The Nonrevolutionary Spirit of the Pampered Protesters

By Michael Brown Published on May 7, 2024

One of the characteristics of a revolutionary is commitment to the cause. In the words of Sergey Nechayev, a Marxist who died in prison in 1882 for his role in the assassination of Czar Alexander II, “The revolutionary man is a consecrated man. He has neither his own interest nor concerns nor feelings, no attachments nor property, not even a name. All for him is absorbed in the single exclusive interest, in the one thought, in the one passion — revolution.” (Cited by Bill Bright, Revolution Now!).

For the revolutionary, life in its present state is not worth living — but the cause is worth dying for. In the words of Che Guevara, inviting his old friend Julio “El Gaucho” Castro to join him in Cuba, “This experience of ours is really worth taking a couple of bullets for. [If you do come,] don’t think of returning, the revolution won’t wait.”

This is a far cry from the spirit of the student protesters who liken themselves to revolutionaries but resemble privileged young people who not only want to demonstrate without consequence, but also to be pampered while protesting.

Depending on the Object of Their Protests

In response to some of these student demands, a reporter said to Johannah King-Slutsky, one of Columbia University protest leaders, “It seems like you’re saying, ‘We want to be revolutionaries, we want to take over this building. Now would you please bring us some food’.”

She replied, “I guess it’s ultimately a question of what kind of community and obligation Columbia feels it has to its students. Do you want students to die of dehydration and starvation or get severely ill even they disagree with you?”

Athletes put their bodies on the line. Soldiers put their lives on the line. People of deep principle put their reputations and their comfort and their future on the line. Not so the pampered protesters.

But of course. With campus dining open and available, with students free to come and go as they please, and with no one hindering them from ordering out and having food delivered, they were facing imminent death from “dehydration and starvation,” teeter-tottering on the verge of becoming “severely ill.” Long live the revolution!

Urgent Demands — and Hot (Vegan) Lunches, Too

What makes this scene seem more like a parody than reality is that: 1) the Gazan Palestinians, on whose behalf these students are allegedly protesting, are facing a real health crisis due to lack of food and water; 2) in her bio as a doctoral candidate, King-Slutsky explains, “I am particularly interested in theories of the imagination and poetry as interpreted through a Marxian lens in order to update and propose an alternative to historicist ideological critiques of the Romantic imagination.”

Karl would be proud! (Or would he?)

Not surprisingly, King-Slutsky adds, “Prior to joining Columbia, I worked as a political strategist for leftist and progressive causes and remain active in the higher education labor movement.”

Over at UCLA, the protesters dug in their heels, saying, “We will not leave. We will remain here until our demands are met.”

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They did, however, have a few urgent needs, including: “hot food for lunch!!! (IMPORTANT!!)” — after all, how could they protest effectively without a nice hot lunch! — as well as vegan food, gluten-free food, and, quite emphatically, “NO packaged food, NO coffee, NO bagels, NO bananas, NO nuts.”

Among their URGENT needs were “Headlamps; Airsoft Goggles; Skater helmets; Wood for barrier; Rain ponchos; Umbrellas; and Super bright flashlights with strobe, charged” — yes, those flashlights must be super bright and make sure they are charged! What kind of revolutionaries would be without these?

Had you not been reading the news, you might think this was all some kind of elaborate satire. But it is not. The pampered and privileged protesters are dead serious.

‘Dental Dams for Palestine’

Not to be outdone, one group of protestors at the University of Chicago “made a series of supply requests for its ‘medical tent,’ including ‘Plan B,’ also known as the ‘morning after’ pill. UChicago United for Palestine also requested HIV tests and ‘dental dams,’ which the CDC describes as ‘sheets used between the mouth and vagina or anus during oral sex.’”

How do we even comment on this? No wonder one headline read, “Dental Dams for Palestine.”

This only deserves ridicule — or, if some compassion is mixed in, pity.

On the positive side, pampered protests can’t last for too long, let alone bring about any kind of revolutionary change, since that kind of change requires serious commitment.

Suffering for Lesser Causes

Methodist leader George E. Failing (who died in 2007) once said, “We Christians have given Calvary to the Communists. They accept deprivation and death to spread their gospel, while we Christians reject any gospel that does not major on healing and happiness.”

While his observation about the shallow state of Christianity remains largely true in the West, his description of “the Communists” certainly does not describe these Marxist student protesters.

Deprivation? Not a chance! Death for the cause? You’ve got to be kidding! Maybe a little inconvenience? That’s not fair!

In 2001, Korey Stringer, a 27-year-old Minnesota Vikings football player, “died from heatstroke complications suffered during a Vikings training camp practice the previous day in stifling temperatures in Mankato.”

In response to this tragedy, Vikings’ star Grant Wistrom said, “We play a rough game, and none of us in the NFL got this far by being cautious with our bodies. One reason I do what I do is that I’m willing to sacrifice and work when things are hard — whether I’m hot, hurt, or fatigued. I take pride in my ability to plow through discomfort; that’s what makes me a football player.”

Athletes put their bodies on the line. Soldiers put their lives on the line. People of deep principle put their reputations and their comfort and their future on the line.

Not so the pampered protesters.

It doesn’t get much more nonrevolutionary than that.

 

Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He is the author of more than 40 books, including Can You be Gay and Christian?; Our Hands Are Stained With Blood; and Seize the Moment: How to Fuel the Fires of Revival. You can connect with him on Facebook, X, or YouTube.

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