Hypocrisy in opinion

I had thought the conclusive 2004 election would send our cutthroat political atmosphere on the wane. That was until, of course, I was called a moron.

In last week’s Campus Times, Cyrus Levesque alludes to America as a developing culture of “victimhood.” He is absolutely correct. The hip mentality is “I am right, you are wrong, and ignorant for it.” The troubling part of Levesque’s otherwise well-pointed article is its inherent hypocrisy.

It is difficult to write about the Republican Party from the skewed perspective of a college campus. Within our UR oasis, I will readily concede that the Republican voice is somewhat of a whimper. But do we feel victimized? Hardly. I cannot find a way to complain about another Dubya victory and a Senate majority sans Tom Daschle. I do not know a single Republican who is unhappy with our situation. Yet Levesque suggests that exclusively Republicans feel oppressed, and compensate by lashing out in attempts to “piss off” the other end of the spectrum.

Does anyone else see what is wrong with this picture? We are criticizing political malice by making generalizations about our opposition – fighting fire with fire, which is downright shameful.

I would like to share some of my election-related experiences, because they illustrate my point well. I, too, noticed the College Republicans’ banner in Wilson Commons. “Vote Kerry! It’s easier than thinking.” Truth be told, it gave me a chuckle. But as I thought, I realized that it was a very poor way for the Republicans to garner support. It was downright uncivil. The banner makes the asinine insinuation that our Democratic friends are nothing but mindless anti-Bush zealots.

The College Republicans really did me a favor in writing this – they conveniently hung the biggest problem I see in current politics on a brightly colored flag. We hate before we are willing to understand. It is ridiculous to assert that this problem stems purely from the elephant. Nov. 4’s issue of the British Daily Mirror asks “How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?” Yes, they even capitalized the “dumb.” Such a headline mocks itself – out of 59 million voters, there has to be some intelligence. No, these writers are not from America, but I’m sure many have noticed this headline popping up on blogs all over the nation.

Since Tuesday, a variety of people, including my close friends, have described me with a menagerie of adjectives. I have been called “ignorant” (possibly the most overused word of my generation) three times, “stupid” four times, “dumb” six times, a “prick,” “brainwashed,” “uninformed” and even a “redneck.” I’m from Connecticut, by the way, and yes, I really did keep a tally of the bad names.

Politics has slowly become the new racism. We wouldn’t dream of slandering a group for following a different religion, yet it has become acceptable to vilify our political opposites. To quote junior David VanScott, “Diversity of mind is just as important as ethnic diversity.” Let me offer a truce: we won’t accuse of you of “not thinking,” if you stop calling us by the names listed above. Deal?

Zachary Swartz

Class of 2007

Parody not recognized

As I have learned from personal experience, parody is a difficult genre to pull off, and there can be dire consequences if people interpret your parody as the “real thing.” The writer’s goal is to mimic the object of the parody but create enough subtle (or not-so-subtle) cues for the reader to signal that they will be able to be in on the joke.

What’s the difference between a bad poem and a parody of a bad poem? How can one tell if something is a parody of a vituperative, sarcastic e-mail or one that is “sincerely” angrily sarcastic? Often, when the writer is ridiculously and absurdly over-the-top in an obviously silly manner, this is a clue, yet even this rhetoric may simply be interpreted as hostile, vitriolic sarcasm.

I enjoyed Michael Blyskal’s letter to the editor in the Oct. 28 issue, “Bush should be re-elected.” Phrases such as “[Bush] may be the greatest president this country has ever had” or “The truth of that statement [that the President has ‘done everything exactly right’] is self-evident and needs no elaboration” tipped me off that it is a parody. Surely, he cannot be serious.

However, given the recent election results, I am now not so sure. It seems the majority of the American population cannot recognize a parody of a president when they see one. Surely, they cannot be serious, I thought, but then I was instantly won over by the majority’s rule.

Thus, I am now very very very ecstatic that President George W. Bush was re-elected because he does not flip-flop or change his mind on geopolitical strategies based on new information like Senator John Kerry has done. Surely, (re)thinking complex issues is dangerous in these dangerous times, danger that in no way is both produced by and responded to by an American imperialism that is not itself dangerous. Indeed, I have to concede to Mr. Blyskal and Mr. Bush’s arguments, and we can all look forward to seeing our friends and neighbors (depending on what neighborhood one lives in) being drafted/ traumatized/injured/killed to fight for this War on Terrorism, whose winnable nature is self-evidently apodictic – much like the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty.

Kevin Cryderman

UR Graduate Student

In students’ hands now

In just three years and two months, the first wave of 77 million baby boomers begin siphoning Social Security revenue.

I can’t wait to be among the first in line to begin receiving the monthly checks. Keep working, younger Americans … my tab will be on you.

J. McGill

Dallas, Texas

Morality should be valued

Having lived in two very different geographical areas of the country, I have found that certain principles are consistent in being necessary to the prosperity of a community. I will expound on those principles using the basics of child development.

Diana Baumrind (1967) researched child-rearing practices. The most successful parenting style was the authoritative style. Authoritative parents set reasonable limits on their children and insist that they obey. These children were lively, happy, independent, friendly and self-controlled. They were persistent in completing challenging tasks and exhibited high self-esteem.

An understanding of successful parenting techniques can help a community to instill in its future generations the qualities of liveliness, happiness, productivity and self-control. The value of the research concerning child development extends from the confines of family into the context of community.

