The recent nuclear deal with Iran has been the subject of much scrutiny for many Americans. Among those opposed to the deal are several leading politicians from both parties, most notably Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Jeb Bush (R-Fla.). Despite staunch resistance to the deal, I contend that it will lead to a much safer Israel, United States and by extension, world.
Recent American policy has made the current state of Iranian relations inevitable. The United States gives more than $3 billion dollars to Israel every year in military aid — a country who maintains one of the most advanced nuclear programs in the world — while simultaneously imposing crippling sanctions to the Iranian government for operating, by comparison, a primitive nuclear program. American rationale is that if Iran were to acquire a nuclear weapon, they would likely use it, especially given several of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s quotes that express a desire to “eliminate” Israel.
Nonetheless, from the Iranian perspective, sanctions were hypocritical.
Despite their ostensible hypocrisy, the sanctions were not without merit; Iran with a nuclear weapon would have the capacity to be dangerous. Capacity, however, is not synonymous with intent. Regarding the possibility of a nuclear Iran, Dr. Kyle Beardsley, a former political science professor at Emory, said that “Iran [has] no incentive to use its nuclear weapons in aggression; doing so . . . would gain Iran little and cost it much.”
Iran’s use of a nuclear weapon offensively would invariably result in United States and Israel retaliating — a consequence that Iran would never intentionally cause. Even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — Iran’s former president who was portrayed as an irrational leader by Western media — said “[Imagine that Iran did] have an atomic weapon, a nuclear weapon. What would we do with it? What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb?”
The only rational conclusion, then, is that Iran wanted nuclear weapon as a defense measure against Israel, against the United States and against the rest of the Western world.
Because the Iranian government’s intention was to create a nuclear weapon to defend themselves against their enemies who already had nuclear weapons, it is easy to see why Iran found these sanctions grossly hypocritical. It would be unfair to declare that Iran cannot be trusted with their nuclear program in the future because of their past flouting of American sanctions which they were forced to violate in order to preserve their own safety.
Yet despite Iran’s past dishonesty, the deal ensures that Iran does not even have the capacity to create a nuclear weapon. Under the deal, Iran must reduce the number of centrifuges in their plants by over 66 percent and reduce their stockpile of uranium well below the amount required to create a nuclear weapon.
The deal also dictates that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will supervise the nuclear facilities. The once covert operation will now be under the strict and unprecedented regulation of the IAEA.
The frequent argument that the IAEA’s supervision is not sufficient results from the clause that it must give a 24-day notice before searching locations other than official Iranian nuclear plants (i.e. where Iran might be hiding uranium). The only reason Iran would have any hidden uranium in the first place is if they were constructing a nuclear weapon. Given only 24 days, it would be nearly impossible for Iran to dispose of so much uranium (remember that in order to create a nuclear weapon, they must have several times the amount of uranium than the deal allows in all of their nuclear facilities combined). In addition to the massive amount of uranium there would be to destroy, the IAEA would be so closely monitoring Iran in the given time frame that any attempt by Iran to conceal the uranium would almost inevitably result in their being caught by the IAEA.
Because the IAEA so closely supervises the uranium supply chain, that scenario would be almost impossible to begin with. The only way Iran could even amass enough uranium is if they had a separate, massive, hidden supply chain.
In essence, the deal both weakens the capacity of the Iranian nuclear program and puts it under strict supervision.
Benjamin Netanyahu has made quite a scene in the past few months regarding his adamant disapproval of the nuclear deal. Unsurprisingly, however, many of Israel’s top-ranking officials disagree with him. In an open letter written to Netanyahu, many signers — far too numerous to mention in this article — including high-ranking members of Israeli armed forces, intelligence, defense and security, expressed support for the deal.
This revolutionary act of cooperation between the United States and Iran renders Iran incapable of producing nuclear weapons. The terms of the landmark deal between the United States and Iran invariably make all parties safer and drastically reduce the threat of nuclear attack worldwide.
Grant Osborn is a College freshman from Springfield, Ohio.
Bill Gates, the world’s wealthiest college dropout, may be the only excuse to not pursue a college education. But even though he quit school to found Microsoft and then became one of the richest men in American history, he still professes the importance and value of further education. In fact, he told CNN that “getting a degree is a much surer path to success” than luck.
And he’s right; a college degree offers a brighter future than a high school diploma. Yet, after factoring in an average student debt of over $35,000 to an entry-level salary, one can’t help but wonder if college isworth it.
A large amount of students at every university rely on student loans to pay for their education. But these same students have to consider the downside of the loan, which is potentially spending a huge amount of their adult lives paying it back with interest. The repayment process is pretty straightforward; students pay back the amount they borrowed plus a federal loan interest rate that Congress determines.
The government is happy to lend to students, but after graduation, that money becomes debt. And debt is a tricky thing in today’s financial environment because, unless college graduates are Jordan Belfort-ing their way through life and making millions very quickly, they will probably need to borrow money to finance a home and a car.
So walking out of college and just entering the world with a massive amount of debt can impede students’ ability to build the proverbial “American Dream.” In fact, the new policy of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) makes it even more difficult for people who have taken out student loans to start their lives. Before the new rules went into effect, the FHA did not heavily rely on a person’s debt-to-income ratio (DTI) to decide whether or not they could take out a mortgage on a house, but as of September, the agency “will require that 2 percent of the outstanding student loan balance be counted in calculating the monthly DTI, according to an explanation FHA sent to Congress.”
The new rule affects people differently depending on the current status of the loan. Basically, if your deferred student debt balance is currently $20,000 then the government gets to tack on an extra $400 per month while they recalculate your new DTI until you completely repay the debt. If the debt is non-deferred then all of that money, the $20,000 plus the $400 per month, will go straight into your household debt. Talk about a massive delay on starting adult life, right?
