Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog

War on Students

May 09, 2012

When most people hear the word 'war,' they instinctively think of conflict, the battlefield, mayhem and other adjectives used to describe the concept of fighting over land, resources etc. But there's another kind of warfare that exists, one that is ideological rather than physical. And perhaps nobody knows the concept of waging these sorts of wars better than Republicans. As a collective, they have waged virtual wars against women, immigrants and progressive groups. Now, in their latest move to reward the rich while punishing hard-working Americans, they have blocked a bill that would have prevented student loan interest rates from doubling. The latest victims in Republican warfare are the most defenseless among us -- our children.

Less than two months before student loan interest rates double for millions of our youth, Senate Republicans chose to block the one-year extension that would prevent these students from paying an average of $1,000 more each. Objecting to a change in tax law that would prevent the wealthy from avoiding Medicare and Social Security taxes, these Republicans once again proved that their interests lie with those who have money and not with the people. Because of their inability to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling, some 7.4 million kids across the country will feel the pain this July. They spare millionaires while charging students trying to better their lives higher interest rates.

Republicans are trying every tactic in the book to thwart any sort of progress in society. From draconian immigration laws like that of Arizona's SB 1070, to infringing on a woman's right to choose, they aren't sparing anyone or anything in their quest to reverse all that we have achieved in this nation. Challenging a health care law that has already afforded coverage to millions of previously uninsured Americans, Republicans are busy conjuring up little tactics to make life more difficult for the working-class and poor. Voter ID laws and suppression maneuvers have only added to the reality that they are in fact scared. Scared of an increasingly diverse nation, and scared that power can and will rest with the majority.

For some, everything is politics. Anything that will get them in office or keep them there, is worth it -- even if that means throwing millions under the bus. While protecting the rich and their own interests, these Republicans have once again shown today that they are not on the side of the masses, not on the side of the 99%. In order to guarantee that their friends are well protected with tax loopholes and more, these Republicans will stop at nothing to protect the wealthy.

We teach our children that education is the key to opening a slew of opportunities and one of the only ways to help equalize life as we know it. For those that aren't fortunate enough to be born into money, student loans are that last bit of hope that can mean the difference between altering their lives and remaining stuck in a persistent cycle of poverty that may last for generations. By allowing student interest rates to double, we will once again hurt those who need financial aid the most, and once again further disenfranchise the already marginalized.

Just imagine how many will have to drop out of school because they simply cannot afford these high interest rates. It is a travesty and an insult to the very values we espouse as a country.