July 12, 2004


My class this weekend was pretty good. We all thought it would focus on the current terrorist events, but instead the prof mostly lectured about terrorism in the 70s and 80s. It was interesting because I didn't know that much about pre-9/11 terrorism, and it helped me gain better perspective on terrorism as a whole. I appreciated the experience.

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.


David of Rishon Rishon points out two posts on the difference between American and European culture: The Freeholders and Happy Independence Day, USA.

Posted by Sarah at July 12, 2004 08:30 AM

Hi Sarah!

"American culture is no different than European culture"

I also think European and American culture are very different. What do you think of this or this?

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at July 12, 2004 12:58 PM

Hey, Sarah--

Those clowns weren't mumbling; they were "sneezing"!

Good to hear that "dumb grunts" can hold their own with sofistecumated perfessers. (I ain't never got no ejucashun--I wuz just a dumb ol' sailor.)

Really, though, today's American Soldier (deliberately cap'ed) is much better informed, and much more passionate vis-a-vis what he is protecting than ever before. Our nation's Citizen Soldiers, both active and reserve, (and I include Airmen, Marines, Sailors, as well as Coast Guardsmen) are the finest, most decent in human history. I thank them all for their commitment to "duty, honor, country". And Ithank all the Sarahs, Tims, and other loved ones who sent their Soldiers into harm's way.

As they tapped to each other in the Hanoi Hilton, "GBY" (God Bless You).


Noticed Capt Patti is back in Germany; when does yours come home?

Posted by: Jim Shawley at July 12, 2004 08:44 PM

Jim, not for a while! We hit Month Five this week, so he's slated to be home next March...if all goes according to plan.

Posted by: Sarah at July 12, 2004 09:01 PM

Gosh, Sarah. I'm hitting month five shortly, too, and even with the Marines' shorter deployment times, I feel like it's about freakin' time for Alex to be coming home (maybe in part because he just admitted last week that he'd like some time off).

Well, don't I feel like a whiney baby compared to you (gosh, and Tim!). You're awfully brave.

I just find it hard to reconcile my immediate, personal need, with how I feel rationally about the importance of the mission. Then again, from last time I learned that there are psychological phases for those of us in the rear during the deployment, and this is just one of them.

Still, I think you're handling it better than I. Thanks for being such a good example.

Posted by: Carla at July 13, 2004 07:45 AM