Limit-setting from external influences helps to enforce internal limit-setting to promote self-discipline. As society becomes more permissive, individuals are more likely to become subject to their selfish indulgences while losing their personal freedom. Progression is thwarted when people choose to let selfish desires rule their lives. While many have different beliefs, it is reasonable to say that the majority of people with the correct information hold many values in common.

We as a society are accepting more and more choices by individuals that are contrary to optimal mental and physical health of the individual and society, choices that include participation in acts of homosexuality, pornography, promiscuity, drinking, marijuana and other drugs. These choices lead to a decrease in self-esteem, depression and a decrease in productivity. The inescapable negative consequences of these and other deviant behaviors become a great cost to society. Viktor E. Frankl explained, “To be sure, a human being is a finite thing, and his freedom is restricted. It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand towards conditions” (Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 153).

When leaders “ignore” violations of the law because individuals who have broken the law may have athletic prowess, prestige or power, they imply that t

hese attributes are above the law, the very law that makes men equal because it holds all men accountable. The innocent lose their freedom and deviant behaviors become “normalized.” With normalization and acceptance comes the increase of incidence of behaviors that lead to the demoralization of a society. Christopher Booker said, “When men cease to aspire to the ideal, the good, to self-restraint – whether in their hearts or in their lives – they do not just stand still, but actually turn the other way, finding self-fulfillment in self-indulgence and in those three ultimate expressions of the totally self-centered life – sex, violence and insanity” (Trousered Apes, 14-15). When good men do nothing when the precedents are being set regarding rules of morality, then they by default take the side of least resistance. May we as individuals and communities rise to our potential by seeking to live and uphold laws and truths that have never failed society.

Melanie Smith

UR Nursing Student

Clinton can gain presidency

I was at the UR Library yesterday reading your newspaper. It contained several articles of interest. Many of your readers are understandably concerned about our public school system’s failure to educate so many of our children. Many are upset that the Democratic Party did poorly in last week’s election. And many hope Senator Hillary Clinton will run for president and win. She, as your readers know, is likewise upset and concerned about the above turn of events. All of the above issues have, in my opinion, a common solution. The Democratic Party must free itself from the thrall of B.F. Skinner and the words that landed him on the cover of Time magazine many years ago: “no praise, no blame.”

For readers unfamiliar with Skinner’s words, they will find them in his book titled “Beyond Freedom and Dignity.” The words “praise” and “blame,” like “honor” and “shame,” have suffered reams of bad press over the past century, ever since Freud linked them to neuroses. But if Senator Clinton is familiar with the importance of everyone’s “struggle for recognition,” she will realize the path she must take to return to the White House. She must have an epiphany and see the light that most of those who produce babies aspire to become Maters and Paters, not the deconstructed, valueless terms “Mother” and “Father” taken for granted by America’s legal profession. The Democratic Party must come to the realization that the “average” citizen’s struggle for dignity and recognition is not satisfied by teaching them, as children, their Miranda Rights. The Democrats must recognize that “The Honorable” Supreme Court and “The Honorable” politicians inside Washington’s Beltway are not the only people who desire honor or praise. There is a chapter in the dusty old book I was reading at Rush Rhees titled “My Station and Its Duties.” Once upon a time our schools used to teach the duties of “good” mothers, “good” fathers, “good” workers and “good” citizens. Any public school teacher who dared to teach the uncensored meaning of these terms, as understood by “diverse” cultures, in any large city today would be subject to progressively more severe administrative discipline. If this did not work then more and more lawsuits would be brought to bear on this individual. And if these did not produce the desired effect then the Supreme Court might be called upon to issue a corrective action. This causal chain of “negative reinforcement” is destroying the lives of our children, our public schools and our nation. This is the greatest threat to our national security, not Islam, not born-again Christians and not religion. This is the reason our children are failing to thrive. This is the reason the Democrat is failing to thrive. And this is the reason Senator Clinton will fail to reach the White House unless she sees the light.

Just an opinion.

Todd W. McCune, M.D. M.PH.

Rochester, N.Y

False accusations made,

In the opinion article “It’s tough being the majority” published in this past week’s Campus Times, the author falsely asserts that Republicans promote the perception of victimhood. Perhaps Cyrus Levesque does not know how it feels to have one’s friends and classmates believe that one is partly responsible for the ruination of the country. Perhaps he cannot perceive the bias in the media because he thinks it is right that CBS should air a story critical of the President based on forged documents. Perhaps he thinks the New York Times broke the story about explosives that had been missing in Iraq since April 2003 just days before the election because of its devotion to impartial reporting.

The College Republican banner was meant to be a pointed statement about the reflexive hatred for President Bush that exists on this campus. It was not our intent to make people hate us. Levesque suggested that we might have engaged in a “bipartisan Get Out the Vote effort” instead. As a partisan organization, the College Republicans are not required to be bipartisan, nor should we be expected to be in our own activities.

As he should know, having written an article about the organization, UR the Vote has been responsible for GOTV efforts on campus. UR the Vote made only token overtures at cooperating with the College Republicans.

Instead, we engaged in our own, partisan, GOTV efforts. But if anyone knows about promoting a culture of victimhood, it is the Campus Times. In their October 28 issue they complained about not being allowed to endorse a candidate for president – like I need them to tell me why I should have voted for John Kerry. In the same issue, the Campus Times claims that students who vote face “many obstacles.” Perhaps they do face more obstacles than most, but paramount among them is laziness, especially with organizations such as UR the Vote to “inform” and aid.

leila Seghatoleslami

Class of 2005

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