In Want of Outrage
By Nick Arbaugh, Columnist
Where, oh, where have the protesters gone? What ever happened to the occupiers of Penn Hall, the legions who rallied at the drop of the hat in solidarity with any group, or those who vigorously thumped their chest shouting that they would no longer stand for hate? Has the Gettysburg I’ve come to know unanticipatedly changed without my knowing?
The reason I ask is because I simply cannot understand the lack of outrage on this campus as of late. As a freshman, I had heard tales of years past in which even the wrongly-worded flyer could lead to rehearsed demonstrations. As soon as last year, a speaker with the “wrong” thoughts and interpretations provoked the administration into hastily constructing a counter-event in a desperate attempt to signal their virtue to the mob. Even this year, a comedy play with the “wrong” jokes has garnered a boycott. These reactions were provoked by words, either the written or the spoken, that were considered outside the purview of acceptable mainstream thought in Gettysburg College. So, you will hopefully forgive my incredulity at the lack of reaction when actual physical violence in the form of domestic terrorism goes almost completely unnoticed by the greater Gettysburg Community.
The 26th Pennsylvania College Guard (PCG), our Civil War reenactment club, recently attended a reenactment event in Cedar Creek, Virginia. That event had received terroristic threats towards the reenactors, which many were believed to be related to the use of Confederate flags by the reenactors on the Southern side. Going beyond words, a person/group left an explosive device at the event. Nobody was hurt, the device (some sort of “pipe bomb”) was successfully rendered safe by the Virginia State Police Bomb Squad, and PCG returned to campus safely. Thank God. Though the event was understandably shaken up, most of the reenactors stayed (although PCG returned to Gettysburg) and put on their event regardless of the potential hazards and chanted “USA!” repeatedly at the event’s conclusion.
Now, it would be ludicrous and erroneous to claim that everyone who is against the flying of the Confederate flag supports this kind of radical action. In fact, I’d wager that 99% of them would be as disgusted with this action as those with whom they disagree. This editorial is not a commentary on the issue and takes no stance on it. However, I do think it is fitting to take the campus social justice movement to task over their hypocritical lack of response. It is certainly no coincidence that I haven’t seen one article in the Surge, one email about a solidarity rally, or even one inkling of a call to action from any of the usual suspects.
The social justice movement at Gettysburg is represented by the several campus offices extolling “inclusion” and “diversity,” the several campus clubs calling for “equality,” and the administrative officials dispatching email after email lauding its righteousness. Yet even a movement as loosely coordinated as that of social justice seems to have the collective neurological capacity to ignore the spiteful political hatred that occurred at Cedar Creek. The infidelity of the acolytes of the Gettysburg social justice movement to their beloved doctrines is a betrayal of their movement’s apathy to anything that doesn’t fit within the purview of its narrative. Willing to go to war over inflammatory language, they fall utterly silent when the inflammation (both figuratively and, in this case, literally) is spewed forth by their ideological brothers and sisters on the political left. Their silence on this issue is a manifestation of the insincerity and duplicity of the movement. They possess regard only for their own, their talk of holistic comradery a façade that hides their disdain for anything contradictory to their ideology. Our friends at PCG’s experience with terror didn’t advance their cause, and so they fell deafeningly silent. And marching behind them in goosestep, the campus administration.
So, what am I asking for? Not much. The event happened a while ago, and as I have attempted to elucidate in this editorial, it went largely unnoticed. In all likelihood, since this editorial is a response to an unnoticed event it too will likely go unnoticed. Yet still, it is just as important that we criticize the inaction of those who demand endless action from the rest of us. If they wish to demand equality, whatever that means, then their “work” should reflect that. Enough of the partisan picking and choosing.