A few Thoughts on BAM-N

At the University of Michigan, an unpopular and sectarian political organization that has co-opted affirmative action activism almost entirely, apparently will the full knowledge and tacit cooperation of the administration. The campus, like the main character in Memento, seems to suffer from a profound amnesia – stubbornly unable to hold any idea in its collective memory for more than a few semesters. Constantly, I see in the newspaper upperclassmen who complain of the latest stunt of BAM-N, saying they were in support of affirmative action until the latest incident. (Most recently February 17) These people are apparently ignorant as to how our local campus politics are connected to a larger political picture – and unable to concieve of a position in support of affirmative action outside the limited rhetoric of BAM-N.

This unfortunate reality leads to two questions in my mind: first, has the intellectual and political culture of campus been any different? Can we reasonably expect a constantly changing group of 18 to 22 year olds, most of whom will spend around four years as students, to maintain a somewhat sophisticated political discourse? No matter the answer to that question, it leads me to a second question: can it be any different? The cynic in me might have said no, but I think the efforts of myself and others have been at least somewhat successful. However, is this simply an anomaly? Is the inevitable state of affairs one where Luke Massie, Caroline Wong, and George Washington mascaraed as the legitimate spokespeople for much more than their true narrow interests as members of the Revolutionary Workers League? Can a more sophisticated political discussion on campus and in our nation take place – or will our generation be doomed to McPolitics where New Democratic Liberals sit politely on panels where anachronistic elements of America’s fringe left pretend to speak for students?

Also: some of the signers of the petition I started have interesting things to say. While I certainly don’t agree with some of them, it’s worth your time.

Author: Rob