Limited experience distorts vision

Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Chris Behnke's vision of the past, present and future of America (Empire, Nov. 10) is limited to the experience of a man who has lived on this planet less than 20 years.

Related Editorial:

My Turn: One person's vision of past, present, future

He is a recent graduate of our public schools and a new indoctrinate within our University of Alaska's post-secondary education system. I would venture to guess Mr. Behnke did not refer to his respected professors before submitting his column, otherwise they may well have advised he wait until his second, or third, quarter of education.

I can empathize with Mr. Behnke. After graduating from our public school system myself I was deeply influenced by college professors who recognized their students had minds of mush ready to be molded. Fortunately, my idol took the form of a leading forensic coach who placed more importance upon his students' ability to argue both viewpoints. This required research.

Alaskan heritage is something to be proud of. We have been ahead of the Lower 48 in many ways. For instance, we voted Native Alaskans as state legislators when the Lower 48 states were still treating Natives as wards of the state, and our state constitution granted women the right to vote more than a decade before the rest of the nation.

Mr. Behnke is young, and I admire his youthful vigor. We should always question authority. Our American heritage is based upon it. Ben Franklin was a revolutionary, as were many of his peers, and I would encourage Mr. Behnke to espouse his views. But in doing so he had best be prepared for a response.

In his My Turn column Mr. Behnke oft uses the term "proud" in a sarcastic manner. His point, of course, is to highlight the shortcomings of our American heritage, and there are certainly some low points. But we have yet to drag women into public squares for beheading, as in Iraq, nor has our Supreme Court decreed that the innocent be gang-raped for the sins of a relative, as in Iran.

This world is an ugly place, in many respects, which may explain why so many are seeking the safe haven of our United States. "Nationalism" is not an ugly term for Americans. On the contrary, is it not a reflection of the democratic process?

In regards to material wealth, I would ask Mr. Behnke why in the world he is attending a university if not to ensure his own?

Ken Dunker


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