Sunday, October 29, 2006

Credit for Trying?

Thanks to Jack Stephens for letting me know about this item: a recent Los Angeles Times column by Meghan Daum (link via Patterico):

THE EVENTS at Columbia University on Oct. 4, in which about a dozen students stormed a stage where the founder of an anti-illegal immigration group was speaking, didn't exactly resemble those of April 1968. There were no arrests, no soundtrack by the Grateful Dead, no occupation of the president's office. But considering that most young people are considered to be politically apathetic, you have to credit the Chicano Caucus and the International Socialist Organization for trying.

The speaker, Jim Gilchrist of the Minuteman Project, a citizen's border patrol group, had been invited to campus by the Columbia University College Republicans. Reports in the New York Times said students holding banners reading "No One Is Illegal" jumped on the stage and were soon joined by dozens more protesters as well as supporters of Gilchrist. Protesters later said Gilchrist was knocked backward and his glasses were broken. The student newspaper, the Columbia Spectator, reported that "one student was kicked in the head and bleeding."

(Emphasis added-DD)

So radical thugs essentially stage a riot in order to suppress speech they disagree with, and Ms. Daum believes that they deserve credit for trying?

After soliciting the views of former Weather Underground terrorist Kevin Rudd, Ms. Daum concludes her column as follows:

Still, I'll give them an A (OK, maybe a B+) for trying. So does Rudd.

"I'm not going to point a finger at these kids and say you're a hoodlum fascist," he said. "I'm just going to wait and see what they do." In other words, it's not Columbia's president who has to get his hands around this. It's young activists themselves.

Well, allow me then "to point a finger at these kids and say you're a hoodlum fascist", because that's exactly what they are. They arrogated to themselves the right to violently suppress the free speech rights of others, in a place that is supposed to be committed to the free exchange of ideas.

Unfortunately, that such behavior would occur on a university campus doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is the reaction of a supposed adult like Ms. Daum, whose reaction is to say "ohhh, look at the cute little activists, you have to give them credit for trying". Had this been right-wing activists disrupting a speech by someone like Kevin Rudd, would Ms. Daum react quite so flippantly? Somehow, I doubt it.


Anonymous ref asst said...

here, let's give credit where credit's due (Kevin Rudd is some Australian)... besides, it looks like Rudd is technically qualified to issue grades, unlike his LATimes media flack...

" Seeking answers to these questions, I called Mark Rudd. A founder of Students for a Democratic Society, Rudd was among the leaders of the Columbia revolt in 1968 and was later a member of the radical Weather Underground. No stranger to the ways in which protest can go astray — he was in hiding from 1970 to 1977 in connection with a bomb-making project that blew up a building and killed three people — he has since owned up to his mistakes and writes and speaks frequently on activism. I thought he could shed some light on the recent fracas at Columbia.

"The 19-year-old me would have done it exactly the same way," Rudd said from his home in Albuquerque, where he's a math instructor at a community college. "But the 59-year-old that I am now would be on the side of free speech. I would let the Minuteman speak, and I would certainly let the Iranian president speak. But I would also tell the students to understand the difference between organizing and self-expression. Young people are as thoughtful as ever, but they don't believe they can make a difference. They don't know how to organize and build a movement."

Tanned, Rested, Ready...

11:00 AM  

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