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We are a nation clueless by design

Plugged in. Tuned out. | April 14, Perspective story

Our nation is clueless by design

Ted Gup's article is both accurate and depressing, but he errs in his assertion that the clueless state of America's students is a matter of failure. In fact, it represents the success of dominant philosophies of American society.

Institute an educational law (No Child Left Behind) that doesn't address the social causes of the difficulties of helping students learn, and instead penalizes schools that can't work miracles with unprepared students. Emphasize math and science both to reinforce the political and economic status quo and avoid messy debates about how to address critical but controversial social issues (class inequality, teen pregnancy, foreign policy). Undercut science and civic debate with anti-intellectual political and "faith-based" rhetoric. Steep our youth in a shallow, pointless popular culture, that, much worse than encouraging true sexuality or rebelliousness, uses those unruly but authentic qualities only as strategies to foster obsessive consumerism and celebrity worship.

This is the choice we made. This is the full bloom of the conservative revolution, a world set into motion when we threw the baby out with the bath water and turned our backs on the weary-

ing but engaged civic unrest of the 1960s to worship at the altar of the supposed panacea of free markets. American capitalist democracy — as now practiced — is designed exactly to create such worker bees and shoppers, not the "responsible citizens" that professor Gup, and I as a fellow educator, would like to see assume the reins of this country.

Our challenge is to recognize this cynical equation at its historical source and recast our society into one in which meaningfulness benefiting everyone is more to be desired than meaninglessness enriching the few.

Andrew McAlister, Temple Terrace

Plugged in. Tuned out. | April 14, Perspective story

Shallow judgment

of a generation

I found the writer of this article to be just as ignorant as the students to whom he was referring. The blame he puts on our generation (I am a high school senior) is perhaps to shift the blame off his own generation's shoulders, whose faults include the horrible education system (the No Child Left Behind Act was, after all, enacted by a president elected by the majority of his generation).

I was appalled by his audacity to judge a generation by just several of his own classes (I wasn't under the impression that "dazzling SAT scores" in any way correlated to knowledge of current events since there is no section on the test relating to it).

There are people in every generation who will never be able to answer any current-event questions (if the writer asks those same questions to people of his own generation on the street, he will see) but there are also people who care and stay aware of world events.

Jenna James, St. Pete Beach

Plugged in. Tuned out. | April 14, Perspective story

They are not aware

Ted Gup's recent article on the decline of historical consciousness among our collegiate population is a sad reflection on our national priorities. This past April Fool's Day, I decided to play a political prank by donning a Richard Nixon mask and dispensing lollipops on a local college campus.

The joke was on me, however, as the vast majority of people there did not recognize our notorious 37th president! I flashed the infamous peace signs, spoke of Watergate and declared, "I'm not a crook," all to a host of blank stares.

The most disturbing part, however, was that they did not associate Nixon with Vietnam, though I suppose this ignorance is the reason we have another unnecessary and unprovoked conflict currently consuming precious American lives and resources.

Susan Donoff, Largo

She died as deputies were left unaware

April 13, story

Where's responsibility?

What I see after this preventable murder of a young mother, besides the needless loss, is a total lack of anyone accepting blame.

If I had killed this woman in a car wreck after drinking one beer, I'd be looking at manslaughter. I haven't heard the tapes, but it seems to me that the dispatchers at least should lose their jobs if not be charged with negligent manslaughter.

Local law enforcement should take a good look at this as should a totally civilian review board. Multiple calls about someone who was being raped and murdered right here, right now are not so common they should go unnoticed. Never again.

John Follman, Tampa

The rule of law, chained and shackled | April 13, Robyn Blumner column

A sickening tale

After reading Robyn Blumner's article about the documentary Taxi to the Dark Side and what happened to the victim, Dilawar, at the hands of the United States, I only hope that everyone who read this felt as sick and outraged as I did.

How did we ever allow our government to lead us in this direction? There is no honor in what is being done to these people, whether innocent or guilty. The torture he was subjected to is inhuman, to say the least. What of that innocent man's family? Are they just supposed to flap in the wind?

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney must be very proud. How do they sleep nights?

Hazel N. Carter, Palm Harbor

Jimmy Carter goes too far

As Americans, we must protest the dangerous intrusion into our foreign policy by former President Jimmy Carter. His effort to subvert our Middle East policy is out of order. Carter's current effort to deal with Hamas, which has been declared a dangerous terrorist group by our government, is the ultimate chutzpah (gall). Carter, who will go down in history as a failed president, has no business making foreign policy.

It is a fact that Israeli Palestinians enjoy more rights in Israel than they do in any Arab state where they are treated as pariahs.

Carter should go back to shelling peanuts.

Norman N. Gross, Ph.D., president, Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting, Palm Harbor

Mike Luckovich cartoon | April 17

Ugly attitude

This cartoon exemplifies the ignorance and hubris of our citizens. In my day, it was called "The Ugly American." To show the pope moved to profanity by a gas price of $3.42 indicates ignorance of the fact that current gas prices in Italy run to $8 or more per U.S. gallon. Or maybe his holiness is shocked that Americans are whining about prices that are less than half those he sees daily just outside the Vatican. Not likely Mike's intent.

Once we were respected, even loved, all over Europe. Our government has squandered that global political capital, especially over the past decade. I don't expect to live to see the recovery of this loss. I am saddened!

Jack Wilhite, Clearwater

We are a nation clueless by design 04/19/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 3:31pm]
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