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February, 2007 - 


Brown SpectAtor A Journal of Conservative and Libertarian Thought Volume V, Number V / February, 2007

Also Featured: H Labor Unions: The first of a two part series on union corruption H Only two groups of people believe discrimination is a nuanced issue: racists and college admissions officers. The Spectator takes an in-depth look at the plight of Asian American applicants. H Can pro-lifers and prochoicers find common ground? A proposal from the President of Brown Students for Life

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The Brown Spectator

From the Editor T

he Brown Spectator is a journal of conservative and libertarian thought and opinion committed to the dissemination and discussion of the ideas and values of Western Culture. We encourage a broad coalition of open-minded liberals, and conservatives-paleo and neoconservatives, libertarians and legal authoritarians, and “enlightened” Democrats to write for the Spectator. Above all, we seek to foster a culture of rational, intelligent debate at Brown, too often the victim of censorship and political correctness. We also welcome letters to the editor concerning the contents of our issues.

Pratik Chougule

Editor in Chief The Brown Spectator

Spectator Staff Editor-in-Chief

Table of Contents Brown University

3 – Sharia Law by Pratik Chougule

Insight into the Nonie Darwish controversy

4 – Panda Porn by Gregory Halenda Chinese bears get it on

5 – “Teaching Republicans?” by Pratik Chougule Dogmatism at the Brown Alumni Magazine

6 – The Brown Darfur Action Network by Jason Carr Confronting genocide

7 – Religious Questions Aren’t Going Away by Kristina Kelleher A change in campus Catholic Ministers

8 – Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Pro-Gress by Joanna M. Joly Finding common ground


10 – Saving the Internet from Net Neutrality by Taylor Stearns A market-based approach to bandwidth management

11 – Asian-Americans in Admissions: by Jason Carr Success breeds a backlash

12 – Labor Unions by Boris Ryvkin Lies at the picket lines

Pratik Chougule

14 – The Audacity of Obama by Anish Mitra

Managing Editors

15 – The Battle for Applicants by Andrew Kurtzman

Jason Carr - Content Andrew Kurtzman - Production Marc Frank- Business Manager

Production Editors Joanna M. Joly Boris Ryvkin


Roxanne Palmer - Art Director Kearsely Lloyd - Contributing Artist Joshua Unseth- Web Editor

Senior Editors

Sheila Dugan, Kristina Kelleher, Lindsey Meyers, Sean Quigley, Taylor Stearns

Contributing Editors

Anish Mitra, Mark Fuller, Lorenna Ellis, Gregory Halenda, Trevor Gleason, John Nagler, Linda Zang


Stephen Beale, Brian Bishop, Joseph Lisska, Christopher McAuliffe, Eric Neuman, Travis Rowley


Harvard blunders while playing the Early Admissions Game

16 – Taxing College Sports by Sheila Dugan

Should the NCAA lose its non-profit status?

18 – Gerald R. Ford Obituary by Sean Quigley

A realist when the world cried out for an idealist

20 – The Supreme Court’s Flawed Privacy Jurisprudence by Marc Frank Constitutional absurdity

21 – Taxajersey by Mark Fuller

The Garden State goes for your wallet


23 – Thievery as Public Service by Boris Ryvkin Understanding Communism

24 – Territory for Terror by Boris Ryvkin A new strategy for Israel


26 – Harvey Mansfield’s Manliness Sean Quigley 28 – Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd Roxanne Palmer 29 – Alfronso Cuaron’s Children of Men Lindsey Brett Meyers

Winners and Losers

32 – Iranian Student Protestors and the US Congress


February, 2007 - 

Sharia Law PRATIK CHOUGULE– Editor-in-Chief


here are the moderates of the Islamic world? The question be a prudent method of Israel advocacy.” Defending the decision, has befuddled Americans since the September 11 attacks. one member of Hillel stated that “Jews should be especially sensiIndeed, while President Bush and other leaders of the West have tive about comments which criticize strict religious observance fervently defended Islam as a “religion of peace,” there has been a and deem it unacceptable in America.” This member was particuconspicuous dearth of prominent Middle Eastern leaders openly larly concerned that his Muslim peers “were extremely offended willing to criticize radical Islam or defend the United States and by this characterization of them as ‘extremists.’” Israel in the War on Terrorism. A recent incident at Brown UniIt is tempting to dismiss Hillel’s decision to abandon Darversity this past November sheds light on the perplexing issue. wish as an extreme example of political correctness and sensitivity Hillel, Brown’s prominent Jewish group on campus, invited in academia. Yet there is more to the incident. It is a symptom Nonie Darwish to give a lecture in defense of Israel and its human of a deeper, fundamental problem with both Muslim and Jewish rights record, relative to the Islamic world. Born in Cairo, Darwish activism on campus. moved to Gaza in the 1950s when Gamal Abdel Nasser ordered The Muslim Students Association is one of the most active her father, Mustafa Hafez, a Lieutenant General in the military, to student groups on campus. Much of their activity is not political. serve as a commander of the Egyptian Army Intelligence in Gaza. During Ramadan, for instance, the group organized an interfaith At the time, Egypt occupied Gaza. Hafez founded the Fedayeen, fast co-sponsored by a number of student groups on campus, which launched raids across Israel’s southern border. including the College Republicans. Indeed, in promoting tradiWhen Nonie was eight years old, her father was the victim tional faith, the Muslim Students Association has been a tremenof the first targeted assassination dous boon to Brown, carried out by the Israeli De- “It is tempting to dismiss Hillel’s decision to abandon where secularism and fense Forces in response to the moral relativism tend Fedayeen’s attacks, making him Darwish as an extreme example of political correctness to reign. Yet in their a martyr or “shahid.” During his and sensitivity in academia. Yet there is more to the inci- political activism the speech nationalizing the Suez group is guided by an Canal, Nasser vowed Egypt dent. It is a symptom of a deeper, fundamental problem avowed opposition would take revenge for Hafez’s to the state of Israel. with both Muslim and Jewish activism on campus.” death. Nasser asked Nonie and During “Palestinian her siblings, “Which one of you Solidarity Week” for will avenge your father’s death by killing Jews?” After his death, instance, members of the Muslim Students Association display Darwish’s family moved to Cairo, where she attended a Catho- prominent posters and pictures condemning Palestinian suffering lic high school and then the American University in Cairo. She at the hands of Israeli “aggression.” While opinion in the group worked as an editor and translator for the Middle East News concerning Palestinian terrorism ranges from begrudging denunAgency, until emigrating to the United States in 1978, where she ciation to wholehearted defense, opposition to the Jewish state is ultimately received United States citizenship. After arriving in the nearly universal. That members of the Muslim Students AssociaUnited States, she converted from Islam to evangelical Christian- tion criticize Israel is not problematic per se. Yet it is galling that ity based on her belief that even American mosques preach a radi- the organization, united around a religious identity, has willingly cal, anti-peace message. Due to her decision to convert, Darwish tied the faith directly to a distinct political agenda. Even worse is instantly became branded as an “apostate” in several prominent their total unwillingness to consider the experience of a former Muslim circles. After 9/11, Darwish began writing columns criti- Muslim, moved to abandon her faith. In successfully pushing to cal of radical Islam, and authored a book titled Now They Call Me silence a woman raised in the heart of the Islamic world simply Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on for voicing grievances against Islamic radicalism, the Muslim StuTerror. She is also the founder of the organization Arabs for Israel, dents Association sends an unequivocal message: Muslims who which pledges to “respect and support the State of Israel,” welcome defend Israel and America in the War on Terrorism and advocate a “peaceful and diverse Middle East,” reject “suicide/homicide ter- reform within Islam are anti-Muslim. rorism as a form of Jihad,” and promote “constructive self-critiPerhaps even more disappointing, however, is the way in cism and reform” in the Islamic world.When Hillel announced its which Hillel handled the matter. As a member of Brown Students decision to invite Darwish to speak, the Brown University Mus- for Israel, which works closely with Hillel, I continually have been lim Students Association promptly insisted that Hillel rescind the struck by the meek and complacent nature with which the Jewinvitation. Their reasoning: Darwish is “too controversial.” After ish community at Brown defends Israel. On numerous occasions a brief period of internal debate, Hillel buckled and withdrew its when the Israel-Palestinian issue has flared up on campus, the invitation. In an open letter explaining the decision, Hillel cited Muslim Students Association and other Palestinian sympathizers a “desire to maintain constructive relationships” with the Muslim have launched vitriolic attacks against “Zionist imperialism” and Students Association. Inviting Darwish, they argued, “would not the like, only to be countered by timid protestations that Israel is

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not really an aggressor state. Nor does Hillel’s concern over “sensitivity” carry into invited speakers who are decidedly anti-Israel. When Brown invited Noam Chomsky, for instance, to speak, among other issues, against Israel, Hillel stood by idly. Indeed, in my conversations with fellow students on campus involved with pro-Israel activism, my defenses of Israel are often met with guiltridden hesitancy. One student even called me a “Zionist crazy.” Inherent in the tentativeness, I have observed that while defenders of Israel at Brown will confidently cite Israel’s protection of liberal rights within the state, many are far less certain on the more fundamental issues: Does Israel really have a right to exist? Are the boundaries of the Jewish state legitimate? Should Israel compromise with terrorists? Hillel’s decision to back away from Darwish is only a manifestation of a lack of conviction latent in the pro-Israel movement. As Brown University Professor Andrew Bostom, author of The Legacy of Jihad, recently noted, “The Jews at Hillel act as if they are already living under the Sharia.” The Darwish incident at Brown is certainly alarming, yet it must be understood in a much broader context. The debates on campus are microcosms of the issues Israel faces at the interna-

tional level. Despite the fact that Israel stands as the only liberal democracy and bulwark against terrorism in a sea of pan-Islamic despotism, anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic stances are in vogue throughout elite circles. The war against Islamic radicalism will likely continue for generations and students at Brown and other elite universities invariably will be forced to contend with the issue. If the actions of the Muslim Students Association and Hillel at Brown are any reflection of the future of American leadership on the issue, there is cause for concern. Perhaps the Darwish incident can serve as a clarion wakeup call. While all Muslims need not embrace Israel with open arms, the quashing of any voice supporting reform signals a much more profound need for greater tolerance and dissent within the Islamic ranks. The issue of Muslim “apostates” is particularly salient in light of the violent repercussions converts, such as Abdul Rahman, have faced in the Islamic world. On the other side, the pro-Israel movement must renew its faith in the virtue of their cause. Though I myself am not Jewish, I have naturally looked to the Jewish community at Brown to lead the defense of Israel. Yet if Jews themselves are unwilling to take their own side in an argument, the fate of Israel is jeopardized. Only with greater tolerance within Islam and firmer conviction among Jews can the greatest hope for genuine peace emerge: the voice of moderates in the Islamic world. •

Panda Porn GREGORY HALENDA– Contributing Editor


n the aftermath of this year’s Sex Power God party, sophomore Amy Littlefield drew attention to a group of students standing outside the party and using numbered signs to rate the attractiveness of the attendees. Her Brown Daily Herald column highlighted several important issues concerning sexual harassment. None were surprised when freshman Sean Quigley soon replied with a letter of his own, claiming these partygoer judges were well within their First Amendment rights. Naturally, sophomore Lily Shield responded in kind, and argued that people should not be “publicly objectified and demeaned” for their revealing outfits. While I laud the brave souls who further such discourse and dialogues, I worry that these students have lost sight of the bigger picture. A November 22 article put forth by the Associated Press reveals a disgusting and barbarous crime against females everywhere—panda porn. Unfortunately the Giant Panda does not have the luxury of attending an Ivy League institution. It cannot concentrate in gender studies or write to the BDH and expose its plight. Yet in denouncing panda porn, I am sure I speak for the many female pandas throughout the world.

As the Associated Press indicates, Thai researcher Prasertsak Buntragulpoontawee has been showing male pandas “DVDs of fellow pandas mating.” These videos are meant to instruct male pandas how “to do it, and do it right.” Now, I am sure some of you are thinking that this is great for our fellow furry female friends. Doesn’t every girl want an experienced lover? Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those mail order videos that caring and committed couples use to help prove their love. This duo has been selected for their exceptional genetic profiles, and placed together in captivity in order to form the next super panda race. To facilitate this production, Chuang Chuang has been regularly viewing porn which should excite him into mating with Lin Hui, the female cat on ten year loan from China. Buntragulpoontawee claims that showing panda porn to Chuang Chuang “is the same idea as chimpanzees seeing people smoke and then copying it.” Perhaps Thailand has different standards, but as I recall we decided smoking was bad a few years back. This whole experiment is disturbing on many levels: just as women at SPG shouldn’t tolerate numbers on nearby posters, pandas shouldn’t be made to view lewd acts. Just as the women


at SPG were sexually harassed by the men holding the signs, we are harassing the pandas through our compulsory sex-ed. What if Chuang Chuang’s parents believe in an abstinence only education? Are federal funds involved? As Lily Shield is correct to point out, “sexual harassment and sexual violence are closely linked.” Unfortunately we cannot interview Chuang to ascertain his long term psychological traumas, but we do know the objective of the pornography is to encourage mating with Lin Hui. Is Chuang Chuang being encouraged to commit a rape? What if Chuang Chuang is gay? Religious? Should he have to view this blasphemy? Is he being used? Do the pandas have any say in this matter? Do not animals have the right to be free from sexual harassment just as we humans do? •

February, 2007 - 

“Teaching Republicans” Dogmatism at the Brown Alumni Magazine PRATIK CHOUGULE- Editor-in-Chief


n the November/December issue of the Brown Alumni Magazine, Lawrence Goodman in “Party Animals” attempted to dissect campus politics at Brown through a profile of Zachary Drew, President, and myself, Vice President, of the College Republicans as well as Tor Tarantola, President, and Craig Auster, Vice President of the College Democrats, respectively. In his balanced if slightly sensationalized article, Goodman covered a number of issues including gay marriage, Iraq, party affiliation, and capitalism. Furthermore, he wrote about each of our various upbringings and the way they have shaped our world view. The article is available at cfm?ID=3219 In the subsequent issue, the Brown Alumni Magazine ran the following two letters to the editor regarding the story. These two letters were the only ones the magazine printed in response to the story. Teaching Republicans? IN HIS STORY ON POLITICS AT BROWN senior writer Lawrence Goodman quotes Pratik Chougule ’08, vice president of the Brown Republican Club, as saying that the United States should invade Iran if sanctions on that country don’t work (“Party Animals,” November/December). So what is Chougule still doing at Brown, if that’s so important? Why has he not enlisted in the military so he can be part of the invading force? Since Republicans are always instructing others on the importance of “values,” I’m sure the explanation could not possibly be hypocrisy. Goodman also notes that Chougule is “the student at the table [who is] most sure of himself.” Gee, I always thought that good-quality higher education of the kind found at Brown usually produced some shaking up of the certainty of belief that’s so characteristic of freshman. Could it be that the benefits of higher education are somehow not breaking through (what appears to be) the dogmas Chougule brought with him? If so, perhaps he should reconsider whether he is really benefiting from a Brown education. HOWARD A. KARTEN ‘65 Randolph, Mass.

