One of the disadvantages of being a non-traditional student taking a second tour of duty at Operation: Enduring University is that I have to hear a lot of class discussions I already wore out in those drunken, THC-fueled days of Talk Much, Think Little. One unfortunate byproduct of attending college is realizing that the neo-cons actually read their worthless manifestos and believe in them, while the supposed "good guys," the liberal students, just skim a couple of pamphlets and spout off a lot of ill-conceived nonsense that has nothing to do with actual human experience and mostly comes from a place of sheltered privilege. When I was visiting friends in Madison, Wisconsin last month, we saw a flier for a liberal youth group giving us the low-down on Bush's foreign policy, and also about the alternative policies, and unfortunate oppression, of that fantastic hero Hugo Chavez. Yep. These are the same people who've made a folk hero out of Fidel Castro. Just go to Cuba and ask the first gay man you meet how great Fidel Castro is. He could tell you some things you didn't skim in your pamphlet. That's just for starters. Unfortunately, this short-sighted stupidity is not just an American phenomenon. In my Adolescent Development class yesterday, we were discussing where we were on 9/11 and what our reactions were. We were paired off in two-person groups, and I was paired with a Panamanian woman. She told me, or, more accurately, lectured me that she had no interest in 9/11. She said we got what we deserved, that the United States fucked Panama over, that she and her friends and family took delight in that day, and that she didn't care at all about 9/11. I tried to tell her that the people being murdered that day were not the same people who were making U.S. foreign policy decisions, that those people never get what's coming to them, that a lot of people who were just trying to go to work got killed for no reason, that I agreed with her that most of the decisions my government made and makes are destructive, that Americans are too often xenophobic and/or apathetic, that we were finally seeing what it was like to live how most of the rest of the world lives, but that her callous attitude toward a massive loss of life was kind of fucked up and kind of a put-on to be shocking, but she didn't buy it. She was apparently unaware of the irony of her moving to the U.S. to attend a U.S. institution and reap the benefits of a U.S. education, so I sheepishly let her continue to be unaware of it. I myself was embarrassed and didn't want to sound like Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh or Lee Greenwood. But confusing the citizens of foreign countries for their government is supposed to be something we do. Isn't she supposed to know better? Quit stealing our short-sightedness, Panama.
"Panama" is also a great song by Van Halen. For more information, consult your local library.