one of the more amusing turns of events of 2014, the seemingly innocuous plan for a patriotically themed party concocted by the gentlemen of Kappa Delta backfired
dramatically last week. Without delving into a lengthy synopsis: Some people
wholeheartedly spewed anti-American vitriol, some sarcastically mocked them, and
a few outside blog sites picked up the story. Personally, I managed to read about a dozen of the
long-winded Facebook comments before nausea set in.
is plenty to say about the checkered history of the United States, but those attempts at intellectual reparations went well beyond
reasonable mindfulness. Nobody would know by looking at me, but my grandparents
experienced multiple forms of racism in the 1950s. I do not carry that as a
chip on my shoulder, or hate America because citizens of a
different era were taught to judge without reason. It would be unfair of me to
speak for anyone else’s experience, but it is also unfair to take on what
amounts to a “separate but equal” response to the past.
liberal arts college groupthink that leads to rabid feeding frenzies like the
one last week is detrimental to the effectiveness of our learning and the respectfulness of our discourse. In a practical sense, the sort of excessive idealism that
we are all taught to espouse becomes a handicap in the real world. A slight adjustment of indispensable values can lead to massive improvement in your social success. For example, my recent decision to revise my own haughty sense of artistic purity has led to multiple job
opportunities in a matter of weeks.
no other argument against hyper-opinionated mental masturbation is convincing,
perhaps this will be. It is reasonable to be distressed by current inadequacies; that feeling motivates responsible social activism. However, if you let yourself fall victim to hyperbolic opinion-induced paralysis because
of extreme beliefs, you become fodder for the worst type of Internet humor—one in which self-aware faux bros talk of morning beer-drinking and hockey fandom
as the ultimate declaration of independence.
greatness of America is that we can write scornful soliloquies for dead
presidents without risking prison or worse, that we can make fun of people
who do that, and that we can drink beer in the morning while watching sports and
forget about all of it. Free speech
is free speech, but the question here isn’t about First Amendment rights.
we need to ask: What were the outspoken America Pub decriers trying to
accomplish? On a more macro level, what is the purpose of rabid academic drivel
that does nothing but incite cyber riots? This phenomenon of breathless diatribe
between strangers is unique to the era of Internet. The closest I can come to a justification for it is that taking extreme stances and defending them is a good
exercise for later, more realistic, and subtler debates.
However, I find the obvious
counterarguments much more compelling. Rote anti-American sentiment is
offensive to active and veteran military members who have served their country
bravely and without question, and these critics’ efforts to undermine the validity of the American Dream
seem to stand in staunch opposition to the minorities they are allegedly
Most immigrants and first-generation Americans I’ve met do not resent the Founding Fathers’ racism or extramarital affairs. They are grateful
for the opportunities that the United States’ stable currency and political climate provide.
That was the case when my grandparents were enduring exclusionary treatment in
Tennessee half a century ago, and it is equally true of my friends’ parents, who
moved to Texas from Mexico less than a decade ago.
And despite all the
impassioned outcries from the ivory tower of Claremont, Calif., the
majority of Texans and Tennesseans are likely more familiar with the
issues at hand than the coastal isolationists who intellectualize without
would be a disservice to the thoughtful community fostered in the consortium not to speak on behalf of what I believe is the silent majority of the United
States: those of us who may not know the most up-to-date terms of political
correctness, or the latest obscure law in a rural county of Arizona that would
offend some ethnic group if they actually knew it existed.
For every supposedly
outdated referential pronoun one of my friends uses at home, he has probably a
dozen meaningful, real-life interactions with the issues so hotly debated inside the walls of the Internet’s glass castles. We do not walk on eggshells. In Texas, we have Native American reservations to our north in
Oklahoma, the culturally and economically booming border with Mexico to our south, and
social cooperation everywhere. Nobody discusses 200-year-old problems, because we’re all too busy living our current lives. When blatantly controversial issues
arise, they are addressed. These are few and far between. I can guarantee an
America-themed party would be well-attended by a crowd of people from diverse backgrounds (as it was here) without all the related hoopla if it had been thrown where I come
John Montesi CM ’14 is a literature major from Fort Worth, Texas.