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Volume VI, Issue V

March 7, 2011

JHU POLITIK THE SPECTER OF A

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

ISSUE V, 3/7/11 Also in this Week’s Edition:

NATIONAL PLAYING THE FIELD

By Randy Bell, ‘13 -Page 3

THE REVIVAL OF THE DREAM ACT

By Sahdia Khan, ‘13

-Page 4

INTERNATIONAL LIBYA ON THE BRINK OF CIVIL WAR

By Thomas Bozada, Jr., ‘12 -Page 6

OPINION President Barack Obama stands with Republican members of Congress in House Speaker John Boehner's ceremonial office before his State of the Union Address. (Pete Souza/whitehouse.gov)

IN PRAISE OF THE WESTBORO DECISION

by Briana Last, ‘14 Staff Writer

By Sam Lichtenstein, ‘11 -Page 6

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ast week, an exasperated Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) exclaimed, “The only people talking about shutdown are media and Democrats.” In truth, the past few weeks have been dominated by talks of a government shutdown from both sides of the aisle. Granted, the apocalyptic mood has been particularly prevalent amongst Democrats, who deem the proposed budget cuts to be untenable. However, there are Democrats reticent to give up government programs deemed instrumental and fear that cutting spending will dramatically stifle our already flailing economy. Meanwhile, Republicans, as fiscally austere advocates of the cuts, despair at the ever-burgeoning debt. When Goldman Sachs decided to get involved, its report stirred a

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commotion. The company’s report last week detailed the effects of the GOP’s proposed $61 billion in cuts and argued that they would reduce overall growth of the economy by an astounding two percent, causing the loss of 700,000 jobs. The Center of American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the Obama administration, stated that the figures were even greater, with a direct cut of 650,000 jobs and an indirect loss of another 350,000. These astounding numbers instilled fear into the hearts of many, on both the left and the right of the political aisle, especially as these cuts also seemed to be occurring in tandem with other, more contentious losses. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) decided to wage what Democrats feel is an ideologi-

JOURNALISTIC IRRESPONSIBILITY

By Hilary Matfess, ‘14 - Page 7

JOHNS HOPKINS’s Only WeeklyPublished Political Magazine

cal crusade against labor, by attempting to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public-employee unions. Other states are enacting similar measures to balance budgets, thereby eliminating or severely reducing public programs. However, the discussions surrounding the proposed budget cuts and a potential government shutdown undoubtedly have tended towards the hyperbolic. In response to the Goldman Sachs report, Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal (Continued on Page 2) www.JHUPOLITIK.com


Volume VI, Issue V

March 7, 2011

The POLITIK EDITOR-In-Chief

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief

Joshua Ayal

Harry Black

Sam Lichtenstein

Staff Writers

Executive Editors

Randy Bell Alex Clearfield Rachel Cohen Rohit Dasgupta Eric Feinberg Becca Fishbein Conor Foley Cary Glynn Benjamin Goldberg Paul Grossinger Dan Hochman Jordan Kalms Anna Kochut Briana Last Hilary Matfess Daniel Roettger Ari Schaffer

Managing Editor

Will Denton Morgan Hitzig Hannah Holliday

Matt Varvaro PRODUCTION MANAGERS

Casey Navin Neil O’Donnell Faculty Advisor

Steven R. David JHU POLITIK is a student-run political publication. Please note that the opinions expressed within JHU POLITIK are those solely of the author. Please sign up for our e-mail list on our website, www.JHUPOLITIK.com

NATIONAL REPORT

(Continued from Page 1) Reserve, assuaged the doomsayers in his semiannual report to Congress that the numbers simply couldn’t be right, “Two percent [reduction in growth] is enormous and would be based on $300 billion in cuts.” Megan McArdle, Business and Economics Editor of The Atlantic, supports Bernanke’s claim that the budget cuts will have less of a central effect on the economy than people have been led to believe. Accordingly to her, “It's important to remember what $60 billion dollars represents. It is barely 0.4% of GDP. It is 1% of all government spending in the US, and 1.6% of total federal spending. It is 4% of the budget deficit projected for 2011 by the CBO [Congressional Budget Office].” McArdle rails against the ideological quarrels that inspire both sides of the debate, “It's not that I am enthusiastic about the GOP's spending cuts; while I'm certainly glad that they're showing some real willingness to hit hard spending targets, the economy is still pretty fragile. But as Bernanke says, this just isn't going to make much difference. In the face of the current budget, these changes are basically trivial and symbolic. And getting hysterical isn't helping anything.” Much the frenzy over a government shutdown was a result of exaggerated numbers. Congress still felt it necessary to initiate a continuing resolution just a few days ago. That is, its members put off establishing a fully formed budget and have only addressed temporary

