Walkout at Wayne State: Any Better Than the Irvine 11?

Posted on November 7, 2011 by


Watch the video. Listen to the audio.

The clip displays a civil protest and walkout organized by students at Wayne State University in Detroit during a lecture delivered by Jerusalem Post writer and IDF spokesman Gil Hoffman. 

These students have certainly learned a lesson from the aftermath of the Irvine 11 debacle. Instead of shouting virulently at the speaker, these students sit silently with their mouths symbolically sealed with red tape. One could even say that they’ve taken the criticism launched at the Irvine 11 and turned it on its head. The students at WSU attempt to use silence to their advantage. Instead of being thrown out, the passive nature of the protest allows the lecture to proceed, however awkwardly, with an overwhelming majority of the people in the room clearly delivering a poignant opposing message, leaving them with a highly provocative video to show for their work. I am almost impressed with the ingenuity of these students’ tactics.

Gil Hoffman

However, I do have reservations. If you watched the video with the volume up, you’ll notice that there is no audio from the events taking place in the lecture hall itself. There is a mildly catchy Arabic song playing instead (I may be partial). So I wonder whether the silent protest and walkout were really as silent as the protesters claim. They may not have been raising their voices, but hundreds of people getting up and shuffling about in synchrony is bound to have some effect of the audibility of the lecture. And I don’t even necessarily fault these students for that, nor do I claim that any noise made during the walkout was intentional. But I do wonder why the video makes those moments unavailable for the public to fully experience.

Do you think that this protest is a move in the right direction for those who seek to civilly and legally voice their anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian sympathies? 

Or is this yet another example of one side of the story being sabotaged by the other?

As always, your thoughts are welcome in the comments section below.

Posted in: Education, Israel