Tag Archives: Tunnel of Oppression

Is There Light at the End of the Tunnel (of Oppression)?

*You can find most of this year’s Tunnel in the video above. However, due to a technical issue, the last scene of the Tunnel is not included.

There are few bonds on campus that run longer and deeper than my bond with the Tunnel of Oppression. Having proudly participated all three years that it’s been on campus, I think that I come as close to being a Tunneler Expert as any man on campus. As such, it is my duty- Nay! My solemn privilege- to provide, yet again, a brilliant and insightful commentary on this year’s Tunnel.

My greatest disappointment this year was a lack of a theme for the Tunnel. Personally, my favorite was last year’s Willy Wonka Theme, but this year there wasn’t one. Really disappointing. And there’s so much to pick from, Twilight, Hunger Games, Dr. Seuss… so sad.

First up was the “Privilege Walk” (take one step forward if you’re a privileged white, heterosexual male, take one step back if you’re not). This was more or less consistent with what they’ve done in the past, so I won’t comment too much on that. Though, they really could have gone wild with a Hunger Games theme here (“everyone with white, heterosexual, Christian parents, battle to death!).

However, they did modify the Disabilities Awareness Room. Last year, if you’ll recall, they had a student with Dyslexia sitting at a desk, taking a test, with a teacher screaming at her to hurry up. As several people pointed out, such a situation was highly improbable mostly because it was very illegal (kind of like the love between a vampire and a werewolf). This year, they had the same student, but instead of a teaching yelling at the student, they had another student complaining to the teacher about the special accommodations being provided to the Dyslexic student. While this is a slightly more plausible situation, I’m not sure that it’s all that plausible. Assuming we’re talking about college students and not 8-year olds, I’m not sure that your typical college student is going to go up to the professor and whine about how the girl with Dyslexia gets extra time to finish her test. Realistically, who wants to be known as the person who throws a bitch fit (pardon the French) about it because the girl who can’t read gets a few extra minutes on her test? I think it’s one of those situations where peer pressure can actually act as a reinforcement for more charitable action. Besides, it’s also my understanding that students with learning disabilities have the option of taking their tests at the Disabilities Center, where they would not have to worry about any negative, external pressures from their peers. So, again, a non-issue.

Illegal Love?

Next up was a body image scene. I think what was most interesting about this bit was some of the stats they had posted around the room, things like 8 in 10 children are afraid of become fat, etc. Of course, when you’ve got the First Lady of the United States running around telling everyone that they’re fat and need to lost weight, these resulting mentalities shouldn’t really be all that unexpected. Perhaps if the government wasn’t so keen on forcing everyone to live what they deem a “healthy lifestyle,” people wouldn’t be as obsessed with how they look. Of course, pop culture also plays a role (which I believe the Tunnel covered pretty well), but we mustn’t underestimate the effect of things like the Let’s Move! program.

The Religion scene was a bit better this year. It consisted largely of a group of students (each representing a different religion) discussing different religious stereotypes (e.g. Jews are rich, Christians are Bible Thumpers, etc.). Nothing terribly controversial here, though given the rather condescending attitude that often greets religion on campus, it’s definitely an area worth covering.

We finally got some fireworks in the Homophobia Room. Now, I’ve always thought that the word, “homophobia,” was always a bit of a misnomer. I have yet to meet a person who’s legitimately scared of homosexuals (unlike, say a tree’s Thneedophobia). Though, perhaps if more people were homophobic, it would make the homosexuals quest for “equality” a little easier. They could just hang out near polling places and scare all those bigoted homophobes away from the polls. You know, kind of like the Black Panthers are apt to do. Anyway… The scene starts out with a couple students studying. A few more students wander in, one of the male students kisses his boyfriend, and the other students then proceed to gossip about the apparently homosexual student on the other side of the room. The other students get up and knock a few books off the homosexual student’s desk on the way out. Finally, this student relates a couple stories about abuse gay students receive off campus, mostly notably being picked on in bars and the like (he relates how, in one instance, someone threw an orange at him in a  bar). Supposedly, these stories were based on actual events at UNC. But I kind of have a hard time believing that. Particularly with regard to homosexuality, UNC is one of the most tolerant places on the planet. While it’s conceivable that maybe (a very big maybe) something like the bullying evident in the scene occurred, in my four years here (a large time of which was spent hanging out in more conservative circles, where supposedly such obnoxious bullying would originate) I have yet to see anything that remotely approaches the malice presented in the Tunnel.

As far as the anecdotes regarding the bars go, I also have a hard time that a bouncer (or bar owner or other responsible party) would sit by while someone attempts to start a food fight in his bar. Aside from the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever even seen an orange in a bar (except for a small slice in my Blue Moon, which I highly recommend), bar fights aren’t exactly good for business. But let’s assume it did happen. It’s a little presumptive to think that just because someone throws an orange at you, it’s because he hates you because you’re gay (or a vampire). More likely it’s because he was drunk and wasn’t really thinking clearly. Or maybe he wasn’t even aiming for you (I myself tend to have rather terrible aim and have a tendency to hit everything except what I’m actually aiming for- part of the reason I don’t play baseball). But then that would ruin the story wouldn’t it? You can’t very well cast yourself as a down-trodden victim of oppression, if your supposed oppressor was just drunk. I also realize that this is all taking place with Amendment 1hanging out in the background, so I understand if some people want to push an agenda, but I don’t believe that the scene, as presented, is an accurate depiction of the environment at UNC.

Beware the Oranges!

Human Trafficking was next. I think the most interesting aspect of this scene was the bit where the illegal alien relayed some of the financial difficulties she was having with her boss (e.g. receiving less than the minimum wage, watching her entire paycheck disappear in a flurry of employer deductions, etc.). While her situation is certainly tragic, it’s not entirely unpredictable. When you enter this country (or any country really) illegally, you can’t really expect to have the full protection of the law. While you can certainly make appeals to human justice, etc., those don’t really have the same staying power as a cop with a gun and handcuffs. In my humble opinion, this is one of the largest problems with America’s current immigration policy, which doesn’t merely condone illegal immigration, but outright encourages it. The people who are here illegally are often not protected by any sort of law (because you can’t very well wander up to the Department of Labor and file a wage complaint if you’re not even supposed to be here in the first place), so they open themselves up to exploitation (from capitalist Thneeders). This, I think, is the greatest tragedy of illegal immigration, and one that often goes unappreciated by the open borders types.

We will definitely be having a conversation.

The Relationship Violence scene was fairly similar to previous years’ presentations, so in the interest of space (and holding your interest), I shall proceed to the final room, the Race Room. Unfortunately, this was the only room I was unable to record (my spy camera has limits apparently, I’ll be having a discussion with James Bond about that), so I’m having to go completely off memory on this one. From what I can recall, there were four (or maybe three) girls in the room, one black, one white, one Asian, and one Indian (I think). The Asian girl largely complained about how people look at her funny and make fun of the way her mother talks and what she eats for lunch. Personally, I found this kind of amusing. When I was in China, I got stares (literally) from the natives all the time. I don’t think they even realized they were doing it half the time, but it was kind of amusing to go walking down the street and have scores of Chinese people turn their heads to look at you. The toddlers were always the best, because they would point and then get these looks of utter bewilderment on their faces- kind of cute in a way. This happened nearly every time I went out (though it occurred more frequently in Anyang, where the white man rarely treads, than in Beijing). I was never really bothered by it. It was kind of amusing. That and I could always swap stories with the other foreigners in my program (the best one I heard was of a guy riding his bike, who turned to look at one of the American students, and then proceeded to ride right into a wall). I can’t even imagine what my Chinese sounds like to a native (though my teachers did make me do some rather interesting tone exercises in an effort to purge my accent).

A Cross Stitching of Mao? Weird

I don’t think whatever gawking (here intended more broadly than just physically looking at someone) goes on between Americans and Asians is due to racism, but due more to the large differences between the two cultures. We’re just very different from each other and have completely different cultural underpinnings (and they eat weird things that we would never dream of eating and vice-versa). I think the gawking results more from a genuine curiosity about the other culture more than anything else. And I think when someone goes up to you in the cafeteria and asks what that weird, noodlely concoction in your lunchbox is, it isn’t because they’re trying to make fun of you (though maybe they are), but because they want to learn more about what you’re eating. It’s an invitation to share cultures. If we all just pretend that nothing’s unique and are afraid to ask questions because we’re afraid of being labeled a racist, that doesn’t make for a very interesting world and does nothing to bridge cultural divides.

The other girl who stood out was the white girl, who apparently was the embodiment of white guilt. She talked about how she’s been pulled over three times and never given a ticket, easily got into college and found a job, etc. Well, as the stereotypical white male, I’d like to know her secret. Personally, I find the suggestion that everything I have I have simply because I’m white offensive. I’ve worked hard to get where I am and have had nothing handed to me on a silver platter. I haven’t the slightest guilt (racial or otherwise) because everything I have is the result of hard work and determination.

And I don’t think that is true simply for me. The idea that white people have some sort of advantage over other races is absurd. This actually came up in the post-Tunnel discussion group, specifically concerning Affirmative Action. Several members of my group brought up the point that racism, properly defined, is simply a situation where race factors into a person’s decision about how to act. Affirmative Action, which is solely based on race, is nothing more than reverse-discrimination. It offers preferential treatment to applicants who are non-white and non-Asian, racism in its purest form. Of course, when the group raised this point, the moderator quickly attempted to redefine what Affirmative Action “actually” is. Apparently isn’t a form of reverse discrimination (California begs to differ), but it’s merely an attempt by university administrators to put together the best possible class from a group of students. This is quite funny, because that’s still racism! In this case, administrators are simply making the determination that it is better for the university to admit certain racial classes than to admit the most qualified applicants. Needless to say, the moderator didn’t quite have a response, and the discussion wrapped up rather quickly after that.

That about does it for the Tunnel of Oppression. I’m sorry to say that this will be last commentary on this fine event. I’m sure that my wit and wisdom will be sorely missed, but alas, I must move on to bigger and better things, like chronic unemployment and a small mountain of student debt. But never fear, I hear a recovery is just around the corner.

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The Tunnel of Oppression (or Why White People Suck)

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.

A Racial Bubble

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.

Do you think they're illegal???

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.

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