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History and who we are

February 17, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/opinion/17davis.html
Thank goodness.  I’m glad that some American officials have enough pride in what it means to be American to stand up for what they believe in.  It’s absurd that there ever was a discussion about what kinds of torture are acceptable.  None.  We’re better than that.  If we can’t win it clean, then dangit we’re not trying hard enough.  While we’re at it, “enemy combatant” is as laughably maddening.  Maybe we’ll start cleaning up our act.  Probably it’s too late though.  Even Canada’s worried about us.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/18/world/europe/18kosovo.html?hp
I think part of why history is so hard is that it’s a movie you walked in halfway through.  It’s a very long, complicated movie, with thousands of characters and interweaving plot lines, and you came into it a few thousand years after it started.  To understand Kosovo being independent, you’ve gotta go back to the NATO bombing in 98-99, and to the Balkan wars, and to Yugoslavia.  But I’m sure it doesn’t stop there, I just stopped wikipedia surfing at that page.  There’s so much to understand, and I found it very hard to appreciate until I was old enough to vote, so I didn’t put that much work into it while in high school.  Now I’m at an institution with more non-whites than whites, with a number of international friends, and all of a sudden my world view is expanding rapidly.  Suddenly, I need to know amazing amounts of history.  I picked up some of it in undergrad, with the Cultural Revolution and the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, but here it just gets bigger.  I need to know further back than a hundred years to understand a lot of things in the news or how people act, and honestly I just look like an ignorant American a lot.  I’m also viewing the world through the eyes of my international friends more.  Things that don’t directly concern America may concern their countries, and so I’ve started paying attention more.  I want to take a history class.

One final point: my brother Patrick’s in town and we drank excessive amounts of whiskey last night.  Good times.

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