What Did Tuesday's Protest Change?

The confrontation at this week's Tuesday Noon Academy asks us to think again about modes of protest on campus. Though the protesters came from outside the campus community, their actions nevertheless inform the way we evaluate the narrative behind student demonstrations.

The Heather Mac Donald protest at CMC immediately comes to mind. The ripples after that demonstration were contentious and national in scale, with outlets like the LA Times covering it into late July. Many an opinion piece decried the protestors as impudent, intolerant radicals too immature to tolerate a differing opinion. The protests were a battleground for the intellectual purity of the academic discourse that our classmates shut down.

Tuesday’s disruption had different stakes. It was obviously smaller, and no one barricaded the doors. They even let Hussam Ayloush speak, saving their action for the Q&A. They were not, however, interested in dialogue.

It wasn’t an exchange of ideas; it was people uttering targeted, hate-laced rhetoric that was neither academic nor productive. It quite literally ended the conversation, and made students feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Campus Safety was present for Scripps’ Thursday event, and we wouldn't be surprised if they remain the rest of the semester.

What interests us is the effect of Tuesday’s event, and the larger narrative that emerges from it. Athenaeum talks have proceeded as they did prior to Apr. 9, but Scripps programming seems to fall in the shadow of this event. The atmosphere seems overwhelmingly tense.

There will likely never be an LA Times story or national coverage about this, though. Our community’s sense of safety isn’t newsworthy to the judgemental public – we cannot fault “PC Culture” as the problem in this racist exhibition.