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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
I've been thinking this for a while now, but finally, here's a good article that puts my frustrations into a quality argument. My complaint is that network news is terrible. There's no actual news. It's all so soft. Of a half hour nightly news program, about 3 minutes of it is actually something worthy of being called news. And even that is questionable. This two part article, by Rob Walker in The New Republic, is one that points out how networks are expected to provide a worthy dish of news in exchange for their privilage of having FREE broadcasting rights, but all they really do is hype non-news (This was pointed out on The West Wing this week quite well). An excerpt:
"Often the soft news gets a vigorous sell job to make it sound hard. One night Brian Williams, sitting in for Brokaw, relentlessly teased a story with variations on the question "Guess who's moving to the suburbs?" By the end of the broadcast I was on the edge of my seat. The answer: single people. "What does it mean for your family?" Williams asked, stumping me."
News has become nothing more than hyped up non-stories. Tell us real news, if there is any, and don't try to enrage people with the "Fleecing of America" and "A Closer Look," which isn't actually something to cause a fit about. Offer substance or give up on trying to fool us.
There seems to be an epidemic on college campuses, or at least here, for recreational use of prescription drugs. I'm not talking about just a way to get high, but about those who seem to think they have all sorts of psychological issues that they really don't have. I mean, the amount of people who have prescriptions for A.D.D. is about 20% of college students, yet statistically, only 3.5% actually have it. Some people think that they have A.D.D. and take drugs for it thinking that they just can't pay attention because they have some illness. NO. They don't. It might, just maybe, be that they just aren't all that smart to begin with. Certain people at college just aren't as smart as they think they are. Just because you can't pay attention doesn't mean you have A.D.D.! Stop making excuses for your stupidity. Some people even call them "study drugs." Study drugs!! NO! You're just not that smart! Get over yourselves. Read some Nietzsche.
While the world has been focused on the attacks and counterattacks of the Israelis and Palestinians, a terrible disaster has occured in Colombia. Largely ignored, the ongoing battle in the countryside of Colombia has recently escalated. Last week the leftist rebel group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and paramilitary forces who have the under-the-table support of the conservative government, were engaged in a small village in a remote part of Colombia. Faced with war all around them, the villagers sought protection in the only concrete structure available: the church. Packed with frightened villagers, the church roof collapsed after a FARC rebel mistakenly fired a homemade missle at the building. After the dust cleared, 117 people were dead, of which a third were children.
The unfortunate thing about this, other than the obvious loss of life, is that there is barely any news about it. While international news focuses on the recent pool hall attack in Israel by a suicide bomber which killed 16, there is scarcely a mention of the bloody injustices of Latin America. This is a war that has been ongoing since the late 1960's. While the attention to casualties in Israel is surely important, an incident of much larger proportion and having greater loss of life occured in Colombia and most articles I have found about it are neglected to the bottom of the page. I don't know if its racism, apathy, or just bad coverage, but something needs to be done to shed some light on the attacks on innocent people, in a church of all places. Something needs to be done, things need to change.
Here's a great article that shows how the U.S. "War on Terror" is disrupting nations with fragile democracies by strong-arming them into supporting the "War on Terror." While our pre-Sept. 11 goal was to "foster democracies" throughout the world in the American way, our post-Sept. 11 crusade (and I mean to use that word) against Al-Qaeda has led to very dangerous troubles for those fledgling democracies. The current "with us or against us" attitude of the Bush administration has wrecked havoc in the very nations that the U.S. needs. As the largest Muslim nation in the world, Indonesia is a nation that we cannot afford to be bullying so much if our long term goal is democracy and international security.
Something that has been really bugging me since I mistakingly went to hear what Richard Baehr had to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is that so much of the media in this country is hardliners of the pro-Israeli camp. I think the U.S. gives Israel way more credit than it deserves in this conflict. Sure, we've all heard the news of suicide bombers who walk into pool halls in Tel Aviv, or cafes in Jerusalem and try to take as many Israelis with them in their quest to become a martyr. Sure, that's terrible in our view, and I'm not one to say that it's morally acceptable, but in their view, its what they see as their only option. Instead of asking why these disaffected youth of the West Bank and Gaza are attacking innocent civilians, why don't we try to answer the question of why they are choosing death over life, and try to look at why such drastic attacks of terror are something they feel is necessary.
Something that a large segment of mainstream American media has done is to make the Palestinians out to be the evil terrorists, and the poor defenseless, innocent Israelis to be the unforsaken victims. Has anyone ever thought that maybe it could be reversed? That maybe the Palestinians are suffering equally, if not more, yet they lack the protection of a state to protect them and respond against their attackers. And when i say attackers, I hope it's painfully clear that I mean Israel. I mean, i'm all for Israel, but Ariel Sharon is doing nothing to make the situation any better by being stubborn and aggressive. The disappointing aspect of this conflict is that both sides are led by leaders who despise peace unless it is absolute: Israelis into the sea, or Arabs into the desert. With this type of leadership, nothing will be negotiated during this generation. What makes the situation all the worse, is that the heirs to the Palestinian authority are just as bad, or worse, when it comes to viewing the conflict with any degrees of grey. In the past few months, both sides have drifted towards greater and greater extremism. This will never produce any semblence of peace and will only prolong violence and accusations of terrorism/excessive force. Peace in our generation seems to have vanished, but it's not too late to save the next one.
You know what I hate? (a common phrase for the future to be sure):
I hate people who are also poly sci majors, but who just plain aren't any good at it. I mean, there's a few of us who study, do our work, and actually ENJOY thinking and discussing politics outside of class. The few of us that are dedicated don't look at the next paper as our next one hour chore to crank out a few pages of BS. No, REAL political science students enjoy a good argument based on actual beliefs (or at least well intended opinion)and not on the one Thomas Hobbes chapter that they have been reciting for years in order to give basis for the same mindless "argument." Real students of the Ancients and Moderns give a paper some thought, some reflection and some relevance to their own lives and viewpoints. The last thing I need is to go to a class that I should be looking forward to, and have it be the most unstimulating experience of my life. When I can literally feel my education being wasted as one of these people tries to spew his or her BS for the unassuming professor, and then, to my amazement, watch the professor take such garbage as logical thought, well, that's when I come up with thoughts like this. Please, if you're going to be a BSer, at least impress me. And if you don't even have the skill for BSing effectively, don't waste my time, or the poly sci department's time with your presence and your ignorance. That is all.
Yeah, so that test clearly worked... In case you can't tell, I'm procrastinating hard core. I have two final exams tomorrow, spanish and poly sci, and spanish just isn't going to happen. Poly sci, well, we'll see.... Hopefully some substance for this page will follow soon.......
Here we are, testing this thing out. In the simple tradition of Dave Hausser and, of his inspiration, Andrew Sullivan, I have decided to start this posting to see just what is on my mind. I don't even know. We'll see....