I WISH LAWRENCE GOODMAN WOULD have asked Pratik Chougule ’08 if he would be willing to risk his life in the Iraq war that he thinks can be won. And I wonder whether the Brown faculty will be able to educate Chougule, even a little bit, by the time he graduates next year. SARA LEE SILBERMAN ‘63 Pawtucket, R.I. I found it noteworthy that neither Karten nor Silberman even attempted to make an argument against my viewpoints. In fact, based on their letters, I am not even sure what either of them thinks about the Iraq war or Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. (Given the shrill, totalitarian tone of their letters, however, I think I can make a reasonable guess.) It would have been interesting to hear Karten’s suggestions on how else to prevent the Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons. Or perhaps Karten thinks it is acceptable for Iran to possess weapons of mass destruction, in which case, he could have written a letter making the case against American intervention. Similarly, if Silberman opposes the Iraq war, she could have used the opportunity to write why it is no longer in America’s interest to fight the war. As a supporter of democracy in Iraq, I would have found it stimulating to hear why Silberman is so eager to abandon the Iraqis. Rather than engaging in this battle of ideas, Karten and Silberman chose instead to dismiss my position on the grounds that I am not directly volunteering to fight the war. I am curious, for one thing, on what grounds they assumed that I do not in fact plan to enlist in the military after graduating? Did they engage in (gasp) profiling?! Inherent in this attack is the notion that in order to support a cause, one must not only justify it intellectually, but actively participate in its execution. By this logic, are liberals no longer entitled to support ending the genocide in Darfur if they are unwilling to sign up as a peacekeeper? Besides, I would like to believe that I am contributing to the war effort most productively by waging the political war at home against Ivy League liberals in the ilk of Karten and Silberman. Moreover, Karten and Silberman were not simply content to launch an ad hominem attack against me. They went a step further

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and suggested that the Brown faculty needs to put me through pose of education. some kind of an Orwellian reeducation, to counter “the dogmas” Perhaps most galling, however, is the Brown Alumni MagI brought with me to Brown. Silberman seemed genuinely con- azine’s decision to publish only these two letters. While I am cerned that about “whether the Brown faculty will be able to edu- certainly speculating, I think it is fair to assume that Karten and cate Chougule, even a little bit.” Silberman were not the only alumni I wonder if Karten’s support for send letters to the editor. Yet in an “Perhaps reeducation in journalistic integ- to “good-quality higher education” article which profiled four people, and which produces “some shaking rity wouldn’t be such a bad idea for the edi- touched on a number of issues, the up of the certainty of belief ” exBrown Alumni Magazine decided to tors at the Brown Alumni Magazine.” tends to those who oppose the print two nearly identical letters, both war in Iraq. Like many leftists from 1960s alumni launching the same at Brown, Karten and Silberman have apparently redefined edu- nonsensical attack against the same person on the same grounds. cation as indoctrination. Open debate and intellectual discourse Perhaps reeducation in journalistic integrity wouldn’t be such a with the goal of attaining truth, apparently is no longer the pur- bad idea for the editors at the Brown Alumni Magazine. •

The Brown Darfur Action Network JASON CARR- Managing Editor


he Darfur tragedy has gutted the Washingtonian isolationist imperative. The allowance of genocide by states with the means to prevent it has become tantamount to complicity in that heinous act – for good reason. As national indignation grows over the Darfur insult, Brown’s Darfur Action Network finds itself a part of a wave that has yet to crest. The group has, through mindful leadership, tactfully avoided entangling ideological debates in its voyage to deliver the Darfuris to the shores of freedom. The voyage has been difficult. The death toll of the conflict stands, as of this writing, at 400,000, with an estimated 2 million displaced. A massive region is being systematically cleansed of non-Arabs by the government-backed Janjaweed, resulting in one of the worst racially-based atrocities in human history. The 7,000 African Union forces stationed in Darfur (currently the only semblance of a multilateral force) are predictably ill-equipped and ineffective, without a mandate to protect civilians. While there has been a recent lull in the violence, it is highly likely the Sudanese government will slash again at the throat of the Darfuri people. The international community has closed its eyes whilst Darfuri blood is splattered in their faces. The United Nations has yet to even declare the conflict to be genocide -- a disgusting display of appeasement characteristic of that body. Individual nations have different reasons for inaction: the United States is militarily overstretched as it is, the Western Europeans are apathetic, and Russia and China nakedly pursue their own oil interests in Sudan while weakly arguing for the sovereignty of the Sudanese government. The United States is the only significant Western nation to have any kind of Darfur anti-genocide movement, and it can be best described as “embryonic.” Public outrage over the atrocities has manifested itself in the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, signed into law in October 2006. The Bush Administration made a distinction the international community was afraid to make, openly calling the conflict “genocide” and suggesting the expansion of the African Union forces’ mandate. Awareness of the situation is spreading, thanks to the attachment of high profile celebrities such as George Clooney to the Darfuri cause, as well as a dedicated group of student activists.

Scott Warren ’09 is one of those. Scott has been directly involved with the Darfur anti-genocide effort for two and a half years in one capacity or another. Having worked with STAND – A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition – he decided to use his experience to found the Brown incarnation of STAND, the Darfur Action Network (DAN). While Scott is the acknowledged President of this group, meetings are often presided over by others in a rotating fashion intended to emphasize the primacy of the cause over position. This approach, or perhaps the dedication of the group’s members, has produced a flurry of anti-genocide activities and events, notably the Afrobeat benefit last semester. The political makeup of DAN members is reportedly quite progressive -- though this is a reflection of the Brown student body, and little else. This progressiveness becomes problematic, however, when the technicalities of the Darfur genocide issue are discussed. For instance, should Brown’s group support the creation of a so-called Chapter 7 UN force (with authority to shoot to kill) to intervene in Darfur? Or is this, in light of the current blockage of the approved 20,000 UN troops by the Sudanese government, a course that will yield few results? Should DAN then support US-dominated NATO in a multilateral intervention in the region? And what of the fact that neighboring states as well as the Sudanese government itself will see the employment of any force, be it unilateral or multilateral, as an unacceptable infringement of Sudanese sovereignty? What is the best way to draw the international community:do you spur them into acting, or shame them? While STAND, DAN’s umbrella organization, has clear answers to these questions, the Brown group does not. STAND supports whatever it takes to end the genocide, including the possibility of a NATO force. It considers concerns over Sudanese sovereignty unfounded and irrelevant, arguing that in taking up reins of terror, the Sudanese government has forfeited its sovereignty in the eyes of humanity. Warren’s group, facing great intraorganization differences in opinion as to the best course of action, has decided to focus on the cause and not the solution. In its letter-writing campaigns, it is stressed that the Brown organization desires a strong peacekeeping force, but no mention is given as to


February, 2007 - 

how that will come about. such terrorizing acts certainly never will. Sweren-Becker goes too The Spectator sat down with another dedicated member of far in her efforts to accommodate the desires of other states; nathe group, Eliza Sweren-Becker ’09, to get an idea of the opinion tions run by thugs are and always will be persuaded only by force. differences present. Sweren-Becker, like STAND, favors a multiSweren-Becker’s reticence to take a firm grasp on morality is lateral solution to the conflict. But unlike STAND, she would not common in DAN, and this is precisely the reason why President support a NATO force to intervene in Sudan, citing simmering Warren’s strategy of leaving solutions “up in the air” is well-conpolitical concerns associated with the invasion of a force so closely ceived, especially in the movement’s early stages. Any attempt to identified with the US. She refused to label the selfish actions of take a serious stand on a remedy for the Darfur situation would Russia and China, which have blocked meaningful intervention in critically weaken the Brown group at this important time in the Darfur, as evil. Rather, she characterized those nation’s misdeeds movement’s existence. Taking a firm stand now would likely cause as “morally wrong” from a personal perspective but hesitated at much of the support of the Brown student body to evaporate, as the thought of considering such acts as objectively wrong. She many, such as Sweren-Becker, are opposed to NATO intervenbelieves that Sudan, in supporting the Janjaweed, is complicit in tion, while many are not. Many would support the denouncement genocide and as such has forfeited “some of its sovereignty.” But of China and Russia, while others would see this as undiplomatic from the conversation it was totally unclear what degree of sov- and counterproductive. ereignty has been lost, as SwerenThe Darfur movement is naBecker still voiced respect for the “The Darfur genocide must end now. That tionally at the “identification” stage very UN sovereignty veneration in its life cycle – the focus now is on which has engendered so much le- much can be agreed upon throughout informing the public of the existence gal wrangling, making it impossible the political continuum and it is what of the genocide. Like the American for the UN to deploy a recently apCivil Rights Movement and countproved 17,300 strong peacekeeping Brown’s Darfur Action Network has cor- less other historical struggles, public force in the region. knowledge will breed public outrage. rectly emphasized.” That peacekeeping force repreAs the outrage grows and the imporsented the greatest hope so far for tance of national organizations like peace and stability for the Darfuris still standing. It was squashed STAND with it, factions will emerge that propose specific ways by the agitated baying of a tyrannical state, telling the elder wolves to stop the fighting. STAND already has a “solution package,” that it has the right to destroy its own nest. When any law, no though I would guess from its allowance of serious differences of matter how perfect its conception, in its effect violently hurls back opinion from local groups such as Brown’s that they are willing to human progress, that law is unsupportable. Furthermore, if there is be persuaded in their convictions. The situation will be different in little chance of the law being changed, then each man and woman the future; at the height of the movement, one faction or another has the moral right to rise up and depose their oppressors. Hence, will win out with its vision for resolving the conflict. every nation on Earth has not only the right, but the obligation to The Darfur genocide must end now. That much can be openly flout UN sovereignty laws which have prevented decisive agreed upon throughout the political continuum, and it is what action in Darfur. An aggressive stance against genocide will anger Brown’s Darfur Action Network has correctly emphasized. Warneighboring states, but their concerns are by nature invalid, as act- ren, Sweren-Becker, and the rest of the group have thrown their ing upon them will perpetuate human suffering. No nation should collective effort into informing the public of this catastrophe, and ever apologize for an anti-genocide stance; the perpetrators of deserve a great deal of moral credit if and when it is stopped. •

Religious Questions Aren’t Going Away A Change in Catholic Campus Ministers



ary Beth Reynolds, Catholic Campus Minister at Brown since 1999, left October 29 to accept a position as spiritual care coordinator for the Home and Hospice Center of Rhode Island. In a Brown-RISD Catholic community wide e-mail on October 13, she wrote in part: After more than seven years of Sunday bagels and class suppers, weekly Cenacles, ice breakers and discussions, extended service trips, striving to learn the names in each new class, helping prepare students for the sacraments… approaching the end of my time as Campus Minister. As I was going through the email, I came upon Joanna Liu’s article “Religious Students at Brown: The Silent Minority?” in Issue III of this year’s Spectator. In following up, I decided to look

more closely into the single largest religious community on campus, the woman who had stood at its helm for so long, and the man recently hired part-time to fill her shoes. Born and bred in Rhode Island, Reynolds graduated from Providence College knowing she “wanted something more than to just get a job” and considered the Peace Corps. But Reynolds, like so many among us, found her charity was based in her faith. She found a temporary spiritual home, teaching in the Bronx, through the assistance of the lay Jesuit School. Upon this understanding of faith based giving, Reynolds attended the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, MA. After graduating she returned to New York and worked for the catholic dioceses of Long Island. She coordinated young adult

 - Brown Spectator


ministry for those in their 20’s and 30’s, an often overlooked group more or less voluntarily . . . their parents or spouse isn’t making in a church full of children, families and older churchgoers. Con- them.” Bodah believes that about 200 students attend mass every tinuing her passion for working with young adults and welcoming weekend between Manning Chapel and St. Joseph’s Church on the opportunity to return to her home state, Reynolds jumped Hope St. at the position of Catholic Campus Minister that opened up at Reynolds leaving “is a change, Mary Beth has been here Brown. long enough to get to know people’s names to be pretty on top of Reynolds describes the work of a campus minister as “about things. Chris (the new Catholic minister) is very enthusiastic, but formation.” She explains that traditional students are in the for- the situation is unfair, he will only be here for ¾ of a year and you mation process—intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual for- have to go through it once to know what you have to do.” mation—and that is “part and parcel of faith” during their college Chris Sperling was born in Wisconsin, but grew up in Texas years. Reynolds has always had an interest in direct pastoral work where his dad was in the Army. From the ages of 4-7 he lived and talking to students about their faith. Unfortunately, getting in Germany on an American Army base. After graduating high students into her office has become somewhat of a hassle. “Most school, Sperling joined the Air Force for ten years, during which students are careful who they talk to. . . . Every now and then a time he was stationed in Germany, Alaska and finally Texas. Sperrandom student e-mails me to talk but it usually takes a lot to ling grew up Lutheran, but by the time he joined the Air Force was build trust for a student to come to talk.” Reynolds cherishes the not practicing any religion. While stationed in Anchorage, Alaska, pastoral piece, meeting people about human and not necessar- Sperling found his place in the Catholic Church. During his studily spiritual issues. Reynolds calls these discussions “privileged ies toward conversion, he was transferred to Saudi Arabia. moments.” “The desert is a great meeting place with God,” Sperling says “It’s pretty amazing stuof his time in Saudi Arabia, but dents show up at all” Reynolds “ ‘Religious questions aren’t going away,’ Reyn- also acknowledges that it was “a said about students attending little scary, newly trying to find out mass during their college years. olds said. ‘A lot of learning is missed’ when what it meant to be Catholic” when She said it must stem from “an a lot of the world, including where people choose not to practice their faith.” infectious desire to want to be he was stationed, hated Christians. part of a community” and that As a member of the United States students “miss something when they opt out.” According to Reyn- Armed Services, he was not allowed to bring his own personal olds, many students raised Catholic choose not to participate in religious articles, although they were available on base. “It was an the Catholic community because they disagree with the church’s intense time to be studying. I really enjoyed it,” he said. teaching on a certain social issue, such as abortion or birth control. Sperling is recently married and currently finishing his degree This is disappointing to Reynolds, who tries to separate the doc- in psychology at Rhode Island College, where he is the leader of trine of the Catholic Church from the meaning of being Catholic. Students for Life and highly involved in the Catholic community. “Religious questions aren’t going away,” Reynolds said. “A lot of He heads a retreat on personality types and prayer methods durlearning is missed” when people choose not to practice their faith, ing the fall. He also works in the Youth Ministry of St. Phillips struggle with it, “use their head,” talk to others and ask questions. in Greenville. This inner struggle and reflection is what helps people grow in Shortly before departing, Reynolds called the Catholic their own understanding of their faith. “We’re not robotic,” she Chaplain at Rhode Island College, Father Mike Najim, to inquire said. about a replacement. Najim recommended Sperling, both due to Sixteen percent of the undergraduate student body, or 950 his older age and dedicated involvement in the Catholic commustudents, identify with the registrar’s office as Catholic. “I’d say nity at Rhode Island College. Sperling accepted the job on a part about 1/3 of those who report to be catholic attend at least one time basis and has so far found the students of the Catholic comcatholic event or mass a year,” said Reynolds, and about “ten per- munity to be “very embracing.” He is especially impressed with cent are what she would consider active”. their commitment to leadership and knowledge of the Catholic “It’s a miracle of grace anyone comes at all” said Father Henry faith. Sperling attended the Catholic community’s student winter Bodah, Brown’s Catholic Chaplin, noting that there is no external break trip to Nazareth Farm in West Virginia, helping with home pressure to practice one’s faith on campus. “Everyone who comes repairs in the impoverished community of Appalachia. •

Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Pro-Gress JOANNA M. JOLY- Production Editor, Brown Students for Life President


s the president of Brown Students for Life and in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I suggest a radical resolution for all socially aware pro-choice students and pro-life students. Our members spent this past semester both participating in the broader pro-life culture of Providence and raising awareness

for the pro-life viewpoint here on Brown’s campus. Last October, members of Brown Students for Life walked throughout downtown Providence in the annual Rhode Island Right to Life fundraising Walk-a-Thon. We sponsored roundtable discussions in which our members debated contemporary issues of euthanasia,


