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Volume VI, Issue X

May 2, 2011

JHU POLITIK HE’LL BE BECK

COMMENTATOR TO LEAVE FOX

ISSUE X, 5/2/11 Also in this Week’s Edition:

INTERNATIONAL DAMASCUS SPRING

By Briana Last, ‘14 -Page 3 HUNGARY’S NEW CONSTITUTION

By Megan Augustine, ‘13 -Page 4

OPINION THE MORALS OF BOOK BURNING AND VIOLENCE

By Jordan Kalms, ‘14

-Page 5

LETTERS (Brendan Smialowski/ NY Times)

By Josh Ayal, Harry Black, and Sam Lichtenstein -Page 7

by Randy Bell, ‘13 Staff Writer

T

here have been many words used to characterize Glenn Beck. He has been called charismatic and delusional, inspirational and dangerous, brilliant and insane. However, one word has defined Glenn Beck’s career in television and radio more than any other: controversial. He has made enemies and friends with his outspoken views on politics and the direction of this country, paving the path for the Tea Party movement and grassroots movements across the land. His efforts and message have disseminated throughout the world of politics and engraved into the media art a new chapter of frank and unreserved commentary. Millions have traveled from all corners of America to see

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FROM THE EDITORS-INCHIEF

him speak and they tune in daily to absorb his every word. He has become the unofficial leader of a generation of citizens that he has drawn out of the woodwork to engage in the complicated world of government and policy. Love him or hate him, he has defined a new culture bloc over the last three years which will continue to make its mark on our nation long after he leaves his Fox News post later this year. After 21 years in radio, Beck got his first television job working for CNN as a political commentator. His show, described by the New York Times as a "mix of moral lessons, outrage and an apocalyptic view of the future ... capturing the feelings of an alienated class of Americans,” earned him the Marconi Radio

JOHNS HOPKINS’s Only WeeklyPublished Political Magazine

Award for Network Syndicated Personality of the Year and the network’s second largest audience. In 2009, shortly after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Beck was hired by Fox News to host his own television show. His show has consistently gained better ratings in the 5pm Eastern-time slot than the other major news records and has been a major factor in making Fox News the highest rated and most viewed network in news. During his tenure at Fox News, he has maintained the radio show he started in 2000, which has also been a major success, garnering him over (Continued on Page 2) www.JHUPOLITIK.com


Volume VI, Issue X

May 25, 2011

The POLITIK Editor-in-Chief

EDITOR-In-Chief

Editor-in-Chief

Harry Black

Sam Lichtenstein

Staff Writers

Executive Editors

Managing Editor

Will Denton Morgan Hitzig Hannah Holliday

Matt Varvaro

Joshua Ayal

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

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) 6.5 million listeners and putting him third in ratings, behind his conservative counterparts, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Beck has also written 14 books and put together two major rallies in Washington: the 9-12 project and Rally to Restore Honor. Glenn Beck’s commercial success, however, has not come without a strong critical backlash. His often apocalyptic and acrimonious tone has polarized the political community and lead to remarks that have driven away a total of 119 sponsors. For example, n July of 2009, Beck claimed that President Obama was a racist with “a deepseated hatred for white people.” He has again and again accused the Obama administration of socialism, communism, and political conspiracy. He has compared the government to Germany’s Weimar Republic and Stalin’s Soviet Union. He has likened the administration, the National Endowment for the Arts, the study of climate change, the Peace Corps, and even the act of empathy, to Nazism. He has stated that he believes FEMA built concentration camps to imprison immigrants. Most recently, he claimed that Stephen Lerner, a key official in the Service Employees International Union, was a greater threat to the nation than were the September 11th attacks. When Glenn Beck retires from his post at Fox News, he will leave behind a legacy of anti-government savoirfaire that has characterized a portion of the voting elec-