Then again, college is more than just the numbers. It’s an experience that defines us. College may be extremely expensive, but there’s no price tag on making lifelong friends or learning to live with other people or becoming independent. Living in a community outside of the comfort of our childhood home allows us to grow as independent people who can function and thrive on our own. Aside from earning a degree after four years of late nights in the library and multiple 15-page essays, we as college students are granted the opportunity to learn who we are as we transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Certainly, the prospect of college can seem intimidating for a number of reasons, both personal and academic, especially for the many high school seniors who don’t know yet what they want to do with their life. But what is college if not a period to figure that out?
At the end of the day, the benefit of a college degree lasts a lifetime because what we learn here will stay with us forever. And I’m not just talking about the material we cover in our classes, but also about what we learn outside of class like how to write a professional e-mail, do laundry on the correct cycle or cook chicken all the way through.
Learning to live outside our comfort zones teaches us so many intrinsic skills that let us enjoy life after college — and that is what we as students are walking away with. After four years, we can all say that we have improved as individuals because we have grown and flourished here. It seems cliché, but it’s true. College allows us to reach the moment when we become who we are meant to be all by ourselves.
So, even though tuition is rising faster than income, college is definitely worth it, right?
Jessica Cherner is a College senior from Bethesda, Maryland.
In 2014, Myanmar tied with the United States for the title of most generous country in the world. This is a curious honor to grant a country that has systematically persecuted its minority Muslim Rohingya population for decades, denying them access to adequate food supplies, health care and education.
Since 2012, however, the situation for the approximately 1.3 million Rohingya has steadily deteriorated due to ethnic clashes between the minority Muslims and the majority Buddhists. State-sponsored violence has become more common and accepted, even despite the country’s transition to democracy in 2011. Indeed, democracy is failing human rights as political parties gain public support through their advocacy of the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. Frequent acts of cruelty directed at the Rohingya, including murder, forced labor and mass scale arrests, have caused more than 100,000 of the minority group to flee the country and left another 140,000 internally displaced.
For 30 years, Myanmar has established a racist apartheid within its own country, producing a system wherein the Rohingya have an infant mortality rate that is three times the national average, a doctor-patient ratio that is 1:200 of the national average and a 90 percent rate of illiteracy in a country with a 95.4 percent literacy rate — one of the highest in all of Asia. Even more, Rohingyas are unable to improve their circumstances by accepting international aid from groups such as Doctors Without Borders due to the harsh ban enacted by the government. Making matters worse, they cannot fight for change democratically, since they have been denied citizenship and voting rights.
The most generous country of 2014 is also among the most criminal and cruel toward one of its own minority groups, and there has not been enough international outrage or activism to combat this tyranny.
Indeed, the United States has expended an alarmingly little amount of energy attempting to rectify the crisis in Myanmar, especially considering the Obama administration’s hailing of Myanmar’s transition to a democracy. While the United States has in part lived up to its title of most generous nation by agreeing to take in refugees through an international cooperative effort, no huge push has been made to organize such an effort toward rescuing the stranded Rohingya.
Even worse, instead of outspokenly demanding justice and human rights provisions, many countries have themselves become criminal, or simply criminally negligent. India and China, the two economic powerhouses that border Myanmar, have simply allowed the human rights abuses to continue through their passive refusal to castigate the nation’s government or pressure the country with economic sanctions.
India is slightly less culpable than China, since it has grudgingly accepted approximately 10,000 Rohingya refugees and has less political and economic influence in Myanmar than China.
Other neighboring countries have followed this example and are doing little to help, if anything at all. Indonesia and Malaysia have created temporary government shelters, in which the Rohingya migrants can reside and receive humanitarian aid, provided that they return home or resettle in another country after only one year. However, even in these countries the Rohingya, lacking legal status, are condemned to widespread threats of exploitation and human trafficking.
The Rohingya are also prevented from leaving the government camps, which effectively bar them from any jobs or educational opportunities. The conditions in Bangladesh are even worse, where the government, in order to protect its tourist industry, is attempting to move 32,000 Rohingya refugees to the remote island of Thengar Char, which disappears completely under high water at high tide and has no roads or flood defenses.
However, the harshest and most brutal responses come from Thailand and Australia. Thailand has stated in no uncertain terms that it will refuse to grant asylum to the forlorn Rohingya who are attempting to sail to safety on what have been dubbed “floating coffins.” Even worse, those Rohingya who do arrive in Thailand via human traffickers are often tortured, raped and starved to death while they are extorted for ransom. A mass grave from such a camp was uncovered in May, and many more undoubtedly exist.
There is a bloody stain spreading across the region, and the crime that began with just the Myanmar government has been exacerbated by the callous international response to the brutalized Rohingya population.
Indeed, Australia — a signatory of the UN Refugee Convention, the fourth most generous country and the 12th largest economy in the world — is perhaps the most culpable of these countries. The Australian government is determined to prevent any entry by Rohingya refugees and is not only turning back boat-fulls of desperate, dying Rohingya, but has also bribed human traffickers to turn at least 20 boats full of migrants back to Indonesia in the last 18 months after intercepting them at sea. By doing so, the Australian government is effectively engaging in human trafficking, a crime that simply has no excuse in such a socially and economically progressive country.
Dozens of Rohingya are burned alive, hundreds are dumped in mass graves, thousands starve or sink helplessly into the sea, yet countries with the power to stop these crimes or simply provide refuge to those being persecuted instead opt to close their borders and harden their rhetoric. How has it become acceptable to tolerate such inhumanity?
There can be no more silence, no more negligence or heartless indifference. We are witnessing the next genocide. We must act.
Safiyah Bharwani is a College sophomore from Sugar Land, Texas.
In previous years at Emory University, peanut butter had been readily available in Dobbs Market, the College’s primary freshman and sophomore dining hall in the Dobbs University Center (DUC), for hungry students to slosh over bananas, spread onto bagels and create one-of-a-kind sandwiches that remind them of home. This fall, however, with the introduction of Bon Appétit, Emory’s new dining service provider, all forms of nuts and nut products have been eliminated from the dining facility.
