See the facebook video here: http://www.facebook.com/John.E.Omega#!/video/video.php?v=10100348370654350&oid=26315165872&comments
**We are working to get it on our web, specifically, stay tuned**
Hi, I’m Grace, from Students for a Democratic Society at the U of M. Many of you may be familiar with the SDS of the 1960’s, who led the student movement against t…he war in Vietnam, with protests and burning draft cards. The SDS of the 60’s challenged the US government’s agenda in Vietnam, which was essentially to pile up bodies in the name of Freedom and Democracy, and later, to pile up more bodies for the sake of saving face. As a result of mounting pressure from a strong, united anti-war movement, the US government eventually gave into public opposition and ended the war in Vietnam. You might think that our federal government would learn from this hard lesson of humiliating magnitude, and they did. Today, there is a new and improved version of the “red scare” to distract the public from the ever growing pile of bodies in Iraq and Afghanistan: it’s called the threat of terrorism.
Who are the terrorists, you might ask? It seems like no two countries can agree on the exact definition of terrorism. But never fear, brothers and sisters, SDS is here, and we can figure this out together. The United States code defines terrorism as “violent acts…intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.” OK, so that’s kind of like training death squads to scare people into submission in South America while bombing the crap out of Baghdad and sending military aid to whatever foreign regime will support corporate interests. Throw a few poisoned cigars in there, and you’ve got U.S. foreign policy. As Edward Peck, former Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism said, “terrorism is in the eye of the beholder.”
An example of this “eye of the beholder” definition of terrorism is how people look at the struggle of Palestinians. The US government lists various Palestinian political parties as terrorist organizations, and sends military aid to Israel to combat these organizations. My friend and fellow SDSer, Tracy Molm, argues that the Palestinians have a right to fight for their native land. Now Tracy, along with other anti-war and international solidarity activists in our community, has been raided by the FBI and subpoenaed for a Grand Jury. There are no charges against her or the other activists. The FBI claims they are looking for evidence of “material support to terrorists.” One might wonder, what does material support even mean? Because let’s be honest, Tracy doesn’t have money to fund foreign political parties, she has barely enough to fund herself and then buy pizza for an SDS party once in a while. We also wonder, since when does using your freedom of speech mean you get the FBI at your door? We can probably thank the Patriot Act for that one.
Some of you might be thinking, “well sure, but she’s probably done something wrong, right?” Let me tell you a little bit about what we do in SDS–we do a bit of rabble rousing, but I‘ll let you all judge whether it merits federal repression. Like the SDS of the 60’s, we challenge the institutions that oppress us in this country. We fight for the rights of all people, rights that the ruling class likes to chip away at. For example, take the education system. I bet we can all agree that educating all of our citizens is a good idea; SDS would call this a right. The ruling class discovered long ago that education RIGHTS are inconvenient and generally get in the way of accumulating wealth. So they defund public schools and then close them, as in the case of North High, or make schools into corporations, as in the case of the University of MN. The U of M was founded as a land grant institution with the purpose of providing access to higher education to all Minnesotans. But as tuition goes up, and its gone up by 150% in the past 10 years; an education at this public institution becomes less and less an option for working class people. You might think that all the extra tuition revenue is at least funding a more quality education, but in reality, our tuition dollars fund research and fancy building projects and bloated administrative salaries while our class sizes grow and our support staff get laid off. Recently, to add insult to injury, there have been threats from the administration that our cultural centers might get kicked out of their spaces in the student union. Why? Because there “isn’t enough room” apparently even as they’re expanding the Rec center and spending $80 million to renovate Northrop theater.
So SDS, once more, is taking a stand. We stand for education rights for all, and a university that values its students, teachers, and employees more than its revenues. We stand with the cultural centers for a university built on community. We stand with our brothers and sisters who have been targeted by the FBI–they have done nothing wrong. And we will continue to stand with any person or organization that speaks out against U.S. imperialism and corporate greed. We invite you to join us in the struggle for a better university, and a better world. Thank you.