We have really done something special at BYU. Aerial photographs show that we had at least 400 protesters and onlookers during class, and even more between classes. According to BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins, this was the first student political protest on campus in over 15 years! (And it looks like that last protest had all of about five people). We were personally interviewed about our protest by Newsweek, the New York Times, National Public Radio, the Associated Press and many other news sources. The AP story ran all over the nation, and even reached newspapers in France, Iran, and Great Britian. Liberal and conservative blogs such as the Huffington Post, GOP Nation, the Daily Kos, By Common Consent and Think Progress posted our story. The protest at BYU made the front page of the Daily Herald, KSL, the Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune, and, you guessed it, al-Jazeera's website.
At BYU, suddenly hundreds of once apathetic students were talking about the issues and voicing their own opinions. Our demonstrators answered questions and engaged in peaceful political dialogue with students of all backgrounds. I think that before our protest, most members of our local community had only been exposed to anti-Mormon protests, which are typically offensive, loud, and hate-filled. We showed our community that protests can be positive catalysts for discussion and compromise. On the national scale, many people were surprised to learn that not everyone at BYU supports Dick Cheney's actions. We corrected misconceptions that BYU students are all conservative robots (in fact, maybe we did Mitt Romney a favor). Finally, we let thousands of people know that the people of America will not blindly endorse the immoral acts of Vice President Dick Cheney; we love this country too much to do so.
Free speech rocks.
About four years ago, I was invited to speak on behalf of the Howard Dean Campaign to the BYU Democrats. People laughed at me when I told them I was going down there. "It's a waste of gas money to speak to two people." Seriously, that's what someone said.
36 people crammed into a room that had a capacity of 28. Like last week's protest, many who were there were Democrats, but several Republicans and non-political types showed up out of morbid curiosity. Things were very positive, and I wished I had brought more flyers.
Anyway, it's good to see BYU students getting engaged in the political process. (no pun intended, I promise...)
(P.S. All photos from BYU Democrats)