February, 2007 - 

assisted suicide, and the death penalty over Thayer Street dinners. her pregnancy and care for her child. We invited David O’Connell of Problem Pregnancy of ProviWhy should this endeavor be a partnership between the dence to come to one of our meetings and discuss the resources pro-life and the pro-choice movements? Two reasons: first, actual they have available to women including pregnancy testing, abor- progress and reform are more valuable than boorish and sedention information, mentoring and emotional support, baby and tary bickering. Second, legality concerns are overshadowing our maternity supplies, and referrals for various medical, housing, and common ground, preventing us from recognizing that very fundaother social services. We organized a lecture attended by students mental problems in our society can be corrected by jointly investfrom area schools such as Providence College, Rhode Island Col- ing our time and energy. We could work to make available both lege, and Brown Medical School on the topic of wholistic sexual- emotional and financial resources for pregnant women, starting ity given by Natural Family Planning (NFP) Medical Consultant with organizations already in place, such as Problem Pregnancy Dr. Paul Carpentier. He spoke from a physician’s perspective on of Providence. We could work to cultivate a respectful and flexNFP procreative methods as a viable, even superior alternative to ible environment here at Brown University, that would allow and artificial forms of contraception. Throughout, as food for thought, encourage women to continue their work or their education both our members received regular “Answers to Pro-Choice Questions” while they are pregnant and after they give birth. This implies that written by Feminists for Life president Serrin Foster, the archive daycare centers must also be made available and affordable, as of which is available on their website: http://www.feministsforlife. should prenatal and pediatric health care. If the woman does not org/Q&A/. feel she is capable to raise the child herself given her current situWhile I am delighted by what I observe to be reinvigorated ation, we could educate about the multitude of adoption services student interest in human life issues, we can and must focus this that are available. momentum in a more constructive way in the coming semester. Although I believe our society would be better if abortion It is critical now more than ever to unite the causes of the pro- were not sanctioned by federal law, the way to achieve this goal life and pro-choice movements. To an indifferent or apathetic is not by abruptly overturning Roe v. Wade. The very word “overbystander, this may seem ludicrous. turning” usually implies ensuing chaos, After all, more than thirty years of “I suggest a radical resolution for all and the most desperate women will seemingly irreconcilable disagreeseek substitutions for legal abortions, ment has resulted in both sides socially aware pro-choice students and which are just as wrong and potentially gnashing their teeth at the other in a more dangerous. Instead, we must work pro-life students.” stunningly inert stare-down. Former from the bottom up. Reasonable people President Bill Clinton once said that can agree that 1.3 million abortions he believed abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare,” though little performed every year in the United States is far too many. Prohas been done on a broad scale to achieve the latter. choice students who want the best for women, together with proEver since it was made legal by Roe v. Wade in 1973, abortion life students who want the same, should devise and implement has become ingrained in the fabric of everyday American life. It better opportunities for women as women. may come as no surprise that I believe this now infamous SuTo kick off what will hopefully be a productive and synergistic preme Court decision was the wrong way to tackle the problem spring semester, Brown Students for Life attended the Pro-Life of unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. According to Planned Rally at the Rhode Island State House. The keynote speaker was Parenthood’s research arm, The Alan Guttmacher Institute, most Dr. Alveda King, who is the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, one women having abortions do so due to a lack of financial and emo- of our nation’s most beloved heroes in promoting equal human tional support. The procedure of abortion does not care for the rights. Join us in probing beyond the legal aspect of abortion. It woman by giving her the critical emotional and financial support is a procedure that is topped in its repugnance only by the social she needs to care for her child. It simply destroys the child. With and economic inadequacies that lead women to consider it their the necessary social and economic infrastructure in place to pro- only choice. Let us all resolve this semester to blend our ideas and vide assistance, I believe that a woman would choose to continue resources to help make life just as viable an alternative. •


f you’re afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this University are ready to move again.

-Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004)

To write for The Brown Spectator, or to submit letters, please contact

10 - Brown Spectator


Saving the Internet from Net Neutrality TAYLOR STEARNS- Senior Editor


here is an old joke that starts like this: a Democrat walks into fic users like Google and Amazon actually pay for what they use a bookstore. He looks for George Soros’s latest book, The Age instead of being subsidized by smaller users, but advocacy groups of Fallibility, and upon finding it, decides to pay the cashier $24 such as claim the above rules are necessary for it, and then goes home satisfied with his new purchase. Wait, for a healthy Internet. If telecommunications companies are alback up. Actually, the man does not even enter the bookstore, be- lowed to charge different prices to different users of their services, cause he fears he will either be unable to find the book, or will everybody will pay more, particularly poor people. It doesn’t take a Nobel Laureate to see the backwardness of not agree to the price tag. His response is to lobby Congress to force bookstores to carry every book ever written and to charge that logic. If different rates are applied to different users, then big users will pay more than small users. Google will pay more than the same price for all of them. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. This is “Net Neutrality,” the Grandma because Google congests a lot of pipes while Grandma story of liberal and corporate activist groups who believe that the just looks at the weather. The free market has been extraordinarily Internet cannot control itself and will explode with high prices and good at determining such price structures in the past, but Net repressive censorship if the government does not impose a fairly Neutrality supporters argue the Internet is somehow different, less arbitrary set of rules designed to give opponents of free markets responsible, filled with businesspeople who will make terrible misthe ability to sleep at night knowing that somebody, somewhere, takes and accidentally send the $19.95 phone bill to Google and is imposing rules on businesses. the $3.5 million fiber bill to Grandma. The Communications Act of 1934 has been in the process of Other Net Neutrality advocates talk about “freedom”—the being overhauled for the past few freedom to construct a business like years, and it is this transition that “Net Neutrality supporters argue the Internet Google or eBay from one’s garage liberal interest groups see as an opwithout paying anyone for the privportunity to solidify government is somehow different, less responsible, filled ilege to do so. Instead your work is control over Internet communicasubsidized by your fellow citizens. tions. According to Title II of that with businesspeople who will make terrible This is an argument we can all apact, mistakes and accidentally send the $19.95 preciate. After all, Google’s found“It shall be unlawful for any ers became so wealthy that they common carrier to make any un- phone bill to Google and the $3.5 million recently purchased a 180-passenger just or unreasonable discrimination Boeing 767 and turned it into “a fiber bill to Grandma.” in charges, practices, classifications, party airplane.” That’s pretty sweet. regulations, facilities, or services for Such opulence may be curtailed in or in connection with like communication the future because, according to Senator service, directly or indirectly, by any means Byron Dorgan, “if the big interests who or device, or to make or give any undue or control the pipes become gatekeepers who unreasonable preference or advantage to erect tolls, it will have a significant impact any particular person, class of persons, or on the Internet as we know it.” locality, or to subject any particular person, Is Sen. Dorgan unaware that connectclass of persons, or locality to any undue or ing to the Internet already costs money? It unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.” has never been free—even in the Internet’s The FCC is responsible for interpretseminal days when the military and Uniing and enforcing such rules. It has interversities were experimenting with it, taxpreted them as meaning that the backbone payers and tuition payers were footing the carriers of the Internet (AT&T, Verizon, bill. And since somebody most own and/or etc.) are not allowed to block or filter any control the physical pipes and routers traffic traffic that goes through them, or charge flows along, somebody must be a gatekeeper. different prices to different users. The The government could control those gates, impending merger between AT&T and or We The People could control those gates BellSouth encouraged Democrats on the through private ownership and the unriFCC to succinctly restate their goals, barvaled, unbridled efficiency of the market system. I’d prefer the latter. ring AT&T from any activity that “priviMaybe, though, the government deleges, degrades or prioritizes any packet.” serves to be the gatekeeper to the Internet The telecommunications companies because it has given telecommunications have long argued they should be allowed companies billions of dollars in subsidies to charge discriminatory rates so big traf-


over the past decades. In particular, huge subsidies are granted for the expansion of networks into rural areas. City-slickers are forced to pay AT&T to help it reach the boondocks. The argument that these subsidies are grounds for Net Neutrality is severely flawed. If exchanging subsidies for regulation is a fair trade, then both parties should have agreed on the terms of that trade at the time of the trade. To retroactively claim the telecoms owe something in return for previous favors is unfair, particularly when so many companies in many industries receive the same subsidies but do not have to receive the same ex post facto punishment. This is no different than Brown University arguing it deserves a legal stake in businesses founded by its alumni because it provided us with such a darn fine education. We pay tuition, we receive an education—those are the terms of the deal. Whether somebody (in this case, the telecoms or the students) is unequally gaining from the deal is not relevant after the fact. Will the telecommunications companies censor content they don’t like, charge astronomical rates, and cripple the Internet if they are allowed to make their own business decisions? There is no way of knowing ahead of time. But in surveying the rest of our nation’s economy, we may observe other industries and see how they have faired. Book stores, movie stores, newspapers, depart-

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ment stores, hair dressers, and many other businesses charge their own rates and provide their own services. Does your hair-dresser carry Vidal Sassoon but not Paul Mitchell? If this bothers you, is it cause for large-scale hair-dresser regulation? Of course not. Consumers will demand what they want and punish companies that do not provide it. That system has worked beautifully for countless years, and there is no reason to believe it will not continue to work well. If there are any characteristics about telecommunications companies that make them different from other companies—for example, their oligopoly-like behavior—then care should be taken to enforce current collusion laws and incubate other helpful laws that encourage entry into the marketplace. But if the telecoms are not breaking such laws ahead of time, let’s not assume we need to socialize our economy’s structure to keep them in line. Net Neutrality legislation already failed last June, and with any luck the same nonsense introduced by Senators Snowe and Dorgan will similarly collapse. We need to choose freedom, not regulation, and if some catastrophic events occur that convince us that regulation is necessary, then we can resort to it. But let’s not engage in any pre-emptive strikes against the Internet just because a few interest groups are scared they may have to pay for their services. •

Asian-Americans in Admissions: When Success Breeds a Backlash


JASON CARR- Managing Editor

nly two groups of people believe discrimination is a nuanced issue: racists and college admissions officers. But this characterization is unfair to racists -- admissions officers are far worse. To compare, one group openly believes Asian-Americans are inferior. The other, more sinister group, proclaims their allegiance to the highest American ideals while systematically depriving Asians of future avenues for success. Asians are doing too well for their own good, at least in the view of the gatekeepers of the Ivory Tower. Hard working, family oriented students whose ancestors hail from the East have been snapping up coveted spots at the country’s most elite universities at an increasing rate for the past two decades. According to Daniel Golden, author of The Price of Admission, “Asian-Americans constitute only about 4.5% of the U.S. population, they typically account for anywhere from 10% to 30% of students at many of the nation’s elite colleges.” Yet even these impressive numbers represent a deliberate attempt by the colleges to buttress their ivy-covered walls against an Asian Invasion. An important 2004 study by Princeton researchers, Thomas Espenshade and Chang Chung, found that applying to America’s best universities as an Asian-American is equivalent to taking off 50 points from your SAT score. Why punish success? The guaranteed answer to be heard from admissions directors when asked this difficult question is either a “no comment” or an ambiguous regurgitation of the institution’s supposed anti-discrimination policy. The truth, that Asian-Americans are being used as fodder in an admissions process dogmatically focused on achieving its racist campus image goals, is too embarrassing for these bleeding-heart colleges to admit. The study mentioned above proved that athletes applying to elite colleges

gain 200 points on the (old) SAT, Hispanics gain 185 points, legacy candidates gain 160 points, and blacks have a staggering 230 point advantage. The main problem for universities (and especially the Ivies) is that legacies and athletes, both desired admits for their financial benefits, are disproportionately white. Yet, these same universities would also like to make sure that proportionate numbers of blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are in their classrooms. Because they can’t touch the whites, a “merit tax” is levied on qualified Asian-Americans in order to benefit other, less qualified, minorities. In the most terrifying perversion of “racial justice” seen yet, one minority is being plundered for the sake of another, but the true historical discrimination culprits, whites, remain untouched. Until you realize these underlying motivations, the study’s finding that affirmative action has little impact on white admission rates comes as a surprise. When admissions officers aren’t making empty statements about their concern for diversity, they have a few other explanations to provide for the lower Asian admit rate. According to one former Brown admission officer: “One of the traits of incoming Asian-American applicant pools is uniformity. There’s a striking similarity from applicant to applicant in terms of the choices they make for extra-curricular activities, for example, or course loads, but most importantly, for intended majors.” There are countless reports of admission officers saying that Asians, due to their incredible academic dedication, are not able to contribute to university life in other ways. It appears that Asians are not trying hard enough to diversify their interests.” After all, according to Brown Dean of Admission James S. Miller, the University works to achieve, “selection by a personal estimate

12 - Brown Spectator


And what of this supposed uniformity in majors and extracurof character on the part of the Admission authorities, based on the probable value to the college and to the community of his ricular activities? Asian-Americans are often recent immigrants, and have a wide distribution of income. Immigrants seek the best admission.” But the above quote is actually from 1926, and the speaker ways to prove themselves in a new land; this naturally leads to wasn’t James S. Miller. Rather, the individual who uttered these intense interest in mathematics, physics, biology, and other sciwords was A. Lawrence Lowell, President of Harvard University, ences because these disciplines produce real, quantifiable results that rabidly anti-Semitic institution of yore. As Jerome Karabel, that members of an oppressed minority can point to as conclusive author of The Chosen reveals, Lowell limited the size of the fresh- evidence of their success. Asian-Americans have excelled in more man class and imposed new admission criteria of “leadership,” than just the sciences, however. They are over-represented (despite “public spirit,” and “fair play” in order to correct the “Jewish prob- discrimination) at the nation’s top law and business schools -lem” to which Columbia had already succumbed. Jews, stereo- places that are often the destination of college liberal arts majors. A case study in alleged uniformity typed as overly studious and socially across the Asian applicant pool is prouninterested, were thought not to exhibit any of these qualities (sound fa- “The truth, that Asian-Americans are vided with UC Berkeley before and after preferences were lifted. Berkeley miliar?). Yale was even more up front being used as fodder in an admissions racial experienced a dramatic increase in the in its battle against the Hebrews: they instituted legacy preferences in 1925 process dogmatically focused on achiev- number of Asian-American students to favor the WASP students they in its classrooms – at the moment they were comfortable with. The Jews were ing its racist campus image goals, is too constitute 47 percent of the student limited so long as legacy preferences – soon after Proposition 209 outembarrassing for these bleeding-heart body and the ambiguous admission criteria lawed affirmative action in California. stayed, and other elite universities folAs it is highly doubtful that Berkeley, colleges to admit.” lowed in lockstep. the best public university in the United It is a damnable irony that, after States, filled 47 percent of its class with the eventual lifting of Jewish quotas, the same admissions pref- (according to their racist stereotype) biology majors who play the erences used to discriminate against them would be employed piano, it can be inferred that many in this group have a passionagainst the next most successful group, Asian-Americans. The ate interest in history, classics, and other such disciplines, as well new “Asian problem” is an especially tricky one for colleges, for as wide extracurricular attainments. The Berkeley case illustrates they cannot be neatly filed into the “white” category. Colleges are that the only uniformity that can be seen in Asian-American apbeing forced to employ their greatest skills in order to keep the plicants to colleges is academic excellence across all fields. Asians down: stereotyping, discrimination, and rejection. The great unspoken crime of Asian-American discrimination While it appears that admissions directors believe Asians in college admissions is not just the obvious numerical limits on the have a genetic predisposition to studiousness and unsociability, I group: American universities are joining a long line of individuals, have a more informed explanation. If Asian students know that companies, and governments who have deemed Asians subhuman they are already being discriminated against, at home and on their for centuries. From the construction of the First Transcontinental college applications, isn’t it rational for them to work that much Railroad to Japanese internment camps, America’s Asian relations harder to achieve success in a world biased against them? Asian have not been honorable. Curtailing racist attitudes and stereoparents drive their children to spend long hours studying because typical labeling of Asian-American applicants to college can only they know what they are up against. The results of this may be a be the first step in a long process of atonement. Let us hope that small lack of social skills, but this is not a result of the student’s the officers in our esteemed universities do not allow their greed race, just his circumstances. to interfere with their duty as human beings. •

