My CAC Trip to Europe


Above: Carson by his Madrid communist flag from CAC’s European trip


Above are a few of my past favorites: Alexis Stamp, Dana Huggins, Laura Richards, and Katie Short. In front of the students is Ken Roberts, head of CAC’s upper school.

During the spring term of 2003, a number of my students and colleagues took a trip to Europe while I was teaching at CAC; on this trip, the United States invaded Iraq launching protesters throughout the world, including myself. Much like a number of academics and liberals, I too opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. I saw it as a smoke screen to deter the average American from the reality of the crisis. Moreover, I viewed it as an American attempt to display its might as a unilateral power by making a unilateral decision. Thus in many ways furthering the notion that this conflict was not ‘wholly’ about terrorism and America’s plight, but a point to the world that we are still fighting the Cold War; seeing through this smoke screen, Russia clearly became a much more aggressive actor. Putin’s might increased as he and the Russian state made note of America’s action.

In my “small” attempt at protesting America’s invasion of Iraq, I participated in a small march with the Madrid communists. Honestly, I did it so that I could blog about it six years later. They gave me a communist Madrid flag (see in top picture) to wave as I marched down the streets of Madrid displaying my anger at America’s actions. I will always recall seeing fleeing people escape angry protesters. My former colleague and dear friend Anita Davis (former CAC AP Calculus instructor) and I once had to run into a store just to survive an angry mob of protesters one night while perusing the streets of Madrid. Above you will notice a picture of me with two young ladies: One of those ladies is Amy Grooms, who was one of my favorite students; she married Jeff Grooms – who was my favorite student. I attended their wedding a couple of years ago and traveled to the University of Arkansas to watch Jeff get his degree in history; he is currently working on a PhD in European history at UA; it is a dream that we will one day work side by side on the same campus. I do suspect we will draft a few papers together in the future.


15 thoughts on “My CAC Trip to Europe

  1. You crazy liberals with your protests!

    Sounds like it was a fun trip. I wish HCHS would organize trips such as this – where teachers and a small group of students organize the trips as opposed to traveling on a strict itinerary with a touring company. International travel is much more enjoyable when you immerse yourself in the culture and don’t just visit all of the tourist attractions.

  2. You are a cool cat Carson. I love your Madrid story. Oh, interesting take on why we invaded Iraq. You need to devote an entire post to that. I have not thought about it like that. Hm, you are a bit of a revisionists at times.

    Oh, Dillon, I agree. I have done both. Organized trips are hr pressed. But on the flip side, they do take care of much of the leg work.

  3. I’m not sure that the invasion was that planned out ideologically, but they way you put it makes it fit in nicely as a progression of the last historically period. Who knows maybe that will become the accepted historical interpretation in a few years. BTW how would you classify 1991-2001 and did you get my email?

  4. I will never forget that trip! At the time I didn’t really understand the gravity of what we were experiencing, but today I look back on it with relish! It seems amazing that we were able to witness the rest of the world’s perspective at the outset of a war that has come to define the turn of the twentieth century. Rarely do you get to say that you participated or witnessed in something that made international news. You know with all the protests in madrid I never called my parents while I was in Europe- not once. Needless to say they were not happy with me when I got back.

    Eddie, do you ever miss the $5 walmart watch you sold to the unrelenting trinket sellers under the Eiffel for 10 Euro? Despite everything thing that happened in Madrid, that is my favorite memory.

  5. Carson, you already know that you have been a great influence on my life. Not only as an extraordinary mentor, but also as a true friend who knows their own beliefs and allows others to express their own without any fear of judgment or reprisal. You have challenged others beliefs while at the same time building a strong friendship with them and for that you should be commended. For that reason, I hope that you can understand that the following comment is neither a reprisal of your character nor a judgment of you based on your beliefs, but rather mine own reactions to your interpretations of history. Please take this as you would any other critique but rest assured that this is not meant in any harsh manners:

    I first recall hearing this story of your protest on August the 22nd of this past year, strangely it was one of the only things that I remember about that day. You had the class so enthralled with your tale of rebellion and enthusiasm that the look on each child’s face was nothing short of amazement. Sadly, I could not join in such amazement. The only thought that kept racing though my mind was at the immaturity that you showed in such an action. Let me make a chronological series of events for my argument before continuing my contention further.

