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The “Real World”

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The New York Times has been called a lot of things, but one description that will never stick is “unbiased.” The Times prides itself on its reputation as being the mouthpiece of the political left. Certainly they have their token conservative piece now and again just to keep up the illusion of impartiality, but it is no trade secret of the paper’s political ideology, which can easily be confirmed after a read of any given day’s editorial section. One such editorial caught my attention recently and I couldn’t help but be amazed at the collective ignorance and arrogance put forward by the editorial board at the paper.

It is interesting to note that, historically, The Times is the first paper credited with having an “Op-Ed” section. Created to be a forum for individual authors (who are named) to agree or disagree with formal positions or editorials written by the editorial “board” (whose authors are not named), the op-ed was supposed to be something of a leveler for the majority opinion of the editorial board. The term “op-ed” actually refers to the page’s location in the paper, i.e. “opposite” the editorial page, not “opinion” as is commonly believed.[1] Modern newspapers, The Times not excepted, will often use the op-ed to “stack the deck” in their favor though. Because the editorial board holds final control over both sides of the fold, dissenting voices are often ignored, misrepresented, or run days after the original piece. Another tactic is to choose poorly argued or less well-articulated pieces over ones that actually do damage to the original premise. Sometimes though, these poorly argued pieces actually come from The Times editorial board themselves.

On February 27, an editorial appeared in The Times with the title “Game With No Winner.”[2] Its main point was to decry a particular game being played on several college campuses called “Catch the Illegal Immigrant.” As The Times reports it:

It’s almost enough to make us nostalgic for streaking and sitting on flagpoles. College students from Michigan to Florida have found a new way to get attention, offend others and make a right-wing statement all at once… The game is a variation on hide and seek: one player poses as the immigrant, and everyone else tries to find that person. There’s a prize, usually $200 or less, which is not much, but enough to celebrate the cheap exploitation of a fellow human.

Never once does The Times get any deeper than this in their short editorial polemic. They never indicate how a “variation of hide and seek” becomes “cheap exploitation of a fellow human.” The entire editorial is a bit difficult to take seriously when the reader realizes that their problem isn’t with the game per se, it is with the game’s promoters.

The right-wing organizers of the immigrant games — particularly Young Americans for Freedom and Young Republicans — have declared piously that they’re just trying to spark debate. At that, they have succeeded. Protesters defending immigration and human dignity have outnumbered the game’s players at the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Pennsylvania State and other campuses, including, most recently, at New York University.

Instead of declaring sparking debate as a good thing, The Times laments that Republican leaders and school administrators are doing little to stop this. But, isn’t this the point of the “college experience?” Isn’t debate supposed to be a good and healthy thing? Even though the left-wing voice is outnumbering the game players at these various universities, the very fact that a right-wing voice is able to be heard at all is what angers The Times.

The reaction from schools has been mostly tepid. Administrators are in a tough spot, trying to balance free speech with offensive behavior. More speech is the answer, including voices of authority pointing out the nastiness of this game as well as the inherent cruelty of hunting people for sport.

The “voices of authority” are only the ones that agree with The Times editorial board. If hide and seek is considered “hunting people for sport,” I can’t quite understand why The Times only wants to ban the game from college campuses. Why should we allow this horribly insensitive game to continue on playgrounds and backyards all over the country? If we continue to teach our children the “inherent cruelty” of “seeking” the one who “hides,” then, according to the logic of The Times, we are essentially training our children to become bounty hunters. It’s really no wonder then that so many men have signed on with the Minuteman Project; they probably played hide and seek as children.

The final paragraph of the editorial is the real kicker. It is here that The Times affirms its residence somewhere in Neverland, far removed from the “real world” that it purports to live in and report on.

“Catch the Immigrant” also reflects a larger misunderstanding of the immigration issue. The more than 11 million illegal immigrants cannot be caught. Even if they could be, rounding them up and deporting them would be disastrous, economically and socially. Educators should teach the game players about the real world.

What a novel concept: teach about the real world. I wholeheartedly agree with The Times on this one. Universities have been teaching liberal ideology for so long that the “real world” would be a refreshing change. Maybe they could also teach the fact that there is a huge difference between “immigration” and “illegal immigration”. The difference is sort of like the difference between “criminal” and “non-criminal,” or “honest” and “cheater.” Maybe instead of teaching our college students how to develop straw-man arguments, they could begin to teach “real world” argumentation that actually requires facts and logic, not emotional pleas and shout-downs. In the “real world,” they would be forced to admit that their decisions of political expediency to tirelessly push for higher minimum wage laws are directly proportional to the sharp increase in illegal immigration. In fact, if our schools and colleges taught about the real world more often, there would be less time for silly little games of hide and seek and “Catch the Illegal Immigrant.” Perhaps if the “real world” was a bigger focus of our educational structure, it wouldn’t be in such a sorry state as it is now. Maybe if they were less concerned about turning out mind-numb, left-leaning ideologues from the universities and actually taught students how to think critically, the “real world” would begin to change. But then again, that’s my “real world.” The “real world” of The New York Times and the liberal establishment only rears its head when the “fabricated world” of the colleges and universities begins to get infiltrated by the real “real world.” If all it takes is a simple game of hide and seek to expose this parallel universe of ideology, then maybe our futures would be well-served by turning our college campuses into playgrounds instead of pretending that they are institutions of “higher learning.”

Footnotes:
[1]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Editorial
[2]
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/27/opinion/27tue2.html
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