Feb 14, 2021Liked by Broad and Ample Road, Michelle Kuo

Albert, it sounds like you’re a really thoughtful and talented professor. Your students are lucky to have you.

I just listened to and loved season 4 of this podcast called Scene on Radio out of Duke University. Episode 9 (of 12) is called “American Empire” and seems to relate to what you wrote about this week. http://www.sceneonradio.org/s4-e9-american-empire/

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Feb 15, 2021Liked by Broad and Ample Road, Michelle Kuo

I'm curious what the vote counts were before. I think that yes, international sentiment is swinging in to a more critical view of America and it's government (so the density of non-US AUP students in your class would skew the data for this year a lot too.) , as has it's own people's views shifted as millennials come of age. Also, internationally there's massive protests everywhere, so government in general either isn't being given the benefit of doubt, or are very disconnected with their people.


I think in a small classroom environment, built around lots of discussion and interaction, the most charismatic or strongest personalities are the ones whos viewpoints become the dominant group think. It could be that the large swing in opinions is attributed to the fact that this year's class, the most dominant/charismatic/powerful voice is the one that was different this year, and they influenced the class. In this I'm saying that there are strong opinions from a few, and then everyone else will move as a group, in to one side or the other, and it's dependent on the ability of the strong opinions to convince these people. I'm not saying ppl are sheep and just follow. But this topic is a pretty intense one (and i can see why they always bring the fire!). It forces you away from hypotheticals in to an actual historical decision, and you have to decide where you are on black and white moral lines, and where the gray area stands. not having the option of "necessary evil" means there's no cop out. If forces a decision on how far you can go in war, on the value of life, and on the fundamental principal on if a government should value the life of it's own citizens more than those of the other. The last being one of the reasons i think you'll get a big difference in opinion from students of US origin vs non US origin. the US students have to have this discussion in terms of "did WE commit a war crime by dropping two atomic bombs in order to save american lives." I guess it's uniquely American to have to have this discussion under the context if your own people's lives.

I actually, quite often think of this exact topic, mostly in the context of who I want to vote for, and who I want as leaders of this country. (I think also because I'm obsessed with Ender's game and the moral issues that the whole series brings up.) But it's almost impossible to not have the internal discussion clouded with the current issues of our time. Every time comfort women hit's the front page, or i watched Silence, or when I watched Grave of the fireflies, or read hiroshima. My emotions were jerked around and my thoughts around this topic move in different directions. But how can you not let current events cloud your thoughts. We are constantly dealing with new information and thoughts and dialogue. btw, i think American benevolence was never a thing the world thought. it was a nice story American's tell themselves. the "side" we land on in almost all conflicts have their own problems. it's much like the southerners that tell themselves the civil war was a war of northern aggression. or the Japanese who tell themselves comfort women never happened. what government has not manipulated the narrative to make themselves look better. But I'm rambling.

After all this, I'm really just trying to say that, the swing is probably real, but the intensity of it doesn't surprise me. a complicated issue like this in a environment built for dialogue. If often matters more WHO is saying what, verses WHAT is being said. If they all came in with open minds and NOT entrenched in their thinking on the subject, then it's pretty likely that everyone moves in the same direction. Happens a lot with juries. and undecided voters.

that said, i'd be totally down to watch one of these. and then argue with random strangers on the internets about it. lol.

i really enjoyed the article. WITH the Taiwanese history.

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