I most definitely walked out of the “Into the Mainstream” presentation at Zarrow more than a bit confused.

While sitting in Farzaneh, because Zarrow doesn’t have cozy seating, typing this up, I am realizing how surely out-of-the-loop I am with international politics. Back in my political-knowledge prime, which was probably sophomore year of high school when my Quiz Bowl coach had me memorize a good chunk of the leaders of the world, I still had no idea what the heck any of the countries, policies, or leaders anything else had to do with one another. I have always thought that I had a decent general knowledge about what’s going on in the world, but this evening was a pleasant notifier of how lost I am!

On a seemingly unrelated note, I recognized several faces in the crowd tonight, some from GEF, PLC, or other odd-ball acquaintances on campus, and a few of them asked hearty-enough questions to make me more than question my competence as a person living on this highly politicized planet. I’ll be completely honest here–I have heard of a “populist party” before tonight, but other than that, again very honestly, I knew nothing about what the speaker was talking about. The only tidbit I even remotely recognized was the name of “Le Pen” because a few GEFers were furiously discussing some French election. Please note, a key phrase in that last sentence was “some French election.” Ha!

And since now I recognize more how little I truly know about global politics and relations, I feel like a lot of what I absorbed tonight was a little electric and, to put it lightly, strongly-worded. I learned how populists are suppose to be racist, antisemitic, heterophobic, sexist, and two other buzzwords I can’t remember. I learned how it’s hard to define “populism,” but that we did it anyway. In summary, I think it boiled down to leaders who are scrapping by and targeting the ignored voters of a political system to get in control to instill their “let’s change EVERYTHING” mindset.

Please know, the speaker did a wonderful job presenting his research and thoughts on the subject, but I couldn’t help but thinking every few minutes how biased what he was saying sounded. And regardless of political affiliation, the numerous Trump shots only soured my perception further.

For a more informed person, this event would have been highly interesting. I feel bad to say that since I truly didn’t know enough about this information on my own prior to this event, it really just left me more intrigued/skeptical than anything to find out more on the subject in general.

I guess the speaker was successful–now I want to buy his book (and others’) to learn more!

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