Once again the Daily Northwestern has provided me with a few columnists to rant about.
Consider Lindsay Shadrick:
We are not here to learn what to think. We are here to learn how to think. Presumably, as college students (and, I would argue, the general public) can form coherent ideologies that are not so easily silenced in this bastion of liberal indoctrination.This in response to reports of a group paying students at UCLA to provide proof (such as recordings of lectures) of professors showing political bias in the classroom.
Beliefs should be challenged. We should be required to think, process, debate, and defend our politics. The spectres of “radical” academics have been nagging the increasingly Salem-esque right for years now. Yet liberal professors don’t seem to be rounding up a slew of Marxist youth theorists threatening to overthrow the Bush regime (a few, sure, but not an army).
First off Lindsay, they're not trying to "silence" anybody. Do these professors have anything to hide? Do they have something they don't want the public to know? Or does the old saying about sunlight being the best cleanser give them reason to fear?
Second off, this isn't just about them "challenging beliefs" or "the status quo" in their classrooms. This is about professors use their classrooms not to teach, which is what they're paid to do, and instead to preach about their pet political theories. And it's especially about teachers who don't try to teach how to think but what to think, grading based on ideology and not on merit. Or did you not read any of the stories that this group of ACLU alumni actually put on their website?
Next, consider Henry Bowles:
Protesting military recruiters on campus, so long as they ban open gays from joining, is admirable. But there’s a more permanent reason to keep the military away from our brightest students. Young males are easily manipulated during the period of their lives when they exist outside the female domain, after the mother and before the wife. They are above all eager to demonstrate masculinity. With its promises of order, fraternity and cohesion, the military taps into this angst. A real tragedy occurs when a young man, susceptible to the military’s appeal and nonetheless intelligent and creative, signs up to become cannon fodder. He’ll probably leave the military alive, but he’ll have been irreversibly molded, less inclined to dissent. Less intelligent people are better equipped for most military positions, and have far less to lose. . . Wow. Where do I start? First, his description of "military appeal" sounds a lot like fraternities. Should we ban those too? Second, nobody signs up to "become cannon fodder." Auto accidents kill more people each year than the Iraq war has yet. In fact, auto accidents kill more people each year than the Vietnam War killed. So . . . let's keep perspective, shall we?
Third . . . less intelligent people? Do you really want the "less intelligent" people to be running naval ships? You know, the ones powered by nuclear reactors? Seriously, that is one of the most arrogant, elitist statements I have ever heard in my life. But why listen to me? I'm just glad that there were other people at NU who cared enough to eviscerate him in the "Letters to the Editors" section.
And as long as I'm talking about the Daily Northwestern, I should just mention this: They let the "f-word" crop up way too often in their paper. Striving to be a reputable jouralistic institution, eh? I know I see them dropping F-bombs in the NYT or on CNN.com all the time.
Heh. These people aren't Annie Spiro, but I might have just as much fun taking them on as I did the Daily Vidette.
Lazy blogging correction - okay, I may have gotten a little over-excited last night. While I've seen the number of auto-related fatalities quoted at ~60k per year (US), I don't know that that's an official or correct number. So, take that whole thing with a grain of salt. I guess I tend to simply remember numbers that I've seen or read, and then when it comes time to quote them off, I can't guarantee that they're not suspect.
I'd still like to think that my original point remains, though; total Iraq war fatalities certainly don't leave the impression of our soldiers as "cannon fodder." Since 2003, only about 2000 soldiers have died in Iraq. That's less than 1000 each year. From what I've read (and I'm trying to find this number), the military experiences about 1300 accidental deaths each year, in the form of aircraft crashes, weapon misfirings, and so forth. Smoking kills 440k people each year in the US (www.thetruth.com).
So, when people want to use phrases like "cannon fodder" . . . I'd say we need a wee bit of perspective.
Edit part 2
Some statistics are easy to find through Google. According to this study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are about 45k deaths from auto accidents in the US each year. This number has remained more or less steady between 1994 and 2003.
Also, according to these two sources, the rate of accidental military casualties between 1983 and 1996 was about 1300 per year.
Slowly wrapping up my sloppy blogging . . .