measures to finance the government. They extended deliberation by two weeks, thereby giving both the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democrat-controlled Senate until March 18 to reconcile their differences and come up with a solution. While Republicans vie for cutting non-defense related discretionary spending, Democrats have been pushing back, clinging to government programs that are near and dear to their constituents. They have only compromised on cutting spending on proposals that President Obama made to Congress and, as such, they are resisting a blanket elimination of earmarks. Yet, even as both sides bicker over what to cut, there are certain issues the two sides can agree must remain, no matter how cumbersome they might be. In “Continuing Irresolution,” The Economist details that even more cuts on spending could be made: “The Government Accountability Office, an official watchdog, produced a report this week identifying billions of dollars that could be saved by streamlining the federal bureaucracy. But it seems unlikely that the Republicans’ full target can be met painlessly. Their proposal includes cuts to worthy and popular items such as college scholarships for the poor and nutrition schemes for babies.” Whatever our elected representatives decide, it is inevitable that spending must be cut. In the midst of all of the shutdown-inspired panic and resistance, the need to (Continued on Page 3)

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NATIONAL REPORT (Continued from Page 2) reduce the deficit has been almost entirely ignored. Indeed, another deadline is looming: the Treasury Department has warned that it may reach its congressionally imposed debt ceiling as early at April 15. While nearly all observers agree that the limit will, as always be raised, its political significance is not lost on any politicians. How Congress acts in the next two weeks will undoubtedly affect the political debate surrounding the burgeoning national debt. The time for tough decisions has come. Rest assured, crowd-pleasing displays of political theatre, on both sides of the aisle, will be on display over the next few weeks. s

Playing the Field by Randy Bell, ‘13 Staff Writer Every four years, our country is treated to a spectacle like none other. Dozens of candidates enter the political arena hoping to ascend to the nation's highest office as leader of the free world and gain immortality as high school students from now until the end of time are forced to learn their names. These battles push political ideologies to their limit, testing the warriors' ability to debate, speak publicly, and kiss the occasional baby or two. After the dust settles, only one man (or woman if the proverbial glass ceiling of gender exclusivity is shattered by the recent trend of viable female candidates for the presidency) remains, while the others are relegated to thoughts of what could have been: days in the Oval Office, nights in the Lincoln Bedroom, and acceptance into an elite class of individuals who have changed the world. The road to the White House is grueling and tiresome, but the light at the end of the tunnel is what drives these select men and women to partake in the quadrennial extravaganza that never ceases to make an indelible impact on the zeitgeist of popular culture. It is a process that makes friends out of enemies, enemies out of friends, and introduces new concepts and strategies that have forever reflected the peak of American politics and democracy throughout the ages. The year 2008 saw arguably the most heated and exciting political election in decades. All told, 21 candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties threw their hats into the ring to win their respected parties' nominations, but one-by-one dropped like flies. By the end of the first primary races in New Hampshire and the Iowa

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Caucus, the field of candidates with a realistic shot at the presidency had dwindled to only a few. The candidates that emerged were Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards for the Democrats and John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney for the Republicans. After several heated matches in key states, controversy in Florida and Michigan over whether their delegates would be counted after pushing their primaries back, and a truly historic battle between Hillary Clinton and would-be President Barack Obama, only seven candidates received delegates at all: Obama, Clinton, Edwards, McCain, Huckabee, Romney, and Republican Ron Paul. It is expected that many old faces will be returning to try their hand again in 2012. For the Democrats, President Obama has formally announced his intention to run again as the Democratic candidate, while the Republican Party's representative is still up in the air. After very successful midterm elections last November, the Grand Old Party has found new life and seeks to avenge its presidential election loss in 2012 with new vigor and spirit. Senator John McCain, who lost to Obama in 2008 due to a powerful wave of support for the Democratic Party from younger voters and a strong disapproval of outgoing Republican president George W. Bush, says that he will not run again. Asked by C-SPAN host whether he's eying another run for the White House in 2012, McCain replied, "No. I've had my chance twice. It's time for a new generation, and we've got a new generation of Republican leaders out there....we're gonna come back." Ironically, McCain was the source of the movement that now has a realistic chance of doing what McCain could not do himself: beat Barack Obama. By choosing former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, he sparked a new wing of the Republican Party popular with grassroots conservatives – the Tea Party. Led by Republican leaders, old and new, the Tea Party took the Obama mojo of change in Washington and turned it against our 44th president with its call for change in Washington, smaller government, lower taxes, more accountability, and an end to the out-of-control deficit. As Obama's numbers are leveling out and the economy appears to be less than what most had hoped for under his watch, the political pendulum is beginning to swing back in the Republicans' favor and their leading men and women are keen to take advantage. Although Palin hasn't officially announced her candidacy, she has insinuated a possible run. "Nobody's more qualified for the job than a woman, a mom or a governor maybe," she said at an (Continued on Page 4) www.JHUPOLITIK.com


