The UC and the lessons from Kent State

But today I, like many in the UC family of alums, am ashamed of the UC.

The lesson from Kent State should be foremost as we think about how to clear students from occupying campuses. When public institutions sanction police violence against their own youth, the lesson is clear: those in power know the system they are enabling is terribly broken, they know it’s obvious to every one, and they no longer seek to maintain legitimacy through decency or leadership. They just let force speak for itself.

Tiananmen Square.

If our democracy can not manage to treat student dissent with decency and compassion, where the hell are we? If we can’t tolerate youth, with its idealism and all the inconveniences and weaknesses that idealism entails, what use are our universities? After all, what time is there for radicalism in life, and a desire for change, if not when one is young?

Half of the professors I know whine that their students don’t care enough about anything other Fboo and texting, getting ahead, getting that business degree, getting those dollars in the bank. Well, kiddos, if you do care, don’t care on our precious lawn or we’ll have our goons pry your eyelids open, while you are clearly subdued, to make sure you’re good and blind when we start in with our billies.

I get that practical concerns have come to fore, and it’s time for them to go. That’s what grey hair and age do for one: you begin to be sensible, ghastly as that is. Students shouldn’t really be occupying or sitting in for the right to a permanent sleepover. I had thought they didn’t have any additional points to make, but I was wrong. Apparently, they have more things to teach us, like the brittle meanness of once-great public universities, in being incapable of removing *college kids* without getting all police-state on everybody. Oh noes! Not college kids sitting down! With linked arms! THE TERROR! Why, if I don’t burn out their eyes with acid, they might resist and I might break one of my Lee press-on nails doing my damn job.

One thought on “The UC and the lessons from Kent State

  1. This society has shown that it is much more willing to tolerate massive unemployment, steeply rising tuition / student loan debt, tens of millions of people without health insurance, limitless war, and the un-housing of America than it is to tolerate legal protest and minor acts of civil disobedience.

    For young people, who in many ways are bearing the brunt of the crisis (especially with regard to unemployment), protest isn’t radical. It is a desperate attempt to salvage what is left of our chance for a decent life.

    Long live the protests. Long live the protesters.

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