Saturday, February 27, 2010

UC Leaders Denounce Racism, Incivility????? Really??? Is that all you've got????

Read the statement drafted by UCOP and the Chancellors denouncing racism and incivility in one breath. Racism and incivility are incommensurable -- one is associated with a dehumanizing system of exploitation and abuse of power, the other with a code of proper behavior developed by medieval and Renaissance elites. As a system policing proper public and social behavior, civility may have originally served to empower the literate middle classes against the aristocracy, but can be deployed censor challenges to contemporary authority.

Civility may in fact be the face of authoritarianism lite. Dissent can be indeed uncivil without being irrational. Robust dissent is a civic virtue. The opportunistic, anarchistic elements of the student protest movement are not simply uncivil: they want to escalate a confrontation with the authorities so that the University will be destroyed and then re-made. The reactionary backlash against student activism as found in the comments area of the OC Register are crypto fascist and are aimed at destroying the University as well.

Chancellor Drake wanted to remind us of our values in a statement to the UCI campus on Friday, February 26, referring to incidents that occurred at UCSD (the racist frat party) and the riots at Berkeley. He failed to mention, or only implied that the February 25 sit in was part of these series of "unfortunate events" The UCI action was an organized act of civil disobedience to attract attention to a set of demands set forth by a loose coalition called "democratize education." The occupation of Aldrich Hall at UCI is not in any way comparable to what happened either at Berkeley, and especially not comparable to what happened at UCSD. There should be amnesty for the seventeen students and workers arrested at UCI. Chancellor Drake purposefully distorts the situation by confusing the UCI actions with the events at other campuses.

Amnesty should be offered to all the students and workers arrested in recent weeks. All demonstrations on the UCI campus have been peaceful and organized: Drake should recognize civil disobedience as a form of protected speech, which has nothing to do with symbolic targeting of minorities.

The events at UC Berkeley are covered at the Daily Cal .