Me and Everybody Else
I am going to start off by saying that this post may be construed as harsh and offensive. My aim is not to offend you, but to express my thoughts and explain why I am upset.
I have been doing a lot of thinking over the last week about opinions, perceptions, and attitudes. As a political science student, I look at everything in the world through political and social lenses – everything from the terminology people use and the views they have to the way the system works and the implications those systems reproduce. I have always looked at the world this way, but over the last week or two, I have been doing so more than usual. My modules are starting to talk about ideas and facts pertaining to the United States (whether they are good or bad is irrelevant). Learning about the United States from a foreign perspective is quite an experience. Some emotions I have and reactions I express have come off as arrogant, nationalistic, and immoral to the locals (notice how they are all negative traits). I am going to give context into the situation, express my thoughts and ideas on the issues, and justify myself for my beliefs.
My World Politics module has been talking about military power, national security, and Middle East (primarily concerning Iraq and Afghanistan). The general tone of the lectures have portrayed America in a negative light – stating that America is too coercive in its foreign relations and that we are hypocritical when it comes to international law and order. Whether you believe this or not is totally up to you, and I am willing to accept your opinion. However, when people in my modules get up and state explicitly that the attacks on September 11th were not that bad in the big scheme of things, and that we as a nation over reacted to the situation, I get upset. I do not appreciate people from a foreign country disrespecting our patriotism and our regard for the safety and security of our country. 2,977 innocent people lost their lives on that miserable day. I do understand and respect when people disagree with our intentions of going into Iraq and Afghanistan (even if they are ill-informed of all the facts), but they lose all credibility and legitimacy when they discuss American reactions in the fashion that they do. From my perspective, that is like me saying “Catholic nationalists in Northern Ireland overreacted during the Troubles because the terror inflicted upon them was not that bad.” I would never say something like that (even if I did believe it). I am not speaking on behalf of all the students in my lecture or for the people of Ireland; I am only talking about those people who spoke up against America during that discussion.
I find myself talking about the racial issues in America quite often. Some Irish people that I have encountered simply do not understand how we (“the white people”) could look down on minorities. My first retort is that I simply do not understand why Catholics and Protestants continue to “fight” about the settlement of Northern Ireland (but that is beside the point). My second retort is that not all white Americans hate minorities. That is the biggest point I try to make. Just because I am a white male from a well-off middle class family does not mean that I look at other people not in my situation any differently. My parents taught me that everybody is just the same, no matter if they are white, black, green, blue, or purple. The color of your skin does not define who you are, so it does not affect the feelings I have of you. Unfortunately, there are people that do judge you based on your race. There are racist, ignorant, bigoted individuals in the world that do look down on certain groups of people. It is a sad reality, but that is exactly what it is: a reality. The few intolerant, narrow-minded people (such as members of the Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK) do not represent America. As an American, they embarrass me. They are the reason I get asked questions about racism and hatred in America. A co-worker of mine once told me that at the end of the day, we all have to wipe our “you-know-what” with toilet paper. No decent person is any better than the rest.
I am a Republican. I do not support all Republican ideals. Like I previously stated, the few people who get a bad reputation give off an undesirable perception of the entire group. The few radical Republicans or extreme Tea Party members in America make me as a Republican look bad. They do not represent my party, and I do not want to be associated with them. I support the legal possession of guns as a constitutional right. I support a smaller federal government and increased state’s rights. I support capitalism. I call myself a Republican. Please respect that. I do not go around shouting my beliefs or trying to convince people that my idea of the world is the correct one. I simply state my beliefs and justify them with personal experiences and facts. If you disagree, that is just fine. That is one of the greatest things about democracy: we are allowed to have differing opinions and discuss them openly. I watch an HBO series called The Newsroom, and I have a clip that explains perfectly how I feel about this issue.
As I mentioned in the very beginning, I am not trying to step on anybody’s toes here. I am only expressing the thoughts that are running through my head.
On a more pleasant note, I had an AMAZING time at the Brit Floyd concert. I was in the fourth row so I had a perfect few of everything on stage. You could see the facial expressions of the band members, their fingers moving up and down the neck of the guitars, and even the sweat dropping from the hair as the drummer and keyboardist rocked their heads back and forth. It was quite sad at the same time though because I first saw this band in the States with my dad, and I know he really would have enjoyed it. He is the reason I like classic rock, and I go to every show with him. This is the first classic rock concert I have ever been to without him. As great as the concert was, it just was not the same without him there at my side.