Monday, February 07, 2005

When there are no budget constraints... 

...there is a lot of waste. 'Twas true in the Soviet Union and, according to Dartblog, 'tis true at Dartmouth. Joe's post goes over much ground such as Ward Churchill and the invitation of Daniel Pipes to campus, but also describes a film (or really an MPEG) festival that Joe thinks is a waste of money.

It was standard fare to begin. Edited clips of George Bush slurring words. Nuk-u-lar. Collages of how many times he used the words "terror", "Iraq", and "weapons" in a speech he gave about terrorism, Hussein�s Iraq, and illegal weapons. Then a clip from an anarchist mocking the political circus that was election cycle 2004: Kerry's drone and Bush's twang.

The show continued with a video of teenagers instructing viewers how to put fake UPC codes on things to steal them, and then a conspiracy theorist who can operate a camera. This film turned out to be the one that captured Joe's attention and mine:

It explains the US conspiracy to take over the world. Compares America to Nazi Germany. Says America is beginning the 3rd World War. That we "have an insatiable appetite for conflict." That "this ghastly molecule" - American corporations- "aim to turn the world into its very own enslaved global market. And the plan is well on the way."

Then: "The attack by al Qaeda is on the World Trade Center is one response [to that plan]." (Image of burning Statue of Liberty)

When it ended, there was silence. Unlike the other films, which garnered chuckling, applause, exclaims, or murmurs, this one generated silence. Were my contemporaries internalizing what they had seen? Analyzing it? Or were they buying it? Or, like me, were they simply stunned?

Now, there are many faculty on campuses around America who would not be troubled by this video. And if I had learned that Dartmouth's role in this was simply to provide a venue, I'd be with them. Students aren't idiots, as the speechless reaction to this tripe shows. But this was paid for by student fees and from alumni contributions, for a set of free videos someone had downloaded, while Daniel Pipes had to wait three years to speak on that campus.

I'd suggest that Peter Robinson make this part of his platform for running for Dartmouth's board of trustees.