Labor Unions: Lies at the Picket Lines BORIS RYVKIN- Production Editor


merican labor unions have a turbulent history. Fighting for tangible benefits with little to no federal assistance, early union activities were highly romanticized and encouraged important reforms to a nearly unchecked capitalism. Union influence throughout the early part of the last century was driven by a manufacturing-based economy, domestic industries protected by high tariffs, and a lack of overseas labor markets. The Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal greatly enhanced union rights by legalizing collective bargaining, permitting strikes, and reducing management intimidation. Union membership soared to over 36%,

enhanced by a favorable political alignment in Washington as well as increased federal infrastructure and military investment. The economic system, however, underwent profound changes in the next three decades. The end of the Second World War saw the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, which forbade such unfair union practices as coercing nonmembers and imposing excessive initiation fees. American isolationism came to an abrupt end with the start of the Cold War, as military protection from Communist expansion went hand in hand with greater openness of the domestic market to foreign goods. Stagflation (a double


February, 2007 - 13

phenomenon of increasing inflation and unemployment), which sobering figures. These groups masterfully advance the mantra of plagued the US economy in the 1970s, further aided the move protecting student interests, fighting for a “fair and strong” pubtoward deregulation and free trade. The rise of Western Europe lic school system, working closely with parents, and aggressively and Japan as competing trade blocs undercut domestic industries. tackling everything from drop-out rates to extra-help programs. The US underwent a shift away from manufacturing and toward a The truth behind the façade is that these same unions have service-based economy. Faced with new pressures, union member- undercut education reform at every turn. As organizations whose ship dropped to only 13% of salary and wage workers. first priority is the financial well-being of paying union members A drop in membership paralleled changes to union activities. (and union leaders more so), teachers unions demonstrate little What used to be the only viable means to achieve benefits in an genuine concern for whether a public school student is actually environment with few alternatives have become corrupt and rigid receiving a worthy education. In bringing school boards under obstacles to the consumer, the national economy, and the trans- their influence and enlarging districts, they have excluded parents forming labor force. Infighting among union leaders and ties to from any sizeable role in the education process. In New York City, organized crime have led to fraud, money laundering, widespread a major battleground for education reform, the United Federation corruption, and murder. A particularly infamous incident occurred of Teachers under Randy Weingarten has backed social promotion in 1969, when assassins hired by for failing lower school students the President of the United Mine “What used to be the only viable means to and opposed merit-based pay for Workers William Boyle murdered achieve benefits in an environment with few better performing teachers. That competing labor leader Joseph is expected, since the union is Yablonski and his family due to alternatives have become corrupt and rigid ob- interested in all its members getdisagreements about union orgating the same financial benefits nization and Yablonski’s popular- stacles to the consumer, the national economy, and cares little about individual ity among members. Most of the achievement. With $15,000 goand the transforming labor force.” insidious effects of today’s unions ing to school districts in states like are, however, far less dramatic. Using political influence, appeal- Massachusetts, thousands of signatures are still needed to get new ing rhetoric, and disciplined organizational structures, they have books and laboratory equipment. The bureaucracy in the school undermined reform and stifled progress at almost every turn. In boards, having near total job security, is practically untouchable creating inflexible sets of employment responsibilities for mem- by concerned parents and students. In the inner cities, where the bers, they have reduced individual initiative and cost businesses problem is most acute, money poured into the system goes toward millions in grievance payments. removing graffiti and enforcing discipline instead of educating. Contracts negotiated by union operatives seek a minimum of individual initiative and a maximum of narrow responsibilities. The Teacher’s Unions: The Demise of American Education 1998 contract negotiated by the Milwaukee Teachers Education The American public education system is a colossal wreck. Association contained 174 pages and 2000 amendments, replete American students place near the bottom of most mathematics with cases under which members may apply for grievances if and science exams, losing out to an increasing number of de- asked to work beyond their negotiated duties! Such an inflexible veloping countries. Pointing to the results of a Time Magazine and rigid system is sorely incapable of effective problem solving. study, economist Thomas Sowell has argued that, “American stuNational teachers unions and their local chapters have fought dents spend about as many hours in school annually as students hard against private vouchers and state supported charter schools, in England, France and Germany. But the number of hours that where the lack of Parent-Teacher Associations (under heavy union American students spend on serious subjects like history, science influence) and paying union members allows for more flexible and math is only about half what the students in these other coun- curricula, rewards for improved teacher performance, and greater tries spend on these kinds of subjects.” According to a 2003 report parental involvement in the learning process. It also frees parents by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Develop- from mandated school zones and gives them access to facilities ment, the United States had among the highest rates of public within commuting range. The primary beneficiaries of competiand private education expenditures (more than 2.5% of GDP), tion to the current system are low-income and minority students, but ranked near the bottom in math and reading proficiency. The the teachers unions’ sacred cows, who currently suffer from reresults of a study by the National Center for Education Statistics stricted access and poor learning environments. demonstrates that their OECD counterparts outperform even the While claiming to fight for better education, teachers unions top 10% of American students and that the US has a larger per- are the torpedoes sinking the ships of reform. By attempting to centage of students below level 1 in math and reading than almost limit alternatives to the existing public school system, they make an any other country. To add insult to injury, a CATO Institute study already massive problem worse. With little genuine concern for the has demonstrated that per pupil spending in the public school sys- academic well-being of students, unions focus on narrow material tem has nearly tripled in the past four decades. According to stud- self-interest. Negotiated contracts are filled with rigid guidelines ies reviewed by the Christian Science Monitor, school districts in and causes for grievances, stifling individual initiative. Massive some of America’s largest cities (e.g. New York and Detroit) have expenditures are poured into the system, but the destination of graduation rates below 40%. the funds varies greatly across districts. As the American public Into the arena come America’s two largest teachers unions, education system remains an embarrassment and graduation rates the National Education Association and the American Federation continue to plummet, the influence of teachers unions must be of Teachers, who claim to be leading the struggle to combat these substantially curtailed if serious improvement is to occur. •

14 - Brown Spectator


The Audacity of Obama ANISH MITRA- Contributing Editor


n January 16th, Barack Obama (D-Illinois) announced the creation of his Presidential “exploratory committee”. In other words, Senator Obama will be testing the waters about the feasibility of his presidential campaign in the upcoming months. The Senator’s future looks fairly bright; in a recent poll targeted towards registered members of the Democratic Party, Obama’s name came second to only Hillary Clinton. In addition to the being the second most popular Democratic presidential hopeful, 17% of voters considered Obama to be their primary candidate. Not bad for a guy with less than two full terms of Congressional experience. Are Democrats honestly ready to use Obama as their collective representation for the next Commander-In-Chief? 2008 is clearly going to be an extremely crucial time for Democrats. It’ll be the first time since 1928 that a Republican presidential and/or vice presidential incumbent has declined to run for the Presidency (Cheney has denied any interest in running). Thus, the Democrats will be up against a newly selected, freshly picked Republican candidate without any major ties to the Bush Administration. Are Democrats really putting their best foot forward by promoting an individual who currently has spent more years in college than in Congress? Obama, a believer in “ground-up” politics, started his career as a community organizer. He eventually found himself in the Illinois state senate, and before he knew it, he was up against Republican multimillionaire Alan Keyes for an empty Senate seat in 2003. Add his Ivy League background along with two books about himself and you have Obama’s political resume in a nutshell. What is so Presidential about that? Obama is a smart, articulate guy, and definitely has the credentials to be a good Senator. However, he does not by any means, have what it takes to be the next Chief Executive of our nation. Why? It’s simple. In addition to his extremely limited Senatorial experience, Obama has zero foreign policy experience. He also doesn’t have any experience governing, or leading. He’s a senator with constituents; he serves their interests and that’s that; he has never had to make any executive decisions. Furthermore, he has never served in the military, unlike 30 of the past 42 Presidents. Even democrats John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter had done their share of military service before considering the Presidency. The two past Democratic Presidents were both governors of their respective states; Clinton governed Arkansas for 12 years while Carter served as Georgia’s head executive. Despite the nature of their politics, both Clinton and Carter had extensive leadership experience. Shrouded by Republican presidents (Reagan, Nixon, Ford, and Bush) both Clinton and Carter managed to capture the votes of Americans coast to coast in order to win the Whitehouse. How can Barack Obama

become the next Democratic President of the modern political era if his resume is absolutely nothing like those of his successful predecessors? In addition to his lack of gubernatorial experience, Senator Obama lacks much leadership experience to begin with. Incumbent President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were both CEO’s; Bush was also a managing partner for the Texas Rangers baseball franchise. Obama does not share similar credentials; the former community organizer has only dealt with leadership on an exclusively small-scale basis, one that cannot possibly qualify him to lead a nation of three hundred million individuals. Obama’s foreign policy experience also comes under question; how can he be trusted to deal with foreign affairs effectively if he can count the number of years he’s been a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee on one hand? In an age of terrorism, we need a President that can efficiently deal with other nations; one that is diplomatic yet determined to protect democracy, freedom, and American interests worldwide. How can a junior Senator with minimal leadership and foreign relations experience going to learn the tactics necessary for such a cause? Barack Hussein Obama’s unconventional name and AfricanAmerican heritage have nothing to do with his downfall as a Democratic presidential hopeful. I am a firm believer in the tenets of democracy and I do believe that one day there can certainly be a non-white President, whether he’s Indian, Chinese, Hispanic, or Black. Obama’s downfall lies in his inexperience and naiveté. He is not doing his beloved state of Illinois any justice by becoming a two term senator and then suddenly catapulting himself to a Presidential candidate. Barack Obama needs to learn the meaning of the word “gradual”. In addition to realizing that progress is a slow process and the accumulation of political experience is an event which occurs over a long, long period of time, he’ll also realize that stating his dreams for a universal healthcare plan as his primary goal is also a bit farfetched (to say the least). When Obama came to Brown, he iterated that Americans needed to change the way politics were practiced and perceived; this is a process that needs to begin first and foremost in the Senate, where Republicans and Democrats will be battling for the next four years. Primaries are approaching soon and I absolutely and earnestly hope that the Democrats can choose a valid, experienced candidate that will not embarrass the face of their party. After all, who could doubt the audacity of hope? •


The Battle for Applicants:

February, 2007 - 15

Harvard Blunders While Playing the Early Admissions Game ANDREW KURTZMAN- Managing Editor


n September 12th, 2006, Harvard College announced that its early admission program would be coming to an end. Shortly thereafter, Princeton’s trustees (who happened to be meeting that weekend) decided to follow suit. As they describe (see http://www. html), they assumed that following in Harvard’s footsteps immediately would make them appear on the top of their game, as Yale, Stanford, and others would surely follow. Princeton could pretend that it, like Harvard, had been a trend-setter. But as it happened, no peer institutions took the plunge. This has left many to wonder what will happen now that Harvard and Princeton have effectively become non-contenders in the early admissions game. Princeton, which filled 48% of its class of 2011 through its binding Early Decision program, appears to be especially vulnerable after this change. In fact, if Princeton welcomes even a very-modest 5% of those deferred from the early cycle to the regular, a full 60% of the class of 2011 will have applied early. Because of intense competition for the best students, colleges do everything in their power to appear attractive. And, just as a selling point for a pair of designer pants might be its $800 price tag and the fact that only twenty have been made, a college’s appearance of selectivity can be one of its most important features; call it elitism. When a student applies through a single-choice early admission program, even a non-binding one such as Harvard’s Single Choice Early Action (SCEA), he is essentially declaring a

first-choice college, or at least strong preference. Taking advantage of this fact, admissions departments that select heavily from the early-application pool will be able to grant far fewer offers of admission overall, as a larger percentage of those offered admission will matriculate. There are, of course, other advantages to early admission programs. In addition to the convenience factor for students, they are a great asset to the admissions department in terms of predictability and class building. Even for most schools in the Ivy League, more than half of applicants admitted in the regular cycle will enroll elsewhere. At schools like Chicago, Johns Hopkins, and Duke, this number is about three quarters (with an overall yield percentage in the low 30s, even after the early decision programs are factored in). Because of their nearly-perfect yield, early decision programs allow admissions departments to ensure that they create a balanced and diverse class (for example, that there are enough musicians to keep the orchestra program alive, while not having a violinist in every other room). Also, by creating a separate (early) admissions cycle, these programs allow the admissions department to better spread out its work, and read applications more thoroughly (and, indeed, even reread deferred applications from the early pool). With all of these advantages, then, why would schools even consider ending early admissions? Critics have presented two main arguments. First, affluent students with college consultants are more likely to use early admissions pro“We might need a few more admissions-department staffers, but grams; poorer students are often unaware of the existence of such programs, or that they with Harvard and Princeton acting as they have, the University’s confer advantages in terms of likelihood of admission. Additionally, those poorer stupotential to attract top-quality students could not be better.” dents who do apply to a binding program will not have the ability to “shop around” for financial aid at different colleges (for example, asking Brown to match Columbia’s offer). For these reasons, certain segments of the Brown community want the University to drop its program, as well. But while there are indeed equity issues in the admissions process, ending early admissions programs will not solve them. As Yale University stated in its announcement that it would not terminate its SCEA program, issues of attracting applicants are best addressed with recruitment efforts. Additionally, and perhaps closer to the core of the problem, are the “soft” admissions criteria that colleges use. Nearly every component, such as having taken the “right” classes, hav-

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ing engaged in the “right” extra-curricular activates, and having worked at the “right” jobs, is predisposed to favoring wealthy applicants, whose families can devote conscious effort to sculpting their resume during high-school (and, indeed, even earlier). This is hardly specific to the early cycle of the admissions process. Secondly, the concern about financial aid shopping is, oddly enough, not relevant to early programs like Harvard’s. While one may not apply to early programs elsewhere under the terms of Harvard SCEA program, one is not committed to attend if admitted, and may apply to regular-cycle programs at any other school. While binding ED programs such as Brown’s and Princeton’s do not allow this choice, a switch to SCEA would seem a far more logical compromise as compared to scrapping the program entirely. With the equity argument so incredibly weak, despite its being the only reason cited by Harvard for terminating its program, it is clear that there must have been other, less altruistic motivation. Indeed, it would seem that there are many. Sixty-five percent of students admitted to both Harvard and Yale choose to enroll at Harvard, according to numbers released recently by the New York Times. From there, victories only become more lopsided: Brown, for example, wins only eleven percent of cross-admits, and only Yale, Stanford, Princeton, MIT, and Cal Tech do better. In the past, changes at Harvard have heralded changes everywhere else. Were other universities to end their early admissions programs (most of which are binding Early Decision), Harvard would have access to a much larger applicant pool, where it would clearly be positioned on top. In light of this, Princeton’s hasty decision to abandon its ED

program, upon which it has been so dependent, appears all the more ridiculous. Applicants who might previously have applied to Harvard or Princeton through their early admissions programs will now apply to Yale or Stanford, both of which have non-binding SCEA programs, as these applicants have absolutely nothing to lose by doing so. And many of these early applicants to Yale and Stanford, having been admitted, will decide not to bother with Harvard and Princeton after all. For Brown, which already has trouble against Stanford (we win only 25% of cross-admits), an end to early admissions would be even more damaging. This is not to argue against change in Brown’s early program, however. When Brown switched from early action to binding early decision for the class of 2005, the number of early applications it received fell by about 2000 applications, or 50% of the total (Brown Daily Herald, “Brown Early Decision Applications,” 12/5/05). When Yale and Stanford switched from ED to SCEA, a reverse trend occurred, and both schools received significantly more applications from poorer students. If Brown were to switch to SCEA, it would certainly end up with a lower yield: early applicants to Brown might apply elsewhere during the regular cycle, and, to their detriment of course, be attracted away from College Hill. However, yield from SCEA is always substantially higher than from the regular application cycle, and, taking account of the overall much increased applicant-pool size (and diversity), Brown would probably end up admitting a smaller overall percentage of students after the switch than before. We might need a few more admissions-department staffers, but with Harvard and Princeton acting as they have, the University’s potential to attract top-quality students could not be better. •

