As Darwin BondGraham reminded us last Friday, (“Protesting Reflects Harder Times,” Daily Nexus, Feb. 1) we are rapidly approaching a season of activism, political campaigns and many opportunities for students of all political persuasions to get involved in very important issues and have their voices heard. I welcome this with open arms. Getting involved in politics on this campus has been one of the most rewarding and intellectually stimulating things I have done since leaving a military career to pursue an academic one. I have been introduced to numerous new ideas and have had my political beliefs challenged daily, forcing me to really buckle down and do some good, hard reading to solidify – and in some circumstances, modify – the opinions I hold dear. I have thoroughly enjoyed battling it out with the highly informed yet more liberal-minded students on campus.
However, as we have yet another anti-war protest rapidly approaching, I felt it good to bring up what I see as a fatal problem with some of our recent student activism. First and foremost, having talked to many of the participants in the various protests, walkouts, hunger strikes, etc. on campus, it appears to me that many of the very active and vocal students know pathetically little concerning what they are talking about.
Here is a classic example: Remember last year when the House of Representatives passed a bill making illegal immigrants felons, and there was a sizable protest and student walkout? Well, I was there to see what was going on. I was surprised – although I shouldn’t have been – to see many signs depicting President Bush as a Nazi, Ku Klux Klan member, Hitler, etc. While talking to the protesters, I could not believe that not ONE of them even knew Bush also opposed the bill and was actually going to veto it! Rather than caring about the truth, they were only interested in creating an icon for their hatred. Such students, not armed with facts, are then reduced to chanting slogans, citing anecdotal evidence and in some extreme circumstances – that were recently brought to my attention – intimidating, shouting down and forcibly removing people who express ideas that differ from their own. These tactics are worryingly reminiscent of the tactics used by radical student movements of the early Bolsheviks and National Socialists – the very antithesis of the values we hold dear as Americans.
I want informed debate on this campus. So before you start making your signs, put down the bong and your personalized copy of Das Capital and do a little light reading. Here is my pre-protest reading list: the Charter of the United Nations, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 678, 687 and 1441, the Hague Conventions Articles 36 and 40, the Constitution of the United States, Doe v. Bush, Public Law 107-243, and finally UNMOVIC’s report, “Unresolved Disarmament Issues: Iraq’s Proscribed Weapons Programmes,” Mar. 6, 2003. This is important: Actually read these documents for yourselves. Don’t just take someone else’s interpretations as gospel. That is what we are taught to do here in the university.
If you actually do read the above, this does not necessarily mean you will all of a sudden agree with the war. However, taking a look at the average anti-war protester, it is obvious that these basic primary source documents relating to the war in Iraq are given about as much attention as Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaign. I love the fact that we are allowed to disagree with the government in this country. The freedom to do so is so dear to my heart that I joined the Marines and volunteered to go to war to preserve it. So PLEASE disagree with the war if you are inclined to do so! Just make sure that you do so in light of the facts.
“Bush lied, kids died!”
“Bush is a Nazi!”
“This illegal war is a lie!”
You know the drill. This mindless rhetoric is not academic, and it is embarrassing to our school.
Or just ignore this all together, grab that copy of Das Capital and give those fascists in the White House a piece of your mind! Workingmen of all countries unite!