For those who really don't konw, the Ranger tab is worn by those elite few who graduate from Ranger School where, among other things, they are taught light-infantry tactics. These are the kind of guys you see in movies like Black Hawk Down. Really hardcore dudes and by simply wearing the tab these guys let it be known that they've -at least- passed some of the most difficult tests that the Army has to offer. So the PowerPoint Ranger tab is jokingly worn to highlight the stark contrast between staff flunkies (we pogues) and the guys who do their work away from a desk and computer (traditional Army types).
In other news, I've been seeing a lot about immigration lately. It's been about a year and a half since I've been in the US so I am somewhat out of touch with current politics. That being said I'd like to avoid the argument that seems to be paramount on this issue, that of granting citizenship to people who have crossed the border illegally. I doubt I have anything to say that hasn't already been said. What I would like to focus on is the affect it's having on the perceptions that I'm having of the US. I spent about 20 years in the US while growing up and consider myself a very patriotic person. Over the past year and a half, I've been able to step back from my perceptions of politics and the US in general and compare them to those of people from other countries. Not only was I able to compare my perceptions to those of people outside the US, but I was able to get a glimpse into what information they're presented with as they form their perceptions of us. Doing this has helpe me to be able to have a more objective and critical view of my native country which is a very good thing. Being able to identify one's own shortcomings makes it possible to remove or improve them.
The perception that I'm getting from the American media is that things are pretty hairy in the States right now, almost to the point of violence in the streets and that, dare I say it, civil war is on the horizon. As my experiences have shown, most perceptions that are constructed on second and third-hand information are drastically inflated only containing the smallest grain of truth. It's my belief that the media is being irresponsible in their reporting of these events, but unlike many people who don't live in the States, I have the benefit of having lived in the country for many years. For those who only know what they see on TV, the situation seems to border on revolution.
You may ask the question, what does it matter what people from other countries think of the US? Potentially more than you would imagine at first glance. Would you be willing to invest in a country that seemed on the path to revolution? (I use the term "invest" loosely here) I haven't done the research, but it seems to me that America's greatest export is our image and culture. Land of the free, home of the brave. If we suddenly become a nation of petty squabblers incapable of presenting a united front we would lose our "big stick" on the world stage.
One thing I've noticed from my dealings with Iraqis is that they percieve Americans (less the military) to be weak and indecisive. Granted that they've lived under the thumb of a brutal dictator for about as long as I've been alive so all that many of them know is swift, hard 'justice', but they make a good point. I spoke with an Iraqi Soldier a few days ago about Saddam's trial and he commented that "Finally, they accuse him of killing many people!" If it were up to this guy, Saddam's head and neck would have gone their seperate ways long ago.
The deeper I dig into the issues in the States, the more and more I end up at the conclusion that the only thing I can do that will allow me to affect positive change is to find a small community of like-minded individuals and wait out the storm. Take note you moderates, your inability to make decisions and lead the way is polarizing the population towards increasingly militancy.
To bring my ramblings back onto target, I heard recently that a town in Southern California is advertising itself as a safehaven to people who cross the border illegally and those that help them. There is a law, and this town is openly defying it. I know what I think should be done about it. Something has to be done, this town either has to be the visionaries that lead the way, or the villians that catered to criminals. I would perfer the second option, but would accept the first before I would accept no action. Doing nothing about this is an unacceptable course of action.