Taxing College Sports SHEILA DUGAN- Senior Editor


ick Saban, former coach of the Miami Dolphins, recently received a $4 million a year contract, plus bonuses for bowl games, from the University of Alabama. In October, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) signed a $6 billion, eleven-year contract with CBS to broadcast the NCAA basketball tournament. The deal includes rights to Internet content and merchandise. These two events raised questions on whether multi-million dollar college athletic departments, most notably the NCAA, should maintain their non-profit status and be exempt from taxation. The NCAA claims its purpose is “to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the education experience of the student-athlete is paramount.” The organization contains 1,024 colleges and universities, divided into three divisions based on the number of sponsored women’s and men’s teams, on attendance and scheduling requirements, and on the amount of financial aid given to student-athletes. The NCAA formed in response to concerns that colleges and universities had over the dangerous nature of football. The organization, then called the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, had 62 members at its original meeting on

December 28, 1905, in New York City. At that time, the NCAA was a discussion group and rules-making body, but its role grew as more championship games were held. After World War II, the organization created the “Sanity Code,” which monitored recruiting and financial aid. In 1951, the NCAA received its first full-time executive director, and established its headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, the next year. In the 1970s, the organization divided its members into three separate divisions and involved itself in women’s athletic programs. Now headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, the NCAA employs 350 individuals and is headed by Myles Brand. The NCAA reports having an operating revenue of $564 million dollars. Ninety percent of the revenue comes from television and marketing rights fees. Less than one percent of the organization’s funds come from membership dues. Because of the vast amounts of money flowing into college athletics, questions have been raised regarding whether the organization’s tax-exempt status should be preserved. In October 2006, the former House Ways and Means Committee Chair, Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA) sent a letter to Brand challenging the need for the organization not to pay taxes. In his letter, Thomas questioned whether or not the NCAA works to keep the athletes as a


regular part of the student body. Thomas questioned whether the line between college athletics and professional athletics is clearly defined in an era of “corporate sponsorship, multimillion dollar television deals, highly paid coaches with no academic duties, and the dedication of inordinate amounts of time by athletes to training.” The letter also addressed the disparity between the pay of women’s and men’s team coaches, the quality of classes athletes take, and low graduation rates among studentathletes. The most important question Thomas’s letter asked was how the “highly commercialized, profit-seeking, entertainment environment” of college football and basketball contributes to the university’s “educational purpose.” Thomas wanted an answer beyond the generation of income for the school. Brand, president of the NCAA, responded to Thomas questions. In it, Brand claims the moneymaking nature of the sports does not “…diminish the importance of their educational value.” The knowledge gained on the football field or basketball court cannot be valued less than those learned in “non-classroom” endeavors pursued by other students, such as journalism or music, according to Bond. The public’s interest in the NCAA basketball tournament determined the price CBS paid to broadcast the game. “If the American public had the same popular interest in French lectures or accounting classes as they do in athletics, television would be just as eager to telecast those events and to sell commercial time to pay rights fees,” Brand wrote about the CBS contract. In addition to revenue generated by the organization, Brand addressed the disparity between the salaries of women and men’s team coaches and the existence of million-dollar coaches’ salaries. The market determines the salaries, Brand claimed. He also noted that coaches do not have the protection of tenure and can be easily dismissed. Complaints about the tax-exempt status of the NCAA focus on the money the organization generates, not the function of the body. I doubt Congress would express an interest in the organization if its budget was cut in half and all the games were broadcast on public access television. The question Thomas should focus on is, “Would requiring the organization to pay taxes ameliorate some of the concerns Thomas addressed in the letter about athlete integration into the university, graduation rates, and coach’s pay?” The organization’s tax-exempt status could be acting as a restraint, avoiding a quest for money that does not take into account the athlete’s performance off the field. Now, they are forced to, at the very least, pretend that whether or not the athletes are passing their classes and graduating actually matters. At the very heart of the matter is discomfort over our priorities. Do we live in a country that does not treat athletics as a supplement to an education, but instead prizes it above anything else?

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In a New York Times article published January 7, 2007, entitled “Athletic Departments Are Turning Pro,” Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College writing a book on the business surrounding sports, described Saban’s contract with Alabama as “…a university outbid[ing] an N.F.L. team for a head coach.” Noting Saban’s salary will dwarf that of many public university presidents, Zimblast claimed it “…sends a strange message to the student body about the institution’s priorities.” The money thrown at college athletics programs represents the public demand. CBS would not have dared to pay $6 billion to the NCAA if the public would not watch the games. CBS does not define the public’s tastes or its interests; it merely gives the public what it wants and what the public wants is a basketball game, not a lecture on French literature. Forcing the organization to pay taxes will not change this fact. In this battle, the burden is on the NCAA to prove its worth and how it furthers the educational goals of colleges and universities. With a $6 billion contract from CBS and a budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars, it will be difficult to gain any sympathy from the public. Congress has a talent for sniffing out potential tax revenues that would give a gold digger a run for his or her money. Since the NCAA is not trying to find a cure for cancer or sheltering African orphans, I would not be surprised if the organization is forced to pay taxes in the future. •

Spectator Fact: Our articles are published in the ‘Caslon Pro’ type-

face. We do this to honor the U. S. Declaration of Independence, which was composed in an early version of Caslon.

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Gerald Ford Obituary SEAN QUIGLEY- Senior Editor


ugust 19, 1976, deservedly, was a landmark date in recent Republican Party history. On this day, in Kansas City, Kansas, Ronald W. Reagan came excruciatingly close to accomplishing the unthinkable—he almost took the party nomination from a one-term incumbent president, Gerald Ford. Snatching up 47.4 % of the delegates’ votes (1070 out of 2257), Reagan still came away empty-handed. But the nation would not forget this former movie star and governor of California. Four years later, Reagan not only received the GOP’s nomination for president; he also unseated the incumbent Jimmy Carter, who had defeated Ford in 1976. Now, President Reagan died over two years ago, so you may be wondering why I began an obituary for the recently deceased President Ford—who passed away on December 26, 2006, at the ripe age of 93—by describing the circumstances that almost resulted in his abandonment by the Republican Party. My reason is simple—though Gerald Ford was a good man, full of honor and decency, I am disappointed by the fact that he won that nomination. Ford was a pragmatist, a dealmaker, a consensus-builder, but not in a wholly good way. He was a realist when the world cried out for an idealist Perhaps I am merely biased because one of my ancestral homelands, Lithuania, was left out to dry longer than needed because Ford lacked the vision to end the craven détente. The Iron Curtain survived far longer than it should have due to Ford’s lack of foreign policy vision and courage. And though President Carter was far worse in the realm of spreading democracy, Ford was no warrior himself. The people of Eastern Europe continued to live in bondage when America could have intervened on his orders. If military action were deemed imprudent, Ford could have, at the very least, initiated a military buildup that demonstrated our commitment to throw communism into the wastebasket of historically malevolent ideologies. Supposing that Reagan had defeated Ford in the primary, it is likely that the Watergate scandal still would have secured a Democratic presidency, but the maelstrom of anti-communist, anti-totalitarian fervor that marked the Reagan years might have been sparked sooner. W h o knows?—maybe that fervor would have pressured President Carter to actually respond to Soviet aggression in Afghanistan and Islamist turmoil in Iran. Regardless, it was not until President Reagan took office that the anti-communist spirit of Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy once again thrived in the White House. Foreign policy flaws aside, Ford certainly did some good

for the world, though I might add that this good was horribly shortsighted. The Helsinki Accords, signed in August 1975 by the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as 33 other countries, were accurately described by Reagan as a “human-rights farce” and a “propaganda plus” for the Reds. Supposedly, the Helsinki Accords elicited from the Soviet Union a commitment to certain inviolable human rights. But to me, it was reminiscent of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich and claiming that Hitler was dedicated to peace. For, in both instances, legitimacy was granted to territorial aggressiveness on the part of history’s two most horrible totalitarian states. Concerning Chamberlain and his “peace for our time” drivel, legitimacy was granted to Hitler’s claim that Austria and the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland were rightfully Germany’s. Concerning Ford, Kissinger, et al, and their Helsinki Accords, legitimacy was granted to the territorial claims that the USSR made for its Eastern European satellites states. But let me halt the criticism for a moment. I should once again reiterate that President Gerald Ford was a good man and a good American. Born on July 14, 1913, Ford attended the University of Michigan and graduated with the Class of 1935. While an undergraduate, he was an accomplished football player, earning a place on the 1935 Collegiate All-Star football team. In 1994, he even had his number, #48, retired by the University of Michigan. Following his graduation, he served as a boxing coach and as an assistant football coach for Yale University. Beginning in 1938, he attended the Yale University Law School, eventually achieving a law degree in 1941. After the outbreak of WWII following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941), Ford enlisted in the Navy. After slightly less than five years of military service, Ford resigned from the Navy as a lieutenant commander on June 28, 1946, and a highly


February, 2007 - 19

decorated veteran. a missile gap, one that favored the Unites States. Regardless of his From 1949 to 1973, Ford was the House Representative for factual “error,” Kennedy was clearly committed to strengthening Michigan’s 5th district. Beginning in 1963 and continuing until American firepower, especially in regards to conventional warfare. 1973, Ford was the House Minority Leader for the Republican (President Eisenhower had been a proponent of MAD, or MutuParty. A fiscal conservative, Ford was a noted critic of President ally Assured Destruction, a deterrent policy for the Soviet Union Johnson’s “Great Society” program—a criticism that I share with that concentrated on a nuclear stockpile, at the expense of the Ford. However, he also received much attention (both positive and conventional weapons/military-industrial complex that Kennedy pejorative) for his supposedly moderate politics and demeanor. sought to restore.) That is, he was not a Newt Gingrich who would plan and carry President Reagan displayed a similarly brilliant vision. He out a Republican Revolution. launched an aggressive, ambitious defense campaign that maniConfirmed by the Senate on Nofested itself in the Strategic Defense vember 27, 1973, and by the House “Ford was a pragmatist, a dealmaker, a Initiative (SDI), or “Star Wars,” as on December 6, 1973, to replace the consensus-builder, but not in a wholly Reagan colloquially referenced it. He resigned Spiro Agnew, Ford assumed called the Soviet Union exactly what it the Vice Presidency at a time when good way. He was a realist when the was, an “Evil Empire.” He told Premier the Watergate scandal was intensifyGorbachev to “tear down this wall,” a world cried out for an idealist.” ing rapidly. As we all know, President reference, of course, to the Berlin Wall. Nixon resigned from office on AuIn essence, Reagan ensured the quick gust 9, 1974, amid a torrent of accusations that he had aided in the destruction of a totalitarian state that had persisted for far too obstruction of justice regarding the men charged with breaking long as a result of the cowardly détente. into the Watergate Hotel on June 17, 1972 Now, as history revisits the Ford presidency, some of my felA month later, on September 8, 1974, President Ford signed low Republicans look to his short term with nostalgic feelings. a full and unconditional pardon for any and all crimes that Presi- They claim to see a moderate voice that has allegedly been lost dent Nixon may have committed during his presidency. Labeled a to the far right of the modern GOP. Sheila Suess Kennedy, of “corrupt bargain” by many in the media (claiming that Ford traded, had the following to say on the matter in a January a pardon for the presidency), the pardon was a pivotal moment 8 editorial: in Ford’s short presidency. Its unpopularity with the public was “Reading the articles about the life and death of former among the numerous reasons why Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in President Gerald Ford reminded me why I was once a staunch, the 1976 election. active Republican -- and why, after 33 years, I left the GOP. Ford, I am highly critical of Ford’s politics, but I can offer no criti- for those of you too young to remember, was the last of the ‘old’ cism of Ford in this regard. This was his shining moment, the Republicans. He was a fiscal conservative -- a term which did epitome of his decency. He knew that the country needed to heal not then mean tax cuts for the rich financed by borrowing from from the corruption of the Nixon presidency and took the politi- our grandchildren -- and a social liberal who was consistent and cally unpopular route in effecting this healing process. For that, I forthright about his support for reproductive choice and equal salute you, President Ford. rights for gays and lesbians.” I have always only heard good things about President Ford Interesting. Now, by “borrowing from our grandchildren,” the man. He was an honest, honorable, temperate, and decent is Ms. Kennedy referring to the current social security system? man. Those are good characteristics for a policeman, for an IRS Also, I am curious as to whether empowering workers through an auditor, and for any career choice that requires one to thrive off ownership society is consistent with her view of President Bush of the status quo. However, by themselves, these attributes hardly as a man only concerned with the rich? And about reproductive add up to an ideal political leader of any party, who should be choice, isn’t the choice to murder great? Relating to equal rights blazing new trails. This was especially true during the Cold War, for lesbians and gays, I agree with her wholeheartedly—like all of when either freedom or tyranny would prevail us, they should (and do) have the right to marry someone of the At its core, Ford’s primary problem was that he lacked vision, opposite sex. aside from his wise pardon of President Nixon. He certainly would You see, I am not much of a fan of people with politics like abhor my comparison, but Ford, in my opinion, was like Johnson Gerald Ford precisely because he represents the Old Right. In the when he was Senate Majority Leader, as both men accrued much history of the current Americans parties, had I been alive, I would credibility concerning their ability to “get things done.” Unfor- have been a Republican beginning in 1860 (when Abraham Lintunately, Ford seemed unwilling to look at things the way they coln was elected), a Democrat beginning in 1912 (when the GOP were, and to see how they could be. On the contrary, President abandoned Theodore Roosevelt), and a Republican again at 1 PM Reagan had vision. He, like President Kennedy, ushered in an era (CST) on November 22, 1963 (the time that John F. Kennedy of change. died). In foreign policy, Ford, as I discussed earlier, fell far short I don’t celebrate Republicans like Gerald Ford. He is a great of the vision espoused by Kennedy and Reagan. Recall that one man, a great American, and a great pragmatist. However, he repof the major issues of the 1960 presidential election between resents a breed of Republicans that, I am glad to see, have lost Kennedy and Nixon was the so-called “missile gap” between the influence in the GOP. I mourn his loss, but it is time for the ReUnited States and the Soviet Union. Kennedy ran partly on the publican Party to recommit itself to its roots. It must once again platform that he would be an anti-communist warrior, and that he be the Party of Main Street and Wall Street. The current GOP, would turn the gap in favor of America. In fact, there already was with Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush as its ideological fa-

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thers, can accomplish this. With that said, I must once again offer many thanks to Presi-

dent Gerald Ford. I may not agree with all of his politics, but he is a hero. May God bless and protect him for all of eternity. RIP. •