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torate. Early on, Beck made a name for himself as an anti-government libertarian. He strongly opposed the Obama campaign in 2008 and became a sort of antithesis of the president and his administration since he was elected. Beck perpetuated the major assaults on Obama, leading up to the election, including attacking his relationships with ACORN, Jeremiah Wright, and William Ayers. Glenn, however, has shown opposition to Republicans as well as Democrats, claiming that the immoral culture in Washington has affected most politicians. In fact, in an interview with Sarah Palin, Beck claimed that the only reason he supported John McCain in 2008 was because she was on the ticket. Beck is hoping for “the next George Washington” to lead the country out of its progressive tendencies, and has repeatedly stated his fear that unless Washington moves towards how it was in the days of the Founding Fathers, the country is on a road to destruction. Although Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has declined to comment on the scope of Beck’s retirement and which end the decision came from, he did say that Beck “brought additional information, a unique perspective, a certain amount of passion and insight to the channel … but that story of what's going on and why America is in trouble today, I think he told that story as well as could be told. Whether you can just keep telling (Continued on Page 3) www.JHUPOLITIK.com


May 2, 2011

Volume VI, Issue X

NATIONAL REPORT / INTERNATIONAL REPORT (Continued from Page 2) that story or not ... we're not so sure.” Beck expressed similar views on the retirement, saying “How many times can I tell the [George] Soros story?” referring to the liberal businessman who Beck has frequently targeted as a dangerous criminal. Furthermore, part of Beck’s leave from Fox News could be due to his falling ratings, mostly among younger viewers, and fleeting advertisers, over 400 of which have refused to show their commercials during the Glenn Beck Show. Still, Beck has expressed his desire to continue to work with Fox News after his show ends. Beck has been in talks with Ailes to continue to work together on projects in the future, including documentaries that he plans to make. “I will continue to tell the story and I will be showing other ways for us to connect," he said after announcing the decision on his television show, and that “we're heading into deep and treacherous waters”. Though the loss of Glenn’s classic chalkboard machinations and passionate rants will leave an indelible hole in the 5pm Fox News lineup and telivision news in general, it is all but certain that this will not be the last we see of him. His mark on the political community will carry on into the next presidential election and be a decisive factor in the future direction of this country. s

Damascus Spring by Briana Last, ‘14 Staff Writer

The domino effect of revolution in the Middle East finally reached Syria just over a month ago. As a result, unprecedented and ceaseless violence ensued across the nation, mostly coming from the brutal military forces of the regime. In many ways, Syria’s revolution looks much

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like the other movements occurring in the region. As was the case in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia, Syria’s revolutionary forces face a corrupt, authoritarian ruler, whose interests no longer align with that of the country’s population. Yet, as Syrians find themselves fighting the iron rule of Bashar al-Assad and outsiders watch the violence with horror, many are beginning to determine that the uprisings look quite different than those in other Arab countries. What distinguishes Syria from the other Middle Eastern nations is both its political significance in the region and the tremendous amount of violence that now plagues the country. As soon as Syrians announced their anti-government protests, President Assad, who oscillated between placating reformers and hardening his rule during the democratic craze leading up to April’s protests, began using his military. On April 22 alone, his military is thought to have killed over 100 people in 14 separate towns. The violence has continued as the president employs more police and paid armed thugs with batons and electric tasers. The death toll since demonstrations began about a month ago has reached around 500. The comparison with previous military crackdowns has been widespread. Most infamously, Bashar’s father Hafez ruthlessly put down an Islamist revolt in 1982 by shelling the entire town of Hama and killing an estimated 20,000 people in the process. According to many observers, it will be unsurprising if Bashar continues the brutality his father practiced so effectively. The amplified violence in Syria is undoubtedly due to its strong military force, a military that the West is not prepared to fight against on both pragmatic and ideological grounds. Unlike Libya, Syria’s influence in the Middle East is tremendous and extends to many other countries with which the United States is not willing to engage. The Middle Eastern nation hosts many Iraqi insurgents, asserts its influence in Lebanon by backing the Sh’ia political party-cum-militia, Hezbollah, and supports Hamas, the Palestinian fundamentalist group that governs the Gaza portion of the Palestinian Territories. In addition, the West wants to avert providing fuel for the flame in future years by leaving an image that the political instability in Syria enabled the United States to assert its agenda. The refusal to intervene has caught the attention of many critics of American actions in Libya, who were quick to make accusations of hypocrisy. Yet, the West’s (Continued on Page 4) www.JHUPOLITIK.com


Volume VI, Issue X

May 2, 2011

INTERNATIONAL REPORT (Continued from Page 3) reticence to intervene in a country that seems to be experiencing exceptional amounts of violence came to a close when Barack Obama decided to take small steps as a warning against Assad’s rule. On Friday April 29, the president signed off on various sanctions that would impose restrictions on three top Syrian officials, Syria’s intelligence agency, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which ha close contacts to the Syrian regime. The names of the officials have not been revealed, but according to various new sources the sanctions freeze any assets the targets have in American jurisdiction and prevent American citizens from doing business with them. The implications of these sanctions have yet to unfold, but it is certain that the fighting in Syria will continue with full force. The day President Obama imposed sanctions, Syrians took the streets in Damascus and around the rest of the country. No sooner had the protests begun in the city of Deraa than troops opened fire, killing fifteen people. Political commentators hope that a military intervention like the one in Libya will not be necessary. As the violence increases exponentially, Mr. Assad’s loyalty seems to be waning. Infighting and defection within the army has become prevalent as the president’s power base, largely composed of Alawites, Sunni merchants, and various high positioned Druze and Christians, follows suit. For a ruling regime that has its base in the minority ethnic group of the country, defections only bring even greater chances of collapse. There are also hopes that Turkey, a bordering nation and close ally to Syria, will use its political clout to restrain President Assad out of fear of an influx of refugees hoping to escape the violence. However, the country’s current seeming ambivalence might be telling of their propensity to remain in the sidelines. As Syria’s neighbors remain silent and the West makes meager efforts to suppress the authoritarian regime, the violence will surely continue to rage. s

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Hungary’s New Constitution by Megan Augustine, ‘13 Contributing Writer

Hungary has signed a new constitution into law that is eliciting criticism from its own people, news agencies around the world, the European Union, and non-governmental human rights groups. According to many of these critics, the legislation is viewed as anti-democratic and a violation of human rights. Despite these criticisms, the new constitution was passed in parliament on April 18th and signed into law by President Pal Schmitt on April 25th. Points of humanitarian concern amongst the changes in the new constitution include the possibility for imprisonment without parole, defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, and the protection of life beginning at the embryotic state. The critics of these new laws claim that citizens are being denied their human rights and that the constitution is discriminatory by being heavily biased towards the Christian faith. One prominent international rights group, Amnesty International, has vocally declared these changes to be human rights violations, while the EU has said that these policies are in violation of the EU’s constitutional law advisory board, the Venice Commission. Examples of the constitution’s illiberal qualities include the near impossibility to amend it, the weakening of government transparency, and the preservation of the current ruling party. The constitution declares that a 2/3 majority must exist for a law to be passed in parliament, indicating that the current third of opposition groups will be unable to hold any leverage against the ruling party. The Supreme Court has been restricted to reviewing cases presented only from the president or at least (Continued on Page 5) www.JHUPOLITIK.com


Volume VI, Issue X

May 2, 2011

INTERNATIONAL REPORT / OPINION (Continued from Page 4) one quarter of parliament members, and all other Hungarians will have no access to the court. Additionally, the president has also been given the power to dissolve parliament in the event of a stalemate regarding the budget. The EU has called for an inquiry into the new constitution to determine its legality. However, according to many observers, the EU holds no legal tools to combat and resolve the problem. According to Johns Hopkins’s own Dr. Dorothee Heisenberg, the European Commission could take Hungary to court at the European Court of Justice, but Hungary’s national court would have to comply with the ruling for any new law to be enforced. This new grievance against the ruling Hungarian government is just one in a series that have occurred since the ruling center-right Fidesz party came into power with a 2/3 majority in parliament in June 2010. Since that time, the BBC has declared that is members have been “eroding checks and balances.” One prominent(AP) example of this charge has been a controversial media law passed in January that established fines and sanctions against news and entertainment broadcasters if their coverage is seen as unbalanced or immoral. There are concerns that laws such as this are intended to prevent critique of government policies. Within the EU bureaucracy, Germany has been the most outspoken against these changes and has previously spoken about taking away some of the EU presidential rights of the rotating EU presidency that Hungary currently holds. Other recent complaints against Fidesz have been in regards to “crisis taxes” that are being imposed on the energy, telecom, and retail industries to help offset the government debt, as well as movements against pension funds, cultural institutions, and fiscal and monetary authorities, which Reuters UK calls “illiberal power grabs.” The party’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, has even been compared to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is widely viewed in Europe as subverting checks and balances and the overall democratic process in his own country. In addition to international complaint against the constitution, the ratification process in Hungary has also sparked a series of protests within the country. Many people are currently criticizing the government for seeking only to solidify its power rather than to uphold the democracy and stimulate an ailing economy. Now that the new constitution has passed, many are questioning the decision of the opposition parties to pull out of the process to draft the new constitution. That de-

