Anti-Criticism, Anti-Thought, or Both?
By Paul Cantor
In the January 28th issue of The Banner, Mellisa Panarella wrote an editorial condemning Professor Harry Cason for the somewhat extreme beliefs that he expressed at a meeting addressing the World Trade Center attacks. Ms. Panarella insists that Professor Cason “showed more passion condemning the United States government, its foreign policy and its citizens, than in showing remorse about the tragedy that took the lives of people from so many different nations.” However true this may be, it appears that Ms. Panarella’s criticism is self-defeating in nature, as she exhibits the same condemnation she willingly frowns upon.
In Ms. Panarella’s article, entitled “Anti-Patriotic or Valid Criticism?,” she cites that Professor Cason believes the American government caters to a me group. This me group exists as an elite upper class of people, those whose financial success and capital power allows them to be better accommodated by the government. She further explains that Cason believes a decent world is an equal world, and that this idea of uniform equality is frowned upon by the me group. Ms. Panarella rhetorically questions, “[S]ince you (Professor Cason) care so much about equal opportunity, do you take into consideration the thousands of people lost in the attacks, representing over 60 other nations? When the planes crashed into those towers the whole world was affected.” No. The whole world was not affected. As much as people want to believe everything their precious little televisions tell them, the common European, African, or Asian man could care less about what occurred on September 11th. Sure, they heard the news, scratched their heads, and said “What a shame!” Then they went back to their daily routine. What we have to understand is that the media in the United States jams things down our collective throats, force-feeding us information until we believe it. This doesn’t occur in other countries. Why? Because that little socio-economical beast referred to as capitalism isn’t so cut and dry over there. Selling advertising time is important, but it’s not that important.
However, there is more to Ms. Panarella’s article that intrigues me. She insists, “Mr. Cason should also remember that our nation’s government officials are elected by the people of this country. Since the majority of the population does not consist of the upper-class or me group, then it is the middle and lower classes who vote these politicians into office.” Really? I would have thought that with him being the Political Science professor that he is, Mr. Cason would have known this. Silly me. What’s sillier is someone using this “government elected by the people, for the people” rhetoric as a means of frowning upon those that just don’t buy it. No matter how you cut the cake, the Electoral College is the deciding factor in presidential elections. Those in dispute of this should use the election of 2000 as evidence. And let’s remember, we don’t actually know who really won that election. Yet, a president was elected. Do you think that the me group, who were clearly major proponents of President Bush, had anything to do with this? I’m sure that somewhere down the line they did. Furthermore, when government officials in the state sector are elected, they go through huge campaign schemes, massaging any, and every, ego they can find. More importantly, they seek the support of the me group in helping to finance these campaigns. More money equals more exposure, and with it comes more chances for the candidate to inform the people about the issues and how they plan to deal with them. If you do the math, you’ll see that the me group has a much larger role in the election process than we give them credit for.
Lastly, I find that Ms. Panarella is overly critical of an individual who clearly embodies one of the major themes of American ideology lost in today’s robustly well-packaged society- free thought. Ms. Panarella writes, “If Cason truly feels that the power of the me class is too tyrannical, then maybe he should emigrate to a socialist Garden of Eden such as Libya or Vietnam where he can share his dreams of equal opportunity. The College of Staten Island should be embarrassed and disgusted to know that they have an anti-American professor on campus.” Talk about tyranny!!! Here, not only is social tyranny exhibited in its purest form, but it’s done on a college campus no less. One of the greatest gifts bestowed upon man has been the ability to think. Nowhere else is this ability more refined than on college campuses throughout the world. So, when we are presented with a professor whose thoughts and ideas are a bit off to the left, and in this case even socialist in nature, are we to be embarrassed? Are we to be tyrannical and fire this professor? Do we riot and burn red flags in effigy? No. We are to take a glance at this person, tip our hats, and keep moving, hoping one day we’ll have the ability to read between the lines, formulate our own ideas, and let freedom ring in its most beneficial dwelling- the mind.
— published in The Banner, the school newspaper at CUNY College of Staten Island. February 2002