Marc Lamont Hill@marclamonthill
Columbia University Professor Lamont Hill assertion that Obama is the only president whose place of birth has been questioned - questioned solely because he is black according to Hill.
Question posed at a University seminar and here’s my reply:
When I attended college in Michigan maaaaaaaaaany years ago, discussion was encouraged in the classroom by liberal but open-minded professors, who taught using the Socratic Method. Political or sociological issues discussed in class became eager, and sometimes contentious debates in the student unions, cafeterias, or anywhere students gathered, where sex wasn’t involved.
While liberal as academics tended to be, formulated by their life experiences of two World Wars and the Great Depression, many of my professors were WWII veterans and patriotic.
Concentrating on my major (Partying - 101). I, like most other students of the time, was a liberal - insofar as I had any inclination towards politics at all.
In November of 1967, I was playing poker with some of my friends, in Vung Tau, Vietnam. This guy in our outfit, old of face and low of rank, stood observing our card game. I didn' know much about him, other than that he was humorless, and had no friends, and that he had a foreign accent, and having previously concluded that he was Polish - not having given it much thought why a Polish guy was in the U. S. Army.
Showing off my liberal, college boy, know-it-all polemic skills, I opined (in a discussion on the merits of Communism), that "At least people in Communist countries are not starving." Whereupon, confirming my previous observation about his lack of humor, Polish Guy leapt to his feet, and sticking his livid face within inches of mine, spat out "my mother starved to death in the Ukraine under Communism." (college boy).
Whereupon I had a choice to make: (1) Continue my ignorant (liberal college-boy-you-can't-tell-me-anything) defense of Communism, and get killed, or (2) Mumble an apology, and get on with my life. I had an Epiphany. I chose Door # 2. As he stormed out, I snickered self-consciously, as my friends called him a weirdo or whatnot, but I made a promise to myself:
NEVER AGAIN WOULD I ASSUME ANYTHING. IF I DIDN'T KNOW THE FACTS, I WOULD KEEP MY THOUGHTS TO MY SELF.
THEN WHEN I STARTED LEARNING THE FACTS, I NO LONGER COULD RATIONALIZE BEING A LIBERAL.
When I decided to have the facts before I opened my mouth, I learned that many (or most) of my assumptions were contradicted by the facts. The truth rapidly turned me from a liberal to a conservative.
Within my diverse social and business circles in Michigan, debate was a common interest. At parties many of our acquaintances were educated people; lawyers, business people, and medical researchers. At work (I owned several bookstores in college towns, and hired mostly graduate students), political discussions about the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon, population explosion, civil rights, the environment, were in their infancy, and everyone held an opinion - mostly”progressive.” Something needed to be don, and now. And the government was the only solution to most.
But debate was free, open, and honest. Why there certainly was a proliferation of opinion absent any real knowledge (’FREE ABORTIONS), the debateS flowed and most people respected and listened to the thoughts of others. An honest debate.
In the ensuing years, Socialism on the World stage failed. But people don’t like to admit that they are wrong.
By then (now) honest debate had been displaced by political party rancor. The desired result from debate no longer was honest discourse, but rather a political end.
When I moved from Michigan to Florida in 1982, things changed. People in Florida did not have political opinions. From diverse regions of the country, many were retired and given their expected relatively short future, the past wasn’t a priority - and the political ideology of their younger days, to the extent that they had any at all, was no longer a conversational piece at happy hour.
I couldn’t get a political debate (nor a drag race) in Florida.
So the political discourse in which many of us participated in our younger days has been supplanted by a new generation of talking heads on television talk shows - like Professor Lamont Hill.
It would be nice if (with those advanced degrees and all) would at least get it right.