Mar. 15, 2018 By Jack Jodell, American Dissident, N.M.P.
COUNTDOWN: 1,042 days still remain in this authoritarian, self-centered misadministration’s term in office…
I watched coverage on student protests yesterday about the one-month anniversary of the horrible Parkland, FL school shootings which claimed 17 innocent lives. I saw one hand-held sign which immediately caused me to melt down into sobs. It read, simply, “GUNS DON’T DIE – KIDS DO!” The starkness and truth of that blunt statement hit me like a sledgehammer.
I am SO PROUD of the kids who went and marched all over the country, and SHAME on the narrow-minded, intolerant administrators who forbade them to do so!!!!! These grassroots student-led walkouts reminded me of a potent lesson I and most of my classmates learned long ago, in our junior year of hifgh school. Due to the childish jealousy of one of the longest-tenured teachers, a young and fairly-new speech teacher was denied tenure near the end of his second year at the school. That meant he would basically be forbidden to teach there the next year. The elder teacher, who had actually written the school song 17 years prior, was a strict authoritarian type who was completely out of touch with the new awareness youth of that age were then experiencing. We were mostly all opposed to the Vietnam War, and were beginning to support causes like environmentalism. We began to see that traditional trivial high school activities like prom dances, and pep fest paled in importance to unjust and immoral things that were happening in the world around us. We wanted to do our part to try and change that outside world as best as we could, and a number of us rose up to do so. The very first Earth Day was held either that spring or the preceding one, and a large number of us took part in it. Both of these teachers taught speech, but the younger one proved to be immensely more popular among the student body than did the elder. He seemed to ease the fears of the more timid students, and gave them a reason to believe in themselves. The word spread, and before long, students were trying to get into HIS class. He also proved to be a bit of a nonconformist, and this aspect was used against him by the elder authoritarian. For example, he gave the students the option to bring their own square piece of carpet, and sit on the floor rather than at assigned wooden and metal desks. Before long, virtually everyone brought in their own piece of carpet and his classroom was adorned with dozens of pieces of different colored carpet.
This was just too much for the stodgy old right-wing Republican authoritarian. He promptly filed a complaint with the school superintendent, embellishing it with lies about how this younger upstart had supposedly allowed one student to set the American flag on fire in the classroom – as I learned later, this is common practice for authoritarians, to use hyperbole and outright lies to bolster their extreme position. At a subsequent school board meeting, the superintendent told this lie, and the conservative school board decided to not renew his contract, which led to an uproar among the student body.
Enrollment at our high school in the spring of 1971 stood at roughly 3,000 students, about 1,000 each for grades 10, 11, and 12. A demonstration was hurriedly organized, and on Friday, Apr. 2, 1971 , the day before Easter vacation (as it was then called) began, an amazing HALF of the student body staged a sit-in in front of the school office and stretching down a long, wide hallway all the way to the high school auditorium! Support for this wronged teacher was widespread and crossed all grades and social barriers: nerdy brains who never misbehaved took part; as did conservative student athletes; as did cheerleaders; as did long-haired “freaks” – all social strata took part! Word of this uprising spread like wildfire – by early afternoon local TV channel news cameras came to film and interview, as did student reporters from the University of Minnesota’s student newspaper. I saw a broadcast of the sit-in on one of the local TV 10:00 PM news programs! The protest was entirely peaceful, with no fights or bloodshed, and various students began singing John Lennon’s “Power to the People” and “Give Peace a Chance” – to which the words were slightly altered to say “All we are saying, is give Fred (the teacher’s first name) a chance!” We had a week off following this tumultuous day, and we wasted little time in trying to garner community support for our cause to renew the teacher’s contract. As one of about 20 members of the hastily-formed sit-in committee, we decided to go door knocking and talking to residents at various shopping centers. Over this break, I and another member heard that then U.S. representative Bill Frenzel (a moderate Republican whose district we were in) was going to have a meet and greet with local Republicans at the community library, a scant distance from the high school. Being politically naive at this point, we knew nothing of what to expect. So in we went. As we approached Frenzel and were attempting to tell him of our sit-in, some sharpie nearby pushed us up real close to Frenzel and then a cameraman from the local small Republican newspaper started snapping pictures. It was clear that neither Frenzel nor any of the assembled group gave even one shit about our cause, and just as hurriedly as we were ushered in, we were ushered away from the representative. We were taken aback by everybody’s obvious disinterest, and we were infuriated a few days later when the photo of us “talking” to Frenzel appeared in this paper beneath a headline which read “FRENZEL TALKS WITH YOUTHS.” We learned a lot that day about the hypocrisy practiced by some politicians, their backers, and certain small, conservative GOP-oriented newspapers! Afterward, we attended a meeting of our local Democratic Party, where we were greeted with interest and concern, plus a few valuable recommendations. I realized right then and there that I could never support a conservative candidate, and so I never have, to this very day! Many of us became lifelong activists as a result, talking to voters, poinding lawn signs, speaking to them on the phone – whatever help was needed.
Long story short, our attempt to save the teacher;s job failed. We were all given a “0” for having missed a day of class, but we did cause many mothers and a few fathers to attend the next school board meeting to demand some answers, but they, too, were scornfully turned away by the stodgy conservative jerks who dominated the board. Still unwilling to give in, we threw our support behind what we believed to be a trusted liberal – a 21 year old, who successfully won a seat on the board only a few weeks later. Much too late, though, we learned that he had been a Republican plant who soon allied himself with the conservatives who dominated the board. We were definitely pissed off at that point, and redoubled our activism in that fall’s election, where we successfully ran and won a state House seat for one of our Democratic women. Soon thereafter, we defeated a many-term House Senate Republican, so at long last, our perseverance was finally rewarded with victory! The lesson I learned from this was that tenacity DOES eventually pay off!
Enough about yesterday, though. What amazes me about our current crop of dedicated activists is their steadfast determination to achieve meaningful gun control, as well as their awareness and savvy use of the media to get their voices heard and to see action being taken. That is why I say “HATS OFF TO THE STUDENT PROTESTERS!”, and I encourage everybody to dump as many gun-loving conservatives as possible in this November’s midterm elections!
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