When I graduated from American University waaaay back in 1981…. Our speaker was some Reagan administration person who was so important and bigtime that I cannot recall his name. Still some of my fellow graduates were so incensed by this man’s prescence…that when he took the stage they stood up and turned their backs on him. He went on to give an extraordinarily unremarkable speech…that again I don’t recall.
The point is though… today’s college students did not invent rude self-righteous behavior. In fact…you could argue…they come by it honestly …just look at us boomers.
Still… I think the students and activists protesting the remaining confederate relics at the University of Virginia are breaking some new ground in the field of immature boorishness. Reports out of Charlottesville say they draped the statue of founding father Thomas Jefferson in black and posted signs on our 3rd president that said ‘rapist’ and ‘racist.’
For these hopefully well-meaning young people…I have two words for you—too much!!! Thomas Jefferson was a complicated dude…we know this. He owned slaves but he also wrote the Declaration of Independence and founded your school. You made no friends disrespecting him like that.
Now I get it…protests are designed to piss off the folks in power… or at least get their attention. But they work a whole lot better if you managed to hold on to the moral high ground at the same time. Dr. Martin Luther King said this: Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Or put another way- Getting everyone’s attention is not the same as earning their support. In fact in this case, you likely did just the opposite.