The Revolution Against Reality

Today as part of the national day of protest against funding cuts at universities, we had our very own protest here at UNC-Chapel Hill. Here, the protest appears to have been organized by Students for a Democratic Society. So predictably, instead of promoting a serious discussion about university budget cuts, the event quickly degenerated into a farce.

I encountered the small crowd of about 30 of the usual suspects as they crossed Polk Place, rudely interrupting the people at the dedication of the Eve Carson Memorial Garden with loud drumming and chanting.

Stealing a page from the recent student body president campaign of Carolina Review Editor in Chief Nash Keune, the protesters called for the abolition of all tuition charges as well as the firing of the university’s upper level administration. They accompanied this with creepily totalitarian chants of “the people, united, will never be defeated!”

In the crowd, many of the usual suspects in the gang of thugs known as Students for a Democratic Society could be seen. This is the same group responsible in the past year for attacking Tom Tancredo, threatening UNC faculty, and stealing copies of the Carolina Review.

The protest moved to the steps of South Building, where a woman with a loudspeaker proclaimed that “you cannot legislate civil disobedience” and stated that the protesters fully intended to break the law by protesting inside South Building after it closes at 5 PM. The potential of trespassing charges did not seem to deter them as 15 more daring protesters entered the building. The rest of them stood outside and listed grievances against the system barely related to the current budget crisis, including calls for unionization of campus workers and admission of illegal immigrants under in-state tuition rates.

“Education is a right, not a privilege.” “A Job is a Right” “Repeal Jim Crow” (!?)…just a sampling of the intellectual level we are dealing with here.

In the meantime, University officials observing the protest could but stand and laugh and the juvenile nature of it all.

Don’t get me wrong, budget cuts are a serious issue. They affect all of us negatively. They affect me negatively. But the fact is we are in an economic recession. In a recession, people spend less money. When people spend less money the state collects less revenue in sales tax. This causes the state to have a budget shortfall and requires it to cut spending. Hence, the need for budget cuts. To pretend that the state of North Carolina can do otherwise in the current situation is to deny the basic laws of addition and subtraction. Apparently SDS has decided that trying to launch a social revolution is not enough and now they intend on launching a revolution against mathematics.

We can debate where the wisest place to cut the budget is. But these sorts of juvenile protests calling for completely unrealistic goals such as the abolition of tuition (because a free education is “a right not a privilege”) or the firing of administrators is completely pointless, and will change nothing. It’s just an excuse for some leftist activists to yell in the streets and pretend to be doing something of importance.

PS – I guess it could have been worse. According to the CNN article on the nationwide protests, police at UC-Davis had to fire rubber bullets at protesters to keep them from blocking an interstate highway, while police at Wisconsin-Milwaukee arrested 15 people after they tried to storm the main administration building.

Update: No arrests were made as the protesters agreed to leave the building peacefully. A short video of part of the protest can be viewed here:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbXx45stEsM

7 comments

  1. Speaking of creepy totalitarian chants, how about those adorable little flyers they left everywhere with fists and some slogan like ''end privatization'' on them. Viva la mob!

  2. Your reporting is terrible.

    First of all, there was a concrete list of demands:
    1) Chop from the top, i.e., pay cuts should be aimed at administrators first.
    2) No privatization or corporate kickbacks, i.e., this is a /public/ university and to privatize departments, buildings, and research facilities creates a conflict of interest
    3) Use UNC System Lobbying Power to Lobby for an Increase in Corporate Taxes to Cover Budget Shortfalls, i.e., we're sick of North Carolina serving as a tax shelter for businesses; we think that if businesses are going to operate out of the state, they should be obliged to contribute
    4) Use UNC System Lobbying Power to Lobby for Equal College Access for Undocumented Students, Including In-State Tuition for all Undocumented Students in the UNC System and NC Community Colleges, i.e., college admissions and tuition grants should respect the nation's equal-opportunity laws

    Secondly, no one was "rudely interrupting the Eve Carson memorial." We talked to the co-ordinators of that event and held off the march until they were done. I personally talked to one of the bystanders near the Chief of Police, and she was perfectly fine with what we were doing and seemed to even think it was a good thing.

    Third, "The people, united, will never be defeated!" is not an "oddly totalitarian chant." It is the chant that the farm workers under Caesar Chavez used when they were striking for better wages and the right to unionize.

    Fourth, no one attacked Tom Tancredo. A window was broken, but there's questions about who broke the window – whether it was the police or the students. I personally regret that students posted Elliott Cramer's information; I think it was juvenile and irresponsible. But I am not an SDS spokesperson, so I will not speak for them.

    Fifth, I don't see why free education is such an unrealistic goal. Florida currently has a mechanism in place whereby residents get to go to school for free. Oregon and Wisconsin, I believe, also have such mechanisms.

    Sixth, you quote our slogans and insult us, "'Education is a right, not a privilege.” “A Job is a Right” “Repeal Jim Crow” (!?)…just a sampling of the intellectual level we are dealing with here." A slogan is not an opinion paper. The aim of slogans is to put a point across forcefully in few words. They also express ideals not facts. Is education a right? Not in the U.S. Should education be a right? We are saying yes. This is how direct action works. We're not a legislative body, and we don't have access to a legislature, so we offer our demands in as simple and direct a way as we can. As for "Repeal Jim Crow", the argument, if you are willing to listen, is that de facto segregation and economic disparity continues to be as heavy as it was in the Jim Crow era. We passed equality laws without actually enforcing equality.

    Seventh, "No arrests were made because protestors agreed to leave the building peacefully." We agreed to leave after securing a meeting with the university president. We didn't put the kind of pressure on UNC that they put on the universities in California, but it wasn't just a case of us being escorted off the premises, either. The threat of violence was never made, so to say that we left peacefully is tautological. Assuming you were there, it seems that you should have at least realized that there were no standoffs, no threats, minimal police presence. Your implicit assumption that the aim of a protest is to end it in violence shows once again how little you understand the subject that you are covering.

    I am posting here partly for pedagogical reasons. If you want to be a journalist, you need to be willing to practice responsible journalistic conduct. The fact that you didn't even try to contact the SDS students, to familiarize yourself with the current state of public university education throughout the U.S., or to understand the students' point of view shows me that the debate you are willing to have is slogan trading.

    1. "A window was broken, but there's questions about who broke the window – whether it was the police or the students."

      As a witness to the left-wing violence you condone, I question whether your critical thinking skills are strong enough to limit your wild speculation to the realm of possibility.

    2. Well Mike, as far as Tancredo is concerned, you couldn't have actually been there to make those ludicrous claims. Seeing as I was the one flanking Tancredo along with Riley when the windows was broken, I have a pretty solid basis when I say that police didn't break any windows.

      Re: 6th. Yeah, we know that you think that higher education is right. And we think that that stance is a clear indicator of just how intellectually lacking you and SDS's ilk are.

      I have to say that SDS has gotten smarter. They've realized that revealing that they are a bunch of anarchist hippy rejects doesn't earn brownie points with anyone. Kudos to them for not making the same mistake for a 4th time in a row.

    3. 3. Okay, the chant originates with Allende. Sorry I got it wrong. Yet his involvement with the KGB, which is well-documented, does not make him a totalitarian. You look at governance, not connections, in order to establish whether someone is a totalitarian. Just as you'd call me an idiot if I used Bush's Saudi connections to support the view that he was a theocratic ruler, I think you're ridiculous for making a financial and security connection between the KGB and Allende proof of his totalitarianism. Given that Allende was succeeded by an actual totalitarian ruler (Pinochet), I think you should do some comparison work (number of arrests, number of political executions/murders, number of press organizations shut down, etc.).
      4. I wasn't there. Again, no one attacked Tom Tancredo, "attack" being the key word.
      5. A list of average tuition costs would not disprove my point. There's out-of-state tuition, as well. But here's the relevant datum: "Florida had a voucher system for low-income families from failing school districts from 1999 until 2006. In the final year, 750 students out of 190,000 eligible made this choice. The state paid an average of $4,000 per student as opposed to the $7,206 per student atteding public schools." So you're right. Florida no longer pays tuition for any of its its students. That's too bad. Wisconsin does: http://heab.state.wi.us/programs.html.
      6. My point was about slogans. But economic segregation, gini coefficient, etc., went down between 60 and 80. It only began to climb back up again with Cowboy Ronnie.
      7. The statement he made, i.e., "No arrests were made" is correct. But if you can't read implications of a statement, then you should retake your rhetoric class. The threat of violence was never made. There's no point in saying that it ended peacefully, unless you want to imply that we are violent.

      1. The potential for violence always exists wherever SDS is present. They have proven that they have no respect for law, order or common decency and are willing to use violence and the threat of violence for political purposes.

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