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I first met COCA in the Dunster House dining hall. I was eating dinner (as one does in this politically insulated, wealthy, Ivory Tower, all-the-seconds-you-can-eat academic institution) when several members of the COCA came charging in, dressed in fatigues and masks and waving guns. They scared the living daylights out of me.
They grabbed several screaming (collaborating) students from their dinner places, blasted them with cap pistols, left them to writhe in a "guerilla-theatre" death agony, and then ran around the dining hall tossing leaflets onto tables. COCA then announced themselves and their purpose to the silent student diners, in much the way the Dins or the Veritones do, and cleared out, cap guns and all.
Suddenly I had a very vivid sense of how terrifying it would be to live in El Salvador, how terrifying it would be not to know when your fellow academics might disappear into a maelstrom of political violence. I also had the sense that the COCA's were having a hell of a time waving around guns and scaring the hell out of people. Many students who joined the Red Guard or Hitler's Brown Shirts had the same pleasures. But it seemed like a good cause, so...
THEN my roommate got his draft notice. I thought it was a Lampoon prank; I heard other people offer the same explanation. We were all wrong though; it was far less funny than most financially and academically protected pranks.
In the dining hall COCA announced itself; they scared me, then explained why, and they shook me up a bit. In the letter, they didn't. They were out to trick me, to play games with me--to play a prank. But a prank with a message. Uh-huh.
I'D just like to point out that COCA is the first word in Coca-Cola. As in the phrase "Coca-Colonialism," in which zealous of financially sound institutions use media manipulation to do gross disservice to the world's poorer countries. As in money-backed misinformation. As in guerilla theatre." Or, more likely, as in "Lampoon pranksters with a political mask." Ah, excuse me, a politically-correct mask.
It was a friend of mine who support COCA, who described their activities to me as "guerilla theatre." What exactly this means to COCA I'm not sure, but it is obvious what it has come to mean to me, and to a lot of other people. COCA has done a great disservice to a politically torn country, one which needs sympathetic interest from those with wealth and power. Alienation is not activism.
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