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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

My march away from apathy

By Katie Havranek

On Oct 30 I will be trekking to Washington, D.C. so I can march with my favorite conservative, Stephen Colbert, at the National Mall to Keep Fear Alive. I was overjoyed to receive an email today demanding that I show up in costume as something Stephen has taught me to fear. There are so many things to fear these days-I have no idea what I will choose. Glenn Beck’s accusations that Obama is a racist? The Tea Partiers who claim that Obama is a socialist communist Muslim? Bristol Palin’s rise to stardom? The inability of Democrats to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”? The widening inequality gap? The fragile peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians? Bedbugs?!

There is one thing scares me more than anything else: the apathy of the American youth. I screamed at the television when the Republicans tacked on anti-abortion clauses to health care reform and I criticize those Democrats calling for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. I read the New York Times, I listen to NPR and even stomach Fox News on occasion. I pay attention and do nearly nothing about it. I have called for social change and better government policies from the safety of my Mac Ivory Tower and within the walls of my liberal household.

Not once did I pick up the phone to call my senator to tell him what I thought about public health care or share my opinion on the United State’s involvement in Sudan.

I have hidden behind the excuse that I am only in my 20s, I am only a college student and focusing on my education will allow me to change the world tomorrow. Then I look to history and see hundreds of young people rallying around the Civil Rights Movement and can’t help but feel ashamed that my own generation can’t find the words to talk about the racism that permeates our society.

After witnessing the rise of Glenn Beck, who started on Fox News in Jan. 2009, I can no longer sit comfortably behind those excuses. Beck rallied unthinkable support to “reclaim the Civil Rights Movement” on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I realized that organized groups of large, uninformed and bigoted people are controlling the dialogue of this country and it won’t be long before they dictate policy if those of us who oppose don’t scream into our cell phones or over emails to our congressmen instead of at conservative blogs on our laptops.

The Tea Partiers should keep on raving, but we need to stop letting them go without a fight. Conservatives rightly criticized democrats for bringing my beloved Colbert (in character) in front of Congress to testify on immigration policy. It was, perhaps, distasteful to bring a man who makes his career on mocking conservatives to support a bipartisan effort.

But we all need to ask ourselves why democrats felt the stunt was necessary in the first place. Why is it that a wealthy white celebrity is the only one who can effectively give a voice to migrant farm workers? I am sure the workers are speaking and I am sure that they have many sympathizers, but why do we need Colbert to ask Congress, “Why isn’t the government doing anything?” One Congresswoman was texting during Colbert’s testimony-not even a comedian can spring our government officials into action. This is a sad state of affairs.

We currently have the government we deserve. I hesitate to say it, but thank you Tea Partiers. Not only have you given Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart ample material to work with, you all may be just what my generation needs to confront the racism that no one will talk about. You force me to learn the difference between socialism and communism. You rouse me to look beyond my agnostic sensibilities to support my fellow Muslim Americans when they want to build a house of worship and observe their faith. But most of all, you have reminded me that groups of motivated people can change the course of this country.

I think it is safe to say that even President Obama’s most ardent supporters have felt let down by his “Hope” campaign. I spent a fair amount of time and energy criticizing his concessions on policies he promised to push. But, I see now that it is more my fault than his.

Attending the March to Keep Fear Alive and the Rally to Restore Sanity will not radically alter history.if I allow it to be the last action I take in participating in my government. I know it’s trite, but I encourage all of us, especially the educated youth, to ask not what our country (or Obama) can do for us, but what we can do for our country. I hope I can do more than join a Facebook group.

Katie Havranek’11 is the Opinion Editor for The Mac Weekly and can be reached at [email protected].

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