Friday, November 11, 2011

One Good Thing About Military Conscription

Back around 1970, American college campuses saw substantial unrest over the Vietnam war. Today, there's zero campus unrest over our current sand wars, probably because no one's being drafted -- not directly, anyway, although our crap economy could be regarded as a kind of not-quite-official near-draft. But, if students don't get upset about wars that they don't have to go and fight, at least they do get upset about something:
Chanting "We want Joe" and damaging lampposts and parked vehicles, Penn State students flooded into downtown State College late Wednesday to protest the university board of trustees' decision to fire football coach Joe Paterno.

At least two young women were hospitalized, one who got gasoline in her eyes after a TV van was pushed over, and another who was hit by an object thrown from a balcony.

Police would not confirm making arrests, but at least one person was seen being taken into custody.

Students crowded by the hundreds into the area of the borough known as Beaver Canyon, where students in 2008 rioted after a victory over Ohio State. In addition to their cheers for Paterno, they shouted "We are Penn State" and "One more game."

"The board of trustees has no loyalty," read sign held by one student. "We will not be quiet." Police were out in riot gear.

A lamppost was ripped down about 11:30 p.m. Police later reported two others were pushed down. Officers attempted to guide students back onto the sidewalks, but then a TV van from Altoona station WTAJ was tipped over. A car also was overturned. Students rushed the CNN van, but police turned them away.
Well, that's America, the 2011 edition: we don't sweat the small stuff -- the wars abroad, the police-state stuff at home, the absolute corporate ownership of government. Maybe if there was an active draft, middle-class people's priorities would be different. But instead, we save our outrage for the truly vital things, like a college football coach getting fired.

For me, it's another Murray Sperber moment. I'd love to see big-time intercollegiate athletics disappear. I'd love to see the end of the "athletic scholarship." I'd like to see the pursuit of research grants end. In short, I'd love to see the American university dedicate itself to undergraduate education, first and foremost. I'm sure it's not going to happen. I certainly wish it would, though.


Mimi said...

I retired as manager of employment after 27 years at Rider, a small eastern college. About 15 years ago, it was designated a university, which, as far as I can see, is now simply a political/financial prize. The school has no football team, but it does have a well-funded basketball program. Rider, of course, has little else in common with the mega-university, Penn State except its dedication to sports. It's just as avid--and just as chilling. After all, it's the sports-loving alumni who donate the big bucks, not the philosophy majors.
Another spot-on post, Jim.

Anonymous said...

This whole sports-tribe thing is much larger than college sports. It starts when, at age 5, we're taught to pledge allegiance to a flag. As we grow in our ability to understand, we're taught that our school is the best and neighboring schools are inferior, most clearly defined, of course, by our sports teams.

By the time we reach high school, we understand that our country is the best and all others are inferior. At this level, though, our allegiance is changed from sports teams to military teams.

It's all part of the process of government-sponsored brain-washing, intended to produce amoral people who do not think.

As the Joe fans prove, it's quite effective.

Anonymous said...

Jon Stewart did a short piece on all this, with appropriate comparisons to the Pope and the Catholic church. It's worth watching: