You can find a video of my journey through the Tunnel via TuDou (which, unlike YouTube, allows me to upload the video as one file).
Tuesday marked the second time that I have ever been meaningfully oppressed (my first such experience was, of course, last year’s Tunnel of Oppression). There were some slight differences in this year’s Tunnel (largely, I think, because of my insightful and probing criticism from last year), resulting in what I will consider an upgrade in the Tunnel’s performance, i.e. instead of being completely ridiculous like last year, this year’s Tunnel was only extremely ridiculous. Despite some tweaking around the edges, there was still plenty of absurdity to go around. So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Last year, the Tunnel sported a Harry Potter theme. This year, the theme was Willy Wonka. I commend the Tunnelers for choosing such a theme, as it’s entirely appropriate to the overall context of the Tunnel. Being nothing more than a fantasy of the liberal imagination, the planning committee was spot-on to select Willy Wonka as this year’s sponsor. My only criticism here is the rather obvious lack of chocolate in the Tunnel. After walking under the banner proclaiming the entrance to Willy Wonka’s factory, I was expecting at least a few chocolate bars somewhere along the course of my journey through the Tunnel. A chocolate fountain would have been most excellent, but I’m entirely willing to settle for a few Wonka Bars. Also missing were the demeaning name tags everyone received last year. I had really hoped to be the “Towel Head” in the group again, but was severely disappointed when I learned this part of the tour had been deleted.
We then played the rather odd, “Take One Step Forward if You’re a White, Privileged, Male. Take One Step Back if You’re Anyone Else” game. Unlike last year, I think I nearly won this time. In my alias as an underprivileged Hispanic (by the name of Juan Franco-Seelingez), I was a close second to the black Jamaican guy. Unfortunately I did not anticipate encountering such stiff competition, but I hope to do better next year.
We next passed by a couple of people reciting kvetches from the Daily Tar Heel. I’ll confess that I didn’t quite understand the point of this presentation. I guess the Kvetching Board is oppressive??? Then a homeless man wandering onto the scene, and the Kvetchers “oppressed” him by refusing to give him money. Now, as a rule, I don’t give money to panhandlers. Aside from the dozens of welfare programs that these people could choose to avail themselves of, I’m of the opinion that local charities are much better at determining the needs of such people than I am. The Tunnel’s presentation of the hobo was also misleading. Many bums don’t simply wander up to you (in their brand-new jackets) and amble off when you refuse to give them money. In my experience, they can be quite mean and vile: getting in your face, swearing at you, spitting at you, etc. Not altogether a pleasant experience. The Tunnel’s hobo is quite fictional without any basis in reality, departing with a simple, “Ok, no problem. Have a nice day.” It just doesn’t happen that way.
Next, we wandered into a room that took up the issues of binge eating and the like. This wasn’t particularly interesting one way or the other. Binge eating’s bad, I get that. But then we also have such things as Michelle Obama’s “Move On” campaign and UNC’s own Lifetime Fitness requirement, which for the obese might constitute its own form of oppression. The demonization of anything but a perfect body is not something that is just found in vain Hollywood actors.
Special needs (actually I’m not even sure if I’m allowed to say that) was up next. This was yet another fantasy world dreamed up by Willy Wonka-inspired Tunnelers. In this room, a teacher proctoring an exam refused to allow extra time for the dyslexic student in the room to finish his exam. I don’t know any teacher (or professor) who’s not willing to make accommodations for people with special needs. It’s really just a non-issue for me. The whole scene was contrived.
Next up was the Museum of Religion. The very name of the room was a tip-off, as it implies that religion is some sort of relic of the past. This was the first area of the Tunnel for which I think I can claim responsibility. Considering the way I sandblasted the Tunnel’s presentation of religious believers last year, I think this really goes to show the extent of my power and influence. Instead of outright making fun of Christians, etc. (but mainly Christians), the Tunnelers attempted to present the diversity of religious belief in the world. However, what they accomplished in creating was simply a set of caricatures. Take the Christian as an example. He was a Bible-thumping, Fundamentalist Christian. This fails to appreciate the great diversity of belief among Christians and instead simplifies it down to what is simply a popular mischaracterization of Christians among non-Christians. This occurs while the Muslim girl makes a point about how everyone who’s not Muslim thinks all Muslim women wear burkas. I’m not sure that she appreciated the irony. But then this also seemed like another non-issue (especially if we’re talking about the United States). Sure, there’s still religious discrimination in the world (particularly in, dare I say, Islamic states), but what do the Tunnelers expect us to do? Fly to Iran and tell the mullahs to back off?
We then moved onto what was one of my favorite rooms from last year, the Homophobia Room! I also saw my mark here, as the homophobes (unlike last year) were not carrying Bibles and did not have terribly overt Southern accents. However, there were such classic lines as, “What about AIDS? Aren’t your parents going to be worried?” Because that’s totally the first thing that comes to mind when I meet a gay person. And then there was the not so-veiled criticism of Christians (although, in fairness they could have been invoking Islam, but somehow I doubt that), “Don’t you know what our religion says about these people? That you’re just going to beat them down, [what???] that you’re just an abomination.” I’ll take ignorance for 100 please, Alex. As luck would have it, I happen to be fairly well-versed in what my “religion” says about “these people” (at least on the Catholic side of things). And it’s not, like the Tunnelers suggest that “Gays are bad people.” In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I also don’t think the Tunnelers appreciated the irony of (continuing to) present caricatures of religious groups just after telling us we shouldn’t generalize about religious groups.
