by Chris Heuer
I urge you all, please, to go and read Haig A. Bosmajian’s THE LANGUAGE OF OPPRESSION. [ED. NOTE: See book reviews of this title here and here.] Many of the chapters are replete with examples of arcane and contradictory laws that blatantly oppress and terrorize minorities… laws that were still on the books well into the 20th Century (prohibiting white and black people from marrying, voting, etc). So much for the Rule of Law.
The comparatively easier thing to do is make your stand with those who are already in power. There is an oft-repeated story circulating amongst the protesters about a certain congresswoman who said “this protest is way beyond who is right or wrong.” I agree for my own reasons: it’s way beyond right and wrong when one side is using human chains and the other side is using Earth Movers. It’s beyond right and wrong when only one side has the power to fire or expel the other. As much as some of you might detest the protestors, please remember that through this whole thing, only Administration had the formal power to get rid of those protesters, and not the other way around. The protesters never had the power to fire JKF. The BOT is the group that did that.
It’s also easy to side with “law and order” if you aren’t the one being oppressed. How about we all debate a bit about our own “law” right here on campus? Do you realize, ironically enough, that the Free Expression Guidelines have not been dumped yet? That was a possibility during the takeover of HMB… I don’t remember the exact wording but I know I saw it on that list of 24 demands sent to IKJ. And believe it or not Admin did appear to be willing to dump them, provided that the students didn’t camp out overnight. But then all of those demands were rejected by Admin, which me ans the Free Expression Guidelines are still in place–part of our establishment of “order” here on campus.
Now tell me, do you think those Guidelines would stand a chance in hell on any Hearing University within ten miles of Gallaudet? Do you really think the students of Georgetown U would be willing to register two days in advance and get approval first for any sign that they wanted to post up? They’d never do it, and what’s more, the world at large would never expect them to do it, and beyond even that, if they rioted in order to retain/regain their First Amendment Rights, the world wold look upon them with sympathy, and Georgetown U’s President would have been history inside of a week of writing such guidelines (or allowing them to be sent out to the campus). Hell, let me revise that a bit, Georgetown students would never have to riot–Georgetown U would be seen as a joke and nobody would go there!
But with us, people don’t see it that way (re: protesting/rioting). We’re not expected to resist, and we’re a bunch of immature whining crybabies if we do. And as for us going elsewhere, here’s a harsh truth: ADA aside, nobody really gives a damn if we go elsewhere or not, if we are well-educated or not, if Gallaudet is failing or not, if Gallaudet is authoritarian or not. The rest of the world doesn’t expect us to lead the country or work on Wall Street. From what I’ve seen of the rest of the world, it pretty much is just waiting for the day when it can genetically engineer us out of existence, and what’s more, it will be puzzled and outraged should we suggest that being genetically engineered out of existence is perhaps not such a great thing. This is another big reason nobody pays attention to Gallaudet or most state institutions/mainstream programs for the deaf throughout this country–thus allowing them institutions to get away with oppression just shy of the level of an atrocity. The outside world doesn’t understand, doesn’t want to understand, doesn’t care, and has pretty much been pre-programed to be disgusted at the very sight of us.
That being said, let’s now take a look at “order” on this campus–DPS. A good number of them can barely sign. A good number of them have no idea who Carl Dupree was. I verified this for myself. Don’t talk about “order” to me. And don’t tell me DPS is about “safety.” DPS is about doing whatever Admin orders them to do (something you can pretty much say about Gallaudet’s PR Department, too), and that’s a dangerous, explosive, deadly situation waiting to happen. And nobody seems to care. Nobody cared before the protest, and despite the fact that Tom Holcomb had to go to the Hill to get a bunch of politicians to write a letter to IKJ ordering him to care… STILL NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE ABOUT THIS!
Please do not tell me about the protesters “weakening the university” when one of my friends was reprimanded, another placed on Administrative Leave of Absence, and another retaliated against in a more subtle way, for their parts in this protest. Some were deeply involved… but some were not and got hammered anyway! Not that it matters–why are any of these people being reprimanded? Do you really think it’s about law and order? It’s not. It’s about intimidation and keeping up appearances.
I’ll explain: in most states there is usually ONE school for the Deaf, and that’s it. Perfectly understandable that a lot of deaf people would gravitate to these schools to work. Pretty nice thing too, isn’t it, to have the resources of the whole community at your fingertips. Imagine if these institutions treated deaf people with goodwill and respect–imagine how this miserable, despicable failure we call “Deaf Education” in this country could be improved if they did that.
But they don’t. Instead they reprimand their own employees for taking part in the expression of views that might improve the institution. Perhaps some here would argue that some forms of expression are too violent to approve of… I counter with the fact that these same deaf employees have a long history of being ignored and crushed. And it’s stupid that they’re ignored and crushed. Shameful that they’re treated like this. No–it’s criminal. We’ve got an educational machine that spits out deaf high school graduates with fourth grade reading levels and Administrators the country over think that the big answer to this catastrophe is terrifying their own employees back into silence. Which is why nothing has really changed in this field in over a century. That’s what weakens the institution–MBI [Management by Intimidation] and willing participation in the AOP. [Apparatus of Oppression]
So don’t tell me about civility, or the rule of law, or the code of conduct, because I’ve had enough of this bullshit, and that’s why I started protesting in the first place. Don’t think I’m any less frustrated now. What we have here is a sick, horrible system of fear and oppression, and the people finally rose up against it. Don’t expect me to feel anything except proud of each and every one of them.
Word of warning, though: that System isn’t destroyed yet, and if it can it will press us back down. So keep your eyes open, and don’t be lulled back to sleep or guilted into silence by those who are all for law and order so long as they aren’t the ones being crushed.