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Davis, California

Monday, September 20, 2021

Column: Pike’s Piece

What is history?

Is history always told by the victor?

And can history be overcome, despite its repetitiveness?

In George Orwell’s 1984, the author wrote that “Who controls the past now controls the future. [And] Who controls the present controls the past.”

So then is the triumph over oppression just about control?

And are we simply to overthrow one power and its violence to replace it with our own?

I ask these things because tomorrow, the University of California will stand a year from its assault of the Golden Bears at Berkeley. Only nine days after that, it will stand a year from its assault of our fellow Aggies right here at Davis.

And I’ll be honest, at first I wanted to write a column ripping the administration apart.

But that’s already been done, and it got little done.

Then I wanted to write an article simply asking people to remember, but I wondered, how much do people really care?

Class continues.

The day will come and it will go. So will this article.

But still, I am an optimist.

And then even if it means nothing — like “voting” the other day — I’m going to give it a shot.

First, history is an idea preserved.

And it’s important to preserve the memory that on Nov. 9 and Nov. 18, 2011, UC officials decided to violently silence peaceful protests at UC Berkeley and UC Davis. I encourage all parents, students and anyone else connected directly or indirectly to simply YouTube the revolting police assaults. Officials have cited the reason for the attacks as a lack of proper communication between the administration and police forces, but regardless of how true that is, those concerned should be asking the administration where it stands with communications now.

I also encourage those concerned — or interested — to also Google the Robinson-Edley report, a May report one can learn from to question where the administration’s progress lies on the most recent recommendations for policy changes today. Robinson-Edley contains data gathered from students, administrators and even police regarding protest and its components at UC.

And while I’d argue that reports ultimately fail at their purpose, as did the “Brazil Report” following protests at UC Berkeley in 2009, reading them at least informs argument. It would be particularly wise for students to read the report as in getting lost in the fervor of movement — especially that of civil disobedience — we can easily overlook costly repercussions.

And in a future of more budget cuts with more protests, many students will have to make a choice. The individuals faced with that choice should be informed about the options. It’s important to learn of those choices to share with our less-report-savvy friends, relatives, sons and daughters, etc.

Secondly, I think that even if history is told by the victor, the future belongs to those who can listen and make the best out of what’s heard  — even if what’s heard is a lie. In accepting that there’s no ultimate truth but fighting for one we believe in, we find something worthy and help others find something worthy too.

Third, of course history can be overcome. I am writing to the world instead of falling to statistics that would see me flipping burgers for a living or calling out numbers in a prison jumpsuit. Old friends of mine are doing these things, but now they are memories which encourage me to encourage others to defy history.

Finally, as a student, my main concern is gaining knowledge to better the world, not to control it, but to free it from control of powers hostile to it. I believe the students and faculty who peacefully stood their ground last year did so for that same aspiration in the very face of that hostility.

I also understand, however, that we all have different ways of going about that bettering of the world. I think this is important to consider, but it’s even more pressing to consider how powers can and have reacted to the aforementioned aspiration. If the memory of last year’s events is not preserved, if it does not bring forth new questions and criticisms, those Golden Bears and fellow Aggies might not be the only students met with hostility when trying to stand up for something they believe in.

JIMMY RECINOS is still reading; you can send him some useful links at jrecinos@ucdavis.edu.

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