Jensen’s article…wow. It’s a great summary of everything we have explored all semester long and at the same time introduced many new concepts to consider as well. The general consensus in class on Monday seemed to be that it was too much of a critique and that the guy was a complete anti-American. To my surprise, I actually didn’t feel that way after reading through his work. Granted, there were a few things that I thought made it difficult to ingest but aside from that I thought that Jensen presented a down-to-earth argument that was extremely thought provoking due to his many relatable points. I don’t necessarily agree with many of them but if I were, say, a really stingy college professor grading huge final papers (no connection being made here), I would undoubtedly give him an A. In summary, he criticized the framework of being American and broke that down into three areas of our patriotism that we all seem to blindly follow: The notion that we are the “best” country ever, the social meaning of “supporting our troops” and the belief that “freedom” is the best thing ever, regardless of its real world implications and the expenses incurred to support it. He uses many comparisons to break down each aspect here and I thought they were very easy to, at least, relate to. He definitely seems like that guy who grew up in school and had no friends because he was that kid in class who reminded the teacher when the homework was due. One thing I can complain about is that most of his arguments were based on the fact that he truly understands human nature and speaks on behalf of humanity to relate to some of his points, especially in the first two sections. Along with that and more specifically, the only other thing I found disturbing was how he assumed that most of us would not encourage a ten-year-old thinking he is the “greatest” and that, automatically, most great leaders are modest about their greatness. Michael Jordan won’t tell you there is a better basketball player than him. Genghis Kahn won’t tell you he is inferior in any way. Alexander the “Great”…well you get the point. Plus I’m pretty sure any parent would absolutely encourage their kid if he displayed signs of confidence early on. Hell, in this day and age they’d try to convince Bill Cosby to re-air Kids Say The Darndest Things just so their little honey boo boo could be a 30-minute star. That’s beside the point though. Regardless, he makes valid points. While his work maintains a negative and overly critical undertone, he still makes a good argument by sticking to his claim that “the facts do matter… and the ‘greatest nation on earth’ mantra tends to lead us to get the facts wrong”. As he mentions too, he does not seek to belittle anything, anyone or any organization. He doesn’t use legitimate evidence to “prove” that America sucks, merely because he isn’t trying to do that in the first place. He really is just providing food for thought and I think that is very overlooked by most of his critics. Also, his analysis of what support really means when contrasted with the support from a friendship was a great eye-opener. He may be a dick in many aspects, un-American and maybe even a hater in all other areas of life but he still makes a good argument, sticks true to his beliefs and does not judge others for theirs either.
First off I would like to say, I can’t believe it’s already the FINAL post. Time really flew. I was hesitant at first about this class when I found out that we’d have to write two 400 word posts a week! But I can honestly say, it helped as it pushed me to actually do the readings – I’m glad it did because I enjoyed the readings. This was my first COMM class and I loved it! Thanks Janelle.
Our final reading was called Jensen’s “Citizens of the Empire”; consists of what I thought to be three main arguments, the first that American is the greatest nation on the earth. Second, that it everyone has to support the troops and finally that patriotism is a positive value. I do not agree with the concept that United States is the greatest nation of them all. I do believe that we are one of the most influential and powerful though. I do not think there is a need to declare that we are the most powerful and influential though – or in this case the “greatest”. I believe that will just cause other countries and individuals to resent the United States and the last thing the U.S. needs is more hatred towards it. It’s another thing to just have pride in who you are and where you are coming from than just flaunting and shoving it in someone’s face.
Furthermore, I think that there is a difference between supporting the war and supporting the troops. I do support the troops, as they are individuals who have left their lives and families back home to defend and protect the citizens of America. But, I do not support war itself. I do not supporting sending them to go fight in combat or the killing of innocent citizens, if involved. Many people’s homes and lives are destroyed because of war. By supporting the troops, you aren’t supporting the action that the administration has ordered them to take. You’re supporting the notion and act of their patriotism, which is them believing enough in our country and being patriotic enough to wear it’s uniform; to follow orders even in the face of death. That’s what you’re supporting by “Supporting the Troops” – you are supporting their bravery, their patriotism, and most important, their sacrifice.
Last but not least the concept of patriotism as talked about in the article. I agree with Jensen that patriotism isn’t always a positive value to have. Patriotism can lead to policies, which are not good at all for the country, this can happen during times of war. We must all remember that the United States, though I’m proud to be an American, has not had a very pleasant history.
As our last reading of this extraordinary valuable and special class to me, we have read Robert Jensen’s Citizen’s of the Empire. In overall Jensen argued the following three main points: United States is the “greatest nation,” the “best nation;” we must support our troops; patriotism is a positive value.