For students on a tight budget and schedule who are often on the run to classes, social events or athletic competitions and to whom quick fuel is essential, this is inexcusable. For vegetarians, vegans or simply picky eaters, the lack of selection is even harder to digest. Meat, beans, tofu, eggs (limited to breakfast) and the somewhat apologetic glass of milk are all the protein the market has to offer.
Reinstating peanut butter in Dobbs Market would be an easy solution to this problem. Peanut butter is both filling and — when served in individual packets — safely transportable. It is a “super food,” according to numerous sports psychologists and nutritionists, and is packed with sufficient caloric and nutritional value to fuel hard working people of all ages.
One serving size of peanut butter, just two tablespoons, contains approximately one-third of the daily protein recommendation for men and almost one-half the recommended dose for women. Additionally, each serving provides four teaspoons of oil, equivalent to 67 to 80 percent of the recommended daily dose for women and 57 to 67 percent prescribed for men. Additional benefits of peanut butter include its ability to lower cholesterol in the bloodstream and reduce risk of heart disease. Nutrients found in protein, such as manganese and niacin, support healthy metabolism rates, tissue growth and development and bone development. Few other foods offer such a dense nutritional package in proportion to their serving size.
It should be noted that Bon Appétit’s motives are not entirely irrational. The purpose of the ban is to avoid possible allergic reactions in students and — as one in 90 Americans are plagued with peanut and/or tree nut allergies — this is not a ridiculous precaution to take.
The gravity of the measure, however, is extreme. Allergic reactions are not the same for everyone and must be evaluated case by case. At the most severe end, interaction with nut products can elicit anaphylaxis, a dangerous state where the victim experiences either difficulty breathing, reduced blood pressure, skin problems such as swelling or rash or some combination of the list. While this condition should not be taken lightly, it typically only occurs in densely contaminated environments such as peanut packaging facilities or kitchens, not school cafeterias.
A 2003 study conducted by Dr. Steven J. Simonte found that casual exposure to peanuts, such as touch or air transmission, seldom produces an extreme response in people with peanut allergies.
In the study, 30 children with severe peanut allergies underwent “double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized exposures to peanut butter by means of contact with intact skin and inhalation.”
Of the children who participated, a few experienced minor skin flare-ups while none “experienced a systemic or respiratory reaction.” The study concluded that physical particles of the peanut protein, not the aroma, needed to be inhaled in order to produce an allergic response.
The more common culprit behind allergic reactions is ignorance of peanut consumption. Emory students ought not to be deemed ‘ignorant,’ and, as most peanut allergies develop in adolescence, it is reasonable to assume that the majority of those affected have known of their allergy long before attending college. Those with allergies severe enough to require an EpiPen or another form of treatment should and probably do carry such items at all times.
There are many ways to reduce the risk of peanut butter reactions while still making it available for those without allergies to enjoy.
Closed, individual packets, for example, shield the butter’s contact with other foods, human touch and even air-born exposure. Packets like these can be clearly labeled and easily avoided if needed. Furthermore, Bon Appétit has done a fabulous job of installing signs and descriptions of meals, so that students can easily view ingredients, calorie counts and nutritional values of what is being served in order to avoid allergies accordingly.
One positive aspect of the nut ban that should not be changed is the removal of nuts from the cooking areas themselves, as it ensures that students with allergies face virtually no risk of accidental intake.
Peanut butter alone is not capable of wiping out a legion of allergic Emory students. Due to the rarity of symptoms brought on by casual contact, severe reactions will not result as long as students are respectful, wise and withhold the principles of Emory as a community of care. These are three qualities that both Emory students and faculty take pride in, and would doubtlessly continue with or without peanuts involved.
As long as we are not shoving peanut butter down each other’s throats or carelessly wiping residue on the railings, students can be safer, happier, healthier and nourished to a higher degree with peanut butter than without.
Claire Wolters is a College freshman from Wallingford, Pennsylvania.
At the risk of stating the very obvious, I say this: we live an age that is heavily reliant on technology. Board games have been replaced by swipes on the latest iPad. At the price of their 20/20 vision, students across the nation download e-books to avoid spending money on hardcover textbooks. What’s more, friends sitting two feet apart text each other on bedazzled iPhones. What’s new?
In such a context the survival of anything that doesn’t belong on a screen becomes increasingly difficult. Not even the spinal cord of journalism and news transmission is spared from the threat of extinction.
With the advent of online press, newspapers now fall under the “endangered” category. Blogs, online videos and apps have made printed newspapers and magazines a dying breed. There has been a steady shift from reading the paper to reading digital content.
This is a process of evolution, which needs to be considered in its entirety. Has the existing system now become inefficient? If not, what is the reason for the shift? What are the consequences? But first and foremost, is there even a shift?
In March 2012, The Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Sun, The Independent, The New York Times and The Financial Times all reported year-on-year decreases in headline circulation, which includes subscriptions, overseas distribution (according to a recent lecture given at Emory by the CEO of a major South Asian media house, overseas distribution has actually been steady and in some countries, growing) and bulk sales. In the same period there were increases in the viewership of MailOnline, Guardian Online, Telegraph Online and The Sun’s website.
According to a Pew Research Center analysis of Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) data, both weekday and Sunday circulation fell around three percent from 2013 to 2014. Weekday circulation declined almost equally. This includes “top tier newspapers (those with average weekday circulation of 500,000 or more) whose weekday circulation fell four percent in 2014.”
From these statistics it is apparent that in the last five to 10 years, with the advent of a technological revolution, there has been a decrease in the consumption of print media. Noticing this trend, companies have also reduced their production. However, news is a commodity that seeks to be sold in any shape or form. People cannot do without their regular updates on global activities. As it happens, print media is just one form of information transmission.