cision allowed the Fidesz party to draft the document on its own, which many have argued is the reason for the bias in the constitution. Despite it critics, the Hungarian government has gone on a diplomatic offensive to explain the virtues of the new constitution. Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi has been travelling around Europe and portraying the new document as a way to move forward in Hungary’s continuing transition from communism to liberal democracy. For his part, Janos Lazar, the leader of Fidesz’s parliamentary faction, has said that the new document serves to repay “Those Hungarians who changed the regime and political players who took part in shaping political life.” While observers are sure the debate over the constitution will continue – both in Hungary and Europe – many do not expect much progress until Hungary relinquishes its rotating presidency in June. Even more so, pessimists point out that the likelihood of all of the EU’s member states agreeing on a common course of action is unlikely. In this respect, the debate over the response the new constitution revolves around a much deeper question – that of the EU’s powers and place in the 21st century. s

The Morals of Book Burning and Violence by Jordan Kalms, ‘14 Staff Writer On March 20, 2011, pastor Terry Jones burned a copy of the Koran on the grounds of his church in the town of Gainseville, Florida. The book burning was preceded by a mock trial, attended by most of the 50 congregants of Jones’s ambiguously named church, the Dove World Outreach Center. Upon the conclusion of the trial, at which the book was deemed guilty of promoting terrorist activities and various other immoralities, the Koran was then marinated in kerosene and tossed on a portable grill, where it was publicly burned. On April 1, protestors overran the city of Mazar-iSharif in northern Afghanistan and rallied together to take communal offense at the actions of pastor Jones. Afghan crowds flooded the compound of the United Nations Assistance Mission, leaving 30 men and women dead in their wake and injuring at least 150. Throughout the month of April, rallies continued around the Muslim (Continued on Page 6)

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Volume VI, Issue X

May 2, 2011

OPINION (Continued from Page 5) world, notably in Pakistan and Indonesia, where smaller and less pugnacious crowds have gathered to show their contempt for Terry Jones, America, and Christianity. At the rallies, American flags have been burned, President Obama has been stabbed and torn in effigy, and “Allah ho Akbar” (Arabic for “god is great”) has been affirmed, reaffirmed, and reaffirmed again. In India, Christian schools and churches have become the hapless targets of many successful arsonists. In a truly nuanced and innovative approach to foreign policy, Iran's Islamic Culture and Relations Organization labeled the book burning a “Zionist plot”. Even before the burning occurred, when Jones announced his initial intention to burn the Koran on September 11th, a debate was sparked in the media over the question of who bears the responsibility for those injured when an invariably violent reaction occurs on response to Jones’s inane plan. That is to say, who is responsible for the lives of innocent men and women killed out of misplaced violence perpetrated by religious fanatics in reaction to the morally neutral act of burning a book? The answer is undeniably that the responsibility for the crimes committed in Afghanistan and around the world, the murders and the arson and the hate, lies with the people who committed these acts, the belligerently pious protestors, and not with those who ostensibly provoked them. In reaction to these events, Barack Obama condemned the burning of the Koran and the murders in Afghanistan with equal vigor, deeming both acts morally reprehensible. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria stated that, “burning the holy book of any religion is offensive, but so is killing people in reaction to that burning.” These comments are typical of American pundits and politicians, who seem incapable of considering one act as worse than another, especially when it comes to religion. Murder, however open minded we strive to be, is a more pernicious act than book burning, and the atrocities that took place in Afghanistan are representative of psychopathic religious frenzy rather than a reaction to the inanity of Terry Jones. Indeed, the Afghan reaction to the burning of the Koran gives us an insight into the mind of the religious fundamentalists, whose desperate need to loudly take offense triumphs over consideration for humanity. To be sure, I am not defending the position of Mr. Jones, a religious zealot in his own right and a homophobe at that. However, I will say that Jones was well within his First Amendment rights as an American when

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he burned the Koran, and though his actions needlessly endangered the lives of soldiers in the Middle East, his theatrics only gained the relevance that they have come to bear because of the petulant sensitivities of the Muslim world. The reason I say “Muslim world” rather than use the unclear and trite categorization of “religious extremists” is because it is the distinctly mainstream Muslim leaders that have reacted so mindlessly to the actions of Mr. Jones. The leaders of Iran, Afghanistan, and Gambia, where an estimated 90% of the population is Muslim, have called on U.S. officials to arrest and prosecute Mr. Jones. In Pakistan and Lebanon, millions of dollars have been offered to anyone willing to kill the pastor. The Supreme Leader of Iran stated that, “all Muslims hold the U.S. government and their politicians accountable”. In conclusion, I argue that it is time the Muslim world came to understand that requesting the arrest or prosecution of an American, British, or Danish citizen for crimes that do not exist within their respective countries is a request that is as illegitimate as it is repugnant. Just as the Koran is a holy artifact of Islam, free speech is an irrevocable pillar of Western society, and will not stand to be demolished at the request of religious leaders who threateningly shake their fingers in our direction. Pastor Terry Jones, British author Salman Rushdie, and Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard were all within their rights to peacefully poke fun at or to sternly criticize the tenants of Islam, and no amount of hostile protesting, highminded sermonizing, or impulsive murder will change that fact. s

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Volume VI, Issue X

May 2, 2011

LETTER FROM THE EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Loyal Readers, While it is difficult to come to terms with the passing of time, this is the last issue of JHU Politik of the semester – and, consequently, the last issue under our guidance as Editors-in-Chief. When we thought of the idea for this publication during the summer of 2008, all we had was just that – an idea. We did not know what we were aiming for, nor did we have any conception of how to carry out even our most basic concept. We started with just three readers and three writers – us. We struggled to gain funding, find qualified writers, and find readers other than our parents. (Incidentally, thanks mom and dad.) We steadily gained support among our friends, peers, administrators, and professors. Today, we have 26 students on our masthead and a weekly readership in the hundreds (and, occasionally, thousands) that spans multiple continents. We could not be happier. During our time as Editors-in-Chief, we are pleased that we have been able to witness the development of JHU Politik into more than just a weekly publication. The magazine has sponsored speaking events, produced special issues, and acted as a medium through which political organizations on campus can connect with more likeminded students. More than anything, though, we are pleased that JHU Politik has become a forum for debate and dialogue. At a university with so many students who desire a place to engage in conversation, we are honored to provide a place for the free exchange of ideas. Ultimately, we hope this will be our most lasting legacy. When the three of us (along with the rest of the members of the Class of 2011) graduate on May 26, we know we will confront both a country and world that are changing rapidly. Many of the central tenants of both domestic and international politics that have defined past decades are increasingly becoming less certain. More than at any time in the past, the futures of our country and planet appear less clear. Established norms, rules, and supposed certainties are all in the midst of a profound transformation - one that none of us will completely comprehend for at least the foreseeable future. Yet, we also believe that we have it in our capacity to choose the path we wish our country and shared global community to take. Although we did not invite a confrontation with uncertainty, we are convinced that the true test of a people’s strength is how it rises to tackle the challenges put before it. We are sure that we have it within our power to dream bigger, reach higher, and fix seemingly insurmountable problems. That is why the dialogue provided by the free exchange of ideas is so important. While some of us may disagree – occasionally, passionately – we are convinced that the continual collision of ideas is what will ultimately produce policies that make for a more peaceful and prosperous future. We hope that this fundamental conviction in the power of conversation will outlast our time at Johns Hopkins University. In closing, we would like to thank you, our readers. No matter our efforts, it is you who make our job worthwhile. We hope you have enjoyed the past three years of publication and we hope you are as excited as we are to see what the future of JHU Politik holds. Sincerely, Josh Ayal, Harry Black, and Sam Lichtenstein Editors-in-Chief

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The ALEXANDER HAMILTON SOCIETY

presents

REPUBLICAN FOREIGN POLICY A DEBATE FEATURING

CHRISTOPHER PREBLE

COLIN DUECK Author of Hardline Professor of International Affairs George Mason University

Director of Foreign Policy Studies CATO Institute Moderated by

STEVEN TELES

Monday, May 2nd 7:30-9 pm

The Barber Room 301 Charles Commons Dmitry Kostyukov

Volume VI, Issue X  

Volume VI, Issue X