A Different Kind of Bubble

Stephen Kendrex

This newspaper prints columns talking about the famous “Colgate bubble” that exists, protecting Colgate from the harsh realities of the world and, in return, preventing Colgate students from experiencing it.

This isolation has lead to a new kind of bubble that affects everyone on campus: an intellectual bubble. A few events (or lack thereof) last week, including columns from your paper, have made it painfully clear that such an intellectual bubble exists.

Or perhaps I should call it the Priorities Bubble. I find it hard to believe, and frankly disgusting, that last week we had none, not one, publicized event commemorating 9/11. We had one memorial service that was neither publicized nor discussed.

Campus distributions do not count as publicizing an event. Yet coming up we’ll have an entire week dedicated to, ultimately, a poor bigoted soul scribbling some words on a bathroom stall. Now perhaps that event and others like it should be discussed, yet I find it odd that an entire week is dedicated to diversity at Colgate (which already has many such events) and absolutely nothing on Veteran’s Day or September 11.

Of course, here at Colgate we have the “move on” mentality. We do not like to discuss things that challenge our worldview. We can get Tony Blair or Michael Steele or the Dalai Lama to come and praise the “leadership” that we here at Colgate apparently possess (though few people have lead someone other than a few other students). But when was the last time we invited a returning veteran of the Iraq/Afghanistan war from the Syracuse area and honored him for his service, or asked him about his experience?

Not surprisingly, Colgate does not understand the military at all. The “What’s Left” column showed that ignorance by making the suggestion that fighting small groups of terrorists is unimportant to the overall picture, while simultaneously calling for decreased troops and increased use of the Predator Drone.

Any reasonable person who knows much at all about the military would realize that these statements contradict themselves. First, it would be abandoning all the lessons learned from Iraq, as our troops do not just fight but also bring humanitarian relief and establish relationships as well as provide security for the people of Afghanistan.

Second, the author, and many assume, that our troops are always on the defensive, when the opposite is more often true. We need more troops in order to root out those small groups.

Third, only people can build relationships with people, and those relationships provide us with most of our tips on the all-important terrorist leaders. We therefore need more troops in order to contact more civilians and figure out what they need.

Fourth, those terrorist leaders that the author is so focused on also hide in small groups: therefore we must engage and destroy them in order to defeat the movement.

Fifth, one wonders how we are supposed to increase usage of the Predator Drone if we don’t have the troops to launch it: you cannot simply launch it from a base and expect it to be useful. You must have targets, and this means boots on the ground acting as scouts, observers and cleanup parties.

Finally, our goal in Afghanistan is not simply to kill the leaders, but to capture them in order to prevent the movement from growing. That is something only boots can do.

This sort of intellectual bubble is rampant not just in terms of ignorance of modern situations but other intellectual ideals. Instead of speculating on what we can do, or reading facts online, we should discuss those facts with experts.

Yet each year we get the same sort of speakers about politics, be it from the right or the left, and either never learn from them, or never listen to them or invite just the same kind of person back a few weeks later. So rarely do we get speakers who talk about subjects that we know nothing about.