The march of 10,000 anti-war protestors on Washington, DC, last week left me wondering: with the death toll of young Americans rising every day in the name of Iraq’s security, where is the student anti-war movement?
p. Whether one supports the war or not, one cannot dispute that the American electorate no longer supports the U.S. effort to build a democratic Iraq. According to the latest CNN poll data, close to 70 percent of Americans now feel that the decision to topple Saddam was wrong. More importantly, only one quarter of the population feels that U.S. forces will secure Iraq and over 60 percent of those polled support the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of 2008. Plainly put, America clearly does not want our troops caught in the crosshairs of Iraq’s warring religious factions.
p. Across American colleges, the percentage of those in opposition equals a much greater percentage than the general population. However, with such low support for the war I am perplexed by the lack of a visible anti-war movement at our college campuses. Within our community, I highly doubt that the majority of students support this war; however, I have yet to see any visible signs of student protest.
p. On the macro level, American campuses have remained relatively quiet over the course of this war. If students really oppose the current U.S. occupation of Iraq, where are the campus demonstrations, student riots and genuine civil disobedience that defined the highly un-popular Vietnam War (a conflict that many people now compare to the war in Iraq)? This unquestionable non-existence of a visible anti-war movement differentiates this war from any previous conflict and exposes the reality of today’s collegiate society.
p. It seems to me that today’s collegiate society remains fundamentally detached from the harsh conflict that so many of our fellow Americans face every day. With roadside bombs killing more Americans daily, college life remains tranquil and relaxing despite the massive amount of work that so many students at the College stress over each day. Current college students face no chance of being drafted, and more importantly, most students know very few people who are serving in Iraq. These circumstances separate this war from the commonly compared Vietnam War. Unlike Vietnam, we have very little vested interest in this conflict. Thus, our genuine interest in the war falls second to more substantive aspects of college life such as exams, alcohol consumption and Facebook. I believe this lack of concern stems not from our own ignorance but from our system that fails to respond to our calls for change.
p. The American electorate spoke clearly during the mid-term elections. The fall of the Republican majority in Congress displayed America’s desire for change. The subsequent shift in power, however, has reinforced the reality of American politics: the people speak and the elected do nothing.
p. Whether you support the Republicans or Democrats, no one can disagree that the Democratic victory has only resulted in more rhetoric and lofty speeches. President Bush has invested 21,500 more troops in Iraq, and troop withdrawal seems no closer than the new decade. The newly elected Congress has not established a plan for withdrawal and has shown no cohesion over what to do. Clearly, the electorate’s call for change has not been answered. Therefore, apathy rather than action reigns across American college campuses.
p. Washington’s failure to respond to America’s call for change has numbed our sense of civic responsibility. But our opinions do matter and, historically, have been a catalyst for change. One cannot overlook that the costs of this war, both financial and physical, are not endured by those in Washington. Rather, these costs fall on the backs of our generation.
p. I challenge the College community to let your voices be heard and to put an end to this silent majority.
p. __Teddy Wertheim is a junior at the College. His views do not necessarily represent those of The Flat Hat.__