The conflict over need-based versus merit-driven scholarships at our public university is in microcosm a reflection of the conflict between parochialism and globalism.
Which side are you on? A revealing clue: How do you feel about presidential candidate Romney’s suggestion that we staple green cards to the diplomas of international students getting advanced degrees? Your answer might well be different if you are a business student taught to exploit the global economy, as opposed to an underrepresented student fighting for affirmative action.
Romney’s proposal — made so boldly during a presidential debate — was effective to his predatory capitalist base because in today’s America, a neo-fascist right wing and a militant left have taken over as the most visible right and left hands thrusting out of the sleeves in our polarized body politic.
The right hand pulls in skilled professionals from abroad or right here in the U.S. upon graduation. This is especially true in STEM (science, technology, mathematics and engineering) fields which have a woeful shortage of qualified applicants made in the U.S.
Hence Wall Street front man and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s remark that we have “the dumbest immigration policy you could conceive of. We educate people and we don’t let them stay here, we need them to create jobs and we don’t let them stay here and we need entrepreneurs but we don’t let them come.”
This makes the blue-cuffed left hand jealous, with the content of their complaints showing a dismal lack of the picture, as evinced by globalization leveling a certain playing field, despite the facts bright as day that such foreigners are usually better qualified or they would not be world class enough to make it here center stage.
So the right hand continues to bring them in, but keeps them invisible to the jingoistic eye of Fox “News” with the danger of deportation being enough to prevent them from complaining about long hours and low wages. This is why Republicans are against paths to citizenship, because citizenship gives you the right not to be deported.
The right hand outsources manual labor, indentured servitude and even slavery to neocolonial “export zones” in third world countries. The left hand cries foul again, but so many of these poor liberals think nothing of maintaining a bohemian, intellectual lifestyle by spending less at the king of outsourced product manufacture, Wal-Mart, even as they rail against it.
To rationalize both insourcing and outsourcing, the right hand often spouts Christian-centric belief, such as “manifest destiny” and the injunction to “go forth and prosper” and to “subdue heathens.” Hence all this going forth with the force of the military and eyes of the CIA to make entire sovereign governments in the image of yet another colony through the expedient of assassinating their leaders, even as our lefty missionaries pervade their societies under cover of our media calling them “aid workers.”
When engaged in such shenanigans, the right hand gloves itself ironically in social ethics and human rights, completely ignoring the right of even foreign labor to, say, a nonpolluted workplace — something that is the law here but not there.
All this while the left hand is playing good cop to the right hand’s bad cop by smiling contritely at the thus dominated third world and sympathizing with epithets along the lines of how American militarism begets terrorism which begets more terrorism and how this vicious cycle is exploited through the corporate media to expand military might with yet another military base abroad.
Along this vector, the left is horrified about that epicenter of world annihilation, Los Alamos “Labs,” because the labs import so many engineers and scientists from countries such as India.
Meanwhile campuses in India have lazy and rich Brahmins vociferously protesting admissions given to the descendants of local outcasts for whom special quotas are assigned and scholarships are given regardless of academic merit.
Conversely at UNM, African-American and Latino students have been vociferous in wanting the bar lowered to get a Bridge Scholarship.
So the right hand reminds the left that “diversity is good for business” and nowhere is diversity so apparent to the incoming freshman than at an American university. Better to learn to compete among this diversity in order to compete later in the global economy and therefore enter college with a higher GPA.
Where America’s left and right hand get to shake each other is in recognizing the value of diversity, balancing the need to preserve precious local cultures with excellence throughout the student body.
This balance is made more stable with a mindset that is broad-minded enough to learn from meritorious out-of-state and out-of-country students, scholars and faculty, because their shoulders are a springboard to success.