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Tapping the Power of Youth

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With stories being told and topics being expounded upon through your class work, you will find yourself giving your peers an education necessary for survival and empowerment in the world we live in today. But let’s not stop here with education.

Book clubs need to be set up on campus. Book lists need to be formulated so that youth and students can become aware of the atrocities and immoral/illegal policies being carried out in our name.

I would not be able to think and formulate an agenda for activism if I had not read the many books that have made me realize the need for engagement. Each book I have read has given me a higher level of clarity and that extra amount of substance necessary to be able to communicate with others on how they can empower themselves and shape society.

Books like A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, What We Say Goes by Noam Chomsky, The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, and The End of America by Naomi Wolf have been immeasurably eye opening. While less illuminating, Tragedy & Farce by John Nichols & Robert McChesney, Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back by Amy Goodman and David Goodman, and Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast have all given me material necessary to challenge people.

Citizen Power by Senator Mike Gravel is incalculably enlightening as it details how broken, rigged, and outdated our representative government is and show why even good people like Gravel can’t get anything done and take a step back. It shows why students and others must become leaders and reform democracy or create the climate for revolution instead of waiting for a politician to make the world better on his or her own.

These are just a few examples of what I have come across but there are many more books out there that I have read and that I still need to read in order to better understand humanity.

Once students are aware and educated, they need to use that knowledge to target injustices fearlessly and reestablish morality/standards on campus. This can be done by adopting a program for counter-recruitment on campus.

Students must organize to get the military recruiters off campus. Military recruiters are recruiting students for murder, rape, torture, and war and offering up a college education and a paycheck to those in poverty who may need something to get them out of a quick fix now. They are toying with young people’s moral compasses at an age where a human is still developing a sense of right and wrong. Aside from the fact that students being asked to enlist know little about the history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, it is flat out wrong for recruiters to be allowed to recruit for an illegal war.

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Don’t stop at getting military recruiters banned from your educational facilities though. Wage the battle to get facilities off of campus, and insist that your college refuse to allow the military-industrial complex to fund any parts of the college. Find other less insidious corporations to keep your college afloat. Call for the divestment of fund coming from corporations profiteering off war and the Bush program. And if federal funding is used to stymie action, push your college or high school to refuse federal funding in favor of finding funds from elsewhere.

Student organizations or coalitions on campus, along with targeting corporations and military that support the Bush program, must adopt media reform as a second issue. In an age of corporate control and domination, the risk of losing a tool that is democratic and free, the Internet, which is now an integral part of organizing, is too large to not respond to. If corporations are allowed to charge extra money for access to areas of the World Wide Web, allowed to set up a tiered system with “toll booths” on the Internet, or simply allowed to slow down bandwidth on certain sites, we will lose potential support as people find they cannot afford to pay to fully utilize the web.

Moreover, there used to be a time when the media covered labor, civil rights, and antiwar movements if they reached a point where thousands were involved. Now, media chooses to ignore the people and the actions they are taking, which means people are unaware of opportunities to pursue reform (reform that could truly restructure government and better humanity) if they get their news from television or printed newspapers. No longer can we accept that media does not cover us. This acceptance allows the media to be complicit and complicity leads to media cheerleading government to go to war and to the propaganda eking its way into news so illegal and immoral policies can be kept hidden, covered, or justified.

Students and youth need to become citizen journalists and investigators of government and corporations fueling the Bush Program and preventing the reorganization of America. They need to become fearless watchdogs that write stories daily or weekly informing the public of what needs to be known. People have a right to information and we have a duty to spread it far and wide.

Some may not want to write. They can take on the task of raising funds to buy technology or access to technology which can be used to put together radio or television shows. Leaders and regular non-distinguished members of communities can be a part of the shows and offer opinions on what they think the world needs now and how to reform it.

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Think about this. Our culture is one that cherishes the opportunity for 15 minutes of fame. What if we used that to pull more people into the movement? Let’s let people know their opinions are valid and upon validation let’s pull them into the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality worldwide.

Truly ambitious people can form documentary or independent filmmaking crews to go cover organizing and the several campaigns being waged. For example, produce documentaries on getting John Yoo fired, disbarred, and tried for war crimes, counter-recruitment, protesting at the Democratic National Convention, and preventing an attack on Iran. Documentaries on any of these campaigns could do wonders for fundraising and would also illuminate what to do and what not to do in the movement. Not to mention, such documentaries would present history in a provocative and stirring way that would move people to act. (It’s a history the media does not wish to detail and our elected leaders wish to prevent from transpiring [for the most part].)

Up to this point, a vast student movement opposed to the war, torture, lies, and Bush Regime has not existed. The antiwar movement particularly has primarily consisted of people from the antiwar movement during Vietnam leading the way. Many older people have been disheartened by the lack of student involvement in opposing the war and the Bush program. They fear that future generations will accept what they so greatly oppose. Therefore, whenever older people stumble upon young people who are engage in fighting the dangerous shifts in this country, they praise youth and students for his/her work.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for

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