Crossposted from To Us. Permission to use noncommercially with attribution. For faster response to questions please email me at aek2013 at columbia dot edu.
Northeastern University hosted retired Central Command General John Abizaid to speak to its Middle East Center for Peace, Culture, and Development students about the U.S. and the Middle East this morning. The public was also invited, and I think I may have been the sole representative of that element of the audience.
General Abizaid, a Colorado Rockies fan, apologized for competing with the Red Sox homecoming parade.
Northeastern’s President Joseph Aoun, a professor of linguistics, introduced General Abizaid with this intriguing proposition: America is unique in being “hyphenated”. People can be Arab-Americans, Latino-Americans, African-Americans, etc., and in America, this enrichment thrives and cultural and ethnic heritage celebrated and valued, instead of the enforced assimilation that occurs in other countries policies toward their immigrants.
Were that it was so. President Ayoub has not perhaps lived in homogeneous communities in the South or Midwest, for example, where immigrants are not only not rewarded for cultural pride and immersion, but are discriminated for it. However, I digress, and this optimism is not a bad thing.
General Abizaid had spent time introducing himself to the students beforehand, and he opened by acknowledging them, ROTC members, active military and Northeastern community audience members in attendance. He was comfortable in front of this audience, and he was at home and in command of his message at all times.