The Washington Post Meets The Aggies
John Kelly is a Metro columnist for the Washington Post, which from the sounds of it is probably one of those "inside the Beltway" papers that don't know nothing about the real America.
Kelly just finished up a week serving as a "journalist in residence" at Texas A&M, and it sounds like it was bit of a culture clash.
A&M, he wrote on his blog, is "a bubble so full of strange rituals that I sometimes feel moved to flee, to drive out of town, stop at the first house I see and bang on the door. 'Oh thank god,' I'd say, when the door was opened and I fell across its threshold. 'Do you know what's going on back there? We've got to call for help.'
"Only then would I notice the maroon shirt on my savior, the chunky class ring on his hand, the needlepoint hanging on the wall that reads 'Gig 'Em.' Cue manic sound of shrieking violins."
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He also included a photo essay of College Station that emphasized....well, the whole College Station-ness of the area.
Photo by John Kelly
A&Mers no likey: "Son, we use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post," said one commenter.
Kelly talked about it all in his online chat today. Responding to "Mike," who said as usual A&M was written about with sarcasm, he replied:
Mike, for the life of me I can't detect any sarcasm in anything I've written about A&M. I'm certainly capable of it, but I thought I'd played it pretty straight. And I certainly didn't ridicule it. What I did do is make some attempts at understanding it, or at least some of its traditions. You might say, "Well, you'll never understand. You shouldn't even try." That strikes me as a particularly insular viewpoint, anti-intellectual even. Weren't you ever curious about something like Muster, about how it resembles other rituals, about why A&M would have a unique blend of patriotism and pride, or are you content to think: "This is what Aggies are; outsiders aren't welcome"?
Kelly is now safely back within the Beltway.