Notes From a University Student  14

A few months ago a debate was organized between one of my professors in the English department who’s a Croat, and an American professor in the political science department, about the situation in Kosovo and whether or not America should intervene.

First the English professor got ten minutes to argue why he felt America should intervene. The political science professor sat next to him, but with his back half turned away, pulling a face as if to say that he had decided in advance that what his opponent had to say was irrelevant. He took no notes, inspected his nails, in short, he was clearly posturing.

Then the political science professor talked for ten minutes, and began with pointing out that his opponent was a Croat and that Croats hate the Serbs, and that therefore everything he had to say about Serbs was suspect, if not a straight-out lie. (The other foreign professor in the English department is a Serb, and he and the debating English professor are the best of friends.) He then continued to reason that he had fought in Vietnam and that he had held a dead child in his arms, and that America must never again use violence. However, he offered no alternatives.

After putting forth their arguments, the men each had five minutes to respond. The English professor practically swept his opponent off the stage with facts and history, while the other couldn’t get past emotional arguments and just kept attacking him for being a Croat . Although it was all incredibly childish, it was filmed at length by the local news station, and the next day the front page of local newspaper referred to it as the event of the year.

(From a letter in July, 1999. )

This is the last post in this series.

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