We then moved through a TSA security line, where the screeners pulled out all of the Middle Eastern-looking people. Now, like I’ve said before, I have no problem with racial profiling (or profiling in general) in police work. It’s how you eliminate obviously innocent people and narrow down the list of bad guys. Considering that there are armies of Middle Eastern terrorists who would love nothing more than to blow you and me to pieces, I really don’t have any problem with giving them a little extra scrutiny at the airport.
On that subject, following our screening, a group of terrorists herded us into a “gas chamber” and gassed us as we listened to a recording of people being gassed to death. I still believe that this presentation is highly inappropriate as it trivializes some of the most horrific mass-killings of the last century. If the Tunnelers had any respect for the dead, they would drop this.
After listening to two girls talk about relationship violence (which as I mentioned last year, conspicuously omitted any mention of female on male relationship violence), we proceeded to the Diversity Room with Comfy Chairs, where we listened to some of the most confused people I have ever met. Actually, the room might also be entitled the Mental Ward, as no one in the room seemed to know who they were.
(Preface: I apologize for inadvertently filming the ceiling for this section. Being sneaky is harder than it looks). First, we had the throughly confused girl who didn’t want to be placed in a racial “bubble”, but was also freaking out about not being able to fit in with the various racial groups with which she didn’t actually want to identify. As if to make her point, she proclaimed, “[The Egyptians] ask for my passport.” Among a whole list of platitudes, there was this classic line (which I think she stole from an Obama speech), “I am everything I want to be. I am everything I say I am.” Well… no you’re not. She was quite obviously a woman. Even if she had claimed to be a man, she would still have been a woman (even if some people in the Gender Studies department would contest that). But I think the most bothersome part of this monologue was its sheer hypocrisy. Liberals (and especially UNC’s Admissions Office) obsess over racial identity. I couldn’t care less, but they’re the ones who insist that we all fill out the little racial bubbles on our applications and tests and census forms. Identifying as an American is quite enough for me. I’m not the one obsessing over my racial heritage or demanding reparations for crimes committed against my race. When I look at a person, I don’t see a race. I see a unique person with his own set of skills, talents, ideas, and desires. Liberals, on the other hand, only see arbitrary group identities. So, if you want the source of your “oppression” honey, look in the mirror.
I then had to listen to a black woman complain endlessly about how everyone assumes she’s uneducated because she happens to be black. Of course, she didn’t really do much to help her case with her frequent grammatical slips. She seemed to have a particular issue with adverbs. Consider, “I’m not allowed to speak proper [sic],” or “Just because I speak proper [sic], I’m acting white.” Now, I normally try not to be a grammar Nazi, but if you’re going to make a big deal about how you’re educated and you speak like the white people, you might want to proofread your speech a few times. Just a suggestion. Also, her point about how BET is a true representation of “her people” was also really funny. If you remember, in the 2009 Virginia Governor’s race, the co-founder of BET, Sheila Johnson, endorsed the Republican, Bob McDonnell. Considering that the black vote is overwhelmingly Democrat, I guess the point of the Angry Black Woman is borne out here. But somehow, I don’t think that’s what she meant.
Next was Madame Bolivia, who, if I remember correctly, was also present in this room last year. The one point of her’s that was really irritating concerned her “people can’t be illegal” comment.Clearly they can, and clearly they are. If you break the law (even if it’s not immigration law) you operate in a fashion that is outside the bounds of the law, and hence illegally. Also, being an illegal immigrant doesn’t “void” your existence (as she claimed) in the same way that trespassing doesn’t “void” your existence. You’re just simply in a place that you’re not supposed to be. I’ve never heard of an illegal immigrant just ceasing to exist. She also asks us to consider “things we cannot fathom” (a particularly difficult exercise) and imagine all the things that illegal immigrants give up to be here. But what about those who came here legally and all that they gave up? What makes the illegal immigrants so special? The odd thing is, the illegal immigrants are operating out of a place of selfishness, placing themselves above the laws the govern everyone else and putting their wants and desires ahead of those who patiently waited in line. We all learned in kindergarten that cutting the line was a bad thing and unfair to those in the back of the line. Line cutters would be ratted out to the teacher and frowned upon by the other students. The same principle applies to illegal immigration. I don’t understand what’s so complicated about it that a five-year old can understand it, but the Confusedly Whining, College-Educated, Swedish-Bolivian can’t. Also, her comment about treating illegal-immigrants as third-class citizens is totally out of line. If they were “below human” as she claims, they’d be out in the fields working as slaves, and would not have access to our hospitals, schools, and a whole host of welfare programs. Compared to what many of them came from, I’d say they have it pretty good. And I’d appreciate it if the Confusedly Whining, College-Educated, Swedish-Bolivian did not make my country sound like the re-incarnation of the Third Reich.
We ended with a visit to the Hall of Flowers and Sunshine, where we wrote our feelings up on the wall. I, of course, promised to be the change I hope to be, but others took the event a little more seriously than I did. We finished up with the Indoctrination/De-compression session and wished Willy Wonka a good-bye before heading out the door.
All in all, it was a rather entertaining experience. While I realize most liberals have nightmares about these sorts of things, the way in which they presented them was quite funny, at least to me and my compadres (no racial slur intended) who live in what we like to call reality. The Tunnelers followed the classic liberal line of building of a straw man (That’s oppressive isn’t it? Maybe I should say, “straw person” or “straw wo/man”), and tearing it down. But given that we’re dealing with people who obviously have the intellectual depth of a teaspoon, what more should we expect? Though, in all honesty, I think they should really consider billing the Tunnel as a comedy show. I can’t even count the number of times I nearly broke down laughing. They could call it, “A Parody on Life: The Tunnel of Oppression.” But I guess there’s always next year.