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          Letters to the Editor: US-foreign relations, LBGT center, and COC elections

          Issue date: 4/9/10 Section: Opinion
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          U.S.'s foreign meddling leads to decline in national image



          I sympathize with Zac Wilkins' cool reception in Argentina and his encounter of the widespread belief of "U.S. hegemony." His experience highlights a common perception of American imperialism by many foreigners that needs to be addressed. In his op-ed, Wilkins did write that he is "fully aware that the U.S. has for years been known to meddle in the affairs of other countries." I will elaborate on this uncomfortable truth and how it has contributed to a decline in America's image abroad and has, in fact, made us less safe.

          Today's leaders in both parties advocate relentless intervention into the affairs of other nations and regions. Both the left and the right have embraced the utopian notion that it is our duty to spread democracy to other countries, even through the barrel of a gun. This often has lead to "blowback", a CIA term referring to the unintended violent consequences of U.S. intervention. Despite our best intentions to bring democracy to Iraq and end the reign of brutal dictatorship, the invasion of Iraq has been linked to greater radicalization of formerly moderate Muslims and a rise in overall international terrorism.

          As of today, the United States has over 700 military bases in over 100 countries across the world. The U.S. defense budget combined with [the budget] for "overseas contingency operations" exceeds $1 trillion. Most Americans don't think of their country as an empire, but the details show that the United States has been steadily expanding its control of overseas territories since the turn of the 20th century. People might justify all of this as being needed for our security yet Switzerland remains safe.

          None of what I'm saying suggests that Americans are a bad people. According to a New York Times article from November 2008, American pop culture continues to be well-liked internationally - even in Middle Eastern countries. It is our government's reckless foreign policy that needs to be changed. It is simply common sense to realize that when our government shows favoritism, imposes murderous sanctions, tells others how to live their lives, and pokes its nose where it shouldn't be, it fosters resentment and hatred.

          The countless democracy-crusading misadventures throughout the decades have impoverished us in blood, treasure, and domestic political unity. It is time to reject nation-building and meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. This is not isolationism. Non-interventionism still allows free trade, freedom of travel, honest friendship, cultural exchange, and an engaged active diplomacy with all countries who want the same.

          The founding fathers explicitly recommended that the United States follow a non-interventionist foreign policy and use military power with prudence. Their prescient warnings are just as relevant today and it would be wise to heed them.

          Aaron Tao, Undergraduate student



          LGBT center positive step toward equality



          This letter attempts to alleviate some of Marlon Rucker's "irritation and disgust" expressed in the letter regarding the LGBT center. First, those who feel excluded by the LGBT center are excluding themselves. The center is meant to be an inclusive, safe place for all, just as the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women is open to all sexes and genders, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs [is open to all] regardless of race or other identity.

          Marlon outlined a "lack" of space for his minority, questioning why all ethnic minorities are stuck in the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The LGBT center is exactly the same thing. Heteronormative society has forced anybody identifying as some sexuality "other" than 100 percent heterosexual into a term that is 50 letters long. While this is a mostly positive and inclusive term, there are some who aren't included in the first four letters of the LGBTQQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Questioning, Ally, etc.) acronym, or who may not want to identify with any of these created labels.

          Moreover, the rhetoric Rucker used mirrors that of racist arguments that remain prolific today. Religion, law, ideas of "claiming" to be a minority, and "added stress" (i.e., flashback to students entering "integrated" schools) have all been used to justify and oppress racial minorities. (Note we are in no way against any religion, except when it is used to foster or justify hatred and oppression.) Even on campus, we have recently seen these arguments come up, which sparked a range of affirmative action events. Marlon, being a fellow minority, should have the deepest understanding of being oppressed in a world where the oppression is so ingrained that those outside the minority can't, or refuse to, recognize or ameliorate it. Perhaps you should consider more carefully who you call a hypocrite.

          I hope we as a campus can understand how we all have our own oppressions and privileges and begin to manifest them in a positive way, from our thoughts to our words to our actions, to help ourselves and each other achieve equality.

