Whenever I go back to my high school to
see a play or a skit that my younger brother is in, I always feel
bad for the kids whose lives have clearly peaked. They strut around
the stage, trying to draw all the attention to themselves while
feeding their insatiable egos. This is it for them; nothing they
will do later in life will ever make them so happy.
A similar breed exists on campus; only here they’re not
the leads in the school (in fact they’re not even half as
nice as the drama kids), but activists who tirelessly champion
whatever causes present themselves for these activists to seize
upon. Over the past few years, a specific collection of a
half-dozen or so characters has graced the University with its
presence. This group is motivated to advocate on behalf of a given
issue by some combination of the aforementioned insatiable ego
— only to such a degree that insatiable is far too weak a
word for their condition — and a sense of responsibility to
the University’s legacy of activism.
After four years, finally, they’re graduating.
One of my predecessors as the editor of this page — a
brilliant, thoughtful human being whom these activists tried to
tear apart for personal reasons — once referred to them as
the “anti-people” because they’re always
campaigning against something, never for anything. Whatever’s
going on, they’re against it. They’re anti-Israel,
anti-administration, anti-war, anti-Daily, anti-whoever is making
them mad for the two or three weeks they have the patience to
organize a coalition. These people are never pro-peace or
pro-Palestine, as my former editor pointed out.
This incestuous crew of campus activists always claims to be
supporting the downtrodden — supporting the oppressed
(minorities, women, gays) from the oppressors. They frame every
issue in these terms, and they brand anyone who disagrees with them
with some of the most powerful words in the parlance of our times.
Two weeks ago, one of the leaders of this band of activists
responded to a column on this page with a letter to the editor
calling the columnist’s critique of the activists’
tactics “offensive, as well as sexist, racist and
heterosexist.” Their strategy is to launch flippant attacks
loosely grounded in slippery semantic logic that could only be
based in reality if one were to invert the definition of reality,
as well as disregard the true meaning of the word racist,
bastardize the term for personal convenience and discount the
valiant work true civil rights advocates have done.
It’s impossible to have a serious conversation about
issues such as race, sexism, homophobia or the other issues these
advocates discuss because of their vitriol.
In the interest of full disclosure — something we rarely
receive from even those advocates who claim to have a thorough
knowledge of journalistic integrity — these are also the same
people who boycotted the Daily. I have never believed that the
boycott’s leaders were sincere in their criticisms. In fact,
the way they ran their campaign only made it impossible to make any
real improvement at the Daily.
One member of this activist contingent recently referred to the
boycott as “a multiethnic coalition of student
organizations.” This is despite the fact that one of the
movement’s leaders said that he could control “the
black groups.” But to say that co-opting minority groups for
a personal cause is wrong would only bring more harsh, insulting
and hurtful attacks.
There were meetings held to discuss the boycott, and one of them
was intended for “minorities only.” Whites were not
supposed to attend. But many of these “minorities”
(they use different definitions of such words than I) stopped
boycotting the Daily when the divestment conference, which
advocated that the University not invest in Israeli companies,
rolled around and they needed the press coverage.
It was also a little bizarre that so many members of the campus
ACLU supported the boycott and demanded that this newspaper change
so many of its practices. Even stranger, these advocates of civil
liberties (I think freedom of speech and freedom of the press could
at least be loosely referred to as civil liberties) never
questioned the boycotters’ strategy of stealing copies of the
Daily so people couldn’t read them.
So I won’t shed a tear when these self-glorified
hatemongers graduate. In the few personal encounters I have had
with them, I have found their rhetoric and their approach to
advocacy enraging and hurtful at the same time. I feel lucky that I
am only a sophomore and did not have to go through college with
them and constantly deal with their painful accusations for four
But I do think that some of them might be shedding a few tears
when they leave Ann Arbor. They should. Because their silly
campaigns at the University were their zenith; I pray they’ll
never feel so important again. And I know that this University will
be a much more decent place without them.