As a former student, Hatchet staffer and veteran of several D.C. protests against the Vietnam War, I read with interest Alex Kingsbury’s piece “GW: A Rich History of Anti-War Protests” (Jan. 21, p. 8). Coincidentally, last Saturday I attended my first peace march since my GW days, here in San Francisco.
Some things never change – egotism, machismo, callousness and greed doom hundreds of thousands to misery and death in a relatively unthreatening far-away country, whether it’s Vietnam in the ’60s or Iraq in the ’00s. Yesterday’s “communist threat” becomes today’s “weapons of mass destruction.” Yesterday’s “Gulf of Tonkin incident” becomes today’s “material breach.” Yesterday’s Time magazine editors killing stories about body counts becomes today’s CNN or Fox editors ignoring civilian casualties. Yesterday’s napalm becomes today’s depleted uranium.
The White House will fabricate, insinuate, obfuscate, shred, hide, lie, bribe, coerce, bully, ignore, impugn, subpoena, delay and otherwise flout both the letter and the spirit of democracy to get what it and its powerful allies want. I came to GW in 1968 convinced that I could trust the U.S. government to act openly, honestly, ethically and democratically. The most important part of my GW education was learning that the government has no intention of doing so. Some things never change.
I urge the GW students of 2003 to slow their rush to careers and instead take a minute to think about what they will be doing and for whom. The campus may have changed a bit since we ran behind Lisner Auditorium to escape the tear gas while somebody stuck their speakers in their second-floor window and cranked up the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man.” But the streets are still the same (even if you can’t drive down Pennsylvania Avenue anymore).
San Francisco, Calif.
former GW student (’68-’70)
While I appreciate your history lesson about GW’s role in the anti-war movement of the 1960s, I fear some statements in the article led to trivializing attitudes toward the anti-war movement and other progressive movements of today.
As Alex Kingsbury wrote (“Demonstrating spirit,” Jan. 21, p. 8), “Though the ‘glory days’ of war protesting may have ended when Saigon fell in 1975, the spirit of civil disobedience is still evident in events like this weekend’s demonstrations against the war in Iraq.”
In addition to the fact that a permitted march does not qualify as “civil disobedience,” Kingsbury may want to choose his words more carefully. Romanticizing the 1960s as a time of impassioned dissent encourages the notion that protest was something unique to that period and that anything that is slightly akin to that is merely attempting to recreate it.
We focus on Vietnam because the time of that war and the protests against it coincided with the rise of American pop culture, successfully commemorating the sights and sounds of revolution for the last 35 years, as John Lennon sold us Nikes and Forrest Gump taught us about the Black Panthers. To remain focused on this era is to make political dissent, an essential tool in a functioning democracy, nothing more than a fashion statement. I marched to the Navy Yard in the freezing cold on Saturday not because I wanted to relive the experiences of my parents but because I believe war, whether in 1968 or in 2003, is wrong.
Every day, hundreds of girls wait in long lines to get on treadmills and elliptical machines in the basement of the Health and Wellness Center. However, during the designated evenings for girls’ intramural sport activities, the fourth floor remains empty. In a school that can boast a female population of more than 50 percent, the lack of female participation in recreational sports is incredible. Only three all-female teams signed up for intramural basketball and soccer, which made it impossible to form leagues, leaving those out in the cold who wanted to play those sports without the huge team commitment. So instead of waiting half an hour for that treadmill, make a better use of your tuition dollars and gather up your sorority sisters, floor mates and friends to form a team in volleyball, floor hockey, softball or any one of the 20 sports that are being offered this semester.
-Lauren Shapiro and Liz Rivard
Thursday, Voices for Choices (the GW chapter of Planned Parenthood) and the College Democrats, among other student groups, are hosting a “30th Birthday Party for Roe v. Wade.” A birthday party for the ruling that made abortion legal. The irony is so perfect, I wish I had come up with it myself. As a friend of mine said, “that’s the best thing since last year’s GW Feminist’s bake sale.” I do not have a problem with these groups or the causes they stand for, but where are their PR people?