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Reader comment on item: [Middle East Studies:] Wasted Money

Submitted by Peter Herz (United States), Apr 21, 2011 at 16:01

Don't give up on area studies. Sooner or later, reality will raise its head and bite its graduates on either the backside (if they are lucky) or in the face.

I remember the 1970's, when Asian Studies were full of Maoist wannabes. Bright young people went out sure they were going to create a working harmony between American ideals and those of Mao, and found China an impoverished, backwards country worse off that "oppressed" Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Sure, the prostitutes and beggars were off the street, but they could be found in labor camps. Those who went into the foreign service or other branches of government quickly learned that "The Revolution" hated us for what we were more than for what we had done, and adjusted their thinking accordingly. And then there were the killing fields of Cambodia which sobered up a lot of once enthusiastic New Mobe disciples.

Somehow, the USA needs a better plant for the teaching of languages, especially ones of strategic importance such as Arabic, Urdu, Chinese, Farsi, etc. Now, I admit that I am not entriely disinterested, since I teach elementary Chinese on the High School level, but, while generally a small-government conservative, I am not a complete hater of Title VI.


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