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Protest culture

Last night, while stuff was going down in Berkeley, scrottie and I finished watching the 4-hour documentary At Berkeley.

In our previous viewing, we'd gotten through the part where student protestors took over a big room in the library and then stayed until around 9 pm, when the library closed. So the things we watched last night fell into the "resolution" portion of the story.

The University president made some pretty harsh comments about the protestors, and contrasted their unfocused and vague laundry-list of demands with some of his own experiences as an anti-war protestor during a period where he worked at Bell Labs. He made the point that generalized "anti" protests aren't a good way of getting things done.

I mean, he was correct: some of the students themselves said the same thing during their sit-in in the library. There was also a focus group of students who were ambivalent about the protest who asked whether the student protests actually affected legislative decision-making in Sacramento. The University representative leading the focus group put the student protests into the context of other pressures placed on the legislators, and made the point that it may have just been politically savvy to credit the student protests, even if the student protests were far from the driving factor in the subsequent statewide decisions.

In these final parts of the documentary, one remains highly aware that the filmmaker is presenting his own biased perspective on the University. I think this is better than being left with a sense of uncertainty on that front, unless one is completely naive to university culture and thus lacks any alternative frame of reference for what universities can be like.

Anyway, all of this relates to my thinking about political and economic transitions that I desire to occur in this country. I have to question whether and how the Women's March platform can get translated into political action. And I don't really want to be an "anti-" protestor. And so I flounder.

The conclusion also left us feeling dissatisfied, so afterwords we watched another documentary, Yarn. Lots of pleasing sheep scenes.

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