The other alternative, the one that is now taking over, is online journalism, which ranges from blogs to e-newspapers. It must be said that this alternative existed during the peak of print media as well. People simply didn’t have the technology to utilize its full potential. Few walked around with smart phones in their back pocket or laptops in their handbag. It is not as though online press is pursuing the revival of journalism. It is simply aiding and abetting its evolution.
The reasons for this shift vary.
First, we as humans now demand quick solutions with the least amount of effort. It is more complex than simply saying that we’re lazy. It is in our innate nature to optimize productivity. Spending two hours reading and analyzing the newspaper is simply not feasible anymore for most of us. This is especially true for reading about global subjects that might not directly intervene in our daily life. The idea is to have a basic awareness of the various issues plaguing the world. Anybody who reads a newspaper online will most probably not go through the contents in its entirety. They’ll read a couple of pieces that hit them the hardest. According to readership data from Nielsen Scarborough’s 2014 Newspaper Penetration Report, only five percent read newspapers exclusively on mobile devices. Through this medium, awareness and efficiency go hand-in-hand.
Second, the process realizes the potential in streamlining all of our activities. This point draws from the last one. People have found mediums to be used for everything they do. On the same laptop that we write essays and complete assignments, we also read the news. This reduces the possibility of forgetting something; since everything is on one screen, efficiency increases.
Third, in recent years there has been a drastic shift to sustainable options. Additionally, there is a more direct interaction between this shift and the decrease in publications than one might think. In order to protect their budgets as well as the environment, large media and publication houses have cut back on printing and put a large amount of their content online. Now, hits or views of web pages have become more important than newspaper sales. Putting articles on the World Wide Web doesn’t cost a dime. Rather, media houses can actually mint money off sponsors and advertisements on the website.
While it may be difficult to contemplate whether or not this shift is for the better, it can no longer be denied that the shift exists and that it is a substantial one. Even though online news readership increases efficiency and sustainability, it doesn’t help us retain information as well. Studies show that physically going through the paper actually ensures that most of the material stays with us through the years.
On the other hand, with online content the situation evolves more along the lines of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Flipping through never-ending data makes it difficult to even remember what we read five minutes ago. With this evolution in readership there seems to be a trade-off between efficiency and thoroughness. While we are able to get more done after this technological transformation, the quality of what we do may not be up to the mark.
Pranati Kohli is a College sophomore from New Delhi, India.
A dark cloud has fallen over American universities, and it could soon loom over Emory, if not already. The fear of offending is killing the right of free speech, and that is scary. We have a responsibility to protect our school from what is happening elsewhere in the country.
Now, before you immediately dismiss me and label me as a right-wing bigot, I am not talking about the obvious exceptions, such as blatant hate speech with clear and present danger.
I’m talking about what’s been happening in higher education lately.
I’m talking about former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice being disinvited to speak at Rutgers University because her role in the Iraq War offended students.
I’m talking about students at Brown University preventing former NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly from being heard by heckling him into silence.
I’m talking about students at Rutgers demanding that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby be stamped with a trigger warning for mild violence.
I’m talking about comedians Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld refusing to perform on college campuses because students are “too eager not to offend anybody,” according to Rock and “too PC,” as Seinfeld says.
I’m talking about Iowa State University creating designated “free speech” zones on campus, where only there can people engage in political debate, discuss literature and truly express their opinions.
And, I’m talking about the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) finding that 55 percent of American universities maintain highly restrictive “red light” speech codes designed to silence students.
If the phenomenon of limiting free speech should be happening anywhere, the last place is at universities. College campuses were once the epitome of liberalism and the right to express oneself. Student activism has been a staple of this country’s history and culture. Some of our parents possibly championed the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley from 1964-1965. And in 1969, the Supreme Court specified in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District that students don’t “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” But recently, American universities have become a hotbed not for freedom of speech, but rather freedom from speech.
I recently read a fantastic book by the English journalist and free speech advocate Mick Hume entitled Trigger Warning. In it, he outlines a main problem facing free speech: “but.” Hume argues that too many people today have taken on the philosophy. “I believe in free speech, BUT you shouldn’t upset people’s feelings/BUT you shouldn’t make crude comments/BUT there are limits.” Hume explains that putting a ‘but’ dissolves support for free speech altogether. We wouldn’t say, “I believe in equality of the sexes, BUT equal pay for women is just too far.” Free speech is an all-or-nothing deal, no ‘buts.’
When dealing with ‘but,’ there are two things we need to consider: the ‘free’ in free speech and the ‘speech’ in free speech. First, ‘free’ gives the right to everyone. If we want ourselves, or our elected officials, philosophers and thinkers to have the freedom to share opinions, then Donald Trump gets that right, too. We can’t control who gets to say what; that is the whole idea of freedom. Certain people with thoughts that don’t align with your own cannot be censored. When the Charlie Hebdo massacre occurred, people were quick to change their Facebook status to “Voltaire once said, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This phrase needs to be embraced at all times.
Second, ‘speech’ is just words, only letters strung along. As Hume puts it, “words can be weapons in a battle of ideas, but however sharp or pointed they might be, words can not be knives. However blunt words are, they are not baseball bats. No matter how loaded they are or how fast you fire them, words are not guns.” As mature, adult college students, we need to toughen up with the hypersensitivity and embrace the phrase taught in second grade: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Words, even offensive ones, are just words.
The scariest thing about the demise of free speech is the fact that it is happening on college campuses. We go to college to experience new things and receive an education. Whether it is doing laundry for the first time, taking that first-ever sip of cheap beer or becoming friends with somebody from a different part of the world, college is a time to explore in and out of the classroom. These four years are the time to learn about a subject to which we would have never been exposed otherwise. It is the time to meet someone whose political views don’t align with yours and debate them until you’re both exhausted and to have learned to respect a new perspective. College is about learning to work through difficult issues that may be daunting at first, but in the end, from which we’ve learned something.