When Jensen first argued about how many of the people, or more so the politicians of the United States repeatedly call out how great this country is, how this country is the best out there, and why and what we do outside of our country is because we are the best and strongest nation that stands among most of the world, I thought of a concept that I have learned and both tackled at understanding very carefully what ideas a nation holds: ethnocentric, exocentric, and world centric. It always seems so amusing and funny how all of the materials we learn and read in this class is shown and talked about in other classes too, even though we are talking about two very different examples. Anyways, from what Jensen was arguing, in addition to what I have learned, the United States is a very ethnocentric country that has extremely high pride in the country. Whatever that is said, done or shown is focused on and always seems to tie back into the United States, even if that story is “origined” from outside of the country. Jensen’s argument about this first point was that however proud we may be of our country and in whatever place our country may stand, saying something as to be the best, the greatest is always something to be careful of, because it allows oneself to become too full of oneself. There were a lot of questions that Jensen raised that I thought were very important and quite valuable asking, especially when looking at a minority point of view: being the non white, male, light-skinned, blond-haired Caucasian, even though I was born here.
The second point that Jensen brought up was about whether it is supporting the troops that make us support the war, and how those two can really be looked at separately as well as inseparable. As Janelle talked about on Monday in class, this second argument was where I started questioning whether it really is necessary to be questioning the act of those who are a million and billion miles away from home, from family and friends, believing in serving their country and helping the world become a better place for all. Although I agree with Jensen on some occasions and think of the same questions, I too, like the man mentioned in the article, wanted to ask him many times throughout the reading, “why are you so negative in a lot of your points and even have to question/strongly hold on to the questions ‘do you support the troops or not?'” I too agreed to the man that had questioned Jensen during his lecture (?) and was slightly offended, even though I myself did not serve in the army, by proposing what the troops are doing are not and should not be supported because they are carrying the acts of war. Jensen does, however, mention that he acknowledges that it is those in power, the politicians, the government, the congress, the white house and the president who make those decisions of some illegal, immoral, unjust acts of war, and that the soldiers are only carrying out their “job,” their “duty” because they believe they are doing whatever they are doing for the good, for the people, for the best of all. I must say, I do agree that it is a sensitive topic and people may get upset and quite emotional when talking about troops, and I also respect Jensen’s way of trying to think critically to the hardest things, but I think it was really his way of wording that made his second point sound so much more opinionated himself and biased.
The last thing Jensen describes is the notion of how patriotism is a good thing, a positive thing. I would have to say, I admire Jensen of being the critical thinker and the one trying to target on a topic we usually don’t try to uncover or talk about, at the same time, being a little too critical and overly emotional and opinionated himself at the same time. To talk about how he doesn’t support the troops and is against the war at all beliefs in one chapter, and then talk about how patriotism is a “positive” thing in the next chapter, seems a little unorganized and unsure of what he truly believes in and wants his audience to take away with. In overall, Jensen’s reading was interesting in that it sparked new ideas that we really never even stop to think about and question about, but also felt very unprofessional and biased in only what he believes in, making the article appear a little “unagreeable.”
This week’s reading “Citizens of The Empire” was long reading, but it was pretty interesting. The author, Robert Jensen, mentioned the United States as the greatest nation, and he questioning what’s the greatest. When I see the word “greatest”, I reminded last week’s guest lecture. During the lecture, she mentioned Chinese Sinocentrism, which means China is the center of the world, and from her nuance I felt that doesn’t make sense (kind of negatively). I also laugh at that moment, but in my second thought I questioned that “what about others? Korea? The United States? France?” I think most people believe and think their nation or their culture is the best in the world. For example, there are funny joke that Koreans are so brave people because they look down on American, Japanese, and Chinese because historically Korea related to those three powerful nations, and most time Korea was the weak, so they create some racial belittlement words like “Jap” as Japanese. I understand by this way they took it out on them. These days, Korean not really using those bad words, but still some old generations, who had bad experience to those countries use the word to call them. However, I don’t think that people believe their culture is the best or better than others is just bad. I also don’t think this is about certain culture or certain nations. When I travel to France last Thanksgiving break, I had hard time to communicate to French. The only French word I know is “Mercy”, which means “Thank you”, and I thought I can communicate with them if I can speak English because in Korea English is everywhere such as subway, restaurant, movie theater, and some tourist attraction spots. However, in France I could not find non-French languages in public areas. I need to buy a subway ticket, but the station employee doesn’t understand English, so I took a half hour to buy a right ticket. I still don’t know that I bought right ticket (I feel like I paid more than it should be). Also, I asked to French police officers to directions to the Cathedrale Notre-Dame, but they understand English, but they tell me the direction in French (I was kind of mad because if I understand French I even not need to ask them!). During the travel I met some other Korean, who live in France, and they told me French’s pride of their country is very strong, so they tend to use French only even though they understand English. Then I realized not only Koreans or Chinese have self-respect to their culture and country, but also European and even Americans have those mind, and it is very natural thing whether its history or economy stand. I don’t think that people proud of where their from and their background, but it is necessary to understand “others” or “different” to living in the global world with harmony. Understanding and admitting differential is the most important key word that I learn from this course and my experience through studying in the United States. Since this is my last semester in here, and I will go back to my country after this semester to start a new social life, I want to say “thank you” to all that I could learn and experience this great culture.