ONN on Darfur Rallies

A quick video on the Onion News Network.

One could get into all of the semantics behind the Darfur conundrum, but I’d rather focus on the premise overlying that. As a university student, I have felt the pressure to go out rallying for specific causes. I have been out once. Other than that, I have avoided participating in such movements.

Why? For some, protesting is one of those things that is past its day. I don’t really think it is. It’s a key way of gaining support within a democracy, and looking back on some of the issues confronted through rallies by universities of the past (read: Berkely), I think that there’s real potential to do something about issues that voting simply doesn’t impact because of time contraints. So for me, protesting has a mythic feel to it, and I would love to be more active in these rallies.

But so very often, if and when they get organized, they are completely self-serving, and the victims of their own movement. I think it’s safe to say that what the ONN is poking fun at in this video is the notion that Darfurians are being helped by protests. Initially, that was certainly true. But the ongoing mumble that is support for Darfur may just be stalling because of those people organizing the protest.

The same can be said of the rallies I have been asked to participate in. The best example I can give is the fight against tuition fees. In Ontario, that’s a huge issue. Other provinces in Canada have managed to come up with ways of lowering or freezing tuition costs for post-secondary schools. In Ontario, the cost is far above inflation would have it, and that angers many Ontarians. But this is an issue that is on its last leg, thanks in large part due to the amount of attention it has been given through rallies. What once was a pressing issue not getting enough press is now stale even to the students affected by the situation.

The reason? Protests are designed to attract attention to a specific need. Period. Beyond that, some other course of action must be taken. Demanding that the government lower tuition fees without organizing anything beyond a little picket on Parliament Hill is going to deafen the ears of the nation. More than ten years after the initial jump in fees, and Ontario pays it less heed than it did before it became a problem, I’m sure!

Darfur, hopefully, is not just another casualty of protesting. Thinking beyond the rally is necessary if a cause is to be won!

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