As you read this, a large part of the United States Army is deployed in Iraq, fighting a brutal guerrilla war. Iraq stands on the brink of civil war. Polls indicate the American people have soured on the war, and President George W. Bush is unpopular largely due to the perception that he has no clear way of winning or ending the conflict.
This issue is by far the most difficult one for us at the Daily Sundial. Some of the staff wanted to take a strident anti-war position with an anti-war headline and sweeping editorials denouncing the ongoing occupation of Iraq. Others fought that, saying that leaving Iraq now would unleash an unrestrained civil war that would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.
After much discussion, we could not come up with a unified editorial position on the war in Iraq.
This may make it seem to the casual reader that we are mired in indecisiveness or that we lack courage to take a solid position on the war, but it reflects something far deeper.
We believe that this may well reveal a lot about the spirit of our generation.
Looking through copies of the Sundial from the late 1960s, the difference between students’ response to this war and the Vietnam War is striking.
Faded pictures of thousands of students attending anti-war rallies on campus are next to editorials raging against the baby-boomers’ war.
These old newspapers show a generation in torment, railing against a government and societal mores that many students fought against tooth and nail. The Vietnam War was ingrained into the identity of that generation.
Now things are different. Yes, there are protests but their scale and intensity do not compare with what went on at this campus 35 years ago.
Few students now, for whatever reason, fight for what they believe in. Most of the students on this campus are more about lattes and watching “The O.C.” than standing up for their dreams and what they believe is right.
As we debated this issue, it was clear no one was willing to insist that their position on the war would prevail. A middle-of-the-road consensus view of what we would say in the paper emerged without much conflict.
Perhaps this said more about the state of our generation than any of us realized. We are unwilling to take a stand as a whole for a common cause. Our passion and overall sense of social justice has been dulled. Maybe we are just convinced that none of us can really make a difference anyway.
Ultimately, what was sadly clear to all of us here at the Daily Sundial, is that the spirit that moved a generation in 1968 is now gone.