Sunday, April 13, 2008

Scary...

On Saturday mornings, I volunteer as a tutor for underprivileged kids. I'm the volunteer that got tagged to be the tutor for high school math - algebra.

It's fun and fulfilling, but it's scary that some high school kids are operating at a 5th grade math level. Have you ever tried, conceptually, to explain why -200 is a "smaller" number than -20? Have you ever tried, conceptually, to explain why 2 x 1/2 = 1?

Here is the REALLY scary thing that prompted me to write this post. Another tutor and I were chatting with the school district security guy who unlocks the school. Call him a typical "rent-a-cop". We were talking politics - well, they were talking politics and I was listening. This guy was saying that if Obama loses the nomination, he thinks there are going to be riots in the streets. Then he chimes in about Kent State. He said, verbatim, "Kent State was the best thing that could have happened. It sure put a stop to all that stuff." He meant the killings of Kent State students protesters by Ohio National Guardsmen. They were protesting the American invasion of Cambodia in 1970.

I also now recall him saying something about "treehuggers" and "environmentalists", but I forget what exactly. I didn't hear because I was backing away slowly to retrieve my Starbucks Grande Triple Mocha Skim No Whip that was sitting on my bumper. So being concerned about public health, clean water, clean air, viable and sustainable agricultural and forestry practices, oil & gas drilling in wilderness areas is a bad thing to many people. It's un-American. It's anti-capitalism, so it must be communist.

What's scary is that there are people out there in America, right now, who believe that protest should be quelched by state sponsored violence. They could be your next door neighbor, your co-worker, anyone, anywhere.

There are people who believe that protest and dissent is "un-American".

These are the people who when you make a comment about the American educational system sucking, or the American government sucking, or American foreign policy sucking - they immediately chime in with "Well, why don't you just go live in Russia or Iraq!?"

They are too ignorant to realize that THEY are the ones with the un-American mindset.

America was founded on protest. It was founded on revolution. Revolution is as American as you can fucking get.

7 comments:

msHedgehog said...

Revolution ... just ask the French. ;)

Aside from politics and people believing wierd things, which are the same everywhere, there are major conceptual difficulties with -200 and 20 and 'size' of a number. People don't notice that these are concepts at a very very high level of abstraction and you really have to go to a lot of trouble to find a way of making them clear. You can certainly go through many years of pretty good schooling without this stuff ever making any sense at all (and if you're clever enough no-one will even notice that you don't get it). Just try defining what a number is, as such.

studio wellspring said...

Harry S Truman:
Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.


Edward R. Murrow:
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.


J. William Fulbright:
In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith.


John F. Kennedy:
Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed -- and no republic can survive

tangobaby said...

Ms. Hedgehog stole my thunder but she's right. Our descent towards fascism has been steady for years now (you can thank both political parties for that). And you're right. The people that founded our country were true renegades, but their vigor was also tempered with a vision.

We have the power of ignorance and no vision.

You also have to consider the source...anyone that would become a "rent-a-cop" strikes me as someone with suppressed issues of powerlessness and needs to find a way to feel "in charge". It's guys like this that Fox News and AM radio dream of.

Sad, really, to see how pervasive ignorance is in this country.

Alex said...

Revolution ... just ask a Texan. I am a 7th generation Texan and Son of the Republic of Texas - my 5th great grandfather was John Smith - of the Alamo. Texas was the only state that was a country, in and of itself, before it was a state. It's in my blood...anyway enough of that...

I'm going to buy a book..."The Age of Unreason", by Susan Jacoby. I think it touches on a lot of this.

Also on this subject, many years ago, a friend of mine was a grad student. I was an undergrad/carpenter type. He once told me that 90 percent of people are incapable of abstract thought. At the time I thought there was no way this could be true, because I all I ever did was "abstract" thinking. Like on the order of 90%.

Now, it seems much easier to "believe". I would bet that easily 90% of the population couldn't even tell you what "abstract thought" means, much less actually "do" it....

studio wellspring said...

what happened to my post? i submitted one with some nice quotes from people i admire {because they said it much better than i ever could} but it never made it thru cyberspace....i'll try again. ;o)

Edward R. Murrow:
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.

Harry S Truman:
Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.

J. William Fulbright:
In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith.

John F. Kennedy:
Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed -- and no republic can survive

Eric Hoffer:
The beginning of deeper thought is in disagreement -- not only with others but also with ourselves.

Alex said...

Edward Abbey [Author]
"A true patriot is one who is willing to defend his country against his government."

oleh said...

Ah, the "bewildered herd".