The past few weeks have reinforced my notion that we are entering a downward spiral with regards to education and -- in an overly Hollywood-esque sense of cheesy ominous prophecy -- the downfall of society. What I have learned is that, despite round the clock access to media and information from all over the world, we have grown remarkably desensitized to blatant acts of aggression directed towards non-violent protest.
This is not to say that action has not been taken; for example, the students at UC Davis responded superbly to the now-viral video of the riot police casually tear gassing students sitting on the lawn. Sitting on the lawn! God forbid they assemble peaceably! In any case, when it came to light that the chancellor herself called upon the riot police to disperse the dangerous group of sit-in protesters, the students assembled (cue pepper spray) and waited for her to leave for the day, and when she left the building, she was greeted with a mass of students lining the sidewalk staring at her in utter silence. It wasn't merely the fact that it reminded me of Hitchcock's The Birds, but rather the incredible and creepy-yet-powerful-as-shit message that was sent that needed no words -- just a few minutes of awkward silence and an aura that screams disapproval. That, my friends, is the power of assembly all those above the ladder fear -- the power to shake through unspoken words, for imagine if they had raised their voices in protest?
I was expecting, in spite of the media coverage of the Davis incident, more of a backlash; after all, casually pepper-spraying a passive crowd isn't the only act of police aggression to attract national attention. What about the tear gassing of occupiers at Oakland? The pepper-spraying of an elderly lady? The vivid image of a retired chief of police being arrested by police (not explicitly violent, but nonetheless bewildering beyond all reason)? Recently, a pregnant woman who was assaulted (and yes, I will say assaulted) by a policeman who kicked her in in the gut reported a miscarriage. I hate to turn suddenly bipartisan, but where are the die-hard anti-abortion republicans when this happened? And not to draw a direct comparison between the two because they are different on so many levels, but all it took for the LA riots of '92 was a single video. Now, we have dozens; where is the power and movement?
A big part of why I think we are grossly apathetic to the world around us is because of the constant bombardment of self-indulgent distractions. For every incident documenting a violation of our right to assemble comes a slew of celebrity bullshit that dominates the headlines. Just when we have momentum building up from reports of GOP lobbyists plotting to discredit the occupy movement through guerrilla tactics comes another Kardashian wedding. Sadly, it seems we've over-saturated our attention span, making it easy to jump from one newsflash to another, no matter how mundane and trivial one may be. The end result is we see them all the same -- a brief thought shock, received and dismissed as instinctively as when a duck shakes off water.