Last Thursday, March 8, a coalition of clubs, including the Afrikan Student Union, the Asian Pacific Student Association, Students for Peace and Justice, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan, the Muslim Student Union and Kababayan sponsored an anti-war speak-out and rally at the administration flagpoles.
From pamphlets to speeches, Irvine students stood with the majority of Americans in calling for an end to the bloody U.S. invasion and unjust occupation of Iraq.
Students may have noticed the presence of counter-protesters from UC Irvine’s very own College Republicans. Of particular interest was a sign held by one student that read ‘Give War a Chance.’ Opposing political views are common and cherished as part of our national legacy of free speech, but this statement left me both despondent and disgusted.
Initially, I thought to myself, ‘What was it exactly that this student was advocating?’ Was he really advocating another mass-murder of over 600,000 innocent human beings? Was he really advocating the destruction of thousands upon thousands of homes and the infrastructure of an entire country? Was he really advocating the increasing loss of U.S. servicemen for the sake of maximizing oil profits for filthy-rich corporations such as Halliburton?
‘Give war a chance. Well, what about humanity?’ I thought to myself. Why haven’t we given humanity a chance? Historically, immoral war has been given unjustified legitimacy and it has only lead to death, destruction and despair. Since when was a drop of oil more valuable than a drop of human blood?
Another sign held by a person protesting the event read ‘Go back to Canada like you promised.’ On the assumption that this statement actually makes sense, I again began to ask myself why this particular student would advocate such a message. Why did he want students that were calling for an end to the loss of innocent human life to go to another country?
I came to the realization that these students were either quite misinformed or did not care enough to attach sanctity to the lives of all people simply because they were not American. Whether these students held this view out of pure ignorance or hatred or whatever else, I don’t know. What I do know, however, was that this gung-ho superiority complex, built off of arrogance, blind patriotism and indifference to reality, was an attitude of imperialism. This blatant lack of regard for humanity disgusted me.
I began to wonder why, in comparison to the total population of UCI, so few students attended rallies such as these. Speakers talked of injustice, rape, imperialism, murder and despair, yet students continued to walk by, trying to get to their next class, listening to their iPods or talking on their phone about how it was too noisy to hear anything near the rally.
It became glaringly clear that apathy dominated the UCI student body. Students were simply more interested in furthering their own education, social relationships or personal well-being than advocating an end to a great injustice being perpetuated in our name. It was this lack of compassion for fellow human beings that disheartened me.
The rally ended and we all went back to tending to our own affairs as Iraqis continued to die for the sake of corporate profits and imperialism. It was very hard, however, to swallow my disgust and suppress my sorrow.
The last thought that ran through my head as I went to sleep that night