The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

77° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Who cares about apathy?

    Anyone who says UA students are apathetic hasn’t witnessed one of the frequent spirited campus debates about whether we should love our basketball team or really, really love our basketball team.

    Some say even having that debate emboldens the enemy, but we will never let some tinhorn Bruins take away our right to worship our team in the manner we choose. Like a flower of democracy blooming in the desert, we engage the questions of our day.

    Student activists have been out in full force over the past few weeks, sparking debate using time-honored technique: punching you in the gut with graphic depictions of the horrors in our world. Agree or disagree, you can’t argue that full-color posters of aborted fetuses are just another ho-hum day on the UA Mall.

    Anti-war activists have used a much milder form of this trick by using flags representing dead American soldiers to make the horror in Iraq more tangible. It doesn’t have the same visceral impact that photos of the carnage would have, but it is something. Reading out the names of the long and growing list of lost lives is not apathetic.

    Of course, apathy is in the eye of the beholder. The Graduate and Professional Student Council passed a resolution to protest personal attacks against UA faculty by conservative provocateur and man-child David Horowitz. Some people felt this move was far too little, but I’m impressed they bothered at all – the whole “”liberal professors brainwash their students”” shtick is boring.

    That aside, complaining about mushy nonbinding resolutions is understandable. I used to think that symbolic activism was a big waste of time, like dance-a-thons or watching the Fox News Channel. I believed that activism ought to be aimed at, you know, achieving something. Building houses or delivering meals to the elderly are much more useful than organizing grandly pretentious social events.

    But after Sept. 11, symbolic activism became very important to the entire country. People showed their support for the victims by purchasing flags and flag-related merchandise. Television news programs incorporated the flag into their little logos at the bottom of the screen. Here in Tucson people gathered to make a giant human flag. Gradually, a common theme emerged.

    The government also engaged in symbolic activism. They made us remove our shoes at airports. The president kissed several Democrats in Congress, supposedly to symbolize national unity but actually symbolizing Michael Corleone from “”The Godfather: Part II.”” Congressional Republicans created “”freedom fries”” to symbolize our most cherished American institution: the publicity stunt.

    Symbolic protests, on the other hand, weren’t quite so welcome. True, the government didn’t ban marches or rallies or blogs. (Spy on them? Yes. Ban them? No.) But anyone who showed a hint of skepticism about our misadventure in Iraq was called unpatriotic, or even traitorous. In that climate, apathy was the better part of valor.

    Even after the Iraq War became a disaster and public opinion turned against the president, Bush campaigned for re-election saying, “”You may disagree with me, but at least you know where I stand and what I intend to do.”” Bush won because many Iraq War opponents heard him promise to keep doing the wrong thing, no matter what, and they voted for him anyway. Now that’s apathy!

    The world is different now, and apathy is no longer an option. The sad and scary truth is that the Bush administration is full of messianic psychopaths who want to light the Middle East on fire, and there are plenty of right-wing ideologues, including our esteemed senators, who are happy to help Bush strike the match.

    Before last fall’s election, people told me I was a paranoid nutbar because I feared that Bush would bomb Iran unless a Democratic Congress stopped him. It turns out I wasn’t paranoid enough. Bush lost Congress, but he’s still pounding the war drum. You may disagree with him, but at least you know what he intends to do.

    Can UA student activists have an impact on these historic events and stop this insane war from spreading? Eh, probably not. But apathy won’t help, either. So get out there and make yourself heard. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of chances to protest both the war and the March Madness selection committee.

    Shane Ham is a first-year law student. Send protests to
    Or don’t. Whatever.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search