    The Dictator Saddam Hussein first took office in 1979. A short year later, he took to the offensive and struck at the country of Iran, sparking the eight year Iran-Iraq War. During that war, Saddam used chemical weaponry on at least ten documented occasions with some being focused on civilians. Two years after the war in Iran, Iraq made a second attempt for power by invading Kuwait in 1990 and sparking the Persian Gulf War. At the end of the war, Saddam was told that in order to maintain his power, he was to allow United Nations officials into his country at will for a routine search for weapons of mass destruction. Between 1990 and 2002, Saddam refused sixteen times to allow the UN inspectors to enter his country and when he finally did offer up a report, it was forged and unreliable. Not only did the United States believe that the country was fostering WMDs, but nearly all of the rest of the United Nations believed it as well (It wasn’t until well after the invasion that the other countries backed out of their initial beliefs and left the blame on the Americans). Now, this wasn’t justification enough for most liberals so I will continue. During the Persian Gulf War, American and foreign peoples alike were taken hostage at an astronomical rate. Saddam had a long history of supporting Palestinian terrorist organizations within his country and of providing monetary support to the families of bombers. In 1988, he started Operation Anfal as an attempted genocide of the Kurdish people within his country. In 1991 after the Iraqi forces were expelled from Kuwait, the regime of Saddam Hussein cracked down on uprisings in the Kurdish north and Shia south. It is stated between this time over 40,000 Kurds were executed and 60,000 or more Shi’ites. A document signed by Ali Hassan al-Majid is quoted as stating, “all persons captured in those villages shall be detained and interrogated by the security services and those between the ages of 15 and 70 shall be executed after any useful information has been obtained from them” (an order ensured that there would be no more males of fighting age left within the population of Kurdistan). In 2000, the International Federation of Humans Rights Leagues released a report that documented the indoctrination of Iraqi youth into a fighting force (sound familiar? Hitler was one of Hussein’s biggest idols). These children were taken from their parents and forced to enter the Saddam’s cubs. Parents objecting to this recruitment would be executed and children jailed if they failed to comply.

    I will end my rehash here because this is the information that was readily available to the public at the time of your opposition. Now, I ask you. Over 100,000 people were killed by this man. Children were taken from their parents to be indoctrinated into a pseudo-Nazi Youth. The day Saddam Hussein was caught, his image was stricken from public plazas around the country out of gratitude to the United Nations. Thousands upon thousands of Kurds no longer had to live in fear that they would asphyxiate to death from another chemical attack. The Democratic party is supposed to promote peace and yet you and other liberals believe that we should have left this man in power because it is better not to show that we were morally upright or powerful enough to do something about it? Perhaps the democratic party only believes in peace on the homefront while allowing other countries to falter and die all in the name of “world peace”? Were we supposed to allow a more dangerous Germany to arise from where the first left off? The only difference is that this Germany was full of millions of soldiers who had no regard for their own lives and generals that didn’t believe in maintaining their strength? You cannot possibly believe that we only struck into Iraq to show our strength to Russia. What would be the point? They had already shown us that they were not even powerful enough to defeat the Muhajideen in the Soviet-Afghan War. We were not in any danger of attack.

    The fact that the war has cost us so much money doesnt even hold water any more because Obama’s new tax plan is already raising the federal debt by half of what the entire war has cost United States tax payers. Now, I want to make it known that the war in Iraq was not an American loss. What was lost was the occupation. I will admit it, President Bush will admit it, 95% of my conservative partisan brothers will admit that. With all of the prior information in mind, I ask you as a challenge to your former morals; Considering the fact that taking Hussein out covertly and leaving a power vacuum would have been more disastrous than our occupation, was there really a single thing for you to be protesting on March 20th, 2003?

  6. Patrick,

    You are taking this post way too seriously; if you recall, I took part in this for what — two minutes at the most — and that was for a quick picture and to tell an exaggerated story, as I did mention.

    Also, I have decided to write another post defending my contention on the Iraqi conflict as a cold war event; trust me, I know the history of the event; I read my textbook in school; however, this process is far more analytical than a simple timeline of events; I will agree that there are schools of thoughts thus a certain POV that shapes this, but with my historical understanding of the greater picture — I am sure I can pan at least present that side.

  7. Amy:

    “Eddie, do you ever miss the $5 walmart watch you sold to the unrelenting trinket sellers under the Eiffel for 10 Euro? ”

    Wow! How did I forget about that story. I will never forget it now. Yes I do recall it; I suckered a sucker who wanted to milk me. Oh that is a great story. I love that. It was a great trip. Man too bad Jeff had a wedding to attend.

  8. Carson,

    You’re right, i did take this post a bit seriously. I had just had a bad night and channeled it at the wrong event. I would like to hear your side of the story though and hope that theres no hard feelings. In fact, i really wouldnt have any objection to that post being removed.

  9. Patrick, the world is definitely a better place without Saddam Hussein. I have more thoughts on this issue that I will share when Carson posts his thoughts on his position. But, I don’t think your post should be deleted.

  10. No — I do not believe in deleting objections to my views. You know that. I will construct another post later on this. Give me until early next week. This might actually require some work.

  11. I dont doubt that and sorry for the rude tone, truly none was intended. What were you doing up at three in the morning anyways?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s