It isn’t unusual to hear self-absorbed, politically aware types bemoan the ignorance and apathy of their fellow citizens. Yet, the most prominent feature of Adam Wenger’s column (“Americans Are Losing Touch,” Daily Nexus, Oct. 9) isn’t its trite, condescending message, but the accompanying irony that its author is so blinded by his ideological biases and provincial attitudes that the entire piece serves better to display Wenger’s disconnect from America than America’s from reality.
Wenger’s idea of “awareness” about issues rings curiously close to agreeing with his views on everything. For example, Wenger implies directly that if we don’t believe that Iraq is a total failure, we can’t possibly be paying attention. Yet, it’s obvious that Wenger is the one using simplistic blanket definitions to appraise the situation. Iraq is severely challenged, but by even recent historical standards the military cost in lives and equipment has been small and the political accomplishments in popular elections and legally recognized rights nearly unprecedented. Its democratic regime is still viable and its security forces are on the rise and active in the field.
But the biggest problem with Wenger’s piece isn’t his political slant, but his utter contempt for his fellow citizens, of which his words indicate he has absolutely no understanding. In the Political Science Dept., we deal with “operationalizing” variables. Put bluntly, determining how many people are on bowling teams would be considered a poor method of measuring civic participation. There are more blogs, NGOs, activist organizations and community groups – from pro-military families and church groups to peace organizations and immigrant advocates – than any time since after the ’60s.
Tell you what, Wenger. You spend a year meeting people like the students who protested the eviction of the Cedarwood Apartment tenants, the local organizers of drives to send Iraqi children school supplies and the high school students cleaning up the beaches. You find them and then write a follow up to Monday’s article. Who knows? Maybe you’ll come to realize America’s apparent apathy is really just your narrow-minded viewpoint.