As you make your way into the lobby, with the click and clack of your
best pair of shoes, you feel yourself become the target of eyes8212;so
many eyes8212;eyes like coal-lit furnaces beaming negative thoughts
your way. Undeterred, you direct your attention to the front desk.
"I'm here for the networking fair," you say smiling at the receptionist.
"And clearly you're going to do well," she whips back sarcastically,
nodding toward the enormous banner that should have indicated
to you where to go.
It's hard to recall memories in terms other than as momentous occasions. Our brains have this perception that our most pleasant remembrances should be embellished and compiled into montages complete with moving audio backtracking. And yet, this is not how I will remember this university. Certainly, it is something great and magnificent and has offered me a fantastic background for whatever career I choose in the future.
And so it begins. "Hobbin and nobbin, hobbin and nobbin, hobbin and nobbin neck and neck." (the infamous horse racing joke). Then the punch line. "The two horses looked at each other, waiting for the declaration of the winner and in unison say 'A dog that talks?'" Greeted not with boastful laughter, but rather confused silence, it was upon this day that I knew I had not been gifted with the grace of joke-telling abilities. My brief, fleeting career as a rehearsed comedian had succinctly and successfully ended itself. This is my coming-to-terms. I am a poor joke-teller.
What a terrifying experience it must have been. Sitting in one's office, doing what can only be imagined as extremely tedious work, when suddenly a loud burst, followed by silence and then chaos as fire and debris envelop you. The government building in which you work has been attacked because of what it represents, something that some have come to see as an over-arching and overly intrusive force in society. The incidence of which I am speaking is not the recent airplane attack on the IRS building, but a similar attack that occurred 15 years ago in Oklahoma City.
The recent Christmas Day attempted terrorist attack has once again raised the proverbial red flags in question of the nation's domestic safety. Amongst heightened fears comes a report from a commission to analyze U.S. defense mechanisms and proposed responses to an attack threatening national security. The report rates a variety of areas in its rubric, but most shockingly (or perhaps not so), the government earned a failing grade in its efforts against bioterrorism.
In 2005, Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, made the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, the subject of an assignment for 12 editorial cartoonists. The result was a variety of images, some of which included violent motifs, including one in which Muhammad's turban is represented as a ticking bomb, lit fuse and all. The result was immediate outcry and oppositional organization by much of the European Muslim population.
Nearly everyone has a favorite teacher. I can distinctly remember two of mine, Ms. Paque and Ms. Collins. They were great educators, spinning torrents of exciting material out for their students to attempt to catch. They were pleasant and kind, but demanded extraordinary effort. At the time, it seemed a bit overwhelming, and I remember distinct moments when I was ready to quit. Of course, they were experts in encouragement as well.
Barack Obama is Muslim. Trust me. I should know. Sound familiar? Similar campaigns were run during the presidential campaign in an attempt to "otherize" the current president by relating him to extremist members of Islam. If this sounds ludicrous, maybe it won't if one considers the percentage of Americans who still believe this. According to USA Today, in April 2008, the number was 10 percent, with rural Americans nearing 20 percent. Little has been done to dispel this image and thus the falsehood surely still exists.