          Sarah Robinson & Julia Obejero-Paz,
          Undergraduate students




          Conversation about LGBT center needed



          We are saddened that the Office of Multicultural Affairs does not meet [Marlon Rucker's] need for a place "where we can have meetings, hang out or have fun," and we can relate to your experience as a minority of "feel[ing] alone and singled out." However, we are concerned that you would use these feelings to question the new support for the LGBT community.

          I, Luke Nantz, would like to talk with you about the experience of the LGBT community. Have you ever heard "that's so gay!" or "Quit being such a [homophobic expletive]?" Such comments on our campus cause anxiety and pain for LGBT people. This reminds me of my African American friend who was carded at the library while the white students were allowed in unquestioned. I'm not trying to say that our experiences are the same, but I am trying to emphasize the shared experience of hardship because of group identity. Because of the homophobia that LGBT young people face, research indicates that they are three times more likely to commit suicide. Some LGBT people endure electric shock, forced nausea, and other abuse as part of coerced "reparative therapies" for their sexuality. LGBT college students have been rejected by their families, thrown out of their homes, and denied the financial support they need to continue their studies. Clearly, this community needs the support of the LGBT center.

          I, Nadra Williams, would like to talk with you about your statement, "As a Christian, I would find it hard to be in a place where homosexuality or any moral degradation is encouraged and supported…" By choosing to begin your statement with "as a Christian," you suggest that you speak for all Christians in your condemnation of homosexuality as a "moral degradation." But you speak for yourself, not for Christianity. For me, Jesus is one who showed compassion and love toward all whom he met, and your statement "as a Christian" doesn't express that - neither to me nor to those hurt by your comment.

          We want to close by inviting you to a conversation. You stated that because you aren't comfortable with homosexuality you feel excluded by the LGBT Center, but the mission statement for the center says that it welcomes "supporters, friends, family and those who want to learn more about LGBT issues." If you would like to learn more, we would love to continue the conversation.

          Nadra Williams & Luke Nantz, Undergraduate students



          COC electives flawed, show lack of competition



          SEC member groups should represent the ideas and opinions of the entire student population. With the recent Class Officer Collective elections, I see no way this is possible. After logging in to vote, to my dismay, there were three out of four positions containing only one candidate. To make this even more horrendous, there was no write-in option. Any democratic or representative system needs competition in order to function! Without competition the officers have no reason to stay true to their constituents as they need not fear the next election. Since there are no write-ins or votes of no confidence, the "elected" officers represent only their own views and interests. Upon looking through their constitution and bylaws, everything looks more bleak with obvious flaws in representation. I quote Section 2.8 of their bylaws: "all candidates for Senior Class President must have served in an elected class officer position for at least one full semester." To require this takes away the representative aspect. If four people were to hold all of the offices freshman through junior year and misrepresent the student population during their junior year, they still automatically control the presidency. How is this representative? Furthermore, I see no way to have non-officer students initiate an impeachment to remove from office. If I as a student and voter feel that I am being misrepresented, I should have every right to initiate an impeachment or petition to remove from office! If there is so little interest in a group to only cause one person to run for each office, then perhaps it should be absolved or absorbed into a similar group, like USG. Let the candidates run for office in USG with more competition and make them earn their spot. The stronger competition will breed stronger candidates who more accurately represent the student body as a whole thus raising the overall campus life.

          Jacob Gresh, Undergraduate Student
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          In This Issue

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          Opinion

          • City boasts unusual outdoor spaces for observing Cleveland in springtime
          • Editorial: Although meal plan policy remains unchanged, policy seems fundamentally flawed
          • Letters to the editor: Greek Life opportunities
          • Political leaders are ill-equipped to decide when wars are "just"
          • Sticks and stones: bullying still hurts, but can be stopped with just one word
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          Focus

          • August: Osage County astonishes audiences
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          • Just a Perfect Day
          • Pokémon returns to Nintendo DS with best games in years
          • Rompers: this season's divisive trend
          • Safety First
          • Take a picture, It'll Last Longer: CIA student photo exhibition
          • The Buzz
          • Tremont: The A-list of Cleveland's bars
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