Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Contrast in Riots

I was already thinking about the contrast between what happened in Berkeley and State College yesterday, but The Nation's Dave Zirin beat me to the words.

If you haven't watched the footage of the police beating nonviolent students at Berkeley, take a minute:

All they were doing was peacefully pitching tents in an outdoor area, in defiance of a letter put out by the University chancellor banning any attempts at occupation. I found the chancellor's list of banned activities incoherent:

Any activities such as pulling fire alarms, occupying buildings, setting up encampments, graffiti, or other destructive actions that disrupt with anyone's ability to conduct regular activities -- go to class, study, carry out their research, etc. -- will not be tolerated.
Let's see -- pulling fire alarms, graffiti, and "other destructive actions" are equated with setting up an encampment. Does that make any sense if you're looking for a compelling governance interest? How is an encampment anything other than free speech? Even occupying a building imposes on someone, while occupying an outdoor space does not in any important way.

Yet the police waded in with nightsticks and beat students who were merely disobeying an unreasonable order.

Meanwhile (or actually, a few hours later), in Pennsylvania, students were violent and stupid in support of violent and stupid behavior by adults. As The Nation's Zirin wrote, Berkeley, the Occupiers—a diverse assemblage of students, linking arms—pushed back and displayed true courage in the face of state violence. They would not be moved. These students are a credit to their school and represent the absolute best of a young generation who are refusing to accept the world as it is.
At Penn State, we saw the worst of this generation: the flotsam and the fools; the dregs and the Droogs; young men of entitlement who rage for the machine.
He concludes:
November 9 was a generational wake-up call to every student on every campus in this country. Which side are you on? Do you defend the ugliest manifestations of unchecked power or do you fight for a better world with an altogether different set of values? Do you stand with the Thugs of Penn State or do you stand with Occupiers of Berkeley? It’s fear vs. hope, and the stakes are a hell of a lot higher than a BCS bowl.


Michael Leddy said...

That’s well said. The Penn State students have picked the wrong cause, for sure.

Ms Sparrow said...

Those airhead students will have the rest of their lives to ponder what values they stand for--football programs or children's right to grow up in safety. Maybe when they have kids of their own they will hang their heads in shame for being so shallow and uncaring toward the victims.