YAL at COCC: The Art of War? —or— A Bipolar Foreign Policy?

Despite not having enough members to apply for YAL’s Generation of War activism kit, our campus decided to do a foreign policy themed table just the same. It turned out to be pretty awesome! Here’s how we did it:

My buddy Rich and I built a free standing board using two 4 x 4 pieces of wood, held together by three door hinges at the top, and two nylon straps that we screwed into place at the bottom.

Door hinges

Nylon straps

Then we got to designing the board. We lined both sides with white “craft” paper (except one side fell off on the way up to the college). On one side there was a poll, and on the other there was a bunch of facts and quotes regarding the topic of foreign policy.

Poll side

 The Art of War? - or - A Bipolar Foreign Policy?

Quotes

Blowback

 Here are the results of our poll:

Question Yes No
Do you support the troops? 23 1
Should our troops come home? 22 3
Should the US have military bases in 130 countries across the world (there are only 196 countries)? 6 15
Do you feel that your freedoms are being defended by the current wars? 3 18
Do you believe the United States should issue a declaration of war before bombing other countries? 17 6
 Do you think US politicians would lie regarding reasons for attacking another country? 22 1
Do you consider a US politician who doesn’t adhere to the rule of law greater threat to your personal freedom than a third world country thousands of miles away? 21 1

At first I was kind of worried what people might say to me. Foreign policy and the current wars can be a touchy subject for many. You never know who’s lost a loved one because of these conflicts.

Some students and teachers did come up to the table very upset with me and wondering what I was trying to “prove.” My strategy was simple, and I would just say the same thing to each:

I’m just out here trying to engage in dialogue or at least get people thinking or talking about our foreign policy, no matter what their personal opinions may be. Lots of times people are accused of “not supporting the troops” or are told they’re “unpatriotic” for questioning the constitutionality of our current foreign policy, but take a look at my poll. Most people support our troops, but most people also want our troops to come home.

Once those people realized I wasn’t trying to attack them personally, they tended to settle down and start talking to me. It was really interesting to talk with all the different people regarding this subject. And I think the results from the poll were very revealing.

The second time we did this event, we tried a different spot and a different time, just to see if we could meet some new people. Unfortunately, this meant I was roughing it all by myself, so it was also kind of hard for me to take pictures while talking to everyone at the same time.

As an added bonus, there was a huge high school math competition taking place around the same time at the college. So during lunch while they were lined up in front our table, a lot of the high schoolers came up and took the poll, and I handed them lots of YAL materials.

All in all, it was a pretty freaking awesome day and a we put on a pretty awesome table despite not having the numbers to apply for an activism kit. And because of the foreign policy board, we now have a big free speech wall if we want it!

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