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March 7, 2011

NATIONAL REPORT (Continued from Page 3) event in Long Island. Mike Huckabee has avoided a direct response and has explained what a difficult decision it truly is and how taxing it can be on one's family, career, and patience. Huckabee, however, was not even invited this year’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which attracts favored sons of the Republican Party every year and which has recently invited men like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to speak. At the same time, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is beginning to raise money to see if a run for the GOP nomination could be a possibility. He met with Georgia governor Nathan Deal last Thursday as a part of what spokesman Rick Tyler calls his "exploratory phase." Gingrich and fellow Fox News contributor Rick Santorum both had their contracts suspended for two months by the network as they continue to explore possible bids to run. Gingrich says that he will make an official decision in two weeks. Moreover, the U.S. ambassador to China, John Huntsman, who is stepping down from his position in April, was recently endorsed by the political action committee Horizon PAC. The organization is seeking online donations for his possible run even though Huntsman has not officially declared his candidacy. Fellow Mormon Mitt Romney will likely return to the field; two key New Hampshire leaders, Executive Councilor Raymond Burton and State Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley both have said they will endorse the former Massachusetts governor. To add to the mix, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, has expressed interest in running; recent world affairs have sweetened the likelihood of his success in the primaries. Bolton has expressed his wish to have more dialogue on world affairs, an area in which he has a wide array of experience and expertise. Bolton, who is also a Fox News contributor, made a speech on Egypt at this year's CPAC and has been a reliable source of information on the subject of affairs in the turmoil region Finally, Former Minnesota governor Tom Pawlenty says he will have a decision regarding his possible candidacy "sometime in the next 45 days or less." There have been no absolute decisions made yet on either side of the aisle among expected candidates except for Barack Obama and Republican senator from South Dakota John Thune, who announced via Facebook that he will continue his work on Capitol Hill. In a recent straw poll of 1,600 Tea Partiers, Ron Paul was their favored choice to run against Barack Obama next year, followed by Georgia radio host Herman Cain and

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then Sarah Palin. With a growing field of supporters, the odds of a Ron Paul presidential bid are almost certain, but his chances of beating Obama are regarded by many as slim. Obama has a larger percentage of support from his party than does Paul. A Gallup Poll of 1,326 Republican voters and Republican-leaning Independents showed Mike Huckabee as their favorite at 18%, Romney and Palin at 16% each, and Gingrich at 9%. Evangelicals also favor Huckabee (88% favorable, 11% unfavorable) leading Palin at (79% favorable, 21% unfavorable), Gingrich (57% favorable, 37% unfavorable), Romney (56% favorable, 29% unfavorable) and Paul (51% favorable, 26% unfavorable). Time will tell who the Republicans will choose to face off against their old nemesis, but one thing is for certain: if the 2012 presidential election is even half as fun and entertaining as it was in 2008, we are all in for another election for the ages. s

The Revival of the DREAM Act by Sahdia Khan, ‘13 Contributing Writer As both Democrats and Republicans scour the country for potential votes in the 2012 election, they inexorably turn their attention to the Hispanic population. With 9.7 million Hispanic votes in the 2008 presidential election, it should come as no surprise that the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, legislation affecting millions of Hispanics, both legal and illegal, has once again become a heated political issue. The DREAM Act, which failed to pass into law in 2010, would allow undocumented immigrants to attend American universities or serve in the military under certain stipulations. Activists are now working vigorously to revive this piece of legislation. The act targets Hispanic youth who immigrated to the United States as children and cannot attend college or join the armed forces due to their illegal status. Under the legislation, illegal immigrants who entered the country before the age of 16, have obtained a high school diploma or GED, have no criminal record, and have shown a continuous presence for at least five years, will be granted a six-year period to attend college or complete two years of military service. Subsequently, these dedicated immigrants would receive the opportu(Continued on Page 5) www.JHUPOLITIK.com


