So as a lot of our readership might know, a few days ago was the 40th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State University. As a lot of our readership also knows, this blog and the authors who write on it are also concerned with issues relating to student activism, and are frequently disillusioned by the common perceptions that students these days, overwhelmingly, are too lazy (or preoccupied) to deal with the pressing issues of their day.
This article at Salon, while similarly lambasting the current state of affairs, got me thinking about our notions of activism and the past, especially around the time of the Vietnam War. You often hear about people saying that “back then,” students stood up for things, often in the face of guns and popular disdain (we heard much of that at the Remembering Ford Hall event). And they did stand up in response to the shootings, to the tune of a national student strike and a huge rally in Washington, DC. But, apparently, right after the initial buzz, people were just as content then to sit around in the sun or play frisbee as we are now to sit around watching reality TV and talking about how much the situation sucks.
Quick Edit: I sound like I’m saying a national student strike, involving 4 million students and campuses across the country, is no big deal. Which I’m not. But I am saying that after the initial strong start, people started to lose their sense of urgency and went back to their daily lives (which, after all, is only to be expected, right?)