Activism Making Everything an Issue
Published: Tuesday, November 7, 2006
Updated: Friday, April 15, 2011 17:04
Sometimes I look around this campus and feel like I am the only person who hasn't completely lost his mind. All of a sudden everything seems to be becoming about issues; the gay (sorry, GLBT . umm . Z?) issue, the minority issue, the local food issue, the woman issue and so forth. In the past several weeks I have been informed that this campus is chauvinistic, not a haven for minorities, not a queer-friendly campus, and unfair to local dairy farmers -- among other complaints. Suddenly everyone is an activist, and, worse yet, suddenly we're the new Wesleyan! I really had to think long and hard about why this bothered me before I could realize the reason: I don't like being preached to (which is why I haven't been back to church since making confirmation) -- especially about something I already subscribe to. It makes me hate whatever is being preached out of spite, like when you watch one of those Truth commercials and just want to go out and buy a pack of Marlboros. That's what it seems like all this tolerance talk is doing: preaching to the choir.
To me it seems that it all started with that library protest last semester. (I know it's getting old, but seriously, it was a bunch of people just looking for a random reason to fight the establishment.) And from there it has been downhill all the way. Activists are taking over this campus. You've probably seen them; they're the people who believe that telling jokes containing the words "Nazi" and "fried chicken" constitute Holocaust denial.
Today's activists are trying to recreate the actions of students in the 1960s without actually having the same spirit. When students marched at schools in the 1960s, it was because blacks were being lynched, often only a few miles away. Now when you march it's because some drunk scribbled a racial slur. One does not march because of the drunken actions of some schmuck; one simply finds said schmuck with several friends and kicks his ass!
Overreaction is the flavor of the day, folks. It was different in the '60s when everyone and their mother was a racist, but today we have to be just as outraged as our hippie ancestors were even though only a fraction of racists remain. That is why I was so pissed when my dinner was so rudely interrupted the other night when a large group proceeded to shut off the lights in Mather Dining Hall and make a speech about how we have to get the administration to combat intolerance on campus. No we don't! Seriously, what the hell are you going to do about the schmuck who wrote "nigger" on that girl's door - find him and send him to sensitivity training or Diversity Day? There is nothing that you can do that will make the drunken ass who wrote on that girl's door any more tolerant -- least of all a pointless demonstration. If you do find him, you kick his ass, that's what you do, and if you don't want to, I will - it was a horrible thing that he did. What you don't do is find ways to blame the administration, or Trinity as an entity, for the actions of one or a few morons.
There are still racists everywhere, and so there are racists at Trinity, but that does not by default make Trinity a racist college and it does not, as Professor Luis Figueroa suggested in an article in the Hartford Courant, create a "climate of fear." One person using a racial slur and a handful of people demonstrating their homophobia does not create a climate of fear. That's what exists out in areas of the real world (you all should go there sometime) where there still are lynchings and gay people being beaten and killed for their orientation - so for those of you still keeping score: rural Mississippi = climate of fear, Trinity = not climate of fear. And seriously, who could be afraid of a pink-shirt-wearing Trinity preppie anyway? If anyone actually became afraid because a racial slur was used on campus they should fill out their transfer applications to Wesleyan right now or, better yet, to the Institute of Living.
I went to a public high school on Long Island, and do you know what we called it when someone got called a nigger? A weekday - you dealt with it. And no, racial slurs and jokes did not create a "climate of fear." Everyone I went to school with knew I was an Afghan, but did I think that the people making jokes about middle-easterners being terrorists (particularly after 9/11) were going to come and get me? Of course not, only an idiot would.
When I went to the discussion about the EROS chalkings I learned a few things. For one, as I stated before, Trinity is apparently not a "queer-friendly campus," which is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Again, people are confusing individual actions and the will of the community. Judging the entire campus to be unfriendly to gays or blacks or whoever is simply unfair and untrue. You want to see someplace that is unfriendly, go try some of those chalkings out in the North End, see how many you can get done before you get a cap popped in your ass. I don't know where most of you people grew up, but I know that at my high school if there were any gay people none of them were out of the closet, that's the real world and we should all be really thankful to be in a place as tolerant as Trinity College is.
I think some of the problem really lies in the fact that (again, for the majority of the community) tolerance has been achieved on this campus. Allow me to state an example - you're gay, you're black, you're handicapped, you're a WASP . I don't care. I really don't care what you are - you would be amazed how many people take offense to that statement and try and twist it to mean things like "oh, so you just don't want to see gay people, you want them to be in the closet." No, I just don't care. It's the epitome of tolerance, but that's no longer good enough. Now you have to be a member of EROS or you're a homophobe. There is no middle ground anymore - as the Bolsheviks said, you're either with us or against us. Or, as one of my activist friends is so fond of pointing out about myself and other moderates, I won't be spared when the revolution comes . thank God.