Let’s forget for a minute that UCSC’s science programs are some of the best in the nation, and that these programs bring in a large amount of money that the school then uses to fund less popular programs (I am looking at you “History of Conciseness”). Let’s also forget that the science community is one of the growing academic clusters on campus. What really gets me is the “Science is not the only Truth” line. What does this mean, and what does it have to do with stopping the building of this new facility? Well comrade, let me tell you. These protesters don’t just see the cutting down of a few trees as the problem, but the entire modern world as the source of their disgust. This biomedical facility will be used to develop drugs that will undoubtedly save lives, and as any good anarchist knows, humans are responsible for the destruction of the planet and must be eliminated if the earth is to survive.
Here was a recent news report from the local NBC affiliate about the tree-sit at UCSC.
So all those folks who could benefit from the development of medicines at this biomedical facility should not live, if you use the nihilistic logic these activists adhere to. That is why they don’t plan to spend their time helping those in need beyond their small bay area towns; it is modern science that can actually help people live longer, and your eco-anarchist is opposed to that very concept.
The general safety of this protest doesn’t stop those involved from making it sound like they are fighting some totalitarian dictatorship. This has been one of my major gripes with this portion of the left over the years: they throw around words like “police brutality” and “oppression” when they simply don’t apply to their situation. Here we have some tree sympathizers gathering around one of the tree-sitter’s trees.
One would think that they would want to go stealth when they are conducting their illegal activities. You know, to stay under the radar of the police and actually achieve their aims. But being stealth doesn’t get you into the papers, and doesn’t bring about the all important police confrontation. Here is a picture of a police officer using “force” (pepper spray) to disperse the group after they refused to leave.
The horror! Those monks in Burma didn’t have it this bad!
How about the protester's argument that they were not included in the development of this site? Well, this specific building has been in development for years now, and they could have certainly gotten involved in the planning stages. The fact that they were not paying attention until actual construction began is no ones fault but their own. But I assume they would not have been involved even if they were aware of the development a few years back. Actually doing the work required to make change is much harder than playing revolutionary in black pajamas. “Direct Action” is a children’s game for youngsters too lazy to get involved with the actual process required to make alterations.
You may argue that I am not present at the university at the moment, and therefore don’t know what’s really going on. Well comrade, I thankfully have a number of friends still present there, and here is an eye-witness account of the protest by a graduate student in the science department.
I work in the building right next to the protest site, so I've had pretty intimate contact with the protest since the beginning. A few days after the start of the protest, some coworkers and I went to talk with some of the people at the "autonomous zone" since we thought it'd be good for a laugh. A group of protesters were more than willing to share their wisdom with us, and with each passing minute, I was almost ready to join the good fight. Well, except for the fact that they had no idea what was going on.
Not surprisingly, they had no idea how old the trees were. When we informed that the University planted a lot of the trees and that it wasn't an ancient majestic forest like they were telling us (how 9 trees in a parking lot could be considered a forest is beyond me), they were undeterred, for even if they were only a few decades old, they still needed saving! They also seemed unconvinced that the University takes some of the stumps and replants them so they can grow again, "that's just propaganda man, you don't know how it really is."
As for what would go on in the new science building, they believed that there would be nuclear research going on. Full blown weapons research, at a building meant for disease research. When we told them what would actually happen in the building, they were undeterred, for it was only a matter of time that nuclear weapons research would start at UCSC! Plus, it seems that by doing research on cancer and other diseases, you're actually giving the world cancer. If only we'd have known!
One of the saddest moments arose when I asked them why they were so lazy about their passion. You see, around the time the protest started, there was a tanker spill in the San Francisco Bay, an honest to goodness environmental disaster only 90 minutes away! Why, surely protesters who claim to care for the environment would be busting down doors to get their hands dirty and help save a bird. But when asked why they weren't up there, without batting an eyelash, one said, "You've gotta pick your battles." Yes you do young one, yes you do.
Oddly enough, there was a new humanities building put up just last year, complete with environmental destruction. Why wasn't that one protested? Some said that it's because it's a building the university needed (hooray relative environmentalism!), some said that they weren't at school last year (hooray 18YOs who know what's best for the campus after only being here 2 months), and some said they didn't even know about it (hooray for being honest! I'll give them that one).
Luckily for those who work here, when winter break hit, the hardcore protesters who were going to fight until the end went home for break and the university cleaned up the trash they left behind. So now we have a parking lot again, but one that gets bombarded every so often with human excrement falling from the trees, for the people getting paid to protest remain in the trees.
Last I heard, groundbreaking for the building isn't even going to be for at least 6 months at the earliest, so they really haven't even stopped anything, but I'm sure they feel like they've stuck it the "man." But only if the "man" are janitors and groundskeepers who have to clean up their excrement from bathrooms when they try and dump it down the toilet and scrub off all the graffiti that's popped up all over campus, or maybe the "man" are all the undergrads who couldn't get into my building to talk with their professors and TAs.
Keep the wind and rain coming,