The Supreme Court’s Flawed Privacy Jurisprudence MARC FRANK- Business Manager


he “right to privacy” is not mentioned in the Constitution any, it thinks is infringed by the Connecticut law.” Both argue that of the United States. In fact, the first time the term gained there is no constitutional right to privacy; rather certain aspects of prominence was when Samuel Warren and future Supreme privacy are protected by specific provisions in the Bill of Rights. Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote a treatise entitled the “Right These Justices found nothing in the First, Third, Fourth, or Fifth to Privacy” in the Harvard Law Review in 1890, detailing when Amendments to invalidate the Connecticut statute, and could find private communications can be made public. Yet throughout the no historical precedent for using the Ninth Amendment in such past century, the constitutional right to privacy has been debated a fashion. Relying on the expressed intensions of James Madison, repeatedly, and has become a controversial source of cultural Justice Stewart wrote that the Ninth Amendment was “adopted debate in both the legislative and judicial arenas. The Supreme by the States simply to make clear that the adoption of the Bill of Court has, mostly in the last fifty years, created a Constitutional Rights did not alter the plan that the Federal Government was a right to privacy that has inhibited state legislatures and Congress government of express and limited powers, and that all rights and from making laws prohibiting contraception use, interracial mar- powers not delegated to it were retained by the people and the riage, sodomy, and abortion. I will use two key Supreme Court individual States.” To use it to annul a law, the dissenters reasoned, decisions in these areas dealing with had never been done before, and the this controversial right, review the was misinterpreting the intent “The right to privacy has inconsistent ap- Court constitutional rationale of the Court of the statute. in these cases, and critique the appli- plications that make the justices appear With Griswold, the Court incorcation of privacy rights to show that porated contraceptive decisions as a the Court decided many of these more like judicial legislators than consti- individuals constitutional right, pavcases improperly because they were ing the way for its landmark abortion tutional interpreters.” judicial usurpations of legislatures’ decision, Roe v. Wade (1973). Aborconstitutional power. tion is probably the most controverOne of the first Supreme Court cases that made use of a con- sial subject today in U.S. constitutional law. In creating a right to stitutional “right to privacy” was Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). obtain an abortion, the Supreme Court used many of the same The appellants, who were medical practitioners, challenged their reasons used in the contraception cases. When Roe v. Wade was conviction for violating a Connecticut statute forbidding the use decided, thirty-one states had laws banning the practice except to or distribution of contraceptives to a married couple. Justice Wil- save the life of the mother. Historically, to varying degrees based liam Douglas, delivering the opinion of the Court, ruled that the upon the viability of the fetus, abortion was a criminal act in most statute was unconstitutional when applied to infringe the ability of states. In 1973 the Court granted certiorari to Ms. “Roe,” a Texas married couples to purchase contraceptives. Douglas ruled based woman who argued that the statute forbidding her to obtain an on penumbras created by the guarantees of the Bill of Rights, in- abortion violated her privacy and Due Process rights guaranteed corporated to pertain to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. by the Constitution. In 1970, a three-judge Federal District Court The Court argued that the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth panel ruled that the “‘fundamental right […] to choose whether Amendments create a “penumbra where privacy is protected from to have children is protected by the Ninth Amendment, through government intrusion.” Concurring in judgment, Justice Harlan the Fourteenth Amendment’ and that the Texas criminal abortion argued that the right to privacy in marriage comes from the Due statute […] constitutes an overbroad infringement of the plainProcess Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, claimed that their tiffs’ Ninth Amendment rights.” The Supreme Court agreed that liberty was being infringed, but that the use of the incorporation of using the Ninth Amendment’s unenumerated rights was a ratiothe Bill of Rights was flawed reasoning. Justice Goldberg thought nal basis for invalidating the Texas statute, but instead chose to use the case should be decided predominantly on Ninth Amendment substantive Due Process to invalidate it, concluding that abortion grounds, believing that the right of privacy in marriage is one of was a fundamental right. Furthermore, the Court reasserted the the rights not enumerated by the Constitution, but that was wor- proposition, citing Griswold, that a right of personal privacy does thy of protection. exist in the Constitution through penumbras of the First, Fourth, Looking at the Constitution very differently than the ma- Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Whether it is found jority, Justices Black and Stewart dissented in Griswold. Writing in the conception of liberty in the Fourteenth Amendment or in separately, both expressed personal opposition to the Connecticut the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights, the Court found Statute, but did not see a constitutional rationale for invalidating that the right of privacy was broad enough to include a woman’s it. Justice Stewart aptly pointed out that the Court referred to six decision whether to terminate a pregnancy. Amendments, but “does not say which of these Amendments, if Using historical and medical evidence, the opinion went on


to guide the States on how they would be constitutionally permitted to regulate abortion in congruence with Roe. The Court categorized abortion as a fundamental, but not an absolute right, and thus the State could show certain compelling interests at different times in a pregnancy. The Court concluded that, during the first trimester of pregnancy, the state has no compelling interest in regulating abortions, and thus cannot do so. During the time after the first trimester, but before viability, the Court said that in the interest of promoting the health of the mother, states may regulate abortion in ways “reasonably related to maternal health.” Finally, the Court ruled that after the viability stage, the state has an interest in protecting potential human life, and that it can regulate, or even forbid abortion, except when it is performed to protect the health or life of the mother. Dissenting, then-Associate Justice Rehnquist argued that liberty as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment is not guaranteed absolutely, but only against deprivation without due process of law, which had been construed by prior Courts to be applicable only when legislation does not have a “rational relation to a valid state objective.” Rehnquist argued that a total ban on first trimester regulation is unjustifiable under this standard. Furthermore, he noted that by breaking pregnancy into three different phases (fairly arbitrary in terms of fetal viability) and outlining what is permissible for the States to regulate in each phase, the Court “partakes more of judicial legislation than it does to a determination of the intent of the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment.” The rights to use contraceptives, obtain an abortion, and partake in private sexual activity have now been guaranteed as Constitutional rights through judicial fiat. These decisions constitute judicial usurpations of legislative prerogatives that are inconsistent with the language and history of the Constitution. Whether or not they make for better public policy is a question under our constitutional framework that should be left to the elected branches of government. Instead, the Supreme Court has chosen to impose its own policy beliefs onto the states and the people under the illusion of constitutional reasoning. The Court’s rationale for claiming that a right of privacy exists in the Constitution is tenuous at best. It appears that the Court cannot decide whether using the Due Process Clause’s substantive right to liberty or whether creating a right to privacy by amalgamating numerous Amendments in the Bill of Rights and their “penumbras formed by emanations” of specific constitutional guarantees is most appropriate. Today, few Americans believe that contraceptives should be outlawed and rarely does anyone call for Griswold to be reversed. Yet, Griswold was the catalyst for the later decisions that dealt with

February, 2007 - 21

policy areas that are much more controversial. Griswold laid down the constitutional rationale for those cases by creating a right of privacy that goes beyond those privacies specifically guaranteed in the Constitution. Robert P. George, a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton, rightly argues that conceding that Griswold was properly decided gives greater legitimacy to the holdings in Roe. The Griswold Court claimed that there was no purposeful interest to uphold the Connecticut statute, but discouraging nonmarital sexual relations through the use of contraceptives is the sort of moral legislation that the Supreme Court had upheld prior to Griswold. Furthermore, by using a novel constitutional interpretation that looked at the penumbras of several Amendments combined to create a far-reaching right to privacy, the Court set the framework for additional far-reaching interpretations of the Constitution in Roe. The Supreme Court has shown itself quite willing to act as a super-legislature when an issue comes before it on which a majority of the members have a strong personal opinion. When campaigning for ratification of the Constitution in 1788, Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist No. 78, “The courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGEMENT, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of a legislative body.” The Supreme Court, in their rulings in Griswold and Roe, went beyond their power under our constitutional framework, as Hamilton warned against. Because these decisions were wrongly decided, they should be overturned, which would not break the principles of stare decisis. As Justices Hugo Black and Potter Stewart aptly pointed out, there is a fundamental difference between a bad and an unconstitutional law. These men understood that the Court was creating a “right of privacy” in order to “cloak a naked policy preference.” Even though they both thought the law being overturned was bad public policy, and surely they would have voted to repeal the law if they were members of the Connecticut Legislature, they understood that the law was within the state’s power to promote safety, public health, and morals. By adding Constitutional rights through judicial edict with little historical of constitutional rationale, the right to privacy has inconsistent applications that make the justices appear more like judicial legislators than constitutional interpreters. Our founding fathers did not create the judiciary to usurp so much power from the legislative bodies of this nation. This trend should be reversed so that the elected representatives of the people, not lifetime appointees of the President and Senate, have the power to make this nation’s laws. •

Taxajersey MARK FULLER- Contributing Editor


ew Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine delivered his annual State of the State address on January 9. While many items were on the agenda, fiscal issues remained the most pressing and included New Jersey’s highest in the nation property taxes and budgetary shortfalls. Perhaps some of those nasty highways, including the infamous Turnpike, could be sold off. His proposals may set ex-

amples for other states and have an impact at the federal level, where state policy has long been utilized as a proving ground for new experiments. Property taxes, for all who have lived in New Jersey, evoke two main responses: Either that of a shudder due to their extreme cost, or a giggle from those either so wealthy or so strained as to

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Between issues, our staff members are busily posting away on The Brown Spectator’s official Blog, which can be found at Visit us online to see what we are discussing, respond with comments, and vote for your favorite articles. We’ll see you there. revel in this symbol of government incompetence. Average rates reasonable. in the state are about $6000 and rising approximately 7% per anThose not in New Jersey may ask, how is all this important num. Corzine had originally promised a 20% decrease in property for my state? The answer is multifaceted. New Jersey has the most taxes, but reneged early in his term. On January 9th he intro- out of control taxes in at least three categories (property, sales and duced some suggestions for cigarette) while having the highthe problem, including a direct “Property taxes, for all who have lived in New est per capita income. This means credit of 20% of the property that the structural problems are tax bill to households earning Jersey, evoke two main responses: Either that of a the worst, particularly for properunder $100,000 per year, 15% ty taxes. Consequently, if anything for $100,000 to $150,000 and shudder due to their extreme cost, or a giggle from does go as planned, there may be 10% for $150,000 to $200,000. those either so wealthy or so strained as to revel in a model to replicate. If shifting Unfortunately, this does little tax burdens to the state to fall unthis symbol of government competence.” to address actual spending der the cap and at the same time and budget shortfalls either in quell tax increases because they municipalities or in the state government. It’s a little like taking are now being considered state wide, that’s progress. As for our money out of the right pocket and putting it in the left, due to the highways, if selling them to private investors does anything other numerous funding schemes and court decisions that require much than create unreasonable toll hikes, I’ll vote Democrat in 2009. of the property taxes to be redistributed from richer to poorer districts. My personal hope, and perhaps the intent of the governor, is that by shifting some of the property tax burden to the state in Public Schools’ Students Seek Renewal of State Funding the form of a credit, he can curb state spending – all states except If there’s one thing politically active students at Brown like, Vermont have Constitutional clauses requiring a balanced budget. it’s grass-roots nitty-gritty popular politics (i.e. student activism). The more likely outcome is, however, a further tax increase. Sales In New Jersey, that spirit is alive and well. A few years ago, the tax in NJ was raised by 1% this past summer to tie for the highest state banned the use of student activities fees for lobbying the state sales tax in the nation at 7%, and the cigarette tax was also state government. This legislation was affectionately referred to as raised to America’s highest level at $2.57 per pack. “Kill PIRG,” as it struck a serious blow to the many liberal and Corzine praised New Jersey’s new commitment to stem cell progressive student initiatives based at state colleges. research. The first of a planned package of bills, the legislature and I took some time to sit in on an organization meeting governor allocated $270 million primarily to construct new stem with representatives of Rutgers, Drew, TCNJ (The College of cell research sites. While superficially appearing to be a waste for New Jersey), Stockton and Ramapo, all of whom were very disa state hard pressed to stay in the black and unable to control mayed by recent cuts in higher education funding. Their resumes spending, there is hope that this will make New Jersey the leader were frequently similar – campus leaders for CAN (Campus Antiin stem cell research and create an economic mini-boom in bio- War Network), SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), Tent medical research and development. President Bush’s determina- State, an organization promoting higher education as a right for tion to again veto stem cell bills coupled with the lack of sufficient all and one or two members of the ACLU (American Civil Libervotes to override in the House and Senate makes this even more ties Union). Their goal: find a way to form a “State-wide Student likely. Organizing Committee,” perhaps a union, alliance or broad-based Corzine also spoke of ‘monetizing’ state assets. The Turnpike coalition. (Route 95), Garden State Parkway (GSP), and Atlantic City ExWhile I find it hard to support most of their other positions, pressway (ACE) are all being considered for liquidization – at an including some information passed out by one representative on estimated $10 billion. This is poor policy for two reasons: firstly, providing higher education for ‘undocumented Americans’ (read: although Corzine promised not to use any revenue from the sales illegal aliens), I certainly admire their spirit. Unlike so many other to make a “one-time budget fix to cover routine operating ex- student groups that engage in a lot of noise making and name penses,” it would still be a one-time injection of funds. Likewise, calling, this bunch seemed to be prepared to really devote themif the Turnpike, GSP and ACE are going to be bought by a private selves to the long haul, to building a comprehensive and inclusive entity, that either means the new owner is getting more out of this organization. After so many poorly executed initiatives, seeing than we are, or he’s going to raise tolls. Neither is appealing nor such sensible activists is a breath of fresh air. •


Thievery as Public Service:

February, 2007 - 23

Understanding Communism BORIS RYVKIN- Production Editor


omething to consider when assessing the Communist ex- Ukraine resulted in the Great Famine of 1932 and seven million perience is whether thievery exists in gradations. We gener- deaths. Hundreds of thousands more died in the construction of ally identify thieves as petty, common criminals, seeking material the Moscow-Volga Canal, one of several projects holding more wealth and a quick improvement in their social lot. Modern so- symbolism than practicality. Stalin’s stroke in 1953, timely for the ciety has seen the term “robber baron” enter its lexicon, where a over one million Soviet Jews slated to be forcibly resettled in the corporate executive and his majority shareholders manipulate Far East, ended what Russians term the “Great Breakdown.” A international markets to distort economic realities. What tie the successive softening of the iron fist, far from producing a leap forcommon criminal and the deceitful executive together, in a lib- ward, resulted in near perpetual stagnation. eral democracy, are laws that mete out punishment and restore One famous Soviet joke, with a great deal of truth, involves accountability. A legal system is meaningless unless the public has an interrogation led by a KGB officer. He poses a challenge to access to physical assets with which to protect their rights (i.e. the accused: prove that you are not a camel! Stunned, the accused private property). The farce of Communism, stripping away the replies that he has neither a tail nor humps. The officer, unshaken, assets individuals use to act on their rights and calling it equal- demands proof the accused is not a camel without both. For my ity, transformed the state into an omnipotent thief. Millions per- parents’ generation, innocence and guilt remained blurred. Legal ished for temporary progress and once great nations reduced to help was difficult to obtain and the limited assets people could confused soul-searching. The greatest casualty, however, lay in the turn to created financial problems. A common phenomenon was manufactured belief that the individual was of little to no value. imprisonment for violation of a statute few read or even heard of, Many failed experiments have a habit of dying physically, but were expected to know. but surviving spiritually. If the political temperature on America’s The 174 articles of the Soviet constitution are replete with campuses is any indication, such guarantees of everything from is the case with Communism. “The farce of Communism, stripping away the healthcare to housing. As is the What explains the ideology’s case with most paper guaranmodern appeal, especially assets individuals use to act on their rights and tees, practice reveals a different among students and young in- calling it equality, transformed the state into an truth. Due to massive deficits in tellectuals, has to do less with syringes, x-rays, medicines, and Communism itself and more surgical equipment, the timeliomnipotent thief.” with personal guilt. Living a ness and quality of examinations comfortable existence and enjoying the myriad of opportunities fell. Waits for advanced operations could last years and bribery at hand is far less satisfying than fighting on the front-lines of a became increasingly pervasive. Life expectancy was ten years berevolutionary movement. Lenin himself echoed this distress when low most of the west. The reality with housing was even trickier. he wrote in the summer of 1918, “it is better to take part in the People waited in line for years, sometimes even a decade, to get revolution than to write about it.” Perhaps the man most able to a personal apartment and move out of communals. After getting tap into this youthful exuberance was ComIntern chief Grigory the apartment, it took another year to get better furniture. Added Zinoviev, who remarked that “against the bourgeois black army to this was a different approach to service and maintenance. Inwe are organizing our own red army, and the working youth shall stead of the resident paying a private company to repair the power fight on the foremost barricade for the victory of the Soviet sys- outage or the leak, all problems had to be directed to the houstem.” Could one resist such a passionate appeal? Unfortunately ing manager. Don’t expect that individual, having zero financial for the campus activists, who seek genuine change, blind idealism incentive or threat of unemployment, to fix anything promptly. has replaced pragmatism. When something doesn’t work, as many In perhaps the best proof of the principle that the whole is larger felt capitalism didn’t in the early 20th century, the gut reaction is to than the sum of its parts, service shifted from creating a quality replace it with something new instead of going through an ardu- product to fulfilling strict component guidelines. ous reform process. That easy road cost innumerable lives, the total One of my grandfather’s closest friends, Andrei, lives in a number still to be confirmed. meager Moscow flat. When I went to Russia last year, he made My family emigrated from Russia a year before the Soviet a point of sharing his life story with me. A WWII veteran, he collapse. My great-grandfather was one of twenty million who escaped a German POW camp and lived for over a year behind perished during the Stalinist Purges of the 1930s. There was the enemy lines. Completing an advanced three-year engineering and midnight knock at the door by the NKVD and he was never heard economics program in two, he became a senior engineer in charge from again, a fate shared by millions of intellectuals, students, and of large bridge and tunnel construction projects. He and his wife professionals across the country. Zinoviev himself faced a firing waited for 15 years to get a stand alone apartment, which looked squad in 1936. Millions of Ukrainian Kulaks, daring to cling to as if it had not changed for three decades, a hand-pumped toilet whatever little property they had, were sent to labor colonies or juxtaposed with a rotary phone. Had he been in the states, the executed by NKVD detachments. Forced collectivization in the private pension he would have amassed could have placed him at

