__Bob of Occupy
City College of San Francisco
This quote from The Rude Pundit offers the best riposte to those who don’t want to offend more nervous folks at CCSF:
“We don’t make great leaps forward anymore for fear of upsetting someone, some previously powerful group or some corporation or some industry or some herd of drooling idiots. Instead, we get milquetoast, over compromised baby steps. The politics of politeness is the politics of capitulation.”
I always hope that those of us who seek compromise sooner than later understand that those of us who strive more forcefully towards the ideal of what City College should be and do so with firm resolve, fully comprehend the contribution of political pressure we mount against the overwhelming power of the Corporations and the State that we are up against.
Imagine if you will if the Coalition to Save CCSF had never been formed. Imagine the students, if they had dutifully continued to pursue their studies and not Occupied Chancellor SS’s headquarters overnight. Imagine if the Campuses were not drawn into our struggle. Imagine if the March to City Hall never manifested the thousand participants who showed up.
THEY would have succeeded with contemptible giddiness in not only dismantling our College and creating the training grounds for the continued corporate takeover of our country, but would have destroyed our democracy in the process. And did we not have an obligation to resist such a flagrant assault on our democratic foundations?
WE would have been compliant co-conspirators in denying the futures for thousands of adults who needed the adult education classes necessary for their survival and enrichment. Our struggling ethnic brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters would have seen their vision of opportunities darkened.
All the great advances in Race, Labor, Gender Equality, Ethnic Diversity, and Equity would have become just a quaint and obsolete footnote in the progress cast-steel hardened out of the struggles of millions of Americans who made far greater personal sacrifices than our own in times when speaking up was literally a death sentence or when taking a stand meant not even feeding one’s own family.
Whatever results lay ahead, we have brought a counter force of sanity and humanity of iron resistance that has sobered their giddiness of unprincipled wantonness towards the meaning of Education in our body politic and democracy.
I know for some what I am saying hear will be met with the cynical, beaten down spirit of those who have given up and surrendered as my just spouting rhetoric. But if we don’t raise that rhetoric to the level of aspiration once again as Martin, John, Bobby, Caesar, and Dolores did in the past, we will be betraying and selling out our own souls and the souls of the young and old who depend on us, richly empowered as we are at this time in our own personal histories, to defend their futures.
Several years ago a dear friend of mine died at the age of 97. At the age of 10, she marched with her mother and sisters in the great women’s struggle for the right to vote. She lived through the Great Depression and saw the social safety nets established that came out of it and guaranteed dignity and survival for future generations. She died watching those great programs being whittled away by politely ensconced politicians who placed their own self interests above the Common Good of all of us, a pattern of behavior that has become the paradigm by which so many of us balance our choices.
In my own lifetime having witnessed the great struggles of the late sixties in Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, and at SF State where the demand for a Black Studies Department was realized and so many other extremely important departments were actualized and given established accreditation, these too are being whittled away at by Trustees who shamefully reneged on their promises to the people who elected them by ceding their power to a tool of the 1%, one, RA, with a title that belies a less than “special” place in the history of honoring the position of Education in our collective lives.
So many of us started out as young idealists inspired to fight back against the injustices we have seen and continue to see meted out upon the marginal and the disenfranchised. Many of you have chosen your profession as your answer to confronting those injustices. And sadly some of us have had our early idealism whittled away at by one comfortable compromise after another until even the word Idealism is derisively sniggered at because our consciences can no longer bear to look at themselves forthrightly in a mirror.
We still have much work ahead. Let’s acknowledge the highest values we have in ourselves and our fellow workers and strive beyond the easy acquiescence to a compromise that capitulates to the forces in this world that would destroy over a century of progress wrought by our parents, grand parents, and great grandparents.
Above all, let’s not betray our own consciences with easy rationalizations of narrow self-interests.
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