March 7, 2011

Volume VI, Issue V

NATIONAL REPORT / INTERNATIONAL REPORT (Continued from Page 4) nity to gain U.S. citizenship. Proponents of the act argue that it protects children of illegal immigrants against punishment from errs of their parents. Due solely to their illegal status, these Hispanic youth often find themselves disenfranchised and unable to attend college or join the armed forces, which has consequently trapped many in low income jobs and impoverished conditions. Some 85% percent of registered Latino voters stand in favor of the act and 47% identified immigration as the most pressing issue facing the Latino population. While the DREAM Act itself failed in the Senate last December, the repercussions are still materializing today. Many Hispanic voters have become disgruntled with the chamber’s lack of progress, leading to tensions with current members of Congress. With a reputation for opposing the act, Republicans have garnered only 9% of the Latino vote. Republicans back their stance on(AP) immigration by referencing issues such as jobs, national security, and the ‘war’ on drugs. In contrast to many opinions within the GOP, President Obama has publically tried to revive the legislation and has pushed for immigration reform for Latinos. “Let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who could be staffing our research labs or starting a new business, who could be further enriching this nation,” he said in his State of the Union Address. Accordingly, 93% of Obama’s Latino support base supports the DREAM Act. Particularly since the Latino population is a fast expanding demographic, both political parties have realized the importance of the Latino vote and have geared their policies toward addressing their immigration concerns of the growing Hispanic population. As statistics show, Latino voters will be closely scrutinizing political stances on immigration reform and legislation similar to the DREAM Act, an issue that could potentially shape the upcoming presidential election. s

Libya on the Brink of Civil War by Thomas Bozada, Jr., ‘12 Contributing Writer Across the Middle East and North Africa, rulers and their governments have been subjected to mass protests

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Libyan protestors celebrate their victory in Benghazi, the birthplace of the revolt against Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

and calls for revolution. The sweeping calls for reform by citizens, which have already toppled both the Tunisian and Egyptian governments, continue to spread like wildfire. The leaders of Jordan, Yemen, and Bahrain have heeded the spirit of reform and opened dialogue with opposition leaders; even the beloved Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said, has faced protests asking for more societal freedoms. Planned mass protests in Iran and China, known for their strong public security forces, have been met with pre-emptive defenses by their governments that have prevented the movements from gaining a true foothold. None of these countries, however, has faced the overall turmoil and strife that has taken hold in Libya. Colonel Qaddafi, ruler of Libya for 41 years, is refusing to step down from power, a call that not only has erupted from his own citizens but from rulers around the world. President Obama publicly stated Qaddafi had lost all his legitimacy as a leader and that “the entire world continues to be outraged by the appalling violence against the Libyan people.” Regardless of national and international pressure, Qaddafi insists that he is loved by his people, going on to condemn the United Nations for not initiating an unbiased investigation into the conflict. The war has been devastating to the country’s integrity. Thousands of refugees stand in line at the Tunisian and Egyptian borders waiting to leave the country. Recently, the United States began airlifts of refugees, utilizing two military vessels that had recently entered the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. The United States is not the only foreign power to have aided Libyan refugees. France, which quickly sided with (Continued on Page 6) www.JHUPOLITIK.com


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INTERNATIONAL / OPINION (Continued from Page 5) the rebel forces within Libya, sent planes to Benghazi, the revolt’s birthplace, carrying doctors, nurses, and medical supplies early last week. Regardless of the support for the rebels, the international community is hesitant to become more involved in the conflict. President Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have been careful with their statements referring to possible American military involvement. The idea of a no-fly zone had been thrown around, but was rejected by Russia, which stated that the move would only do more harm to the average citizen. Furthermore, there is an international consensus that Libyans deserve the right to make their own future, just as those in Egypt and Tunisia did. Yet, there have been international successes in limiting Qaddafi’s ability to wage war upon his own people. The United States has recently frozen $50 billion in assets, the largest amount ever. Furthermore, European banks and institutions have begun tracking down a further $20 billion spread throughout Europe. Besides recently reducing his financial abilities, the United States finished a six-year project in 2009 that, if left unfinished, would have given Qaddafi the needed flex to turn the Libyan revolts into an international crisis. In 2006, President Bush struck a deal to end the Libyan nuclear program. The last of the enriched uranium was only removed two years ago. “Imagine the possible nightmare if we had failed to remove the Libyan nuclear weapons program and their longer-range missile force,” said Robert Joseph, who played a central role in organizing the effort in the months just after the invasion of Iraq. While the international community decides what level of action to take, the battle rages on between Qaddafi loyalist and rebel forces. Tripoli, the capital of Libya and Qaddafi’s stronghold, is in a state of terror. “I think the people know that if they make any protest now they will be killed, so all the people in Tripoli are waiting for someone to help them,” one resident said. “It is easy to kill anybody here. I have seen it with my own eyes.” Qaddafi is also pushing to loosen the rebel forces’ grip on many parts of the country. On March 2nd, Qaddafi loyalists, whom the rebel forces call “mercenaries” in reference to their training in the Central African conflicts of the 1990s and early 2000s, stormed the city of Brega at dawn. They quickly captured the city’s airport and oil refinery. As night fell, however, the rebel forces, having received reinforcements and heavy artillery from neighboring cities, had forced the government fighters from

