On Monday, students, faculty and supporters at the University of California, Davis, attempted a mass general strike to protest tuition hikes and to demand the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi after police pepper-sprayed eleven protesters who blocked a public access way at an #OccupyUCDavis event on November 18th. Students maintain it was Chancellor Katehi who requested the police remove the Occupy encampment and clear access to the facility. The incident sparked a firestorm of media all across the world and has become a viral phenomenon, and now even an Internet meme.
We stand behind those calling for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation. But not for the reasons they might think.
The events of UC Davis and the way in which the pepper-spray was handled has set a number of dangerous precedents. In the setting of academia, the rights of the majority of students are being trampled on to appease the tyranny of a minority. Further, the very system of law and order and its public servants instituted to protect the rights of the public at large have been undermined by incompetent leaders, unable to withstand the growing pressure of a noisy minority and the corrupt media that supports it. Most importantly, propaganda has established a foothold that is now stronger than ever, and far more dangerous than the short-term effects of pepper spray.
Over the last week, we have seen the media pick up the UC Davis story and run with it, always highlighting the same twenty seconds of one Officer Pike, methodically pepper-spraying eleven “peaceful protesters,” as onlookers gasp and scream in horror and dismay. The public was almost undivided in its immediate condemnation of the act.
But just as Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Perhaps in this case, it’s not so much a lie, but a lot of omissions.