Today in my Government class I snapped at a girl. I don’t usually get cross with people in class because I like to let them be comfortable in voicing their opinions and I don’t like to come across as someone who doesn’t respect the views of others. What this girl said just got to me though.
I didn’t say much, but what I said was just enough to make her shut up. We were talking about the secession issue and how Ron Paul had issued a statement on his website about it. My teacher’s reading of it was that he had come out in favor of the idea. I read it as he though that Texas had the right to threaten to secede if they thought that their federal government was not meeting the needs of the people and they thought they could do it better on their own. He said that it was not unpatriotic to suggest secession (which I actually disagree with) and my teacher took this as him advocating secession, which I thought was wrong. I voiced my opinion and my take on the statement, and she realized what I was getting at and acknowledged my argument as valid.
I also noted that Texas is the only state in the Union who has it written into their state constitution that they are legally allowed to secede if they want to because they used to be an independent nation. I went on to say that it’s almost impossible to have a conversation with a native Texan (given that you have said that you aren’t from Texas earlier in the conversation) and not have them bring up this fact about their state. This girl that I mentioned above then proceeds to utter the phrase that set me off: “Well these are also the same people that call the Civil War the War of Northern Aggression.”
I responded with a resounding “That’s not true.”
The entire class got a little awkwardly silent for a moment and then the teacher stepped in and kept talking about something else. I got many looks from people in the class. A disgusted and dismissive look from her that said “he’s just a stupid freshman and I know more than him”, surprised and somewhat amused looks from the conservative side of the classroom, who were happy that I had finally been the one to initiate some sort of conflict during the course of discussion, and some surprised looks from the liberal side of the class as well.
It still bugs me that she said what she did. First off, I disagree with most of the things that she says. She’s overly feminist and she takes the motherly and matriarchal position on almost every issue that we discuss in class. She voted for Obama because of social issues, another strike, and she thinks that she is smarter than everyone in the class because she’s a sophomore. She said at the beginning of the year that she’s not a politics major and that she had never taken a politics class before this year. So suddenly she’s an expert? Then she decided to paint the entire state of Texas with a wide brush and said that all Texans think that the Civil War was the Union picking on the Confederacy.
This annoys me. Not only because of her, but because this is a rampant problem in the United States today.
The title of this post references “outsiders”. In this case, outsiders is anyone on the outside looking in. In the case of the foolish classmate, it’s a Northerner trying to talk smack about the South without knowing the real story.
People who sit on the sidelines or on the outside and throw stones at those on the inside do nothing productive to the free exchange of ideas. Sitting around and pointing fingers at the other party or another group of people and painting them with a wide brush makes you look stupid and ignorant. Don’t get mad at other people for doing it if you spend your time doing the exact same thing.
I’m not perfect by any stretch. I still make these generalizations sometimes but I have tried in recent years to cut down on the amount of general comments that I make and try to think about things from multiple viewpoints and form my arguments accordingly. I expect others to do the same in order to help further the freedom of speech that we enjoy as a nation.
I’ll finish this post with a quote and a shout out to Coach Hill, a guy that I used to train with in the summer for football back when I played:
“Ignorance isn’t a bad word, it’s just ignoring the facts.”
(Just a disclaimer: I don’t know if that quote is originally from him or not but he’s the only one that I’ve heard say it so don’t give me crap for it if it came from someone else.)