Letters to the editor

We must protest against status quo

Dear editors:

This is in response to the coverage of the NIU shooting in the Stater and elsewhere.

Whenever there is a new school shooting or other kind of rampage, we hunker down, awash in awe, shame and despair, waiting for the whole thing to blow over. 16 here, 32 there, 60 “over there” – it happens, so let’s pray, let’s not pretend, let’s forget. Since gun laws, constitutional amendments and human fancies are too messy to consider at once, why bother? We find ourselves as in one of those ingenuous transitions in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine, where our keen sense of routine suddenly chokes on its own boredom and imbecility.

No need to out-worry ourselves, though, our best friend, the mainstream media, is standing by to pep us back up. Like a blinding mirror, the media serves us our soggy voyeurism cold, prompting us to both relieve and recollect our individual fears and responsibilities in a corporately controlled “public space.” All that’s left for us to understand in this (allegedly free!) market place of our emotional dilemmas is that we are the most powerful innocent bystanders the world has ever seen.

The bottom line is this: As long as we don’t get up and protest against the status quo, there is no status quo. As long as we dare not think beyond the limits of our ethics, there are no ethics. As long as we confuse our reason with our so-mediated fear, there is no un-mediated reason. More specifically, as long as we accept the second amendment draped around every fresh tomb of a gun-violence victim, we support this amendment. As long as we elect officials that are funded by the gun lobby, we are part of this lobby, and as soon as you have read this, you mustn’t pretend that you’ve just read it.

Whenever we feel weapons fall in the wrong hands, we hope these hands are not our own. Being shocked in a so-mediated way is a natural, yet utterly dishonest, way to respond to school shootings or similar acts of violence. We should stop giving those who benefit the most from our noble silence, the media and the gun lobby, the wrong impression.

Frank Rosen

Doctoral candidate for English/LRSP

Columnist doesn’t understand politics

Dear editor:

In response to Marchaé Grair’s column on Feb. 19, there are some fallacies in her analysis of the anti-voter phenomenon. First she describes “anti-voters” as apathetic due to a sense of lacking efficacy, individuals “who declare the corruption of every politician and political party.” Yet she then implies that they support candidates that fall out of the race. How can they support anyone if they are so apathetic? She at least is admitting that some anti-voters have political ideas, but it is nonetheless a contradiction. Further, she claims that they consider themselves “revolutionaries,” a term that implies some level of contemplation about the potential reworking of society. This obviously conflicts with her earlier stance that they “still do not care about the future.”

Given the possibility that some non-voters are truly apathetic, I contend that many may be pessimistic only in terms of the formal, republic-style politics, but truly and equally (if not more so) optimistic and idealistic about the power of the people in the society to take matters into their own hands. This leads me to my second critique of Grair’s column. She lacks a structural analysis of the U.S. political scene, its history and its capabilities. Grair has avoided a discussion of how a “winner-take-all,” two-party system is not only written into the constitution, but is hardly democratic (see Who Rules America? by G. William Domhoff). Nor does Grair mention the role of the media as a corporate gatekeeper in the flux of ideas (I only saw Kucinich on TV when he saw UFOs). And more broadly, she lacks any notice of the systematic middle- and upper-class bias in other social institutions (such as schools, as in Annette Lareau’s Unequal Childhoods), and how this reproduces false hopes in a political system that is constructed to maintain the status quo.

Timothy Adkins

Senior sociology and Spanish major

Don’t discount young enthusiasm

Dear editor:

The candidacy of Barack Obama has excited a whole new generation of previously disinterested young Americans. And though this large and swelling involvement of youth should set Democratic Party members singing “Happy Days Are Here Again,” some regular and older members seem averse to joining the movement and instead expect these young people to temper their idealism and switch allegiance to a candidate of their elders’ choosing.

This wave of change is not going to happen if the incipient enthusiasm of these young people is squelched; the bulk of the newly involved will drift into the dead center of an apathetic public that has little faith in any political party’s capacity to set this nation on a path that bodes a more promising and inclusive future for working and middle-class and destitute Americans.

Before good-old Democrats let this happen, best they remember John F. Kennedy’s inaugural charge to the American people of his time: “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”

Sam Osborne