alex and friend, watching from treeI’m posting this not as a counterpoint to what Glenn just wrote, since he covered it fairly, but to offer another, less cynical viewpoint on this issue. I attended the walk-out war protest this afternoon at Voorhees Mall here at Rutgers. I did not walk out of class early to get there, I simply went when my class was over. I didn’t agree with everything that was said there, but I went because I think it’s important to take a stand when you feel something is wrong. College students have been prominent protesters for generations for a number of reasons; the average college student understands the struggles of being middle-lower class because most of us are pretty poor, we’re finally reaching an age where we can make big life decisions without influence of our parents, we’re young enough to physically get up and take action quickly when motivated, we are surrounded by people our age who often have similar view points on issues, etc. For any of these reasons, college students have been protesting since long before we were born, and it has not been a fruitless labor by any means.
view from tree

First, I’ll address what Pete said in his comment to Glenn’s post:

It’s ridiculous, half the kids who participated in this probably used it as a sophisticated excuse not to go to class. I doubt everyone involved really cares this much.

I found this to be completely untrue. As you can see from my photos, this was not an incredibly populated rally. There were a decent amount of people there, but the numbers were certainly not staggering. Much less than I anticipated, actually. But of the people who were there, I’d say at least 9 out of 10 felt very strongly about the cause. Like most of the rallies here at Rutgers, the crowd was full of well-informed and upset people. The walk out was not the biggest part of the day at all. In fact, very few people walked out except the ones where the professors were also walking out and people who were directly involved with the day. Almost every teacher was aware of the walk out, and with it taking place with only 20 minutes left in class, I doubt many, if any, teachers had an issue with students taking a political stance. By the way, I get this information from a kid I have a class with who was one of the organizers of this whole day, so I’m not just pulling them out of thin air. He is probably the most well-informed person I’ve ever met when it comes to this issue and he’s adamant about his beliefs.

sign on tree

And for the people who do care that much, them walking out of class solves nothing and just causes problems.

I’ll disagree with this more than the first one. Staging a walk-out, sit-in, or any other type of nonviolent protest is one of the oldest traditions in America. Without protesting there’d be no Martin Luther King, no Susan B. Anthony. If Americans did not take a stand against unfairness, our nation wouldn’t be close to what it is today. Of course I’m not comparing anyone at this little protest to some of the greatest Americans, but without the tradition of protesting we simply could not be who we are today. In the 60’s and 70’s, our nation was stuck in the Vietnam War. ~58,000 Americans were killed in that war; a war that was even more unpopular than the one we’re in now. But comparisons are constantly being drawn between Iraq and Vietnam, and they’re not without merit. Vietnam was among the biggest protest periods in our country’s history, and college students led the way then. College students went out, voiced their opinions, and changes were eventually made because they spurred such an uprising among the American populous. The reason people marched today was not because they thought a few hundred people chanting was going to magically fix the war. They went out there because it’s our job, as people living in a free nation, to let it be known when something is wrong. Because if we get out there and march, and then other people are inspired to get out there and march, hopefully we can make enough noise to get someone to listen who hasn’t listened before. Walking out and protesting, I can promise you, caused no problems at all. Nothing that happened today caused a problem, there is no reason that it would.

yelling about wars

I’m sorry I spent so much space arguing with you, Pete, but I really think you don’t understand what this thing was like. It was peaceful, no problems were started, the majority of teachers were OK with their students walking out to take a stand. There really is no reason to be against what took place unless you support the war; college protests are not worthless little get-togethers or excuses for ditching class and leaving. The people who took part in this actually do care about their cause, and want to do all they can to help it.

I did not go today because I am for the immediate removal of all troops from Iraq. I went today because I thoroughly believe in the value of protesting when you feel strongly about something. Many people there (probably almost all of them) felt more strongly about the cause than me; the main speaker was a veteran of the war, followed by a woman who lost her son in the war. I’m all for a planned, controlled pullout of Iraq as soon as we can sort out the things we ourselves messed up in the first place. I’m definitely not nearly as liberal as most of the people there–I’d never make a sign or anything. But when you feel that something needs to be changed, it’s good to show up and support the overall cause, even if you disagree on the details. Protesting is not evil and it’s not a problem, its a way to safely make your point heard and show your support in an open public atmosphere; there is no reason that any college students should be against it unless you are against the cause.

marching somewhere

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