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(OPINION) Deconstructing the ‘Spartans Against War’ Protest

Contributor: Jack Carlson

Last Friday on January 10, a ‘Spartans Against War’ protest was held at the rock. The protest was meant to be a call for preventing war with Iran and rally for peace, but instead became a rallying cry against the Trump administration, American institutions, and a platform for fanaticism.

The speakers consistently claimed that America’s imperialistic, racist, and warmongering society must be changed, shouting “abolish ICE,” and “the rich send the poor to fight their wars.” Friday’s protest was more a demand for the overthrow of American society than a protest against war. They argued not for a change within the system, but a radical change of the system.

While the protest was organized with the intention to prevent war with Iran, a goal most students would agree with, it featured speakers who said a countless number of falsehoods.

One speaker even claimed then Presidential candidate Reagan orchestrated the Iran Hostage Crisis to win the election. While this is a laughably untrue claim resemblant of an InfoWars headline, it paints a worrisome picture of the protest as a whole.

More importantly the organizer of the protest, Uzair Bandagi, repeatedly chastised America as “imperialistic” and being complacent in the murder of Iraqis. On his Facebook post about the event, he claimed that the Iraq war “only served to enrich the ruling elite.” In response to a comment saying he would be “killed in Iran'' for making similar claims about their government, Bandagi replied, “lol it’s more likely to get me killed in the US but ok boomer.”

Though he certainly has a good sense of humor, the idea that he would be safer criticizing the government of Iran than the US government, even while in Iran, is absurd and false. This raises the question as to whether the goal of the protest was to further his own flawed narrative and perception of America.

Moreover, the protest echoed rhetorical arguments that Iranian officials use to try and justify an unsupportable regime. Despite the vast majority of people here protesting an escalation into war, an agreeable cause, they unknowingly helped to legitimize the actions of Iran. You would be forgiven if you thought you had heard we must “condemn American terrorism” from the Iranian government itself. Unfortunately, this was one of the many statements made by the protesters.

Is it okay to criticize American foreign policy? Of course it is. America is far from perfect, but it is far closer to being perfect than Iran. In protesting the recent actions of our government against Iran, we must recognize that there is a difference between a flawed government and a morally egregious and reprehensible one.

It would be inaccurate to claim that the protesters were knowingly sympathetic or in agreement with the policies of Iran. But in participating in the character assassination of the American government with no mention of Iran as a government that murders journalists, openly degrades women and gay people, and slaughters American soldiers and civilians, the protesters carelessly ignored these traits.

Let’s be clear. All of the speakers are decent people with respectable convictions. But protests such as the one Friday only help to degrade the morale of Americans and their faith in their constitutional government. Although we have no complete certainty of who the winner would be if a war with Iran was to occur, the loser is perfectly clear. It is the American people’s confidence that their government will do the right thing, for it has been destroyed not by an external enemy, but from within.

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