Tuesday, March 04, 2008
On this day:

Radicals on campus

From the University of Alabama Crimson White:
Four participants in an anti-war demonstration were arrested Friday by University police.

The group, whose names have not been released by the University, reportedly stormed through the second-floor doors of the plaza entrance to the Ferguson Center around midday Friday and began yelling and cursing. They ran towards the circular couches near the information desk, where three people whose heads were covered with red and white checkered scarves were sitting.

The four people dressed up like soldiers began directing their shouts toward those three individuals. They pushed them around, restrained them and eventually took them out the door.

After the three "detainees" were taken away, one of the four "soldiers" announced that events like what had just been simulated were a common occurrence many miles away from the United States. He said people who were considering joining the army should consider that they will be doing things similar to what had just been simulated. He also said the military is oppressing people thousands of miles away.

He then invited any more students interested in learning about the issue to a meeting that night in Morgan Hall. ...

According to UA spokeswoman Schandra Clark, two of those taken into custody were UA students involved with Students for a Democratic Society. The other two were non-students involved with the group Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Clark said all four involved were arrested Friday and have been charged with disorderly conduct, and the two students have been referred to Judicial Affairs.
The Tuscaloosa News has more here.

Today's Students for a Democratic Society is a resuscitated version of a radical '60's-era group of the same name. The leftist magazine The Nation published a good writeup on the new SDS last April.

At the University of Alabama, the campus chapter of SDS made the news last year both for its participation in the "Save Our Strip" campaign and for its staging of a "die-in" to protest the Iraq War. That the SDS was so heavily involved in "Save Our Strip," a concerted effort by students and alumni to protect a strip of privately-owned bars and restaurants from further encroachment by the University, shows that die-hard leftists are often as eager to enjoy the benefits of capitalism as they are to deny them to everyone else. When conservatives are guilty of such a sin, its usually called hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is one type of falsehood, but it isn't necessarily falsehood of the worst sort, since it only involves a false portrayal of oneself. Last week's SDS-organized protest, on the other hand, was different. It was built around an outright lie, falsely portraying the random detention of civilians as the common practice of U.S. soldiers and servicemen in Iraq. UA SDS Comrade-in-Chief Chapin Gray wrote:
After protesters dressed as Iraqi civilians were ‘arrested’ by protesters in military costume and hauled away, Jason Hurd, president of the Asheville, North Carolina chapter of IVAW - who was invited by the Tuscaloosa SDS chapter to speak on his experiences in Iraq, gave an impromptu speech, explaining that the purpose of the action was to demonstrate what life in Iraq is like under the occupation.
Trouble is...life in Iraq under the U.S. "occupation" is not like that. The idea that U.S. troops are running around the Middle East detaining prisoners at random and without cause is simply untrue.

Groups like the SDS claim that they "speak truth to power." More often, they speak lies to those who are easily persuaded. That may be why they concentrate their efforts on college campuses: there's lots of fertile ground there.

The UA SDS contends that its members were involved in a constitutionally-protected "peaceful protest." That's true to the extent that there was no violence and no threat of violence. Still, the U.S. Constitution and the Alabama Constitution protect "peaceable assembly," not "peaceful assembly." There's a difference. The University has an obligation to protect its students and staff and to maintain order on campus. It shouldn't overreact minor infractions such as this one, but neither should it underreact merely to avoid the inevitable lawsuit.

One final thought...

"Students for a Democratic Society" is a rather odd name for a group that is made up mainly of hard-left socialists who care not a whit for democracy and of anarchists who care even less for civilized society. Maybe a more appropriate name would be "Students for Immanentizing the Eschaton." Although that probably wouldn't do much for fundraising.