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As a writer I try to stray from response column — normally it feels like selling out to journalism, that rather than come up with a point on my own doing, I would take someone else’s argument and counter it. The column in question came from an issue of The Daily Targum last week — not the Tuesday column, as rebutting that would be the intellectual equal of my 6-foot-4 self playing basketball with toddlers — too easy #dunkcity — on Friday, March 23, “Denounce Genital Mutilation.”
Two recent pieces in The Daily Targum shed light on a subset of the worldwide population neither well-represented nor well-researched. I am speaking, of course, about peeshes, of which a large portion of this school may be categorized. “Peesh” is the vernacular term to describe a nice person with nothing to talk about, and the author remarked in his Feb. 17 column, “A Problem of ‘Peeshiness,’” they are also known as a “shween” once across the Pennsylvanian border.
The writer Christopher Eric Hitchens, affectionately known as
“Hitch” to those who knew him or his works, passed away from
esophageal cancer on Dec. 15, 2011. I was in Atlantic City at the
time, unwinding from a night of poker and blackjack and sitting on
the bed of my Harrah’s hotel room sipping Johnnie Walker Black
Label, Hitchens’ favorite drink. I remember distinctly — despite
the Black Label coursing its rich flavor into my liver — the
sinking feeling in my stomach as I let out a small sigh.
The life of the Philadelphia sports fan is riddled with
hardships, pains, embarrassments, shame, joy, love and mostly
frustration. Each one has stories to tell and an unshakable sense
of belonging to a nation of sorts with a collective identity,
language and social norms that sometimes clash with modern society.
Their devotion to the city draws attention and criticism far and
wide — particularly their dogged, relentless hatred of rival
players and teams, with a no-holds-barred attitude toward public
disapproval of said rivals.
With the election year rolling ever closer and Republican
primaries scattering about our television networks and into our
daily conversation, it is critical to take an unbiased look at the
climate for American politics and make decisions regarding for whom
each citizen will vote. President Barack Obama is ending his first
term in office with low numbers in the poll. Only three candidates
from the Republican Party are truly noteworthy in any sense: Mitt
Romney, Herman Cain and Rick Perry.
Capital punishment has long been a controversial issue in the
United States. There are currently 34 districts that have outlawed
via legislation the application of capital punishment in any case,
including aggravated murder. However, some states, like Texas,
continue to employ the death penalty for criminals and add cases in
which capital punishment may be applicable.
The occupation of Wall Street is going substantially uncovered
by major media outlets, causing some understandable outrage in
protestors. More than 700 arrests were made on Sunday, as the
protest made its way to the Brooklyn Bridge, and activists were
arrested for blocking streets and disorderly conduct. The protest
has only become larger as the days wear on and gained celebrity
support from liberal voices like Roseanne Barr, Michael Moore and
A commentary entitled “Move toward colorblind society,”
published in The Daily Targum on Monday made the bizarre claim that
affirmative action has a negative effect on the American
educational policy and that racial affiliation — i.e. identifying
yourself at least partially by your race — prevents national
harmony or at least creates some form of social discord. The idea
of “[regarding] race as a superficial characteristic akin to hair
color or height” is a noble goal in theory, but it undeniably bears
the stamp of the “white man’s burden.” It is easy for those in the
normative white race to dismiss race as an arbitrary,
differentiating characteristic in society. However, the assertion
that the author makes directly contradicts the right that all have
to identify with a people, a shared history and an ongoing fight
against social, legislative and systemic discrimination.
Our First Amendment grants us four unalienable rights as
Americans — the freedom of press, the freedom to public assembly,
the freedom of religion and, of course, the freedom of speech. Our
freedoms allow us a certain level of comfort and ease when
communicating our thoughts and beliefs. There are certainly some
limitations on free speech. The United States has laws against
slander and libel, wherein the speaking party may be arrested or
punished if the statement is made with malicious intent,
deliberately false information or the intent to defame the person.
One needs only to look at Supreme Court cases like New York Times
Co. v. Sullivan to see how free speech can be scathing without
defaming or malicious. Gitlow v. New York is another case that
shows how free speech can be limited if it is dangerous to the
state, or seditious in matter.
Recently France put into effect a law that bans the public
wearing of the niqab and burqa, two facial coverings used by
conservative Muslim women, and began arresting and prosecuting
women who wear the veils. To briefly paraphrase the law, women are
being arrested because the facial coverings are a new form of
religious enslavement that oppresses the civil rights deserved by
and granted to French citizens by their government. The debate is
centered on one question: Does a government that fights for and
protects the freedoms of its citizens maintain the right to apply
law to personal dress choices in an effort to legalize what their
constitution would deem is "right" for them?
The Oxford dictionary defines democracy as "a system of
government by the whole population or all eligible members of a
state, typically through elected representatives." The basis for
democracy lies in participation of the general public, and the
opinion held by the most voters will eventually be implemented. It
is possible for this system to fail the intelligentsia of a
population or the needs of a country. One need only look at the
election of Hamas in Palestine, which drew criticism from Israel
and the United States, or the 2000 and 2004 elections of George W.
Bush as president of the United States, which drew criticisms
internationally and among the liberals in the country. The
resounding result of subjectively unfortunate elections is "tough
cookies." At the end of the election, the result was final and left
those who did not participate scratching their heads.
