Sunday, December 16, 2012

American Guns in American Schools

No offense to your weekend in Amsterdam rolling fat blunts or that choreographed wine tour through Tuscany with your great aunt on the luxury bus, but backpacking Europe doesn't make you a traveler.  And all of you idiot pundits standing outside that school in Connecticut or safely tucked into your make-up chair doing mouth exercises don't understand it either. This is not an isolated American problem.
I have been in schools around the world.  I've had students from a hundred countries during the past twenty years.  Do you know how many times a day I hear a boy laugh at the idea of gunning down his classmates?  Or a girl draw sketches or write in her journal or pass around a blood note in which she expressed an interest in murdering another girl?  Do you know how many Asian boys have come to school dragging their feet and falling asleep in class because they spent the night playing first person shooter games, barely able to remember to eat because they loved the thrill of killing that much? 
 Do you know how many times I've seen two foreign drivers stop their cars in the middle of the highway and brawl on the side of the road because one cut off another?  Or how many times I've seen drunken fights on the street?  How many times I've seen deranged lunatics screaming on the corner surrounded by onlookers while they smashed bottles and dug shards of glass into their flesh until the police arrived and carried them away?  Do you know how many times I've had a student threaten violence to me or think the idea of killing me was funny?  Even describing it with a knife or with an assault weapon and when I've gone to the administration time after time they told me I was overreacting? 

So this is for all you foreign countries wagging a finger in America's face this morning, thank your lucky stars you don't have guns in your country.  Thank your sea gods and reclining buddhas and temple shrines, thank your holy books and your wooden deities... else what happened in Sandy Hook would be a weekly occurrence in your land.
And the reason you don't know this... is that you've never traveled.  Not real travel.  The very fact that America looks inward during these times is because it's a compassionate, introspective, and thoughtful nation.
When I was teaching in Saudi Arabia, and the male students would open the page to reveal a female picture, they ALL would take out their pens and stab and cross out and slice up her face.  Why?  I would ask.  And they would ALL say because she was a whore.  During EID holiday when a goat was slaughtered, they would ALL pass around phone videos of this bleating, screaming animal having its throat sliced open slowly and maniacally, standing in circles in the corner laughing and leaping up and down in elation.  When there was a fire at that girls mosque, and all the young children were evacuating and scurrying outside, and the mutawa locked the front doors because... how dare those women and children step outside without their faces properly covered in hijabs... how dare they bring such dishonor?  And dozens of young girls died... or when my students found out my last name was Jewish and half the class refused to work the rest of the afternoon making throat cutting gestures at me, dragging their thumbs from ear to ear laughing saying, "Allah Akbar.  Kaffir.  Allah Akbar!"

So, as sad and horrible and soul wrenching as this tragedy is, and how anybody with an ounce of humanity is gutted by the events of Sandy Hook... just don't you dare say this is an American problem.  It's not.  It's a sign of what lays ahead for the world.

1 comment:

  1. Sad, Professor. Glad to have you out there as a witness, but please don't let it be all you see. I'm glad you wrote this. And I'm sorry. Both of these tragedies have to have to hit you in a deep painful way.