As I had said before, I try to make it a rule to not get too political on this blog. I’m making it a point to not do this again after this post, though there had been a combination of things that I had seen in the media that had been weighing on my mind for the past few weeks. I really wanted to get this out there, and this blog seemed to be the only appropriate media in which to say it. If you disagree or don’t care for this type of discourse, forgive me, and please check back with me and my blog when I have something more relevant to talk about with you.
Still here? Okay, great. A few weeks ago, I was watching a documentary about political unrest in the 1960’s on PBS. Unlike most documentaries on specific time periods, this one didn’t really cover the pop culture of the age that it focused on, but rather the political state of the country. One thing that struck me which hadn’t really hit hard with me before was the activism of students within that period. It had always been right there in front of me, but I never really noticed. All of the biggest and notable events protesting the Vietnam War or other governmental actions had taken place by university students on thier respective campuses. Generally, students seemed to have had the intellectual upper hand during this time, as they were the pulse of the political mood of thier generation within the country. One of the most extreme examples that I had not heard a lot of was within France in 1968 in which a student protest literally overthrew the government. Of course, we had lesser, yet effective examples here in the States as well, most notably and popular of which was at Kent State.
This documentary that I had seen came at a coincidental time, as events at my university have paralleled these, although to a much lesser extent. My school is attempting to change the name of the place from ‘UAH’ to ‘UA Huntsville’, a move that has been very unpopular with the student body. However, that student body has seemed very hesitant to really do anything about it. They’ve started a facebook group to whine about it and have formed a lengthy petition list in the SGA office. But that’s about it. In comparison to what places such as Kent State had attempted, our generation quite frankly seems like a bunch of wussies. Granted, students at Kent State were protesting the unfounded logic of an invasion of another country by ours, and in comparison a changed name of a university seems like a much, much lesser offense. But certainly, should the changed name really merit such controversy, one would think that it would also merit some more aggressive ways for voices to be heard. They wouldn’t even have to be violent, only dramatic. Surely, if the 60’s have taught us anything, it was that nonviolent protests such as sit-ins or classroom strikes can be overly effective, especially in conjunction with today’s hyperbolic and sensationalist media.
But then it hit me. Today’s generation is complacent because protests have become far too accessible. The students of UAH don’t have to fill the University Center with a sit in, because Facebook already affords them with the possibility of “protesting” from their computer within their dorm rooms. By adding their name to a list, either on paper or within a database on a server, they’ve felt as if they’ve contributed. It saves them time so that they can get back to the common room to play XBox 360 some more with their buddies. Or maybe it isn’t that accessibility, maybe it’s the media that has made them that complacent. Media such as music certainly has come a long way, as ultimately forgettable artists such as Fall Out Boy would be immensely more popular than a Bob Dylan. In fact, a politically charged artist wouldn’t make it in today’s media, we are far too sensitive. Heck, the Dixie Chicks had their albums steamrolled simply because one of them made a badly timed comment. One that would be far more well received had it been made now, as opposed to the beginning of the Iraqi Invasion. We aren’t ready or willing to protest, or even hear protest. We’d rather simply get back home to fire up our TiVo to see what we missed. Drama isn’t on Capitol Hill or in the Middle East, it’s on Dancing With The Stars.
John Lennon was more right than he would ever know. The generation he was talking to at the time knew what they wanted and were willing to fight for it. The bastard offspring of Generation X is far too lazy and overly trained by the media to really get up and do something about it. Oh, they’ll whine and complain on Facebook. Maybe if they are really adventurous, they’ll put a clever bumper sticker on their car. The fruit of the situation is ripe for the picking, but we’re not willing to simply reach out our hand to grab it. If the intelligent student body of a university is unwilling to really do anything about an overly controlling university changing its name without consent, they aren’t going to be willing to do anything about a long unjustified five year old war for corporate profits in the name of “democracy”.
Those before us were willing to risk it all in order to push what they believed, yet our generation is unwilling to put down the remote.