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Rio Americano High School

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Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Campus Protests Show Ignorance, Hypocrisy of Student Demonstrators

Pro-Palestinian protestors form a human chain around an encampment at the University of Pennsylvania. Photo by Joe Piette from Flickr.

On Jan. 6, 2020, a group of extremists violently broke into the U.S. Capitol. On March 30, 2024, a group of pro-Palestinian supporters violently occupied Hamilton Hall in Columbia University. It is hard not to draw a parallel between the two events. 

Anti-Israel, pro-Palestine protests recently escalated the conflict of “peaceful protest” on college campuses by blocking roads and walkways, occupying buildings, stopping classes and assaulting officers. According to the Associated Press, protesters at Columbia University insisted they would occupy the hall until the university agreed to three demands: “divestment from Israel and companies supporting the war in Gaza, financial transparency and amnesty for protesters.” 

These demands were not met by the university, as the day’s events were described as a “drastic escalation…that pushed the university to the brink” by Columbia president Minouche Shafik. 

Columbia freshman Fabian Lugo described police action as “too intense” and “more of an escalation than a de-escalation.” He is by no means alone in this belief. Growing backlash against the police has threatened the safety of officers, other students and even the jobs of faculty who would dare to intervene. A recent Bloomberg article describes how Shafik, Colombia’s President, kept a “shaky hold on her job” amid calls for her to resign after calling for assistance from the NYPD. 

But Shafik did the right thing. If anything, she didn’t do enough. Governor Greg Abbott of Texas was recently forced to intervene with state troopers on the campus of the University of Texas Austin due to the campus’s inactivity in the face of disorder and chaos. A recent X (Twitter) post from the political organization, Mothers Against Greg Abbott, said that “What happened today was just another step towards fascism,” and went on to warn of the dangers of “paramilitaries.” They essentially accused Abbott of running a police state.

Of course, as most intelligent people could decipher from their overzealous language, these accusations are merely buzzwords designed to get a rise out of people. Despite their best wishes, Abbott is not a fascist, nor are those who advocate for police intervention in college protests. When laws are broken police are sent, and when violence is escalated, arrests are made. This is not facism, it’s civility.

A video from Newsweek shows an angry crowd of protesters jeering insults and physically resisting otherwise calm and measured police officers. It is not surprising when police enter the scene that there are often violent episodes and arrests have to be made. While videos of these events often portray the protestors as the true victims, it is important to remember that the police were sent to “de-escalate” an already violent and chaotic situation. If the protestors did not want to be arrested, they would not have continuously broken laws. Though, that assumes the protestors don’t want to be arrested.

Of course people are allowed to peacefully protest, but these entitlements do not include the right to trespass, vandalize, harass or threaten. The violence has simply gotten out of hand. 

Columbia University was recently forced to join a growing group of colleges forced to cancel their main commencement ceremonies. Still, news and TV audiences will likely see attempts to justify these protests. Student protests across the country have pledged that campus violence and occupation will continue until demands are met. 

Their main demand is that universities divest from financial support of companies involved in the war. In an April 25 KVUE article, a University of Texas Austin protester stated that “As students, we’re not OK…with our tuition, our money going towards genocide.” While this statement is false (investment in Israeli defense companies are relatively small, and come from endowments, not tuition), the student also brings out a very good point. Surely intelligent university students could figure out that these universities get most of their budget directly from the students’ tuition.

If protestors wish for an end to their colleges’ financial support of the war, then why do they continue to support the college with their own money? They are what allows the “genocide-supporting” institution to exist in the first place. Would it not be orthodox with their beliefs if they dropped out? After all, this would be a perfectly legal, peaceful and much more effective form of protest.

But alas, like the violent protest movement itself, these people are all bluster and no substance. They have limited understanding of world events, and instead use buzzwords such as “genocide” and “facisim” to justify domestic violence. They protest Israeli occupation of Gaza, but themselves occupy halls and main quads of campuses nationwide.

As is often the case with violent protests, the movement feeds on ignorance, anger, and a childish sense of entitlement, insisting on compliance with unreasonable demands. It would be an accurate, but not nearly complete, description to call these protestors hypocrites. 

Not only have they failed to abide by their own alleged beliefs, but they have also failed to abide by even the most basic principles of a civilized society. When ignorant people make demands, threaten violence and deem it facism to even attempt to enforce some small amount of order, they promote a lawless society.

This is un-American. Students have no right to vandalize, threaten, trespass or harm. By contrast, students do have the right to go to class. They do have the right to attend their own graduation ceremonies. Most importantly, they have the right to the education that they paid for.

Anyone who would promote anarchy to stand in the way of this should be immediately removed from campus and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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