Political protests done right can be highly effective. The April protests being organized by IU’s occustrikers are not being done right.
A beginning step in waging a successful political protest requires having reasonable demands, or at least feasible ones. The IU occustrike movement has neither.
As obvious as it seems to most of the world, we cannot expect the University to lower the cost of attendance while providing better services, raising wages for staff and making the University more accessible to the less fortunate.
Perhaps they could protest to lower tuition rates and provide fewer services or pay staff less — and certainly there are under-qualified people teaching in the humanities departments who deserve a pay cut.
By the way, occustrikers, the thing you are demanding — a cheap public university with sound services that remains accessible to all — already exists. It’s called community college.
Another component of successful political protest involves remaining legitimate so that activists can translate the protest into political capital.
Any group that spawns from the Occupy Wall Street movement, though, threatens its legitimacy before the first inane slogan can be chanted.
Many of occustrike’s supporters have ridiculed me for merely asking in a recent
column if the occustrikers would engage in similar behavior as the original occupiers did after I speculated — correctly, in fact — that many of the radicals were involved with or supported Occupy Wall Street.
“I was at Occupy,” they say. “And I didn’t rape anyone.” Well.
That’s like a klansman claiming he’s not racist because he’s never lynched anyone. Good for you for not lynching anyone, but that doesn’t mean you don’t belong to a racist organization.
Good for all the occupiers who haven’t raped anyone, assaulted anyone, threatened anyone, ingested illegal drugs, stolen property, vandalized property, committed arson, posed a public nuisance, defecated in public and gone a month without bathing. It doesn’t mean OWS isn’t a filthy, lawless movement.
And it doesn’t mean that Bloomington is immune from the madness, either.
Take this lead from an October 2011 Indiana Daily Student article: “An 18-year-old man reported to police that he woke up at about 1 p.m. Thursday handcuffed to a bed in a white house near 17th and North Dunn streets. He told police he feared he was sexually assaulted.”
Where was he before the white house? People’s Park, where the occupiers had set up camp.
The man met two women there who gave him alcohol and, he claimed, drugged him before imprisoning and possibly raping him in their house.
Assuming the April demonstrations could succeed even in theory, all students who value civil obedience and respect the rule of law would hesitate to join the cause for fear of being abused.
Unlike OWS, the Tea Party successfully turned its grievances — among them, a distaste for crony capitalism, a grievance shared by the occupiers — into political clout.
For Occustrike to succeed, it will have to emulate the Tea Party. This starts by establishing reasonable demands and assuring the student body its tactics will remain civil.
Will you propose protesting anything that could actually be changed?
Will you, like the Tea Partiers, retire to your houses at night after the rallies because you have to work the next morning? Or will you camp out all night and relive the glory days of OWS?
Until they mature, we will continue to regard the occustrikers as whiny, entitled children looking for any excuse to skip class.