If we limit free speech, however, we limit our horizons and, in doing so, we slide down a slippery slope where we don’t respect differences in opinions. Just because someone has a differing belief that you might find politically incorrect or offensive doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to say it. Furthermore, we can always learn something from hearing another point of view. Just as some people may disagree completely with what I say, I still have the right to my opinion, and everyone could become more informed about issues by hearing different sides. The exchange of ideas and robust debate should be encouraged in a college setting, not be found offensive.
Even President Obama has said he doesn’t agree that “students [should] be coddled and protected from different points of view.” As he put it, “anyone who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with them, but you shouldn’t silence them by saying, ‘you can’t come, because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.’ That’s not the way we learn.”
Fortunately in my time at Emory, the war on free speech has not taken as dramatic measures as in other universities. Yet, the movement against free speech is blanketing the country’s campuses like fog and could cloud Atlanta’s sunshine.
I commend my history professors who have taught history the way it happened; however horrific it was, they have not tried to shield us from atrocities that are deemed offensive. I commend English professors who have not decided to take classic pieces of literature that discuss topics some might not find politically correct off their syllabi.
I am proud that we invited Salman Rushdie to speak at commencement last spring. I hope all Emory faculty continue to teach the way subject matter is supposed to be taught, no matter who it may upset. And I encourage my fellow students not to shy away from the things that offend us but rather to confront them head-on. We will get more bang for our buck out of Emory if we truly broaden our horizons to embrace new ideas, opinions and perspectives instead of censoring them. Differences are what make us interesting, and diversity is something Emory prides itself on. How boring would Emory be if we all thought the same?
Associate Editor Elana Cates is a College junior from San Diego, California.
The Office of Multicultural Programs & Services considers Emory to be a “community of care … built on equity and justice in which all members feel valued and recognize the value of others.” The students, faculty and administration take great pride in affirming the values of equity, justice and mutual respect on campus. In contrast, the regime lead by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that rules the Islamic Republic of Iran does not value these principles; its governance has created an illiberal nation built on hatred, intolerance and extremism.
It has been nearly impossible to avoid hearing about the events unfolding between Iran and world powers over the last month, and they could not be more relevant to our futures beyond our lives at Emory. Tehran is more than 6,800 miles from Atlanta, but what happens in Iran and in the Middle East over the next 15 years will without a doubt change the course of history and the course of our lives. For the students of Emory, these next 15 years will be some of the most important in our lives, but in the context of foreign affairs, 15 years is no time at all, especially in Iran where the Supreme Leader’s rule continues until his death. The prospect of war, involving both the United States and our allies in the Middle East, is a very real one should the issue of Iran and its nuclear activities not be handled carefully and properly. Whether you’re aware of it or not, we as college students have a significant, vested interest in making sure that that prospect is diminished as greatly as possible.
For years, the international community has punished Iran with crippling economic sanctions for its continued development of a nuclear weapons capability, despite the regime’s agreement to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In November 2013, Iran finally agreed to negotiate the termination of its nuclear weaponization activities, which led to an agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, that was announced in July. The agreement has been hotly debated among all citizens and politicians alike, but on Sept. 17 this year, 42 Democratic senators blocked a vote on a Resolution of Disapproval that ended the entrenched legislative battle.
I have never been so disappointed with the American political system than I am now. No matter how our representatives in Congress felt about the deal, this resolution deserved to go to a vote. This nuclear agreement is potentially the most significant foreign policy decision of our generation, and Congress had a historic role to play in its approval or rejection. The Executive Branch does not own foreign policy; the Constitution establishes checks and balances for this exact reason, and the American people spoke. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 50 percent of Americans disapprove of the deal, while only 21 percent support it. In both houses of Congress, bipartisan majorities voted for disapproval. Putting aside all the arguments for and against the deal, these two facts say it all.
However, what is now important in the face of the passing of this deal is awareness. As students of a “community of care,” we must recognize the egregious behavior of the Iranian regime and, if nothing else, seek to maintain exceptional vigilance on it within and beyond the scope of the agreement. We must ensure that our representatives hold Iran to every letter of this deal.
Outside its borders, Iran is considered a state sponsor of global terror. While Iran supports many terrorist organizations throughout the region, its funding of Hezbollah has been most noted and criticized. Hezbollah is well known for its role in the Lebanese political system; however, it has currently devoted most of its resources to vie for power in the vacuum that Syria has become, contributing to the some 200,000 deaths that have occurred there in the last four years. Iran has also been historically linked to Hamas, the organization that presently dominates the Gaza Strip and is known for its several conflicts with Israel in which it has fired thousands of rockets into Southern and Central Israel.
On the domestic front, rallies in Tehran attended by hundreds of hardliners in which participants yell “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” are commonplace. While it is true that a majority of Iranians do not support these extreme viewpoints, it is quite evident that Iran’s leaders do. In the two months since the deal has been announced, Iranian government officials, including the Supreme Leader himself have made it very clear that their aggressive attitude toward the “arrogant” United States will not change. Just this week, Khamenei announced that he hopes “the Zionist regime” — Israel — will be gone in the next 25 years. Moreover, the radical wing of Iran’s government, known as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, is responsible for the persecution, detention and execution of political dissenters, members of the media, homosexuals and minority ethnic groups. In 2009, the world watched disturbing images of Iran putting down the Green Movement, which began as a push to remove the now former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office, but later became a larger movement to democratize the nation. The conflict resulted in widespread arrests, brutal assaults and some 30 deaths involving mostly students. Since then, the movement has not been heard of.
These actions taken by Iran, domestic and abroad, do not represent the values that we cherish and foster here at Emory or in the greater United States. Iran is a regime that cannot be identified with, cannot be appeased and certainly cannot be trusted. President Obama insists that his deal is not a deal based on trust but one based on verification. Now that international support for this deal will be complete with the congressional vote blocked, we must do everything possible to make sure our leaders in the executive branch and in Congress uphold that sentiment and maintain strict vigilance. There is far too much at stake to ignore Iran.
Matthew Roomberg is a College freshman from Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Black Star Magazine’s Response to “Which Lives Matter?”