With the recent presidential announcements of Michele Bachmann,
Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump, it's quite possible that the
Republican Party is quickly approaching the threshold for
ridiculous. While it is true that these three have only
"unofficially declared" their intentions to run, it seems they have
all intention of putting together serious campaigns. Some more
"serious" candidates in contention — Tim Pawlenty, former governor
of Minnesota, and Fred Karger, a gay activist from California —
have already announced they will run for the candidacy in the
primaries. By all means, Pawlenty is a serious-seeming candidate
with a shot of winning the candidacy. Karger is a qualified
political consultant and would also, if he were to win the
candidacy, be the first openly gay presidential candidate.
Ironically he would be running on the ticket for the political
party that has worked almost tirelessly to suppress other gays'
rights to marriage in recent memory. That's a topic for a different
The United States has been engaged in a multi-front war in
Afghanistan and Iraq since Sept. 11, 2001, mainly to hunt down
Osama bin Laden and exact retaliation for the terrorist attacks
that killed over 3,000 people in the World Trade Center, Pentagon
and the downed plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Then-president
George W. Bush further explained the affront by affirming that Iraq
had weapons of mass destruction and that our military presence
would ensure a rapid influx of democracy. Actual background
research into Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi — fittingly codenamed
"Curveball" — brought to light that the intelligence he presented
to Bush's cabinet concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
was entirely fabricated, and that al-Janabi himself was nothing
more than a con artist and habitual liar. But at least we were
spreading freedom, right?
BAKA: Students United for Middle Eastern Justice held an event a
week ago entitled "Never Again for Anyone," which planned to shed
light on the injustices faced by Palestinians in the frame of
horrible injustices done to Jews in the Holocaust. The panel
included two Holocaust survivors who intended to share the message
that the atrocities committed in the Holocaust should not be
forgotten or isolated from history, but rather remembered and kept
in mind so that such events never happen again to anyone — hence
the title. As is almost necessary in today's Israel-Palestine
conversation, mistakes were made and problems were blown out of
proportion until the situation reached and passed a threshold and
entered the realm of prejudice. While the event organizer's choice
to impose a $5 fee — which was outside of BAKA's control — the
resulting hoopla brought more negative attention and contempt for
opposing sides than the event alone would have originally created.
The ensuing xenophobia and racial or religious slurs thrown at
University students from protestors — who were mostly non-students
— created an enormous debacle.
Religion is and has been a polarizing force in American and
international politics. It has served as a source of inspiration, a
moral compass and a guide of living for millions. It has also
served as a means of destruction, death, slaughter and
discrimination. Some of you may remember that last semester I
penned an article regarding the mistaken aspirations of atheists
like myself. The following may seem hypocritical, but after a few
events over break and reading the Jan. 20 column in "The Daily
Targum" titled "Anti-Semitism Exists Today," I feel it needs to be
said. Christopher Hitchens was right when he posited that religion
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested yesterday
morning. He has been refused bail for fear of fleeing the country
and that his life will be taken by a political radical. The recent
leaks, which have shown the United States to be less-than-reputable
in some takes of international politics, have sparked debate,
focusing mostly on whether the truth about politics is worth
running the risk of American diplomats losing credibility in the
realm of international relations. The answer is unequivocally
Religion, particularly the Christian religion, has been a
long-standing American tradition. Christianity — along with apple
pie, democracy, being white, baseball, and freedom — have for a
long time been the faces of America as depicted in the minds of
most politicians and demagogues. In recent decades, Judaism, and in
some cases, Islam, have garnered the same respect among fellow
believers in an Abrahamic God. Hatred and bigotry still do exist
towards these groups, but in most cases, a belief in God seems
sufficient enough to cement a person's values and moral foundation.
Yes, atheists are godless, but immoral? That seems a bit much,
especially in a land that was founded and settled in on the basis
of religious freedom — which of course would rationally include the
freedom to not believe.
The letter titled "Ideology poses as scholarship at Brandeis
U.," in Monday's The Daily Targum is another poorly constructed and
illogical smear campaign on support of Palestinians in colleges
across the nation. However, the author's attack on "social justice"
campaigns throughout America comes off as decidedly racist in
origin. The letter highlighted Brandeis University's week to
recognize Israeli's occupation of Palestine, and he argues the
recent willingness of today's youth to partake in "social justice"
is either open or thinly veiled anti-Semitism. This position is
further highlighted by the title of the Boston University
professor's recent book "Genocidal Liberalism: The University's
Jihad against Israel & Jews."
I am, among many things, a fairly liberal Democrat. I feel that
anyone who has read one of my past columns would clearly be able to
connect the dots and reach that conclusion. I have a certain view
of the world, of America and of the state. If presented with new
information, I have no problem with altering my view to align
itself best with the facts at hand. There are many like me in this
country, especially at a fairly liberal state school like the
University. However, there is one thing that sets me apart from
people who feel as strongly as I do in the realm of politics.
The war on drugs in the United States will celebrate its 39th
birthday as a part of official political vernacular in less than a
month. The ongoing prohibition of psychedelic drugs is now more
than a century old. The phrase has been used by politicians left
and right who want to seem tough on crime without much thought to
its roots and the means of "winning" this war. In the 39 years that
the war has been official, arrest rates have soared, prisons have
become overcrowded and tougher laws have been passed to ban drug
trafficking and punish users. So the U.S. government is clearly
winning the war on drugs, right?