2012-03-28 / Letters

Jim Hite


This is from the “I can’t believe this!” file.

You may have read or heard of the incident during the NCAA tournament game between Kansas State and Southern Mississippi. Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez, who scored 13 points in the K-State victory, was the object of the ire of some members of the Southern Miss band as they chanted: “Where’s your green card?”

Rodriguez was born in Puerto Rico.

Hey, college kids!! Puerto Rico is part of the United States! Angel Rodriguez is an American citizen.

Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders issued an apology, adding that the “words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department, or university. We apologize to Mr. Rodriquez (sic) and will take quick and appropriate disciplinary action . . .”

Yes, she misspelled the player’s name.

Southern Miss interim athletics director Jeff Hammond added: “This does not represent the state or university. This is not acceptable.”

This geographical ignorance recalls an incident prior to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when residents of New Mexico phoned Atlanta’s Olympic organization to reserve tickets and were told they would have to go through their country’s Consulate.

One caller, not believing what he heard, asked to speak to the person’s supervisor. When the caller explained to the supervisor what he wanted, the supervisor replied that he needed to contact his country’s Consulate.

Granted, these are just two incidents over a 16 year period. But if you listen to TV or talk radio or read comments of citizens in the newspapers, you’ll regularly find an abysmal ignorance of geography which translates into a comparable level of ignorance of our nation’s history, let alone the history, geography and culture of nations around the world.

How can there be such ignorance? Our world has become smaller. Some observers call it a “global village” due to global communication that is now instantaneous. I marvel that a person can hold a small device in one hand and both see and speak with another person just about anywhere in the world.

Wow! Is that a far cry from the days of taking two tin cans, tying a knot in the end of a kite string, inserting the string in a very small hole in the end of the can, stretching the string to another can across a room or backyard, then talking and being heard both ways.

Of course, I exaggerate!

Somewhere along the line, those college students were taught that Puerto Rico is part of the United States. Somewhere along the line, that person taking orders for tickets to the Atlanta Olympics was taught that New Mexico is a state.

Two examples among thousands which present a question: Have we, you and I, grown in knowledge or have we regressed?

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