W.E.B. Du Bois once asked, “What does honesty do in the face of deception?” Today, I, along with my cohorts at Black Star Magazine, ask a very similar question. What do opinions do in the face of facts? In the Opinion section of The Emory Wheel, an article titled “Which Lives Matter?” presents a rather grotesque and factually inaccurate portrait of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement. Though it is difficult to discern whether the uninformed opinion of the author is representative of a larger population of the Emory community or if it is the lone result of poor evidence-based research, it is still necessary that we examine and scrutinize the author’s claims for the sake of reeducating the Emory community.
By unearthing the facts of BLM, we wish to reveal to the Emory community that, in the face of facts, opinions should become informed. With properly informed opinions, members of the Emory community can exhume the true nature and objectives of BLM from underneath the rubble of falsity in which the “Which Lives Matter?” piece has buried them. Editorials in the Wheel should be guided by the spirit of empiricism and the will to “stand by what is good.” This article was led by neither. We hope to wisely follow both.
In summation, the author believes that BLM has a double conscious. She argues that BLM is both a statement and a movement. BLM as a political movement, she reasons, aims to defund law enforcement, put police through awareness programs and force them to wear body cameras, demilitarize police equipment and circulate hatred toward white people and cops. As a statement, she argues, BLM is about discontinuing a culture in America that values White lives more than Black lives and practices color-conscious policing. She concludes that it’s up to all people to end racial prejudice and that governmental policy, though likely effective, will not solve the problem of systematic racism in America. In spite of presenting some true assessments of BLM, the author fails to fully grasp the fundamental philosophy of BLM and its goals to the degree that it is evident that facts seemingly don’t matter in the article.
Did facts matter when the author concluded that BLM can manifest itself as a circulator of hate and retribution against White people? Apparently not. The author’s journey to this conclusion is hazy at best, so please follow this analysis of her line of reasoning closely. The author creates a theoretical scenario in which someone dismisses her article as a “White girl’s response to a problem she doesn’t understand.” Though this fictitious response is her own creation, she somehow uses it to support the idea that “we don’t want to unify” and BLM promotes “generalized hatred.” She says this is her singular problem with BLM but seems to forget that she fabricated the dismissive response in the first place. Her response was not, in any way, representative of BLM’s platform. BLM is primarily focused on cop-to-citizen relationships, not citizen-to-citizen relationships. Cops have state-sanctioned powers to detain, arrest and kill people. BLM, like practically all Black movements that have taken place in America’s history, has a problem when cops abuse this power when dealing with people who have melanin in their skins. BLM has nothing to do with White people or White cops — it relates to all cops and the White supremacy reinforcing culture that police culture, as a subculture of American society, has historically possessed and still holds on to. Black cops can possess a White supremacy reinforcing worldview that may lead them to abuse their power when dealing with people of color. Leaders of BLM have frequently referenced “White supremacy” as a target, not “White people.” Finally, every single BLM goal that the author lists early in the article has to do with police forces as a whole. There is absolutely no reference to White people, White cops or White police forces in BLM’s policy objectives. Interestingly, the only evidence of racial bias toward White people in the article is the author’s own stereotyping of her name as a White name. Her name-stereotyping is also racially biased in general, because it implies that certain names are carried by certain people because of their ethnic identity. It seems the author forgot that most African Americans carry European names as a result of slavery. For example, my last name is Greer and means an Irish or a Scottish goat farmer, both of which I am not.
Did facts matter when the author chose to ignore a core piece of BLM’s goal to defund certain law enforcement agencies? We doubt it. The article criticizes that BLM wants to defund police forces, without mentioning that BLM actually wants to take funds away from police and reallocate those funds toward the creation of jobs, the development of better education systems, the cultivation of healthy foods and the construction of better housing in Black communities. Co-founder of BLM and Fulbright Scholar Patrisse Cullors says public safety is not limited to policing but also repairing Black communities at their damaged roots. Cullors understands that the current state of Black communities is the direct result of centuries of structural warfare against Black Americans by various U.S. governmental agencies and private businesses from the local to the national level. Cullors understands that policing the effects of poverty rather than alleviating poverty itself is a totally ineffective way to approach rebuilding Black communities. That is likely why Cullors reached the following conclusion: “We can’t keep pouring money into our police departments as our only way for public safety. Public safety means people having good jobs, people having a place to live, people having access to healthy food.” For these reasons, it is clear that the author’s omission of this very important aspect of defunding police agencies is misleading and faulty journalism.
Did facts matter when the author neglected to differentiate between institutional racism and personal racism? Of course not. The author provides examples of personal racism when discussing an organization that is actually concerned with institutional racism, specifically in police departments. She discusses how some people, and even herself, make personal decisions to sit with certain people at lunch but obviously doesn’t understand that this form of personal prejudice is not the equivalent of, for instance, a police department choosing to racially profile Black citizens who drive certain vehicles. One form of prejudice has been institutionalized, while the other is merely the result of one’s personal choice. Institutional racism can have intergenerational effects that transcend a White man calling my frat brother and me “Black mother fuckers” at the Chevron off of Clairmont last year. This verbal attack will not affect my children’s likelihood of getting an education but racist public policies can. Blatant acts of institutionalized racism have run rampant in America against Black Americans for hundreds of years and are still felt in our communities. Metaphorically speaking, the author is at a shooting range and shoots someone else’s target dead on the mark and then rejoices for being a sharp shooter. No, the author actually missed the mark by a long shot.
Did facts matter when the author concludes that governmental policies won’t have much of an effect on societal racism? Nope. First, it is factually incorrect. The public’s response to The New Deal and more recently the Affordable Healthcare Act are solid pieces of evidence that support the idea that policy can change public opinion. These are just two examples among countless others. Second, if the author were correct, her criticism of BLM would still be unwarranted. BLM has chosen a subculture to target, which it has a right to do, and even states that it wants to institute cultural awareness training for police agencies. In addition, the author’s criticism of BLM is structurally equivalent to arguing that activists who demand policies concerning equal pay for women in the workplace are ineffective because those policies won’t affect sexism in our larger society. Even more simply, this is like criticizing an organization that wants to Adopt-a-Mile because that organization won’t adopt the entirety of I-20.