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the city. This battle mirrors the events last week that took place in the western city of Zawiyah, where rebel forces were able to defend the city from ground forces, mortar shelling, and bombing runs. The future of Libya is still a major question. In Benghazi, the National Libyan Council, the most organized of the opposition political forces, has called upon the United Nations for intervention to stop government air raids against ground forces. The call to the U.N. is to be seen as distinct from foreign intervention, thus allowing the uprising to remain a pure Libyan effort, though some say the distinction is superficial at best. Furthermore, the United States has stated that Qaddafi, despite the 2003-09 nuclear dismantling program, is still in possession of vast quantities of mustard gas. As rebel forces surround Tripoli, Qaddafi has recently pulled hundreds of mercenaries from Mali. If Qaddafi becomes truly entrenched, it is unclear to which actions he will resort to maintain power. The international community is at a crossroads. To intervene would be to destroy the purity of the movement and risk even more violence, but to do nothing allows Qaddafi to continue to practice ruthless repression. For now, at least, world leaders seem to be responding to the unfolding crisis on a day-by-day basis. At some point, however, they will need to make a definitive choice; expect a tense diplomatic battle. s

In Praise of the Westboro Decision by Sam Lichtenstein, ‘11 Editor-in-Chief Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in an 8-to1 decision that the First Amendment of the Constitution protects hateful protests at military funerals. The case arose from a 2006 protest at the funeral of a Marine, Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, a native of Finksburg, Maryland, who had been killed in Iraq. As they had done at hundreds of other military funerals, members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, appeared with signs bearing messages such as “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” The church, which has about 75 members, most of whom are related either by blood or marriage, protests at funerals without regard to sexual orientation (Snyder (Continued on Page 7) www.JHUPOLITIK.com


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OPINION (Continued from Page 6) was not gay). According to members of the congregation, war casualties are divine retribution from G-d for the country’s tolerance of homosexuality. The church also blames a variety of other disasters – including the September 11, 2001 Attacks and Hurricane Katrina – on what its members view as America’s permissive morals in violation of biblical commands. In response to the protest at his son’s funeral, the father of the fallen Marine, Albert Snyder, sued the protestors for intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other things. Initially, Snyder won $10.9 million in compensatory and punitive damages, though a federal judge in Baltimore later reduced the total damages to $5 million. However, in 2009 an appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, overturned that judgment and ruled that Snyder would instead have to pay $16,000 toward the legal costs incurred by Fred Phelps, the leader of the church. Last Wednesday’s decision upheld that court’s ruling. Without question, the Supreme Court’s decision tests the resolve of even the most strident supporters of free speech because the opinions and actions of the Westboro Baptist Church are so repugnant. The members of the congregation are hateful fringe elements, who have gone to the most radical extremes to publicize their abhorrent beliefs. Moreover, it takes the coldest of hearts to not feel empathy for Albert Snyder. He has had to endure intense emotional distress, yet he has continued to do all he can to honor the memory of his slain son, who made the ultimate sacrifice in support of his country. And yet, as much as we may want the above words to matter, in a court of law they do not – and should not. In its decision, the Supreme Court upheld the central tenet of the First Amendment: the government has a responsibility to remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas. While it may be tempting to search for exceptions to this rule, courts have historically resisted doing so. We are reminded of many examples, such as Hustler Magazine’s parody of the late evangelist Jerry Falwell having sex with his mother in an outhouse while drunk or neoNazis marching among Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Illinois. While we may cringe with disgust, we accept these appalling excesses because they are inseparable from the First Amendment’s essential purpose: to guarantee us all the right to speak, rather than allow a privileged elite to censor that which provokes the most debate. The Constitution does not take sides in political or religious disputes, and it does not allow the government to decide which ideas are valuable and which are not. A govern-

