The Riots: Real cause and effect

The general media — right and left — denounce the student protesters at universities and only prove that no one in any newsroom is old enough. I lived through the riots on campuses in this country particularly UCLA and Berkeley in the late ‘60s through ‘70s. You have to realize that there is justifiable anger among the young which, yes, is quite often overtaken by people who have violence as a primary reason for existence.

However, most of the students have both a social, moral, and a political point of view they wish to express against the odds.

What odds? The military industrial complex — like it was during Vietnam — is pushing the notion that out-and-out violence can solve anything. Politicians, today in Israel and in the ‘60s in Washington, took wrong turns and relied on those people who keep them in power, accepting their message of “domino effect” — whether it be Communism in the ‘60s or “Islamic Terrorists” today.

Let us be clear: Were Communist forces opposed to decency and democracy? Yes, absolutely. Are Islamic Terrorists like Hamas opposed to decency and democracy? Again, yes, absolutely. Shouldn’t both have been thwarted before they became an unstoppable enemy?

Wishful thinking perhaps, but yes. Should they now be opposed even though corrupt politicians and ultra-right-wing pundits and religious leaders in Israel allowed them to thrive, only to look strong in now conducting blitzkrieg?

These are the questions students are asking. These are the issues they are protesting against. For years Israel — the state, the nation — has been an ally and partner for peace with the United States. In return we have armed them to the teeth with taxpayer funds. Should we continue to do so, surely the American public has the right to curb or at least protest their excesses against civilian targets in Gaza. This is not about anti-Semitism (or should not be allowed to become anti-Semitic), this is about right and wrong behavior by a people, a nation. Warfare in search of retribution for a terrorist atrocity and prevention has strayed into excess, overkill, which is horrible.

During the Vietnam War all the major news people “embedded” with U.S. troops had film confiscated that showed overkill. When freelance images started to emerge of napalm scorched little kids, the public appetite for such carnage undertaken in America’s name and reputation started to line up with the students’ protests. The National Guard shooting of protesting students at Kent State is about to repeat itself. At the time, 1970, many newspapers went so far as to blame the soldiers or the students…never the underlying causes. It took 10 years for Caspar Weinberger’s real motives to be exposed.

Were some of the protesters back then anarchists? Sure. Angry, searching for something to oppose a system that these angry men and women felt alienated from, they enlisted many students at Berkeley and UCLA and turned them from “peaceniks” into rock-throwing protesters.

Until you have stood in a mob of 25,000 students at UCLA, you have no idea how hard it is to remain true to yourself. Mob rule is not a joke. Neither is it fair to say everyone there is equally violent or lawbreaking. Police attacks only strengthen the anarchists’ hand, much like Israel’s overkill is strengthening Hamas’ propaganda.

But until the media and the public come — once again 50+ years later — to realize that the few lawbreakers are not an excuse to condemn the protest, those who condemn all protestors as lawbreakers are just talking like Nixon, Reagan, and John Wayne. At UCLA those three stood at a “peace meeting” of more than 10,000 students, lecturing us as “pinkos,” never caring if their rhetoric empowered the anarchists further. 99% back then were not against the USA or the soldiers being killed, and I would dare say that 99% of protesters now are not against Jews. But labeling them as such is a very simple argument for people who want to enforce control. That only leads to more riots.

They were wrong then and most of the media and “law breaking” comments are wrong now.

Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.

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