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ease. Yet this man’s eyes revealed no happiness, but intense sorrow. Sorrow at a mass deception that robbed him of his life and destroyed his dreams, understanding that time cannot be turned back. When the USSR collapsed, it was living on 20 years borrowed time. The discovery of large oil deposits in Central Asia and the Far East propped up an economy decades behind the west. The Socialist dream of economic self-sufficiency was falling fast, as were oil prices in the late 1980s. Yegor Gaidar, the first Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, commented that the Soviet Union was receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign loans to sustain its economy and had cleared out its gold reserves in a desperate bid to keep up with payments. “The country was bankrupt. The grain reserves could last only until February 1992. No grain, no credits, no working system of grain distribution. This reality was very well felt in the country.” In an economy where 25% of GDP went toward producing tanks and ICBMs, it is no surprise that people rushed to buy chicken at 4 AM and begged their neighbors to bring back jackets from foreign business trips. The Communist experience for millions in the Soviet Union and across the globe saw systematic thievery practiced as public service. Men and women had their lives stolen from them and experienced rigid limits to hard-earned prosperity. Added to this was a shift in mindset where the individual meant nothing, the political apparatus operated in an untouchable 5th dimension, and life was highly uncertain. This tragic farce makes me ask what might have been in those corners of the world stained by the Communist epidemic. The millions who died for temporary progress can never be brought back and the freedoms destroyed by the benefactors at scores of Party Congresses will take generations to restore. I hope the world has taken note. •

Territory for Terror: A New Strategy for Israel


BORIS RYVKIN- Production Editor

he State of Israel is in an incredibly tenuous position. The de- governing coalition, led by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, was bate surrounding Israel’s interests has shifted more in the last preparing a series of radical diplomatic moves. There were several decade than perhaps at any other time in its history, with horrific motivations that drove these men and their supporters to Oslo, consequences. A breakdown in Israeli leadership has gone hand where the Peace Process with the Palestinians was born. Rabin in hand with a mismanagement of the military and a compromise was convinced that the fall of the Soviet Union and the cutoff of on Israeli rights to the “Disputed military support to Israel’s Arab neighbors Territories.” In order for Israel to “In order for Israel to face down its en- would leave them no choice but to negoachieve a new epoch of stability, tiate and relinquish hopes of obliterating it must discard the approaches of emies and restore its position, the Oslo the Jewish state. The Palestine Liberation the past. In adopting what Israeli under Yasser Arafat, formed formula of “Land for Peace” must be Organization CEO and publisher Reuven Koret in 1964 to free Palestine from Israeli occuhas dubbed “Territory for Terror,” replaced with “Territory for Terror.” pation (three years before the Six Day War Israel would achieve its objectives and Israeli takeover of the West Bank and and secure its interests through gradualism. If the Palestinians Gaza), was seen as most threatened by the geopolitical shift. Rabin continue to flaunt their obligations and launch attacks from areas and Peres had also made backdoor deals with the Israeli Arab List, under their control, Israel will respond with immediate military which some argue was important for Labor’s victory and influaction resulting in permanent territorial annexations. enced the change in Israeli policy. Regardless, most concur that The present crisis originated with the Labor Party’s sweep of Rabin was genuine about his desire for reconciliation and truly the 1992 Knesset elections. Likud had failed to quash the First believed the new global reality would mean a new Arab mindset; Intifada and increasing unemployment worried Israeli voters. The this would prove to be a terrible mistake.


Oslo marked the end of an era. One had to accept that the Arabs really wanted peace, almost overnight, because of the drop in rubles from Moscow. One had to understand that the Jews who lived at or near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, the 2nd holiest site in Judaism, were illegal occupiers. One could no longer stress the right of the Jewish people to the land, but focus on the security concerns forcing continued Israeli presence. As part of a final status agreement, the Palestinians demanded Israel hand over East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, since the occupier must completely turnover that which he stole. That same cry did not exist when Jordan controlled East Jerusalem between 1950 and 1967, but Jewish rights are out of the question. Acceptance of a two-state solution, the great miscarriage of the Oslo Process, was now the 11th commandment for most policymakers and Jewish leaders, independent of whether the other side used the same colored glasses. The Israeli government and the international community, by embracing Oslo and the agreements that followed it, decided to shelve decades of tragic history. The Hebron massacre of 1929 was pushed aside, where an Arab mob killed 67 Jews and ended any sizeable Jewish presence in the holy city. The Great Arab Uprising of 1936-39 was also forgotten, where 500 Jews were killed. The Arab rejection of the 1947 Partition Plan, where an Arab state in 77% of the land (all of Gaza, the West Bank, and border areas) would be juxtaposed with a Jewish state made up predominantly of the Negev Desert, was no longer relevant. One percent of Israel’s population perished in a war caused by the initial Arab rejection of a two-state solution and thousands more died in four successive conflicts. The Arabs desire for Israel’s destruction was not rooted in percentages, but in the existence of a Jewish state per se. Oslo seemed to guarantee the exact opposite assumption. Skipping to 2005, Israel has pulled out of Gaza and lost a war in Lebanon. Official Israeli rhetoric has leeched on to the US War on Terror, seeming to imply that the war the US is fighting is identical to the one Israel faces, which is greatly exaggerated. Whereas the US faces an ideological conflict and no direct territorial threat to its legitimacy or existence, Israel continues to fight for its life and faces a distinctly territorial struggle. Fatah, now controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, and the Hamas organization only differ in tactics, not purpose. Whereas Abbas, a Holocaust denier and Arafat’s right hand for decades, seeks Israel’s destruction through diplomacy, Hamas opts for direct military action. The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is an utter disgrace. Prior to last summer’s war in Lebanon, Olmert had frequently denied reports of a massive Hezbollah buildup. As soon as the war broke out, with the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers and the shelling of Israeli towns at a 20 mile radius from the border, the Israeli General Staff presented Olmert with a detailed plan for quick and decisive victory. The plan, had it been implemented, was slated to end the war in 10-14 days. Beginning with an “air onslaught” on southern Beirut to decapitate Hezbollah’s leadership, a series of massive naval and paratroop operations would have landed several divisions along the Litani River and outflanked

February, 2007 - 25

Hezbollah’s southern defenses. Forced to vacate their bunkers to avoid starvation and humiliating defeat, Hezbollah fighters would have had to face the IDF out in the open and be most certainly annihilated. Olmert rejected an initial strike on Beirut, giving the Hezbollah leadership time to escape and reorganize. By waiting a full twenty days to send only 8,000 troops across the border, leaving Syria untouched, and not crippling Hamas in Gaza, Olmert guaranteed disaster. One hundred sixteen Israeli troops paid with their lives for Olmert’s incompetence, as did the 1,000,000 Israelis locked in bomb shelters across the north as 3,700 rockets rained down on them. Israel is in need of new leadership and a new strategy. The Peace Process must be put on the ash heap and the nonsense of a two-state solution abandoned. If the Palestinians continue ignoring cease-fires, killing Jews in Israel, and playing politics, they must face the response of a permanent loss of territory. The more terror is used, the more pieces Israel will officially and irrevocably annex. At best, seeing a completely new and sustained Israeli response to continued aggression will force the Palestinians to make serious changes. The alternative is a gradualist policy of permanently reclaiming the Territories of 1967, restoring Jewish rights to reside on the land, and strengthening Israel’s much weakened defense buffers. The city of Sderot lies just across the Israeli-Gaza border and has been bombarded with over 1,000 Qassam rockets since last summer. All IDF retaliatory operations have been incomplete and temporary, with Olmert demanding restraint and flirting with more concessions to the Palestinians. It is in Sderot that the new Territory for Terror strategy should have its first test run. If one more Qassam is fired from Gaza, the village from whence the rocket came must face devastating military retaliation and its Palestinian residents removed and transported to the nearest town. The village and its immediate vicinity would then be officially annexed to the State of Israel, with no compromises. This would be repeated across the Territories, until there is clear indication of a shift in Palestinian thinking. Beginning with Labor’s parliamentary victory in 1992 and the start of the Oslo Process, Israel has faced one tragedy after another. Instead of decisively acting to deal with threats to its existence once and for all, successive Israeli policymakers have chosen an incomplete strategy of carrots and sticks. The current political leadership is intolerable, having both mismanaged the military and adopted restraint in the face of increasing Palestinian assault. In order for Israel to face down its enemies and restore its position, the Oslo formula of “Land for Peace” must be replaced with “Territory for Terror.” •

“I had faith in Israel before it was established, I have in it now. I believe it has a glorious future before it - not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”

-President Harry S Truman (1884-1972)

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XX = XY?

A Book Review of Manliness, by Harvey Mansfield Yale University Press, 304 pp. Twenty-Seven Dollars, Fifty Cents. SEAN QUIGLEY- Senior Editor


believe that politically incorrect is the best way to describe Professor Harvey C. Mansfield of Harvard University. And he’s damn proud to be. You know, in a boastful sort of way. A manly sort of way. Published for American readers on February 20, 2006, Manliness is Professor Mansfield’s most recent and perhaps most controversial book. The subject of the book, as evident in the title, is manliness and its current role in our society. Writes Professor Mansfield of this deeply ingrained yet commonly dismissed value, “Manliness seeks and welcomes drama and prefers times of war, conflict, and risk. Manliness brings change or restores order at moments when routine is not enough, when the plan fails, when the whole idea of rational control by modern science develops leaks. Manliness is the next-to-last resort, before resignation and prayer” (ix) Now, Professor Mansfield goes into far more detail and analysis than those three sentences, but they adroitly typify the virtue that he describes throughout his book. This virtue, manliness, is hardly something that one can quantify, though its presence in the world can be readily detected. Manliness is also the sworn enemy of the genderneutral society that has been constructed in modern times, for it directly attacks the premise that men a n d women have equal abilities and inclinations in all aspects of life. As anticipated, manliness is just plain stubborn. This gender-neutral society, which Professor Mansfield alternates between deriding and accepting with caveats—for example, if we are to live in a gender-neutral society, he advises that a distinction be made between public law and private custom— bases itself on the premise that sex differences are merely social constructs. Certainly there are organ differences, the gender-neutral society will concede, but supposedly power structures impose every other difference on the sexes. And such power structures have allegedly been enforced by those in power—men. (But how did men achieve this power in the first place? The deconstructionists don’t seem to have an answer.) One of the central questions that Professor Mansfield addresses in his book is whether the traditional stereotypes concerning the sexes are, in fact, accurate. Is it true that “men are

hard, women soft; men assertive, women sensitive; men seek risk, women security; men are frank, women are indirect; men take the lead, women seek company…”(23)? Well, as Professor Mansfield points out quite bluntly, yes. He remarks that even though the deconstructionists claimed that a gender-neutral society could be built, social science has refuted that assertion. After all, why is it that, in an age when gender neutrality has been forced on the population, women still do two-thirds of domestic housework? Could the answer be that, generally, women are more biologically oriented to the home than men? Social science seems to answer that question in the affirmative. Professor Mansfield even makes appeals to evolutionary biology, demonstrating that (surprise!) men do, in fact, possess more strength than women, as well as more aggression. Commenting on how a man’s natural physical superiority over a woman leads to his dominance of the household and his “turf,” Professor Mansfield posits that as the reason men have typically dominated such occupations as business and politics. For, in business, one must take myriad risks and assert control over an entire organization; and in politics, one must assert oneself and one’s beliefs to a public that may be hostile to change. The current, in addition to the historical, disparity of representation between the two sexes (in favor of men) in those two professions is more likely to be the result of natural, fixed realities than constructed, changeable structures. Further, the Professor analyzes the many different forms in which manliness can manifest itself. He writes of President Theodore Roosevelt and his “strenuous life,” which aimed to induce progress through challenge and risk in the outdoors. He even addresses the professorial William James, who searched for the “moral equivalent of war.” These manly paradigms, Professor Mansfield contends, are in stark contrast to the more radical forms of manliness that have, unfortunately, resulted in some of the 20th century’s worst atrocities. This form of manliness, first seriously propagated by the 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, relied on the existentialist principle that man has no meaning unless he himself supplies it. And though Nietzsche’s view of this “will to power” had been horribly perverted by Nazi Germany, Hitler’s inspiration nonetheless originated from Nietzsche’s conception of manliness. Mansfield writes of this connection, “Although Nietzsche himself would never have been a Nazi, his influence helped create what has been called ‘German nihilism’…German nihilism in action at its worst was Hitlerism, and Hitler deliberately incited a low,


