Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Waitresses versus professonial policy makers

I worked as a waitress for a time with more than just college students. One thing of which I’ve become more and more convinced is that I would be more comfortable with most restaurant servers determining policy than many academics I’ve encountered. Sure, many of them could not manage their personal lives (they would still behave in a self defeating manner despite knowing they were going down the wrong path), and they were probably not as smart in many areas compared to the academic types.

However, on many social issues they were much more honest and knowledgeable than most of the academic types. All races in the restaurant were pretty honest about what they thought about the other races, and they were honest about the faults of their own race, white, black, Hispanic... On immigration policy, on welfare policy, on much of foreign policy, I would generally trust the servers’ judgment. They face the competition and social decay of neighborhoods from illegal immigrants, they are closest to people who abuse welfare while they go to jobs, and they are often the ones who know people who will go to war.

It reminds me of a show a few years ago on Spanish intruding on English. Two Hispanic brothers were interviewed. The older one was a construction worker. He had acquired a reasonable amount of English in school, but he no longer used it since all of his coworkers spoke Spanish. He expressed regret, through an interpreter I believe, that he was losing the English he had known. His younger brother was fluent in English and in law school. He did not believe Spanish speakers should have to learn English. He did not have to face the daily reality his own brother had to face, and he was doing people like his brother a huge disservice with views like that. But he had his ideology, he didn't have to deal with the problem, so he didn't think it mattered.

The grad students I know are much more concerned about what others think about their opinions (and they get more pressure to think a certain way), and they’re also a bit more out of touch from every day concerns. Occasionally those who don’t really feel the same way will slip up and reveal their true feelings; dissatisfaction with illegal immigrants and the experience their aunt who is a nurse has had with them, how Los Angeles has been invaded from the south, etc. But the knee jerk reaction is “oh that’s awful” when anything deemed hostile to the “downtrodden” is discussed. They think everyone else is for amnesty, is for more and more welfare, is just fine with Spanish billboards and commercials on TV, so they all parrot the same line in a situation of mutual misunderstanding. And you can bet if they had to implement policy, most of them would behave the same way.

Some academics are very honest about what they believe, whether right or left, and I’ve been privileged to get their views on things. I've been privileged to meet those who have had contact with all types of people, are quite knowledgeable about the world, and have honestly come to conclusions different from mine. I’ve also been privileged to meet ones who are quite willing to respectfully listen to views different from theirs. It’s a shame there are those who aren’t like that.

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