All of You. Get Off Of THEIR Lawns.

I missed the Vietnam War era on my college campus by a few years.  I didn’t have anyone like Hanoi Jane nor Abbie Hoffman.  But I did have Mike and Hugo.

Mike and Hugo were the closest things to activists on my frigid campus.  Mike also happened to have been elected student body president the year I was editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper.  Hugo was his housemate and constant companion.  Both often dressed in military fatigues and were passionate believers in speaking out to make waves.  In our roles as fake leaders of our de facto first and fourth estates, we’d sit down on a regular basis and I’d offer up their latest agendas.

As you can see for yourself,oswegonian-1979-september-1980-may – 0348 more often than not, few of our fellow students cared more about such issues than they did about getting drunk, getting stoned and getting…well, YOU know…  But our conversations, and the end of a decade of far more activistm than we had seen since, at least until recently, prompted some deep dives into what really was motivating those that did take full advantage of their first amendment rights, sometimes more than law enforcement and government officials believed they should.

And what even the feebly attended “rallies” of Mike and Hugo had in common with the events at Ivy League schools, or even Kent State, were that the issues were DIRECTLY affecting all of us.  Vietnam was a war OUR presidents got us into, and were politically averse to leaving without “peace with honor”.  WE were the ones being drafted and being shipped overseas, often against our will.  WE were the ones that often weren’t returning at all, or if we did, with permanent physical and/or emotional disabilities.

And that, at least to me, is what is so gosh darn frustrating about what I am seeing going on on campuses all over the country this spring, spreading like the wildfire that bombings in Vietnam caused to that country in the day.  And as the esteemed David Andelman cited in his weekly newsletter ANDELMAN UNLEASHED this morning, I’m not as alone in my thoughts as so many might try to otherwise convince me I am:

Much of the world’s media seems to feel that may be the case as the French daily Le Monde headlines “The war in Gaza sets American campuses on fire.” 

The protest is spreading in American universities. In New York, the police evacuated a pro-Palestinian student camp in Columbia, the epicenter of a movement which notably asks higher education institutions to renounce their investments in closely or distantly linked companies to the war in Gaza.

Suddenly, a support camp for Gaza sprang up at a university in Salt Lake City, in the heart of Utah. No demonstration relating to the Middle East had taken place until then on a campus known as one of the least politically active in the United States.

[These] protests—until now confined to the east of the country and to Austin, Texas, where it is severely repressed by the Republican governor, Greg Abbott—are now spreading throughout the country. Its promoters evoke the Vietnam War or the fight against apartheid, but the mobilization is amplified by social networks. The police have made “only” 1,500 arrests on around thirty campuses…

And here in Los Angeles, as it has been in New York City for more than a month, it’s become particularly ugly, as REUTERS reported to the world earlier this week:

Violent clashes erupted on Wednesday on the campus of the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) between pro-Palestinian protesters and a group of counter-demonstrators, according to live video coverage provided by a U.S. broadcaster.   The UCLA student newspaper Daily Bruin said supporters of Israel had tried to tear down a pro-Palestinian protest encampment on the campus  Police were responding to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block’s request for support, Zach Seidl, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor of Communications, said on X.

And, naturally, the finger-pointing and conspiracy theories that dominate every other aspect of life today has escalated as well, as FOX NEWS’ Taylor Penley incineratingly  reported at roughly the same time:

Jews in Los Angeles have “had enough” and are taking matters into their own hands as anti-Israel protests continue to wreak havoc on college campuses, a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) student told Fox News Wednesday.

“The reason why this is happening is because Jews in L.A. have had enough. They’ve seen how these pro-Hamas protesters are treating Jewish students on campus, and they said, ‘Fine, if the UCLA administration is not going to do anything, if LAPD is not going to do anything, we’re going to do something about it,'” Eli Tsives said while appearing on “Fox & Friends.”

Look, I’m Jewish, but please don’t mistake that fact for determining what side of this I fall out on.  I have literally nothing against evoking freedom of speech, regardless of how foolhardy or incendiary it may be to some.  I truly get how important this issue is to those of Generation Alpha.  And the Left Angeles TIMES’ Faith E. Pinho was quick to remind me or anyone else about how true that is in a story dropped yesterday:

After days of protests roiling college campuses, President Biden broke his silence with a short, terse speech condemning the chaos and calling for order, while also holding up protest as a fundamental American right.

