This H.R. 3 thing is blowing my mind, I tell ya what. I can’t quite believe that anyone would be so narrow-minded and hateful and destructive. But I’ll be drilling out some letters and signing petitions today, even though I have moments of hopelessness and despair.
But watching the ongoing, mostly peaceful protests in Egypt–just just learning that the King of Jordan has pretty much dissolved his cabinet–has heartened me greatly. As has a story a bit more close to home.
Late last week, Kristofer Petersen-Overton, an adjunct teaching a grad seminar at Brooklyn College on Middle Eastern Politics, was abruptly fired after a student saw his syllabus, shared with NY Assemblyman Dov Hikind (an Orthodox Jew who, while Democrat, has a lot of right-wingy views and who has been affiliated with extremist Zionist groups like the JDL) and Hikind voiced his objections, which I don’t find convincing, but whatever.
I know a whole buncha people who work at BC, and they used the internets, Facebook especially, to drum up awareness. Issues of academic freedom, labor rights, and the disposability of adjunct instructors (reader, I am one) are all involved here, and petitions and letter writing campaigns were in full force over the weekend. Yesterday, Brooklyn College reversed their decision, reinstating Petersen-Overton and affirming their commitment to intellectual freedom. Hikind is pissed, but I think the matter is closed.
What I’m saying is: activism matters. It can get someone fired, and then rehired. It can change governments, kill or support policies, work to free people or to further deny them their most basic rights. So when you get down, or feel like your letter or signature is a tiny and meaningless gesture against great powers, please think again. Your small gestures are what activism IS. It’s what citizenship is made of. Being involved and caring enough to call or write your political representatives, to tell your friends and families about what matters to you, is what keeps the world moving forward.
Keep it up.