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The Column

War, Huh, Yeah, What Is It Good For?
3/23/03

If you're like me, you've spent the past few days glued to the television, wondering what was going to happen next and speculating who would win the NCAA tournament. Because that's some good basketball. Also, there's a war going on.

"Did you see the press conference? I guess its just a matter of hours."

"Yeah, it was awful. How could Duke get a three seed?"

But the war is a pretty big draw on college campuses. Our surest sign that there's a war going on is that students all over America are opposing and supporting something that the majority of them know very little about. But if protesting means getting out of class, hey, who isn't politically minded?

Americans have been rebelling for as long as we've been Americans (see War, Revolutionary) but many of us now rebel simply for rebellion sake. We have come to value our right to protest so much that we protest anything we can get our hands on. Deforestation, gentrification, animal mutilation, cold pasta - if it's happening, someone is against it. And in the case of Augusta National, we even have two groups protesting each other's right to protest.

Many of the causes for which people are being rallied are just, but many of those people are not. Too often, someone joins a picket line, wears a ribbon, or pickets a ribbon factory simply because they have nothing better to do. I applaud the spirit of activism - it's what got our country here in the first place. But please, open your history book before you try to quote from it.

I've heard many arguments about how this war is just like Viet Nam coming from people who can't locate Viet Nam on a map; I've heard people talk about what's really going on in Iraq when they can't even name a single Iraqi leader beyond Hussein. And I see people angry about how we're ignoring the plight of the downtrodden Iraqi while they pass an American beggar and offer no change - neither financial nor otherwise. The only thing we can all agree to protest is the press' use of video phones to broadcast the war. I half expect to see Mr. Spacely pop on one of them and catch the reporter sleeping.

"Amanpour! You'rrrrrreeeee fiiiiirrred!"

I don't specifically support or oppose the war because I don't think I know enough about the war to have an informed opinion. But I do support staying in class and learning about the war before you leave class to protest it or to protest those protesting it, and I oppose people trying to tell me how they know what they're talking about simply because they watch CNN. Remember, CNN thinks Al Gore is president.

I have been flipping between channels a bit, watching some coverage of what looks like a guy playing Doom and some coverage of the tournament. As far as I can tell, the top-seeded US is facing the underdog Iraq, who barely made the tourney after a play-in game with Afghanistan. Iraq is a small school - they don't even admit women - and they just seem happy to be playing on national television. Experts are picking the US to run away with this one, but have questioned the ability to pull out a victory without much fan support. While a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed, a few number two seeds have lost to 15 seeds, most notably South Carolina, Iowa, and the Spanish Armada. And though the US boasts an explosive offense capable of hitting a shot from anywhere on the court, their defense mainly consists of an assistant coach with an overemphasis on fans wearng orange. Our only other option is duct tape and plastic, so I'm happy to just sit in my seat, clap, and chant "DE-FENSE!"

We've been put in a situation, whether we like it or not, that involves our siblings, children, parents, and friends going into combat and risking their lives. And I believe it is our responsibility as Americans to root for the defeat of our opponents, but our responsibility as humans to value life, regardless of whose it is. Beyond Wake Forrest pulling a surprise upset and making the finals, all I support is a quick resolution to this war so that we can have our men and women back home safely. Once we do, games can go back to being games. Because being annoyed by Dick Vitale is a freedom I value.

It's awesome, baby.

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