Drunk with power, two dozen high school kids stormed the principal's office and demanded their Constitutional rights!
In their dreams.
The Underground Action Alliance, a sort-of side project of the leftist, Pittsburgh-based punk band Anti-Flag, held a workshop for these young activist-hopefuls (as well as some college students) at Carnegie Mellon University on Dec. 4. The workshop was something of a family affair, headed by Anne Geever -- big sister to A-F singer Justin Sane -- who rounded up local government officials, activists, educators and, of course, representatives from the ever-popular American Civil Liberties Union to play elder to kids who don't respect elders so unquestioningly, and to give young people a chance to plan their own protest projects.
Mike Mordowanec, a 16-year-old Seneca Valley High Schooler from Cranberry, was exactly the type of person the UAA was hoping to reach. Mordowanec is the current president of a new student club in the 'burbs, the Left Book Club ("a call back to George Orwell," Mordowanec explains, referring to the first publisher of The Road to Wigan Pier). "About 60 percent of our school voted for Bush in a mock election," Mordowanec says. "Our theory is that the majority of kids in our school are not very well informed ... we hope to change some opinions."
Mordowanec says he took away at least one practical new idea from the workshop: armbands. In 2001, reported Sane, Anti-Flag had found protest armbands to be the perfect way to let fans echo the band's take on the U.S. response to the Sept. 11 attacks. After receiving e-mails from A-F fans suspended or beaten up for wearing Anti-Flag T-shirts, band members and supporters researched the case and instructed fans on how to legally wear political armbands in school. After some irked principals cooled off, many kids went from detention to model students in civics class, and a new batch of activists was born.
And even though George W. Bush was re-elected, Anti-Flag and their fans were part of what made him deny that a new military draft was afoot, said Sane. After the band continued to raise the draft issue on the Warped Tour, Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington state got them an audience with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whose involvement led to Bush's defensive denials. Still, said Sane, "I think it's coming back."
Activism, concluded Sane's bandmate Pat Thetic, "is a good time. It's fun -- you can go to D.C., get arrested, good times."