You’ve got to keep up with the crowd. That’s right, you. I’m not sure what rulebook you’ve been following, but man…didn’t anyone tell you? Protests are not cool anymore. It’s probably best that you avoid them from now on. When you’re trying to be the hippest of the hip, standing around in a group of people who actually come out and say that they don’t like war is just bad form.
The very fact that people showed up to protest the war last Saturday is appalling. I’m not particularly conservative when it comes to trends; I know that in some states it’s now okay to wear white after Labor Day. That’s their prerogative. But this, this is just going too far.
In trying to explain this phenomenon, I considered the fact that many trends resurface 20 or 30 years after their heyday. For example, this campus has now officially been taken over by the leggings of the ’80s — of course, tastefully modified to mesh with the current fashions — and plastic-rimmed glasses are once again quite chic. However, this theory doesn’t hold in the case of protesting. It’s definitely on the downswing. By numbers alone, we know that it can’t possibly be making a comeback.
But I think I have a pretty good idea why this might be. As one of the first generations to be practically pampered by our baby boomer parents, we have different interests these days. For example, watching TV. Who doesn’t like a good episode of Lost or Grey’s Anatomy? Clearly, the values and lessons we learn by watching shows such as these are much more beneficial than standing around and hoping that a bit of peace might just meander our way. Shows such as these are highly instructive. You could practically be a surgeon after watching Grey’s Anatomy! The profession should be seeing a major rise in job applications, all due to this humble TV show.
Another possibility is that Oberlin students are, first and foremost, that. Students. Usually, a good weekend — when we’re not catching up on our TV — involves writing a 20-page paper, finding a potential cure for cancer and composing the score for a full-scale opera. Protests? Who has time? Academics are where it’s at. We’re literally buying our time here, so it’s usually best to do everything possible at once, even if it means doing illicit substances to sustain such activity.
Furthermore, those places which cultivated and nurtured those former activists with their seitan and tofu — the co-ops — aren’t really cool anymore either. Harkness still has empty beds, for goodness’ sake. If that doesn’t say it, then what does? So my message to you is simple: stay away from the protests. Unless you actually want to be the black sheep of your generation, it might make your social life a little easier if you just let things be.
Laurel Fuson has been attending Quaker meeting all her life, and as a Quaker works to promote peace whenever possible and reasonable. She has been a part of various protests and vigils.