Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Monday, November 23, 2009

Conversation Between American Journalist and Iranian Protester

IP: "I saw a Twittered headline from MSNBC's website, which is blocked by our government, that 41 students were arrested at the University of California Berkeley for taking over a building as an act of protest. Why is your government trying to keep students from their solidarity with the oppressed people of Iran as our government continues to crack down?"

AJ: "Actually, the protest had nothing to do with the suppression of dissidents here in Iran since your stolen election..."

IP: "Well, I can understand that. As bad as we have it here, there are more dire situations which have been going on far longer. Were they protesting the treatment of women around the world? I understand that Berkeley prides itself on caring about human rights and the trafficking, forced marriage, genital mutilation, and repression of education among the world's women is a travesty that has been going on for centuries."

AJ: "No, actually..."

IP: "Ahh, then it must have been Cuba. The jailing of dissidents, the starving of the Cuban people, and the bigotry towards the Afro-Cuban population are all terrible things. I understand why those would take precedence over us."

AJ: "Well...to be perfectly honest, it wasn't Cuba. In fact, many of the students who were protesting argue that Cuba has a better health care system than America while wearing Che Guevara t-shirts."

IP: "Hmm...that is odd. I thought American students condemned murder and needless war making like that of Che Guevara. Oh well, with their concern over the Sudan, perhaps they have not had time to educate themselves on the real human rights situation in Cuba."

AJ: "Well, you DO occasionally see a bumper sticker protesting the slaughter in the Sudan on the back of a student's car, but actually the protest was about a problem much closer to home."

IP: "Ahh, I understand. After all, no country is perfect, and they must feel that America cannot be an effective force for human rights until it has cleaned its own house. What egregious violation of American rights were they upset over?"

AJ: "Well, you see, their college tuition was increased by 33%."

IP: "..."

AJ: "No it's serious. Previously, the University of California system allowed the best and brightest from around the state to have a subsidized public education that was far cheaper than most private schools, while maintaining a level of academic prestige on par with that of all but the best private universities. Now, well, it's still the premier public education system, but with the reduction in the amount of subsidization that comes from the state, some of the students might be forced to transfer into the second-tier system, the California State University System, or even worse, they might have to get jobs!"

IP: "I'm sorry, my English is not the best. It almost sounded to me like you are saying that, in a time of severe recession and high unemployment, the students of your university system feel it is more important to protest over fee increases to their STILL HIGHLY SUBSIDIZED EDUCATION, than it is to shoulder their share of the country's hardship in a time of widespread crisis. All of this while ignoring the plights of oppressed and poverty-stricken people worldwide."

AJ: "Actually, your English is excellent. You simply don't understand that these students DESERVE subsidized educations. After all, they..."

IP: "Unfortunately, the sound of shooting seems to be getting closer. Perhaps you can educate me further on the plight of these poor students from a safer location. Goodbye."