All in all, the author’s conclusion is belittling of BLM’s objectives and clearly illogical. The perpetuation of such misinformed ideas cannot be tolerated, as it is damaging to the progression of the BLM movement and the Emory community. While opinions are to be respected, future pieces should contain adequate contextual knowledge before attempting to discredit an entire movement.
TJ Greer is a College senior from Huntsville, Alabama writing on behalf of Black Star Magazine.
For most victims of a crime, the indignity suffered is rectified through the criminal justice system. Once the crime has been committed, we expect the perpetrator to be held accountable and for law enforcement to use all the evidence available to bring them to justice.
However, in the case of sexual violence, this often does not hold true. On average, 68 percent of sexual assaults in the last five years were not reported, and even those who do step forward confront an epidemic of indifference in the criminal justice system due to the inadequate prosecution of their attackers. Not only do these victims suffer through a violation of their bodies, but in order to collect evidence to identify their attacker via a “rape kit,” their bodies become a crime scene.
After merely a few hours of being assaulted, these victims bare their bodies for an invasive investigation that can last from four to six hours. They strip naked on a white sheet and then have their bodies poked and prodded by ultraviolet lights, photographs and cotton swabs in order to gather their attacker’s DNA. Survivors, women and men alike, undergo this painful process to provide the criminal justice system with the evidence it needs to prosecute their attackers and to allow for justice.
To add even more insult to injury, much of the rape kit backlog disproportionately affects those of lower socioeconomic classes, who often are minority groups and reside in areas with fewer resources to prosecute. Those rape victims from minority groups, such as the poor, the homeless and transgendered, suffer from the double-edged sword of increased risk to sexual assault and an overstrained and underfunded system which often does little to help them achieve justice.
The crux of the problem is clear: despite widespread cultural revolutions that have launched a national dialogue on sexual violence, the criminal justice system does not attribute enough significance to these crimes.
In areas where funding is limited and criminal activity runs rampant, an overburdened police force may choose to prioritize other acts of lawlessness over acts of sexual violence. This holds especially true for drug-related offenses, since law enforcement faces pressure from political leaders to crack down on even minor crimes that are related to the largely ineffectual “War on Drugs.” As more and more money and political capital have been expended to toughen our criminal justice system toward drug-related offenses, other cases — such as sexual violence — have fallen by the wayside.
It has become glaringly evident that the criminal justice system is failing those whom it is entrusted to protect, not only by imprisoning an immense amount of individuals with nonviolent drug offenses, but also by neglecting the victims of violent rape and other sexual crimes. As such, the federal government must push for a sweeping overhaul of this system in order to best defend society from acts of criminality, especially those involving violence.
Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on Sept. 10 that $41 million in grants would be awarded to test rape kits in 20 jurisdictions across the country. In addition, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance revealed that his office would also be supporting this initiative with $38 million in grants to be awarded to 32 jurisdictions. Together, this substantial sum should allow for the testing of 70,000 rape kits in 43 jurisdictions across 27 states, according to the White House. Vance stated that this funding is “the single largest contribution toward ending the rape kit backlog that has ever been made.” Even more, the U.S. Department of Justice received approval from Congress last fall to fund grants that will test approximately 13,500 rape kits over 20 jurisdictions.
While these contributions are commendable and undeniably a significant push in the right direction, the fact remains that these actions alone are not enough. Despite these efforts, only about a fifth of the estimated 400,000 untested rape kits will be examined. In order to truly tackle this problem, testing of all rape kits must be mandated and funded. Currently, only five states — Colorado, Texas, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois — require that all rape kits must be tested, although several states — such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Virginia — have passed legislation that begins to address the monumental problem of rape kit-backlog.
It is time to address this institutionalized indifference and finally provide justice to those hundreds of thousands of individuals who have waited years and even decades for the government to respond to their plight. Not only would ending the rape kit backlog reduce the number of future cases by imprisoning serial rapists and increasing the disincentive to commit violent acts of sexual crimes, but it would also allow women and men who have been victimized to achieve some form of closure.
Safiyah Bharwani is a College sophomore from Sugar Land, Texas.
Over the past few decades, discourse on climate change has pervaded political and scientific spheres. It, generally speaking, has split commentators into two camps. On one hand are the “believers,” generally portrayed in the media as the intellectual elite. On the other hand are the “deniers,” generally envisioned as scientifically illiterate. Many Americans fall in the latter category.
A major review of the academic literature published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in October 2014 noted:
“Two decades of polling suggest that about two-thirds of U.S. residents believe that climate change is occurring; of these about two-thirds (or about 40 percent of the total) believe humans cause it. About half (or about 1 in 3 overall) believe it will pose a serious threat in their lifetimes.”
The current discussion centers on the global ramifications of climate change. JAMA’s conclusions paint a bleak picture for the future of the world. Diseases exacerbated by air pollution such as waterborne disorders and asthma will be increasingly common. The frequency of mega heat waves will rise by a factor of five to ten over the next 40 years. Climate change will drive down food production worldwide by two percent per decade, the effect of which is especially acute considering that the global demand for food will rise by 14 percent per decade. And the list goes on.
Climate skepticism generally comes in three flavors.
The first flavor denies that the Earth’s climate is changing at all. This view ignores the fact that each of the last three decades has been the warmest since 1850. It does not mention that the Arctic has lost half of its average summer thickness since 1950 (Overheated: the Human Costs of Climate Change), despite an anomalous short-term reversal in that trend due to a slightly colder winter. In its latest report, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a collection of climate experts organized by the United Nations (UN), called the evidence supporting climate change “unequivocal.”