Will Biden’s comments be enough to sate young voters? Some political analysts think not.

“For Biden to get back on track with young voters, he needs to think and act differently and really take to heart what these young activists have been asking for,” said Diane Wong, assistant professor of political science at Rutgers University.  In addition to calling on their universities to divest from companies doing business in Israel, students have called on the administration to withhold military support from Israel. They’ve also urged Biden to push harder for a peaceful solution in the war between Israel and Hamas.

But if anyone actually thinks Joe Biden can control anything going on anywhere else in the world, given how little ability he has to control anything in the country he actually does run of late, then obviously all of the classes that students should be attending have left a deep void in the educations of those who have chosen to spend their on-campus lives wearing masks, chanting incenssantly and, in many cases, thinking hurling rocks, let alone racial epithets, is justified because of their frustration.

Unless you actually have citizenship in either country, or loved ones directly involved, bear this in mind:  It’s their war.  Not yours.

If you’re a student, and you indeed have a family member directly involved in all of this and feel this passionately then, arguably, you should be taking a leave of absence and going home to help support them, at least emotionally.  And maybe you learned some skills that might translate well on the actual battlefield.  Whatever floats your boat.

But the moment you choose to spend your time not in classes or your dormitories, and disrupt the lives of those who actually do want an education, you revoke any rights you may believe you’re entitled to for what you think is fair treatment.  And for those of you who think you should receive food and water while you’re involved in these distractions, read the fine print in your food plan.  As one headline this week accurately crowed, “the revolution will not be catered”.

If you are receiving financial aid of any kind and are proven to be involved in any actions that go beyond freedom of speech, any future aid should be revoked.  Should you fail to get passing grades in any classes as a result of your extracurricular activities, you should be at as much risk for academic expulsion as anyone else.

If you’re a student journalist like I was and you’re intent on becoming your generation’s version of Edward R. Murrow reporting live from the “battleground”, you do so at your own risk.  Plenty of actual war correspondents got shot.  Your bruises will heal soon enough.

And if you’re indeed the kind of outsider that young Mr. Tsives thinks is justified in dropping what you’re doing to storm the virtual castles, you have even less place in all of this than anyone.  Honestly.  Fight your own damn battles.

When I hear of  foreign-born students so angry and motivated by all of this that they are hanging signs saying “Don’t make me vote for Trump!”, I actually want to ask them “Do any of you even KNOW what TIME magazine is, and have you read his most recent interview?!?!”.  What, you think deportations would be limited strictly to those who illegally cross the Mexican border?!!  And do any of those actually think if you did cast your vote for him it would matter enough to assure your own stability?

And when I see college administrators petrified about being hauled into Congress and having to face the grilling of the politically motivated Elise Stefanik demanding their heads on a skewer, I truly wish at least one of them who felt that bringing police in to clear their campuses of these grotesque encampments would have the huevos to answer her with “Ma’am, you have never run a private enterprise, you are as subserviant to your most influential donors as I am.  You follow the money as much as anyone.  Many of those who side with pro-Palestinians come from well-off families who pay us hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in cash.  When the other side is willing to cough up more, or at least credibly threaten future support, then and only then will I decide what is in our best interests.  Until then, please stop wasting the time and hard-earned money of the taxpayers who hold your own future in their hands by spending it trying to determine mine”.

For as much as any of you may be disturbed by how I express my own feelings, realize this:  I’m not going anywhere near a campus anytime soon.  I have no personal stakes.  And again, I’m not denying anyone from speaking their mind.  You have the right to think I’m nothing but a babbling old fart.

Besides, there are far more influential ways to get your point of view across.  This past week, THE YOUNG TURKS’ Cenk Uygur applauded the efforts of one school that did agree to rescind financial support to Israel.  They reach millions and given the fact there are no longer daily COVID data drops to occupy their time, they kinda need new content.  Maybe you should reach out to him and his allies and try to influence the world through much less pain-inflicting measures?

Bottom line to everyone, regardless of affiliation, background or point of view.  You don’t belong on anyone else’s lawn.

Let actual fertilizer take it course.  Not the kind all of this is creating.  ENOUGH ALREADY.

Until next time…

 

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