shenanigans and will ruminate on the fact that they are duty-bound to retain their positions and their missions while the nation that they are fighting for feels their cause unworthy. This can undoubtedly undermine troop morale and offset chances for the peak performance of our troops.
To the strike participants, students and faculty: Do you call yourselves patriots? Do you want us to lose? Do you think we are engaged overseas for our own amusement? If we pulled out today, what do you think would be the result? If we maintained our occupation but did not send additional troops, wouldn’t our defeat be guaranteed?
Walking through the strike, I saw signs for “no more troops.” I assume this is meant to denounce the most recent proposal, which has already been enacted, for a troop surge in Iraq and that it is in support of actions such as the Senate’s nonbinding resolution rejecting this proposal. I find this a reprehensible position, and indeed, a cowardly one. Let us not forget that the Congress, with its Democratic majority, has the power to stop the war by stopping funding to it. Direct your sentiments at them then, for we have seen that the Bush administration is unlikely to change its course. It is your Democratic majority that is perpetuating this mess in Iraq, turning instead to poor measures like the resolution to curry political favor while still trying to appear as though they “support our troops.” By continuing to fund the war, the left continues to ask U.S. soldiers to sacrifice their lives while simultaneously letting them know that what they are sacrificing for is not worth it.
I by no means support the current war nor did I at the initial stages when it was believed by everyone, including Saddam’s own internal officials, that the state possessed weapons of mass destruction. There is no rational individual who believes war is preferable to peace. The choice is not as simple as going to class or not going to class, canceling class or giving an informative lecture. And the choice, unfortunately, is no longer in our hands but in the hands of those whom we, as students and citizens, democratically elected last fall. You do have the power to communicate with those elected representatives and your task in such communication should be to demand that those who denounce the war utilize their power to stop it. You must encourage them to prioritize policy over politics at this monumental juncture.