America’s youth no longer politically aware

By Afsha Bawany

It’s not called political activism anymore. It’s called American Idolisim.

This summer, I heard numerous in-depth conversations, critiques, and up to the minute analysis not about the impending war on Iraq, the “new war” currently being fought in Afghanistan, or the fear of anti-semitism running rampant through Europe, or even better, on the Harvard campus. No, I heard about whether or not Kelly Clarkson or Justin Guarini would win Fox’s long-winded so-called “musical competition.”

Instead of analyzing why George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein are bitter enemies, today’s youth was busy discussing why Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell couldn’t just get along. Bush may be gung ho about getting Saddam, but does our generation care? Do we care that we may go to war? Instead of rushing to write a letter to a legislator to voice an opinion about the crisis in the Middle East, today’s youth made the dash to the phone to vote for a teen idol.

Now I’m not saying one bad apple ruins the bunch, but some of our generation quite often neglect to see the real crises of our future like war, poverty, and racism. They nearly had a breakdown when R.J. Helton fell down on stage. Questions raised? Was he hurt? Will Simon give him a break? Will watchers give him the sympathy vote?

The breaking news that fearful day was not when and why Bush may bring the United States to war with Saddam, but if Helton would be able to perform the next day on Fox’s excuse for a talent show. Maybe the questions now should be: if GOP nominee Mitt Romney does win the race for governor, does that mean his lieutenant governor-to-be, Kerry Healey, will cut bilingual education for immigrant students and support teaching only English, as she has advocated recently? Can we do something about it?

The four year old girl in Iowa may be physically fine after her mother abused her in a Kohl’s department store parking lot, but how will she be years from now emotionally? If the U.S. does decide to go to war with Iraq, has the Bush administration even given the slightest thought as to what the post war-relationship between the U.S. and Middle East countries may be? Will it be stronger, or will it continue to be weak?

Being obsessed with American Idol isn’t a fault. Yet, the fact that we could run to the phone and call a random number, not toll-free mind you, to make sure Clarkson won the competition, and dismiss the power of voting in an election is mind-boggling. Why doesn’t that enthusiasm, that spark of energy, ensue when a major issue is to be debated on Capitol Hill? Or Beacon Hill for that matter? Why is it so hard to write a letter anymore or an e-mail to politicians if we want to make changes on issues we don’t agree with?

There is always something to do and some change to be made. Want to do something and stop sitting there? Dosomething.org does just that. The web site, complete with various categories of public service from 9/11 causes to fighting discrimination, screams social activism for any age. Another site, www.antiwar.com may seem like a shot in the dark, but if interested, the site allows students to join and help stop possible wars.

If you’re interested in on-campus activities, there’s always Circle K, which is a volunteer organization at its best, SGA, the heart of student government, the Socialist Club, and the list goes on.

We could continue to play dumb and sit by sidelines while others make a mess of our future or we could actually make a difference. Stop talking about doing something and like that famous old mantra, just do it. Heck, if Kelly Clarkson won American Idol, the small miracles do happen.

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