"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"
Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I attended the rally of support of L&C at Pacific Monday afternoon on a very cold late afternoon. I'm the one dressed up like Nanuk of the North next to my good friend Eric the Duck Canon. Some members and friends from our UCC church across the street from the campus joined including our pastor. But the audience and speakers were mostly Pacific students. While I spent most of my career at Pacific, I've also taught at Lewis & Clark and my niece is a junior there and her mom is an alum of L&C.
What disturbs me is that the two incidents at L&C where a L&C student from Africa was apparently assaulted and two LGBT women at L&C were also apparently threatened. The fact is this can happen at any college in the US or beyond our shores. But the Black Lives Matter movement has awakened many young people to the issue of racism - it's no longer an abstraction but all too often a daily reality for people of color or those easily targeted as being "different."
But there is a link to such events, in my mind at least, to a wider current abroad the modern era - where violence is seen as the vehicle for expressing one's fears, frustrations and opposition - be it gun violence in the USA from Ferguson to Roseburg or ideological violence from all sides in the war on terrorism in the Middle East from Israel to Syria. And that violence has taken a new turn - it's no longer "political" it's personal as Palestinian and Jewish guests told a Pacific audience several weeks ago.
A new generation of American students are learning some hard lessons those of us in the '60s hoped would not have to be re-learned by our children or grandchildren. The speakers called for "conversations" but how can there be conversations in the monologue world of FaceBook, Twitter et al where the outrageous gets the most eyeballs? As the death of the Arab Spring proved - social media alone cannot invent democracy. Democratic politics requires "civility" not hate speech couched in ideological rhetoric.
If civility is lost then Yeats' prophetic words may be our 21st century epitaph as the beast of nihilism slouches towards Jerusalem…
"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."
- William Butler Yeats