Friday, January 28, 2005

Embarrassed, and yes, totally appalled.

Ok, so today is a perfect example of why I don't like the news. And I can already tell this is going to be long, so I apologize for that, but am I ever PISSED.

To give you a little bit of background, in case anyone is unaware, I am now in graduate school. I am getting my Master's degree in Non-Profit Management. I'm currently enrolled in my first class and I love love love it! My teacher is cool and the other eight people in the class are also super cool. I really like being back in school andI think the program is going to be really good. Anyway, my teacher strongly encourages us to be up on current events, especially because basically all events relate in some way to the non-profit world. Did you know that there are 1.6 million non-profit organizations in the U.S. and that includes churches, schools, charitable and philanthropic organizations and, believe it or not, the NFL? Non-profits are everywhere, and so many of the events of the state, the nation and the world relate somehow to our sector.

THEREFORE, I have been, ugh, reading the newspaper. I read it online, so I'm pretty selective, but I'm working to expand beyond E!Online, The Onion, and Television Without Pity. Baby steps. So I usually read The Denver Post. And yesterday, I caught an article about a CU Boulder professor (his name is Ward Churchill and he's the chair of the Ethnic Studies Department) who has written a paper calling the victims of the Trade Center and the Pentagon as "little Eichmanns," referring to Adolph Eichmann, a NAZI. Here's what the Post said:
"Churchill said Eichmann was a technocrat who 'crunched numbers' and made the trains that carried Jews to death camps run on time. And likewise, he said Thursday, those in the Trade Center were technocrats whose work was just as deadly.
In a paper called 'Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,' Churchill wrote: 'If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.'"

Basically, this asshole thinks that anyone who died on 9/11 -- and this includes the victims on the planes and the firemen who were trying to rescue the victims -- deserved what they got. So today, I was listening to Kaplis and Silverman, which is a show on talk radio, and they were talking to Churchill. He's ridiculous. He's a typical academic, which means that whenever Kaplis and Silverman would quote one of his articles or statements, and ask him if he really believed that way, he would "answer" by talking in circles and asking stupid questions like "well are you a professional liar or is it just a hobby?" What? How old are you? Kaplis and Silverman made no secret of the fact that they think he's the lowest of the low and they are calling for CU to fire him. It won't happen, because he's tenured, but I wish it could happen. And before anyone gets all "well if he got fired for imparting his opinion it's a violation of free speech" I say whatever. I'm so tired of people hiding behind free speech -- if you think that the U.S. is a greedy, capitalistic country that is too involved in foreign policy and warmongering, well guess what? France will take you. Move. Don't make borderline treasonous remarks and when people get outraged, cry like a little bitch and proclaim that it's all in the name of "free speech." Do I support war? No. Do I think we're a little too involved in foreign policy? Sure I do. Did I vote for Bush? Yup. Does that mean I agree with all of his policies? No it does not. Because I don't. Do I value free speech? Hell yes, I do. But I also think that there is a limit. And I am not naive enough to think that if we stifle one person's right, it won't snowball into something we don't want it to, but it is so frustrating to hear things like this. I could seriously go on and on about it, because I am so mad right now. So I'll leave it at that for now -- but that is the "appalled" section.

The "embarrassed" section centers around how embarrassed I am that CU is in Colorado. Between the rapes and the shady spending of funds and the revered football program, well, I'm frankly surprised they get any actual teaching done. And especially since they seem to have STELLAR fanatics teaching ethnic studies. How embarrassed I am that this Churchill guy is allowed to teach in our state and influence our kids. The radio show was being broadcast from the CU campus, and there were students in the background CHEERING for the professor and the ones who Kaplis and Silverman invited to talk who supported him were unequivocal in their support of him and his policies and kept saying that all of the inflammatory remarks were only that way because they were "taken out of context." Right. I'll say it again: RIDICULOUS.

And embarrassing. And appalling. And frustrating. And I swear, my blood pressure has to have shot through the roof during this radio show. I think from now on, I should just read the paper. While listening to calming music.


Beth said...