The second flavor argues that the Earth is warming; humans are not the cause. This view neglects the fact that changes in temperature over the past 400,000 years map almost perfectly to changes in atmospheric CO2 levels.
Moreover, carbon emissions have skyrocketed since the Industrial Revolution. Carbon dioxide and methane have reached levels unseen on Earth in the last 800,000 years, according to the IPCC.
The near consensus among climate scientists, 97 percent of whom believe that humans drive the rapidly warming climate, speaks volumes about the mountain of evidence in support of human-inflicted climate change.
The third flavor of climate skepticism concedes that the Earth is warming and that human action certainly contributes to it but rejects the most common and direct prescription — reducing carbon emissions. Professor Bjørn Lomborg of the University of Copenhagen argues most prominently and persuasively from this perspective. While the other avenues of climate skepticism lack any support in evidence, Lomborg’s analysis has some merit that is mostly ignored. The latest analysis published by his think-tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC), gathered some of the best contemporary thinkers, including World Bank economists, professors and researchers including Nobel Laureates Finn E. Kydland and Thomas Schelling. Members of this think-tank argue over the most rigorous and comprehensive analyses in academic literature that evaluate solutions to global issues.
They debate their own academic works and those of others to decide which solutions best represent the effectiveness of global initiatives. Hundreds of experts have participated in this discourse, including economics Professor Anthony Venables of the University of Oxford, international nutrition Professor Reynaldo Martorell of Emory and seven Nobel Laureates. The goal is to answer a single question: How can the world best spend its money to achieve the greatest possible outcomes?
Therein lies the central tenet of the third flavor of climate skepticism. The implementation of carbon reducing policies, such as modernized filtration in factories and effective monitoring of corporate emissions, places immense costs on governments and pulls money away from better causes.
For example, reducing emissions enough to achieve an atmospheric carbon concentration of 450 parts per million (ppm), which is necessary to keep the increase in global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution below two degrees Celsius (35.6° F), would produce less than one dollar of social good for every dollar spent.
By contrast, increasing preschool enrollment in Sub-Saharan Africa from the current 18 percent to 59 percent would create $33 of social good for each dollar spent. Increasing agricultural research and development by 160 percent would create $34 of social good for each dollar spent. Ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and meeting needs for contraception would generate $120 of social good for each dollar by 2030.
Why is prioritization important? Simply put, global development funds are limited, while the necessities for funds are unlimited. While the UN creates its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) to guide the international agenda for the next 15 years, it should realize that adding too many goals would dilute the investment into each one. The previous set of international goals had eight goals and 18 verifiable targets; the agenda up for negotiation has 17 goals and 169 targets. The world cannot do it all. The global share of developmental assistance as a percentage of gross national income stands at less than half of what the developed world has pledged. As President Obama and other world leaders focus on the global impacts of climate change and as the UN enumerates the goals that dominate the worldwide agenda for the next 15 years, hard choices must be made on how to allocate a limited pool of funds to accomplish the most good.
Again, in a perfect world, the international community would do it all, from reducing emissions to providing universal contraception. But in today’s world, the international community does neither because it has not focused on specific tasks as it needs to. Prioritization of global funds, despite being a messy and unpopular task, is a necessary one in order to do the most good for the world.
Professor Lomborg has long argued that the world should place climate change at the bottom of its priority list. His book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, drew backlash from many thinkers and scientists when it was published in 2001. His later book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, drew similar criticism for appearing to be very similar to other climate skepticism arguments. The first report made public by the CCC included the following chart of which initiatives to prioritize, with climate change literally at the bottom of the list.
Thinking about climate change in a vacuum is simple. Given a choice between reducing emissions and doing nothing, the former is a superior one. However, a choice between reducing emissions and helping women in the developing world receive contraceptives in not nearly as clear-cut.
Climate change has been, is and will continue reshaping the world, but the argumentative burden on action needs to be higher. Rather than prioritizing the biggest problems, the world should prioritize the best solutions. This kind of argumentation certainly differs from the rationales of climate skeptics in American politics and should play a greater role in today’s discourse.
While the CCC’s analysis of social good is open to criticism, it represents a significant departure from previous literature by directly comparing development initiatives and recognizing that some are better than others. If another analysis finds reducing carbon emissions a more worthy initiative than any other using a superior methodology, then a much higher level of debate than that which occurs today would be necessary.
To date, no such competing analysis has been published. An in depth discussion of the CCC’s methodology is welcome, but this type of analysis needs to be at the center of today’s debate, rather than being an idealized mantra that neglects real world trade offs. In 2004, TheEconomistapplauded Lomborg’s efforts in pioneering necessary cost-benefit analysis of many initiatives, arguing that he be “congratulated for his intellectual entrepreneurship.”
If the international community had unlimited funds, resources and political will to improve the world, it would take every action that would provide any benefit. Reducing carbon emissions is one of those actions. The evidence in support of it is overwhelming.
But in the world we live in, all policies have trade-offs. The CCC advocated that the UN and other development agencies invest their efforts in 19 goals, including halving malaria infections, increasing girls’ education by two years and increasing immunization by 25 percent. Reducing emissions was not one of them. In pursuing these 19, rather than any other goal, “each dollar of development spending would do four times more good.” If the world can effectively double or quadruple its development budget to maximize its effect throughout the world, it has an obligation to do so. Even if that plan for optimization skips reducing emissions, it is still a valid plan worthy of debate.
While Lomborg denounces carbon reduction policies similar to those endorsed by the Kyoto Protocol, he notes some actions that would mitigate the effects of climate change in a cost effective way. For example, eliminating energy subsidies in the developing world, which waste $550 billion annually, would be a step in the right direction.
The prioritization of climate policies based on realism and cost effectiveness should play a prominent role in the agreements of the Paris Climate Conference taking place in late November and early December. Yet, if past conferences are any indication, this will not be the case. Only smarter goals can guide the world to a greener and more prosperous future.
Varoon Pazhyanur is a College freshman from Eagan, Minnesota.