July 12, 2004
And I loved being in class with Soldiers. A long while back I wrote about a professor who was using his class time to discuss his anti-war views, and I thought that active duty soldier students shouldn't have to be exposed to that in a class the military is paying for. However, after this weekend, I trust that Soldiers can hold their own. There were several students who actively challenged the prof when he said things they disagreed with, and there were also two clowns in the back row who were calling bullshit under their breath and mumbling quips about making parking lots. When the prof said things that we didn't agree with -- that Europe's position on the death penalty is much more enlightened than the US's, that al-Qaeda was nothing to be worried about, that we should understand the root causes of the Palestinians' beef -- there was always a hand in the air to voice an opinion. Even though the prof knew his stuff, none of the students simply took his more opinionated statements at face value.
Bunker's back in the building with a great post about the relationship between government and society. There was an interesting, and tangential, moment in class when the prof said that the US was no better than Iran or China for having the death penalty, and that even though roughly 85% of the population supports it, a civilized society would not allow it. He pointed to Europe as being more modern and classy for having banned the death penalty. I went home that night and checked on the stats; I found that support is declining in the US but rising in Europe. (Here's another interesting site.) I just don't see how abolishing something that anywhere from 50 to 70% of people support is a sign of civilization or modernity. Why should a government say, "We know you want this, but we don't think you're capable of making such a grown-up decision so we're just going to decide for you"?
Another thing that came up in class was the "America has no culture" meme. The "American culture is nothing but Coke and Nike and Big Macs" crap. And then the prof said that American culture is no different than European culture. I strongly disagree. (Den Beste's said it all before; see here and here and here and here. And many other places too.) The many problems we're facing today vis a vis alliances and the UN are a direct result of the widening gap between cultures. We're not, as one student jokingly said, "not good enough to be British." We do indeed have a culture that goes beyond Supersize. Just ask Abkow Edow and Madina Idle.
All in all a good experience. Some bits I disagreed with, but for the most part the prof did a good job of just reporting the facts, which is hard to come by in education today.
MORE TO GROK:
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