The usually somewhat more acute Kimberley Swygert at Number 2 Pencil disappoints me. Her reading of Christine Anne Inauen’s FrontPage magazine article Hijacking America’s Youth is rather blithe and uncritical. Inauen bemoans the horrors of her Catholic high school education, and concludes that:
Intellectual abuse is repulsive at every level, but it is particularly outrageous when ideological teachers prey upon society’s youngest and most impressionable members. These cowards hide behind the guise of one of the most respected professions while taking advantage of their authority to stifle the curiosity of those entrusted into their care. For all that liberal teachers wax poetic about civil rights and human rights, many of them are guilty of blithely stomping on the intellectual freedom of those they are charged to help.
Ideological teachers? It’s just plain tedious to see another conservative American who thinks that the word ideology applies only to left-wing ideas.
The comments in Swygert’s post are generally a good beginning in terms of criticising Inauen’s complaints, and I won’t reiterate them here. But I will raise a question about one of Swygert’s comment-responses, when she writes,
But moral equivalency for terrorism? Come on. There’s no excuse for that, and this young woman isn’t being whiny in opposing this sort of “education.”
Well, now, when we talk about “equivalency”, we usually need to identify the terms of what we’re talking about. What might be the moral equivalent of, say Islamic terrorism against the West? Might it be, say, America military-capitalist aggression (on false grounds, no less) against Iraq? Might it be a whole legacy in totalitarian states like Chile or Nicaragua or (between the Korean conflict and the 1990s) South Korea, where totalitarians were put in power directly or indirectly by America? Might it be morally equivalent to terrorism when one helps deny people rights and freedoms in the name of preserving the current economic status quo?
Or what about cooperating with totalitarian, murderous regimes worldwide, when it’s economically in America’s best interests? Cuba’s bad because it’s Communist. China’s good because it’s got lots of cheap labour. North Korea’s bad because it’s Communist and a rogue state. Myanmar’s okay because nobody’s heard of it and Indonesia is good because it’s also got cheap labour, and never mind the East Timorese. It’s true: one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Ask the Japanese what they think of Ahn Jung-Gun, the Korean who shot Ito Hirobomi. Koreans celebrate him as a hero in the resistance against Japanese occupation of Korea, pre-World War II. Japanese, those who have heard of him despite their country’s moratorium on national memory of anything bad, probably inherit the view that he was a Korean terrorist.
Okay, getting along with one’s choice of murderers is one thing, but staging coups in Chile and (more recently, bloodlessly, in America), and fueling wars like the one between Iran and Iraq, those things are, to my mind, pretty much equivalent to terrorism. Sorry to be blunt, Americans, but this much is true of your country. That’s not partisan, either, since I have little use for either of your major political parties in America.
As for the rest, Conservatives think loan forgiveness will do little in Africa? Of course they do. They also seem to think cutting taxes for the rich and burdening the middle class is a good idea, that government programs ought to be replaced by programmes out of churches (which often have conflicts of interest between helping and evangelizing) and also think that lying through one’s teeth to get a war going when they deem it necessary is all, all of it, excusable. Whatever Conservatives publicly state is automatically suspect, these days, and Inauen ought to know that.