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(Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

ment that breaches that impartiality inevitably violates a cardinal rule of democracy. At the same time, as a group of prominent reporters and news media organizations noted in an amici curiae brief, to ask whether certain speech deserves the protection of the First Amendment misses the mark. Even hateful ideas may contribute to the marketplace of ideas by giving, as famed philosopher John Stuart Mill said, “clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” While the Westboro Baptist Church seeks to persuade people of the righteousness of its clearly revolting beliefs, its callous actions are more likely to demonstrate how extreme its positions are and to repulse any rational human being. In this light, we as a country should respond to the church’s crude homophobia, anti-Americanism, and other disgusting beliefs by focusing on the well-deserved pride we have in our political ideals and institutions, which continue to inspire the best in all of us. Ultimately, therefore, we as a people should respect the Supreme Court’s decision for affirming a basic principle of our democracy. We live in a complicated country – one in which the loud cacophony of differing opinions can at times seem overbearing, particularly when the speech in question is so repellent. Yet, the beauty of the First Amendment is that it guarantees the right to free speech to all of us – not just to those with whom we agree. Taking away that right from people – even those whose speech makes our blood boil – robs not only them, but also the rest of us, of our humanity. In a world where far too many governments oppress their own people with restrictions on their speech, the decision of the highest court in the land was a bold affirmation of our political culture, freedom, and basic humanity. s

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OPINION Coverage of the Protests: A Reflection of Journalistic Irresponsibility by Hilary Matfess, ‘14 Staff Writer Recent journalism around the globe has been understandably dominated by the eruption of protests in the Middle East and North Africa. While the ample coverage available to us is truly a 21st century miracle and the most recent vindication of the potential of communications technology to effect change, it has gotten to the point that the website of Foreign Policy included a brief analysis of the fashion industry’s reaction to the uprising. It seems to me that we have succumbed to a particularly pervasive strain of tunnel vision. Coverage of the events is limited, while virtually eliminating coverage of any other international events. Even potentially connected stories remain unpublished; analysis as to what the revolutionary spirit of the region could mean for leaders in unstable states such as Sudan or Cote d’Ivoire is practically non-existent. News about the recent violence in the Abyei region of Sudan is the online equivalent of a blurb on A12. All of these shortcomings would be more acceptable if the coverage was, in addition to being of critical importance, thorough and original. Instead, the majority of journalists’ attention is devoted to the endless repetition of sound bites from challenged leaders. Rarely discussed is what these nations must do once they have deposed their autocratic leaders. Beyond stories focused on the ‘truth’ about the Muslim Brotherhood, discussions of political parties within these states is extremely limited. A new economy, rife with jobs for the educated youth of the Middle East and North Africa, is not inherent in a successful revolution; yet few stories expound upon ideas for infrastructural revamping. Discussions of political reconstruction are largely absent, save timid predictions of eventual elections. Speculation as to whether President Obama has ‘lost’ Egypt (and other revolutionary states) abounds. Frankly, such journalism is simply lazy; it panders to a society that assumes ownership where none exists. A nation is not to be lost, found, kept, or discarded by a foreign power in this day and age. These stories ignore that the events in Cairo were not Obama ‘losing’ what he never had; they were the people claiming what is rightfully theirs.

Ideally, coverage of the monumental events sweeping the Middle East and North Africa would be treated with due diligence and expertise, would fearlessly delve into the underlying reasons for the revolutions, would be rife with firsthand accounts, and would courageously publish an honest reflection of the scholarly confusion as to what is next for this historically troubled region. But failing that, I hope that those charged with reporting these events bear in mind that the revolutions started not as a movement, but an act of desperation and incredible frustration. As we celebrate these triumphs of the people, we must not forget the conditions that prompted such rage in the first place. s FAS PRESENTS

RICHARD C KOO

Chief Economist Nomura Research Institute

Wednesday, March 9 7:00 PM in the Glass Pavilion

THOMAS FRIEDMAN

Pulitzer Prize Winning Columnist The New York Times

Thursday, March 10 8:00 PM in Hodson 110 www.jhu.edu/fas

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