“Oh no, you don’t call people from Niger and Nigeria by the same name!” — the author’s home schooled youngest in 2006
I have reservations about Democracy Now!, but often Amy Goodman & Co. provide a highly instructive segment. A recent exchange with Nick Turse is a good example of that. It’s a telegraphic treatment, of course, of the horror of what AFRICOM has blossomed into, but there’s enough given to serve as a basis for an entire year’s worth of geopolitical discussion at the next academic post I embrace. Really, the interview is pregnant with crucially important issues which beg to be spotlighted in and around educational institutions.
At one point in the dialogue between Amy and Nick, there’s passing mention of the fact that U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham didn’t have a clue as to what U.S. operations were up to on the continent; didn’t know, for example, about our having so many troops committed to activities in Niger. Well, my home schooled youngster — as far back as a few years ago — could have filled the retired Air Force Colonel Graham and his equally ignorant colleagues on four committees in on what was coming down in Africa. Note how my six-year-old on the campus of Stanford University in 2006 already knew that inhabitants of Niger and Nigeria were called by different names (between 3:44 and 3:50 on the tape); that’s something that today neither Graham nor the people I spoke to representing the four committees are aware of. Make your own calls to members of those hallowed halls, if you don’t believe me.
What does this all add up to if one is pressed for time, as all activists — all concerned citizens, all people — seem to be these days? In short, we need to stop preparing students to grow up to acclimate. For having that as a main aim in educational circles guarantees that ignorance will continue to compound ignorance in the troubled real world. We need to get off of our treadmills at the diploma mills.
On campuses across the country folks are living in a bubble. At the most prestigious institutions they are isolated from what’s really going on. When my son was stunning people with his geographical facts he got into trouble at Stanford; see my “Authentic Discussion Naming Names.” Such actions and attitudes are quite typical. They must be acknowledged and ended.
As long as the dynamic which we lived through vis-a-vis Vietnam can be repeated ad infinitum in Africa and elsewhere without so much as a significantly spotlighted word uttered in academia… the abominations will continue and worsen.
There is time to do something about all this. This is the time to do something in solidarity to make a difference. And on that note, I humbly and respectfully request that readers reach out to me, so that we can set up the engagement which is now absolutely necessary.
Richard Martin Oxman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the name of providing a condensed presentation here post haste, the author asks forgiveness for not having edited the above.