Give the governor a harrumph.
This has been a boring semester. Maybe I have buried myself too far into the stacks to notice otherwise, but the campus (and, to a certain extent, the nation) seems to have settled into an uneasy complacency since last fall’s election. Some cried and swore and stared off into space in disbelief; some cried and laughed and hugged and stared off into space in equal but opposite disbelief. But ever since, we’ve had nothing to talk about.
We’re bored with Iraq. Most of us don’t notice the rising death count (1,499 Americans as of March 1) because it has been replaced by the Michael Jackson trial as headline news. The White House got upset with the media for portraying the aftermath of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” in a negative—i.e. accurate—light.
The Israelis and Palestinians are on the verge of kissing and making up, which is great. I have, however, two fears about the situation: first, that President George W. Bush will go down in history as a great peacemaker (instead of the originator of the preemptive strike doctrine), when the truth is that Yasser Arafat was the obstacle that needed to be removed. Secondly, I am afraid that the PSM will never come back to Duke, and we won’t get to talk about it anymore.
The biggest political news of late is that some guy—with the last name Wead—recorded a conversation with the then-not-yet-elected President Bush in which Bush alluded to using marijuana. And? Didn’t we already know that Bush, like every other ridiculously privileged member of his generation, experimented with drugs in his youth?
Social Security is the main issue of the president’s second-term agenda. But how much time do we want to spend discussing whether a system is doomed for failure (and whether the Republican Party can escape any obligations to their less affluent fellow citizens) in the next 20 years when there are other social welfare programs that are already failing due to neglect?
Why aren’t we talking about Medicare and Medicaid, or the millions of Americans without health insurance anymore? Have they been insured since the election? Why isn’t someone, anyone, screaming in outrage, on behalf of women everywhere, that the leaders of the Democratic Party are working to shift its position on abortion?
Where are the debates about “effortless perfection,” Jews, censorship, affirmative action, women’s sexual liberation or employee wages and benefits? Why aren’t we talking about how rape and sexual assault happen all the time, even here, but are almost never reported? Why aren’t we talking about what can be done to prevent future rapes and protect future Duke students?
You there. Reading this column. Say something. Anything. I don’t care if you agree with me or not.
These pages have been subdued lately. The Chronicle is so short on editorial contributions that they have to run syndicated pieces on an almost daily basis and bring back staunchly conservative columnists from the past who cannot let go of the “big fish in a small pond” glory days of their undergraduate career. Aren’t there more people out there with something to say?
We have gotten to the point where columnists who attempt to start new controversial conversations are snubbed by their peers. Why shouldn’t undergraduates be able to raise questions about how their education is funded? Why does a large donation to the Annual Fund or the Campaign for Duke automatically require our unquestioned adoration?
You don’t have to be so cynical, you might say. But someone needs to be. We need to talk, debate, converse; complacency gets us nowhere. Things will never improve if you are happy with the way they are.
Look at me! I’m making people happy! I’m the magical man from happy land with a gumdrop house on lollipop lane!
Eric Vivier is a Trinity senior. His column appears every other Friday.
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