February, 2007 - 27

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You could get an A and be a published author . . . E-mail all submissions to Adam Perry, editor of BPR: worse-than-vulgar manliness with no finer features and no restraint, a manliness that was nothing but manliness” (118). Professor Mansfield also greatly criticizes the approach of modern science to manliness. Primarily, he is disappointed with science’s attempt to quantify and control something that would balk at any attempt to humble and hinder it, seeing as manly men are hardly a meek bunch. He is, however, pleased that science has validated what is simply common sense, such as the fact that, generally, men think more abstractly and women more practically. But, he is not wholly satisfied with science’s handling of manliness. For instance, he expresses great disappointment with science’s attempt to categorize male and female abilities into broad, inflexible subgroups. Mansfield offers this criticism: “The [scientific] studies lack nuance and subtlety (39).” As such, science would say that men possess greater spatial ability and women better verbal ability, but would then proceed to abdicate its duty to describe by merely measuring Several other notable sex differences are explored throughout the book, including an analysis of how each defines humor. For, as we all are probably aware, men have a monopoly on vulgar behavior when compared to women’s behavior. As a man who played hockey two to three times a week during the winter from the age of 3 to 15, as well as baseball during the summer months, I can corroborate this fact with much confidence. Remarks were made in those locker rooms that would cause Chris Rock to blush. Almost always, those remarks were jokes and stories that related to bodily functions, sexual activity, and sometimes a combination of the two. The girls that I knew growing up usually discussed boys they liked in their locker rooms. In a vacuum, this fact may appear meaningless. However, Professor Mansfield has this to say on the matter of humor as it relates to the sexes: “Women do make jokes, only not so noticeably as men. Women have the humor of the wise; they observe and

remark in subdued or ironic fashion. Men have the humor of the powerful; they expect everyone to laugh aloud” (70). Trust me, we laughed with much exuberance in those locker rooms. After we left, though, the testosterone levels settled a bit, and we made our way into our more gentlemanly selves. Yet the fact remains that we did tell those jokes and stories to seem like tough guys, like macho men. It was important to us. We thrived on being boisterous and causing a ruckus in the locker room. I don’t ever remember Jenn, a girl hockey player whom I knew, having the need to do that. There is much, much more discussion in Professor Mansfield’s book, and I have only scratched the surface of his intellectual treatise. Other covered topics include womanly forms of manliness (“raising consciousness”), manly forms of liberalism and individuality (manifested in such infamous political thinkers as Thomas Hobbes and John Stuart Mill), and an in-depth analysis of the philosopher’s understanding of manly virtue. The Professor succeeds in showing that there are, in fact, differences in the sexes, differences that are quite pronounced. Men and women are equal, without a doubt, but they are not the same. They are complements for each other, not substitutes. Feminism, according to the Professor, has attempted to do such a thing, that is, it has attempted to create a society in which men and women are viewed as interchangeable entities. Social science, evolutionary biology, and simple common sense fly in the face of this wholly modern endeavor. Manliness is superbly written, with a scholarly style that is contained in only the most erudite of works. However, it is certainly not a self-help book for society. Professor Mansfield claims, “My book is for thinkers, and I say this not so much to flatter ourselves that we can think originally as to get us to address the problem of manliness” (229). In other words, he wants us to think, to question, and to be unafraid to confront an issue that many find “sensitive.” Political correctness would have us run from such

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topics, as questioning the substitutability of the sexes is among the most heinous of heresies in this country, especially at the elite academies Just look at Professor Mansfield’s employer, Harvard University, to see the paragon of political correctness—after all, their former President, Larry Summers, was recently forced to resign because he dared to suggest that women might be intrinsically less apt at mathematics and science. Further, Summers suggested that modern society be unafraid to investigate whether it was nature, not nurture, that accounted for the great disparity between men and women in those fields. From this disappointing example, we may draw the conclusion that freedom of expression and inquiry

no longer rank as the most important values in the Academy. All things considered, Manliness is an excellent read and a highly stimulating work. As the inner flap of the book asserts, “This book invites—no, demands—a response from its readers. It is impossible not to be drawn in to the provocative (often contentious) discussion that Harvey Mansfield sets before us.” The Professor engages his readers and leaves them without a choice concerning a reaction—you simply must have one. So, if you are a thinker who does not toe the PC-line, pick up a copy. But, if you do tackle this deeply academic work, consider throughout the book this truth-filled aphorism, “A free society cannot survive if we are so free that nothing is expected of us” (244). •

Through a Glass, Murkily: The Good Shepherd A Movie Review

ROXANNE PALMER- Art Director “ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of communism, I fear no Evil Empire. Thy wiretaps and thy secret prisons, they comfort me . . .”


he description “spy movie” traditionally indicates several key elements of cinema: large explosions, exotic women in bikinis, and bad puns following the deaths of anonymous henchmen. Robert DeNiro’s “The Good Shepherd” contains none of these, opting for thrills of the quieter, chilling sort. On its surface, the subject is the birth of the CIA, but the real heart of the movie is the character of rank-and-file spook Edward Wilson (Matt Damon). It is important to remember that this is historical fiction and not a documentary. The plot turns on the premise that the Bay of Pigs invasion failed due to a betrayal within the ranks of the CIA. Once the coup fails, everyone, from Edward to his superiors at the Agency, begins to move in their little bureaucratic orbits, performing that universal celestial dance of passing the buck. Meanwhile, a mysterious package arrives on Wilson’s doorstep containing a grainy photograph and a tape recording of a woman’s voice. Flashback to Yale University, 1939. One minute Edward is in drag on the deck of the HMS Pinafore, the next he’s confessing his darkest secrets to upperclassmen while lying naked in a coffin. But Skull and Bones isn’t just about mud wrestling and quasi-Masonic ritual. At the society’s private island retreat, Wilson comes into contact with Gen. Bill Sullivan (DeNiro), who is laying the foundations for the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime intelligence agency that will be the forerunner of the CIA. Right after his wedding reception, Edward jets to England, where he

is taken under the wing of MI6 to learn the art of counterintelligence. After the war is over, the OSS ships him to Berlin, where the boundaries between the U.S. and the Soviet Union are already solidifying. It is here that Wilson first meets the Russian agent codenamed “Ulysses”, who will become his personal antagonist. The story is not told in linear fashion. The movie flashes backwards and forwards in time, from the earlier scenes in London and Berlin to an older Wilson straining to converse with a wife (Angelina Jolie) that he hasn’t seen in years while orchestrating the overthrow of South American communists. All the while we are intermittently taken back to the period following the Bay of Pigs invasion. In a small nondescript room, Wilson and his assistants attempt to decipher the message in the photograph and voice recording, hoping to discover the identity of the double agent in their midst. There isn’t anything on the level of complicated gadgetry like laser pens or that face-duplicating machine in “Mission Impossible”. Wilson and his compatriots are essentially civil servants playing with high stakes. The techniques employed by the agents- spreading misinformation, influence peddling, intelligence gathering- are not the stuff of high action. Even when there is violence, it is delivered by hired toughs. Men like Wilson don’t get their fingernails dirty. “The Good Shepherd” contains strong performances throughout, especially in the supporting cast. Michael Gambon (also known as the replacement Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” series) is especially notable as a poetry professor at Yale, whose personal politics bring him under suspicion. This presents young Wilson with his first dilemma, when an FBI agent (Alec Baldwin) asks him to betray the confidence of his mentor. Billy Crudup plays a wonderfully oily British intelligence operative who doesn’t


get nearly enough screentime. Not everyone shines, though; Angelina Jolie fills out her 1940s wardrobe nicely, but her character is barely present. The disintegration of her marriage to Edward seems more like a mark the screenwriters felt obligated to hit, and is one of the weakest parts of the movie. However, this is really Matt Damon’s show. His performance is understated, as Edward Wilson is something of an enigma. He is an inscrutable, calculating man, who moves about his life methodically. Even his rivalry with Ulysses lacks the passion of true obsession, and is more of a mental exercise on his part. We are told that the Russian agent, on the other hand, is consumed with his adversary, asking constantly, “what is his weakness?” Upon exiting the theatre, the question the viewer might ask of Edward Wilson is, “what is his motivation?” Every man has a particular idol by whom he might be driven. It could be family, ambition, or love. It would be tempting to ascribe Wilson’s drive to patriotism, but

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we are given no indication of this. His reasons are highly personal, and he keeps them to himself. What is most surprising, given its subject, is that “The Good Shepherd” lacks a strong political stance in either direction. The CIA is shown to be a necessary strategic element, yet its unsavory techniques are difficult to reconcile. Witness the ghastly depiction of the waterboarding of a suspected KGB agent. This same suspect snarls during his interrogation that the U.S. is using the threat of communism as a means to increase its own power, and that the Soviet Empire was nothing but “rust and paint”. Perhaps, but it was a heap of rust that had a nuclear bomb. Overall, the focus is drawn too narrowly to call this a truly political film. One forgets that the conflict is a clash of nations and ideology, not just an intellectual battle of wits between Wilson and Ulysses. The struggles of the Cold War are reduced to an elaborate chess game. between two grandmasters of deceit. •

Children of Men A Movie Review



ames Joyce once observed that “History is a nightmare from destabilizing turmoil present in the Middle East did become the which I am trying to awaken.” But what if existence were even future state of the world. worse than Joyce imagined? What if we lived in a present with At first, Cuaron brilliantly interweaves the seeming hopelessno hope of a future, one where human history was about to end? ness of his dystopia into the fabric of Theo’s life. As Theo rides Would reality become a nightmare from which there was no home on the subway, there is graffiti that says “Last One To Dieawakening? -Please Turn Off The Lights.” And as he awakens, there is an adThese are questions the director, Alfonso Cuaron, asks in his vertisement for Quietus, a painless suicide drug that alludes to brilliant movie, “The Children of Men.” Set in a dystopian near Hamlet’s tortured reflections on suicide (Shall I make my “quietus future, the film follows the life of Theo, a former political activ- with a bare bodkin?”). However, Cuaron’s dystopia transforms the ist and now disaffected bureaucrat profound moral implications of who lives in the London of 2027. assisted suicide (think Jack KevPowerfully portrayed by a suitably “Capturing resonant images of terrorizing orkian) into nothing more than dour Clive Owens, Theo lives in a politically engineered palliative a childless world where women fear; unexpected bombings, ransacked build- for hopelessness. have been infertile since 2009. Be- ings, and Abu-Ghraib-type abuse, the movie Deprived of a future, we learn cause the end of human history is humanity lost hope when it was seemingly near, Theo and virtually powerfully evokes despair, as these images re- denied the purpose of common everyone else have abandoned all historical development. Britcall current news footage and photography of ish television shows pictures of a hope. Cuaron’s greatest strength as world in flames, as it gravely inthe Middle East.” a director is his ability to evoke tones: “The world has collapsed… compassion. He seems to underOnly Britain soldiers on.” But stand that compassion arises from what the philosopher Martha even Britain is an embattled political state where terrorists are as Nussbaum calls the Aristotelian “acknowledgement that one has contemptibly violent as the government is ruthlessly brutal. Cappossibilities and vulnerabilities similar to those of the sufferer.” turing resonant images of terrorizing fear, unexpected bombings, That is, perhaps, why Cuaron masterfully creates a dystopian Brit- ransacked buildings, and Abu Ghraib-type abuse, the movie powain of 2027 that is disturbingly similar to our world. The main dif- erfully evokes despair, as these images recall current news footage ference is that the ideological battleground in the movie is Britain, and photography of the Middle East. Terrorists bomb cafés and not Iraq. London has become modern-day Baghdad, while the execute innocents, while the government’s “Homeland Security” rest of the world has become far worse. imprisons illegal immigrants, or “fugees,” in squalid concentration In this manner, the movie looks to the future to confirm our camps. worst political fears of the present. We feel compassion for the Through Theo we experience the unexpected shock of rancharacters in the movie because we understand their present may dom bombings, the gripping fear of building-to-building urban become our horrifying future. In sum and substance, they are a warfare in the rabble of a fallen city, and the gruesome carnage of chilling representation of what the world would be like “if ” the war. A once politically free England has become a virtual prison

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where illegal immigrants are caged like animals in detention cells on public streets and citizens ride on public transportation behind barred windows. Meanwhile, the rich live in a social bubble, where people like Theo’s cousin Nigel (played by the excellent Danny Huston) exist in a kind of Victorian fantasy world on Prozac, one that seems blissfully oblivious to the turmoil that lies outside its heavily guarded gates.. Nigel is a powerful government official who collects masterpieces of art to preserve the past for a future that may never exist. As Theo is ushered into his cousin’s foyer, he sees Michelangelo’s David with the calf of one leg disturbingly missing. Picasso’s Guernica, serves as the dramatic backdrop of Theo and his cousin’s lunch conversation. However, Theo’s cousin is so numb to life that not even the beauty of Michelangelo’s Renaissance sculpture and the stirring violence of Picasso’s depiction of the Spanish Civil War break the cocoon of his pill enhanced nihilism. Nor do they fill him with compassion for those who lead a less politically privileged life than he does. Nonetheless, these works of timeless art do foreshadow a new Renaissance that will provide hope, notwithstanding the brewing civil uprising in Britain the terrorist group the Fish wishes to foment. The movie dramatizes this new birth through an intriguing conjunction of chance and faith. By chance, Theo meets Kee, a young black woman and a “fugee,” who is well-played by Claire-Hope Ashitey. When Kee tells Theo she is miraculously pregnant, she restores Theo’s faith in the future. This joining of faith to chance seems odd at first, especially since religious faith is normally connected to the divine order of Providence. However, in Cuaron’s film there exists no discernible divine order. Animals burn in fields without narrative explanation, pollution mysteriously flows from pipes, and women are infertile for no apparent reason. Even when things are explicable, they often result in senseless political violence such as the dramatic death of Julian, the radiant Julianne Moore character, who is Theo’s former wife and the leader of the Fish whom her comrades execute for the ‘crime’ of being too peaceful. While the movie may not be strictly religious, it does connect chance to faith in a profoundly meaningful way. For example, Kee reveals her pregnancy to Theo in a manger that, of course, alludes to the birth of Jesus. Further, in the film’s most dramatic scene, the crying of Kee’s new born baby temporarily halts a fierce battle in the refugee camp. Both the Fish terrorists and the British soldiers stare in reverent awe at Kee, as if she were a modern Madonna carrying the baby who might redeem human history. By thus conjoining the death of war to the potential rebirth of history, Cuaron demonstrates how history and political order rest on a fragile balance between hate and hope. Cuaron decidedly avoids the imprimatur of an orthodox religious message. Kee even refutes the religious connotation behind the miracle of her birth by jokingly telling an initially dumbfounded and then bemused Theo she is a virgin. Indeed, in entitling the film “Children of Men” and not “Children of God,” the “fallen” state of society is a punishment man imposes

on his self, not one that can be redeemed by the child of God. In this manner, the movie satirizes fundamentalist religious groups that regard the collapse of civilization as punishment by God for the sins of man. For Cuaron, we create our future in the political decisions we make, whether they relate to energy, immigration, war, civil liberties, or homeland security. In a personal statement on the official website for the film, he said that, in directing “Children of Men,” he “didn’t want to do a film about the future…but about how the circumstances today can create the future.” Though this kind of sentiment might have led to a political agenda, Cuaron carefully avoids advocating a particular political view in his film. While Cuaron deals with political issues such as immigration and terrorism in the film, he largely avoids the trap of political partisanship. He does not champion the terrorist, the citizen, the bureaucrat, or the soldier. Instead, he says his film is “more about ideologies coming between people’s judgments and their actions.” Cuaron’s point, it seems, is that people use ideology to objectify and dehumanize their enemies. As they do, they forfeit the ability to find faith and hope even amidst the random chance and radical disruptions of life. •


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About the Spectator


he Brown Spectator is a journal of conservative thought and opinion published by the Foundation for Intellectual Diversity and funded in part through the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the Collegiate Network. The Brown Spectator is constituted through the Undergraduate Council of Students of Brown University. The views represented herein do not necessarily represent the views of Brown University or the editorial board of The Brown Spectator.


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32 - Brown Spectator

Winners and Losers, February 2007 Winners:

Iranian Democratic Protestors


or organizing a concerted grassroots movement against Iranian tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At a recent protest, students forced Ahmadinejad to cut short his speech amidst shouts of “Death to the dictator.” The students’ complaints include Iran’s crackdown on democracy and civil liberties, failed economic policies, and hard-line propaganda campaign against the West.


United States Congress


or undermining the surge and the larger American effort to secure democracy in Iraq. In politicizing the war, the Democratic Congress, alongside a growing number of cowardly Republicans, has sent an unmistakable message of defeatism. As Defense Secretary Gates’s put it, a Congressional resolution against the troop surge simply “emboldens the enemy” and lends credence to America’s image as a paper tiger. •

The Brown Spectator: February, 2007  

Featuring: Net Neutrality: Internet Freedom under Attack