I don’t care if hissing is the normal sign of disagreement in the Yale Political Union. John Bolton ’70 LAW ’74 isn’t the guy down the hall or a FORMAC section TA. The actions of the crowd were disrespectful, even to a member of the evil Bush regime. But I’m sure Bolton didn’t care; he obviously knew the audience he was speaking to and expected nothing less. Either way, I don’t want to talk about respecting guest speakers. I’m not even too concerned with the topic of his speech. It was the questions the audience raised that shocked me the most, and led me to believe that many Yalies have no desire to look out for America’s best interests.
Because the News didn’t mention any of the most memorable moments from the event, I will. One student stood up and asked why Syria and Iran shouldn’t be allowed to have nuclear weapons. “How can America have nukes for protection and then turn around and tell other countries they can’t, too?” he asked. After I picked my chin up from the floor, I decided to write off the questioner as a lone liberal voicing his ideological opinion for the sake of confronting a prominent conservative. But then, half of the room started applauding, as if this guy had just made a good point.
Do people honestly want Iran and Syria to have nukes for the sake of fairness? Bolton doesn’t want them to have nuclear weapons for the sake of American lives. If this is the opinion that “agitated” the crowd, as the News headline reported, then America will never be as safe as she could be.
Also during the question period, Bolton said America has the highest human rights standards in the world. People hissed. Bolton then asked the hissers to name another country with higher human rights standards. They couldn’t. Score: Bolton: 2, hissing liberals: 0.
And finally, someone condescendingly started his question with, “America is the strongest country in the world, why shouldn-” At which point Bolton interrupted, “Do you have a problem with that?” I believe many Yalies do have a problem with America being the most powerful country in the world. In their ideal geopolitical design, we would have the political, social and economic influence of Bahrain. We don’t, and Bolton made this fact clear to the crowd, which responded by banging on desks. If you were keeping score, Bolton walked away with a Q&A hat trick.
Many Yalies support policy without even considering what is best for America. When I say what is best for America, I’m referring to matters beyond normal partisan bickering. Democrats and Republicans both think they have the right answers about taxes, the death penalty and welfare. I’m talking about the seemingly obvious stuff — policy as basic as Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei shouldn’t have nuclear weapons to aim at New York City. Liberals always complain that conservatives are too black-and-white, that the simple logic used by Bolton and Bush makes them arrogant simpletons. Every conservative would agree with the following logic: It would be bad for American citizens if Iran had nuclear weapons. Therefore, Iran shouldn’t have nuclear weapons. Liberals would find the gray area.
After Sept. 11, all Americans knew what was best for our country because we witnessed what can happen when we act on ideological assumptions and ignore practical threats. As the years passed and memories of that attack have faded, our united passions have now separated to the point where many are looking out for the interests of other countries at America’s expense. The opponents of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, immigration reform and free trade are hurting America because they want other countries to be happy.
Too many Yalies see America as just another country. Clearly, America is not the only country, but it is my country, and I will always argue for her interests. I want a president and U.N. ambassador who will choose the welfare of the American citizen every time.
It pains many people at Yale to say America has freed more people from oppression than any other country. They wince when they hear we are currently freeing people from oppressive rulers. And amazingly, they cry foul when we keep other regimes from achieving nuclear status. These people do not look out for America’s interests because they don’t want to believe America is the beacon of freedom in our world. They forget where they live and take for granted all they have.
Personally, I don’t think it’s worth discussing politics with people who bang on desks when confronted with a positive statement about America. Debate is great and all, but there’s no rationalizing with people who don’t put America first. The letter to the editor responding to this piece will have the same old liberal whining about how America is so evil: racially disproportionate prison populations, financial inequality, tax cuts for the rich, steroids in baseball, I get it. But these blemishes cannot fog our shining city on a hill. Even with many citizens hacking at her knees, America is the strongest and greatest country in the world. Do you have a problem with that? I don’t, but too many Yalies do.
Mike Slater is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College.