Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What Was Once Normal

I'm beginning to wonder if Tucson will ever see a normal meeting of the Tucson Unified School District board ever again. This week's edition came refreshingly free of mob scenes, lines of police and general boorishness... mostly.

What is incomprehensible to me is how the student protesters supporting Ethnic Studies think scenes of them chaining themselves to the board members' chairs are going to help win over the state officials who are convinced the courses on Mexican-American studies foment hate. Allegations of police brutality or not, it just doesn't look good, and in public relations, controlling perception is the goal. I think of the last line in the movie The Social Network, directed at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: "You're not an [expletive], Mark. You're just trying so hard to be." Perhaps somebody needs to say that, in love, to some of the Ethnic Studies defenders.

I have heard the counter-argument: TUSD repeatedly ignored them, ignored their concerns. Perhaps. But that's life sometimes, and that's the educator-student dynamic. The students aren't running the board. Some of you will want to equate the Ethnic Studies protests to some chapter from the civil rights movement of the 1960's. Please don't go there. In 1960, when four black students sat at a white lunch counter at Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina, they didn't chain themselves to the stools. They didn't chant. They didn't shout. They just ordered food... which employees refused to serve. Later, as the sit-in swelled, some read books. The sit-in movement spread to other parts of the segregated south and remained mostly peaceful. Nearly six months later, Woolworth's abandoned segregated lunch counters. Nonviolent, non-jerk resistance works if you give it a chance, but we have an instant-gratification generation unwilling to work the program.

We heard calls for civility in the aftermath of the Tucson mass shooting. So much for that. We can't let go of our self-destructive passions.

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