Tuesday, December 12, 2006

future leaders

I, sadly, don't have the joy of grading papers and exams this term. I've been reading the Congressional Record and, I have to say there are some alarming similarities. Setting aside the poor grammar for a moment, there is a curious parallel between undergraduates and Congressmen in terms of warped thinking - as when they defend slavery as a benefit to capitalism or when they defend colonialism because it promoted American democracy. Take the following example:

Today I read the long, droning speech of Senator Samuel Shortridge (from Menlo Park, California) who, in 1930, lauded the US victory after the Spanish-American War. This was a great thing, he explained, because the US finally liberated Filipinos from Spain - after struggling and failing to liberate themselves for 300 years. He compared this "liberation" and "independence" in 1898 to the "great" American revolution of 1776. He celebrated Filipino revolutionaries and their supposed "independence" in the context of calling for the exclusion of Filipinos from immigration to the US. Of course, he glossed over the fact that the US still held the Philippines as a colony in 1930. This, after having suppressed the Filipino independence movement in 1898 and fought a war with them over the subsequent decade (killing millions of revolutionaries), enacting laws that favored American capital and global commerce which made thousands unemployed and prompting them to migrate to the US (where they found low-wage, exploitative work and encountered angry and violent white mobs). All of this was boiled down in his mind to: Filipinos = American revolutionaries = better off in Philippines (so, ship them back already). Truly, this boggles the mind.

My cynicism sees a direct line between college-student thinking and that of congressional representatives.

1 comment:

Cabiria said...

Wow -- that is quite a correlation. And sadly, I think you're absolutely right that these kids (that twerp got a B) are going to grow up and write laws that we will throw balled-up pieces of paper at from the ivory tower. It defies logic.