Protest-watchers should pick battles

It’s not surprising that the oncoming war against Iraq has warranted protests, but it is surprising that the First Amendment rights of those doing so are still be being trampled.

A high school student in Dearborn, Mich., was told to remove a T-shirt that featured a picture of George Bush that had the words “International Terrorist” above and below the photo. School officials claimed that the shirt made “emotions run high” at the high school, which is predominantly Arab-American. They seemed to be expressing concerns that some sort of unrest might occur due to the shirt.

It seems in times of war that students move to the forefront of protests and rallies. Much like the infamous “black band” controversy that occurred in American high schools during Vietnam, the “terrorist” T-shirt could spark a debate over a student’s right to protest. Given that the town of Dearborn has a high percentage of Arab-Americans, this could draw more national coverage in what will be a closely watched community reaction.

Unlike the black bands worn by students to protest U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the Bush T-shirt sends a much clearer and stronger message when worn, regardless of what the student intended.

Protesters rallied on the Square, in Oxford, Miss., this weekend against the war, and even when Bush supporters showed up with signs supporting military action, the situation remained calm. We’re working towards accepting a variety of views and an exchange of ideas in the city and on campus.

Despite problems that might arise from the community, the same rights afforded to us all need to be enforced in Dearborn. With war comes emotion and expression, and both are protected by the Constitution. If war does come, this kind of protest is only the beginning.

University Wire — U. Mississippi