I was listening to the radio yesterday (I don’t usually like listening to non-music in the car on the way to a race, but Steve left it on KQED) and they were talking about some square with tents pitched where the police were violently cracking down on democratic protesters in clashes across the country for the third day in a row.
And, I thought are they talking about UC Davis? Or Cal? Or Oakland? Or Wall Street?
Since I missed the start of the segment, it took me awhile to realize they were talking about Egypt.
They next went into a discussion about the Occupy protest that, even on KQED, didn’t use the same rhetoric. Instead, they discussed police having to “disperse” student protests for “health and safety concerns” by “nudging them with batons” and “cleaning out” encampments.
I’m pretty sure if you saw this video coming out of Egypt instead of UC Davis, you would be righteously outraged at the police:
And, I’m pretty sure nudging with batons was once known as beating with clubs.
And, I’m pretty sure the Davis students were causing far less of a health and safety issue than the police who were enlisted to clear the “disturbance” from campus. And, I’m pretty sure the student trouble-makers that were beaten by police at Cal last week weren’t just student trouble-makers and characterizing them as such is a disservice not just to the 70-year-old Poet Laureate poet and his wife who were also hurt by police, but to the whole point.
I don’t particularly think that things are as bad as Egypt (duh) and I’m not a big fan of blaming “the media,” since we’re not a single unit that gets together for weekly meetings, but when an English professor is dragged across the grass by her hair at your school known for being tolerant and sitting students are blatantly pepper-sprayed — and the administrator defends the action — and a war vet’s skull fractured by a tear gas canister, you have to wonder if the coverage would be different if it was part of a democratic dominoes falling in an “Arab Spring.”
It’s not that I necessarily think all the protesters have the most pure of reasons (I’m sure some people in the 60s were just there because it was the cool thing to do too) and it’s not that I necessarily enjoy drum circles and it’s not that I necessarily totally know exactly what calls for action are being made.
But, we are the United States. We understand non-violent protest and conflict resolution and campus police (at least at Cal) don’t do much besides harass cyclists. At the very, very least, we’re a country that should be cynical and world-weary enough not to bat an eye if people want to link arms across a plaza or pitch tents in New York. The only people that don’t know that beating down protests just gives them a second life are people that hope to squash them so violently so as to stop them permanently. In other countries, they have another word for that. So, what is going on?