Thursday, November 10, 2011

Failure of American Universities - Thoughts on Penn State Riots and Novel "The Reluctant Fundamentalist"

Following up the disclosure of the horrendous sexual scandal and crime of the assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who preyed on young boys, and the covering up of such crime by the officials and football coach Joe Paterno, considered a legendary figure and hugely bankable figure, generated a more shocking scandal.   This time, the actors were the supposedly bright young men and women who were studying at Penn State University. reported that
Penn State students chant support for fired coach Hundreds of Penn State students have taken to the streets to chant their support for ousted football coach Joe Paterno.

The students flooded downtown State College on Wednesday night after Paterno and university President Graham Spanier were fired amid a growing furor linked to their handling of sex abuse allegations against a former assistant football coach.

The students gathered about two blocks from the campus, with some chanting "We want Joe! We want Joe!" Some shook a lamp post and others tipped over a news van, kicking out its windows.
The utterly disregard of the victims and human decency, and the mass hysteria of "hero" worshiping demonstrated in the YouTube videos below were truly disgusting and disturbing.  They were supposed to be the best of their generation and should have the soundest judgement and compassion.  But, it seems to me, that they had only their bloated egos and misplaced love.  What they lacked were just brown shirts to generate more shudders. 

Below is the detailed background story of the sex abuse allegations, reported by SFGate:
Penn State trustees fired football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier amid the growing furor over how the school handled sex abuse allegations against an assistant coach.

The massive shakeup Wednesday night came hours after Paterno announced that he planned to retire at the end of his 46th season.

But the outcry following the arrest of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on molestation charges proved too much for the board to ignore.

One key question has been why Paterno and other top school officials didn't go to police in 2002 after being told a graduate assistant saw Sandusky assaulting a boy in a school shower.

Paterno says he should have done more. Spanier has said he was not told the details of the attack.

Sandusky has denied the charges. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will serve as interim coach while Rodney Erickson will serve as interim school president.
While searching for the YouTube videos above, I came across another riot of the very same Penn State University, this time, celebrating the killing of Osama Ben Ladin:

Image Source: Wikipedia
Well, it was understandable to feel relieved, vindicated and the sense that justice was done, the death of Ben Ladin, did not warrant such riotous celebration, the same kind appalling celebration after the attacked masterminded by Ben Ladin, in some hostile corners where humanity didn't shine.

The kind of celebration was described in the award winning novel "The Reluctant Fundamentalist", which my friends and I happened to discuss last night at our book club.

The book described "a bearded Pakistani man called Changez (the Urdu name for Genghis) tells a nervous American stranger about his love affair with an American woman, and his eventual abandonment of America." [Wikipedia]

The narrator (Changez) described that he, a Princeton graduate, smiled when he saw the image of airplane plunging into World Trade Center.  That smile was as damning to the lack of humanity in certain people, mirrored painfully in the riots occurred in Penn State University and other places, and to the failure of American educational system, particularly the universities and graduate schools.

In the past, universities trained scholars immersed in classical humanism, even if the major of the students were in science or engineering and it was no accident that the advanced degrees in those fields were called Doctors of Philosophy.

It is utterly different now.  Universities concentrate on churning our job seekers and the graduates were useful tools and parts in well-oiled economic machines.  Universities and especially graduate schools instilled little, if not none, of the humanism so prized before.

Facing the fact that American students are fleeing from science and engineering fields, and being replaced by waves after waves of foreign students who had little understanding of western tradition and philosophy, we are get a very bad bargain.  We train skilled technocrats who can remain totally alien or hostile to the foundation of our cultural foundation.

Look at those many despotic rulers in Mideast, Africa and Asia.  How many of them were western "trained"?  Trained, but hardly educated.

Failing to truly educate the cream of the new generation, US or foreign born, is the greatest failure of our educational system.

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