I've found that if you're FORCED to read the paper, it's best to hit the national papers as local stories tend to be a) over-hyped and ove-rslanted (if that's a word) as people tend to get more upset about things happening in their own backyards as opposed to somewhere in Michigan, and b) badly written with too many details.
I enjoy: which also has a great star gossip section, if I wish to be updated on the war, and if I want the most unbiased angle possible (also good for war).
No need to be too embarrassed by CU (and I realize I'm biased as my alma mater is like a drunken uncle -- sure he hits on your friends and falls into pools, but he sure is smart and has taught you a lot, and helped you out of some jams with no questions asked). Every large university has its scandals, and most of the scandals are addressed on a local level. Admittedly, I do not watch the news regularly, but generally news about CU gets back to me, and I didn't hear anything about that wacko out here where people hunt right-wing wackos down with non-harmful dart guns. There was a similar professor at Berkeley recently who argued that concentration camps were a good thing, and we should throw all the descendants of Middle-Eastern nationalities in one immediately. It got some short press, people got all incensed, and then it went away. I doubt you heard about it. I think that, especially on liberal campuses, the only way some people can get some attention is by swinging SO far in the other direction that the media takes notice. Professor opposed to war/racism/sexism/etc. in Berkeley or Boulder does not make headlines.
---As a large aside, yes the CU rapes are atrocious and deserve national attention, but let's note that the press went crazy after Katie, a high-profile, beautiful girl went to Sports Illustrated. It broke my heart that such a lovely, sweet girl was hurt as she was, and there is no excuse for anything that had the possiblity to break -- even for a little while -- such a strong person with such a fantastic will. That said, if Jane Average got raped at UNL by a non-sports-playing frat guy, Time magazine would not be knocking on her door. I'm proud of Katie for taking the stance she did against a football program that clearly needs ethical improvement, but I don't think any of us should be naive enough that this is the only school/football program where a girl has been raped. Let’s take a look at rape laws in general. Large aside over.---
Giving the drama queens/kings (like the stupid CU professor) too much attention for something that is CLEARLY ridiculous just wastes time and resources. It's like the theory that the astronauts didn't really go to the moon, the one that states the holocaust was made up by the Jews for attention, or any theory that comes out of CO Springs. Anyone with sense can see through it. And yes, we get mad and discuss it as ridiculous, but we only need to really worry about it if the uneducated or the mindless start following it en masse.
All that said, don't give up on freedom of speech. Something I LOVE about this country is that you can say whatever you want against it without fear of reprisal from the government. I personally HATE Bush and all that he's gotten our country involved in, and currently write angry letters to him and my representatives every time I have PMS. I don't think this means I should become French, as I don't want to be French. I want to be American as I want to be in a country that lets its inhabitants take measures to improve it and encourages them (in some administrations) to view events with a critical eye and hold our representatives accountable. Blind love is just that: blind. We don't love our partners or family without noticing their faults. And it is our duty in love to offer support and tough love when those faults have gotten out of hand. I by no means feel that I am done growing and learning, so it’s fascinating to me when I am told our country must be perfect as-is and that I should move to Canada instead of work to improve what I think are faults. And I know that some of my fellow Americans feel the faults are the opposite of what I do. I don't begrudge them the right to speak; I just hate their opinions and am pleased that I have the right to counter.
Phew! I didn’t mean to be ranty today, but there it is: rantiness.
My mother is a pelican.

Amber said...

On the local paper/overslant front I agree – this guy was simply looking for attention and Colorado obliged – with a vengeance.

Again, regarding being embarrassed about CU I agree, but felt the need to rip them because it was conveniently at the center of controversy AGAIN. I do realize that every large school has its issues, and that many are similar to the ones CU has, but I defend myself there by referring back to your earlier point about things getting overhyped in their own backyard.

On the point about wasting time and resources on those who are seeking drama, well, this is definitely a perfect example. This guy has been in all the papers and on countless radio shows and they have been rehashing everything and I realized that he isn’t interested in debating or even defending his views, he just wants to hear himself talk. In circles. I’m reading a great book right now called “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer, and it is basically the history of the Mormon religion and another sect of it that contains the fundamentalist crazies. It’s the fundamentalists – those who are just looking for something to believe in, and when they find it, they latch on with fiery and often scary passion – that we need to worry about. And let’s face it, every cause will have it’s crazies, but we have to have faith in those who will do good for a cause through moderation.

I would never give up on freedom of speech – and I would never want you to move to France – I don’t want you to be French either. My point wasn’t that anyone who speaks against the U.S. should go away, and I’ll admit my frustration over the stupid radio show probably made it come out differently than I meant. I would never presume to tell anyone that freedom of speech is a bad thing and that you should never say bad things about America or the administration in this country. I believe you should take a stand and I personally take things like voting very seriously because I think that if you want to change things, you can, and you definitely should. I completely agree when you say “I want to be in a country that lets its inhabitants take measures to improve it and encourages them (in some administrations) to view events with a critical eye and hold our representatives accountable.” That’s another great thing about our country, that we can do just that. What I don’t like is people who spout hatred against, in this case, victims of a horrible tragedy, and say that they are doing it in the name of academic discourse with no regard for the feelings of those affected. Ward Churchill started writing this paper the day after September 11, and I’m sure it started as a rant and he decided to present it as academic truth. That’s not right. However, he does have that right. It’s freedom of speech. I certainly don’t think our country is perfect and I don’t blindly rely on our president to make things better. I try really hard to keep an open mind and to learn as much as I can about things that will affect me and people I love. And I respect the opinions of people who don’t feel as I do on certain issues. For example, my friend Marge is a rabid, very liberal and outspoken Democrat. I adore her. I think she is smart and educated and has such a good heart. Do we agree on political things? No, not all the time. Sometimes. But every time we talk, I learn something new. I am happy that I have friends with different views who will tell me so and it doesn’t affect our friendship – in fact, it just makes things more interesting.

Last thing – on the first night of graduate school, my teacher wrote on the board “if everyone is thinking alike, no one is thinking.” I just really like that quote.

Beth said...

Glad you don't want me to be French. I'd really hate to up my smugness AND take up smoking. :)

And yes, the zealots ruin it for everyone. Stupid zealots. So lame.

And yes, this guy was wrong. No one argues that. I just feel that giving attention to idiots is like appeasing a toddler who is having a fit. Best to ignore, and then once they've had their naps, you can talk rationally and put them in a timeout. This is speaking from my supreme knowledge of playing mom for one weekend.