Friday, September 30, 2011

My assigned letter is written and the envelope attached. I will turn it in. It will also have a small note paper clipped to the front of it that says, "You do not have my permission to mail this." I will leave it at that.

I will see what happens. If I am called into the office, I will explain, as briefly as possible, why it is a violation of my civil rights. I will explain, briefly, that I consider it to have the smackings of a conflict of interest for the college. I will offer to discuss it with higher ups. But I will not negotiate this one. If it affects my grade adversely, I will protest. I did the assignment. I did not let them mail the letter. If I want it mailed, I will do so myself, at the urging of my own conscience, which is, in my opinion, the only reason that people should be politically active.

I have a number of reasons that I am taking this stand. Mostly though, I am doing it because of this: (a snippet from a column) "Cara is in Korea, at Daegu University. She was gathered up, along with all the other students and bused to an ‘event’. It turns out that this was a government/university backed propaganda event. Korea and Japan have disputed the ownership of Dokdo Island, which the Japanese refer to as Takeshima Island. The college president got up to speak, citing a long list of ‘proof’ of Korean ownership. Then a Korean student dressed in a kimono which had been cut immodestly short, and tottered around the stage as students laughed. Japan was being portrayed as a prostitute. Some students gave speeches that they had been paid for. Patriotic tee-shirts were offered to all students. “Dokdo is Korea Land!” The students were whipped into a frenzy of patriotism and that chant rang throughout the stadium, again and again. Cara sat in the midst of the international students watching all of this, and was horrified. The culture of Japan was mocked repeatedly during the 5 ½ hour event and at one point, it was suggested that Japan’s tsunami and earthquakes were divine retribution. “Dokdo is Korea Land!” Students with their Dokdo tee-shirts went through the crowd stirring up the chant once more.

The foreign students sat stunned at this display. Some of the Japanese students cried. Muhammed started it. He began to chant: “Dokdo is Pakastani land!” Defiantly, Cara joined with him. “Dokdo is America land!” The other foreign students joined in to support the Japanese students. Dokdo became Africa land, and India land. Dokdo became everyone’s land.

Their behavior was not missed. The president of Daegu University stood behind them listening.

But Cara wasn’t finished. The incident was discussed on facebook. The university wished to speak to the angry American students. Cara refused to go. Another student who did go said that the university explained: “People who make this very bad. They away now but probably be punished when they come back.” He asked why the president had no power to control the behavior of his own staff. The college official sadly shook his head at the bad behavior of everyone else. Jim was not impressed.

I listened as Cara vented her outrage on the phone. I was proud of her courage and told her so. She was glad that she lived in a country where something like that could not happen, where a person was free to believe how they wanted to believe. I agreed with her out loud, but privately I found myself wondering if this is even true anymore." (end of snippet)

My daughter does live in a country where something like this cannot happen. This is America.

LATE EDIT: Oooh. Today went so very not well at all. I'm a little shocked at just how badly it went, and I'm discouraged.


Mary Paddock said...

You have handled this exactly the way you should. I hope your instructors reconsider how they're handling this assignment. The report from Cara is chilling.

They count on younger students being malleable and anxious to please teachers (I saw this in action once and found it unnerving). They forget about us--the older students who have found their voice and are less concerned with pleasing authority figures.

Kelly said...

I agree with Mary - you've handled this well.

A Novel Woman said...

Can you hear me applauding you from all the way up here in the Great White North? Go Debby!!

Brianna said...

I'm with you, Mom... you should not be forced into political activism just to make a grade. I can see writing a letter to an elected representative to be graded on grammar and such, but they should not mail it in unless they have your express permission. Instead, they should grade the letter on relevance and grammar, and then give it back to you. If you feel like mailing it in, great! Maybe give extra credit to students choosing to do that. But you should not be coerced into doing that all for the sake of a good grade.

Reb said...

I also went back to school after I had my family (and many, many dead end jobs). I discovered that the older the student, the less likely we were to blindly follow instructions. We were more likely to study the issue, digest it and make our own decision on it. Not all instructors liked that, but some appreciated our abilities to integrate our past experiences. I hope your teacher is open minded enough to value your stance :)
btw NO FREAKING WAY would I allow anyone to direct my political actions. Kudos to Cara! She's right. We don't do it that way in America...or we shouldn't.

WhiteStone said...

There should be absolutely no grade credit tied to this letter except on grammar/content. Absolutely nothing on whether or not it is mailed. Not even "extra" credit if it is mailed because even that is sly coercion.

Good for you, Debby.

As a former "adult" student myself, there were times when I stood up and countered what the instructor was saying. I was never given a bad grade for doing that. In one class, where several of us older ones actually walked out of class in protest (returning 5 minutes later. lol), I actually got one of the very few "A"s ever given by that tough instructor. But I would have settled for an "F" if that had occurred.

Good thing I'm not a student these days...I keep telling Hubby that my few remaining years (thanks ovarian cancer) are too precious to put up with frustration and nonsense. *very wry smile*

Cara said...

You forgot the part where they made the "japanese" man jump around foolishly and pretend to kill hundreds of sea lions while the screen flashed with red blood spatter and the recorded sounds of children screaming played in the background. God Bless America.

Lori said...

Well good for you for putting that note on the letter!! Writing it to be graded is one thing, but forcing you to send a letter they've forced you to write is another.