Strike to Stop the War

On February 15th the campus is closing down. It’s closing because a student strike against the war has been called. The strike asks that students not go to class, nor buy anything on this day, and instead gather at Pardall Tunell at 1pm for a convergence.

As one of the organizers of the upcoming student strike against war on February 15th I’d like to take the time to clarify a few points about the action and correct a couple of miscommunications.

Why we’re striking?

1. The original justifications for the war have proven false and disingenuous. The president lied to us.
2. The war has costs our nation more than $333 billion and will likely consume upwards of $2-3 billion when all is said and done. This money would better have been spent on college funding and education, healthcare, and on rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Katrina, among other critical needs.
3. Because the war is only getting worse. The last four months have seen more US deaths in Iraq than any other comparable period. According to a rigorous study published in the Lancet medical journal, more than 655,000 Iraqis have been killed. And now the president is “surging” troops?!
4. The Bush administration is now talking about a military strike on Iran.

Why striking makes perfect sense?

1. Gandhi has taught us to always, “act here, act now.” We need to take action where we have power, where we are situated.
2. Striking means withdrawing consent. If we as students continue to go about our lives as though nothing is wrong, then everything that is wrong will only get worse. Striking differs from a protest because we’re actually affecting something in a very instrumental way. Remember what president Bush said about the massive protests leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003? He called them “focus groups,” and said he pays them no attention. The powers that be can mostly ignore us if we symbolically protest against the war on weekends or between classes. When we start withdrawing consent and shutting things down, then they must listen!
3. The university enables and profits off war! That’s right, the UC is a major military-industrial contractor. Weapons research is conducted on UCSB’s campus; the ROTC program enlists officers into the military and teaches students how to make war; UC manages nuclear bomb design and manufacturing labs for the federal government; and, members of the UC Board of Regents profit off the war and are key supporters of the Bush administration. Even if you think these are legitimate functions of the university the fact of the matter is that our school makes very real material and intellectual contributions to the war. If the war is unjust, if it is criminal, then don’t we have a responsibility to do something? We need to stop being complicit.

On the 15th I’ll be striking for these reasons. There are many more reasons and I encourage people to think about how their lives are impacted by the war and what they can do about it. Hopefully the 15th will be the beginning of something new, where students gain more than just “awareness” about the problem and symbolically oppose it. Hopefully the 15th will give us all a sense of the power that we have to actually change things here and now.

No comments: