The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Cracking Down on Students Protesting the War against Gaza

Apr 22, 2024

Last week 100 students protesting the U.S. involvement in the war against the Palestinian people in Gaza and Israel were arrested. They were part of a “Gaza solidarity” encampment students had set up on the campus of Columbia University in New York City. The university president wrote the NYPD, requesting that police clear the encampment, declaring the protests a “clear and present danger” to the university.

The crackdown on protesters opposing the State of Israel’s war against Gaza and the U.S.’s direct involvement in this war is not just at Columbia. Since October, there have been protests at universities and high schools all over the country. And in response, some school officials are making it clear: you will be arrested; you will be suspended from school; you will be denied the right to speak at your own graduation ceremony, even though you are the senior class valedictorian; your student groups will be disbanded. So, institutions that pride themselves as supporting “freedom of speech” are now forbidding the speech of students who are clearly saying they want no part in supporting this war that is starving and killing the Palestinian civilian population.

But the reality is, universities, like all institutions in this society, exist to maintain the existing system—to prepare young men and women to work for it and defend it. And this system is one in which war is part of its very social fabric.

So today, with a number of young people deciding to take a stand against this war, institutions have to find the way to let it be known that if you defy what is, in fact, the U.S. preparing its population to accept the militarization of daily life, you should be ready to face consequences.

Fifty-six years ago, in 1968, students at Columbia shut down the university when they protested against the U.S.’s war in Vietnam. And while the university cracked down on them, it didn’t stop what was to become a massive anti-war movement across the country.

It’s hard to say where today’s protests against today’s war will go. But one thing is for sure: it’s a good thing that today, some young people are ready to take a stand.