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FROM THE EDITOR
IRAN AND ISRAEL
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THE AMERICAN CULTURE WAR
Dear Readers, In 1954, President Eisenhower signed into law an alteration to America’s Pledge of Allegiance, adding in the words “under God” between “one nation” and “indivisible.” At the time, the alteration was perceived as a necessary spiritual bonding between Americans in a time when feared nonreligious communist regimes promoted an association between irreligiousness and communism. But as Christian denominations shrink and other religious and nonreligious demographics rise, contention is mounting over the extent to which any one God should be associated with American government. Does God belong in our legislation? Does he belong in our pledge if we don’t all have the same beliefs? To what extent is our nation a secular one? And so we speak of culture wars, of perceived attacks on Christian traditions, and of a new red scare over Islamic Sharia Law. We argue over abortion, marriage, and our President’s religious beliefs, but we gain no ground in actually understanding each other. In this issue, we explore the role that religion plays in society and politics today, and the debates that result. Happy reading! Carey Hanlin Editor-in-Chief 2
FEMINISM IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Religious Demographics in the US Iran and Israel Nuclear Energy The American Culture War Plan B in NYC High Schools
Feminism in the Middle East 3 The John William Pope Center 4 The Modern Evangelical Voter 6 8 Kiobel V Royal Dutch Petroleum 10 Space Politics in the 2012 Election
carey hanlin editor-in-chief molly hrudka assistant editor sarah edwards, wilson parker, troy homesley managing editors anna sturkey creative director audrey ann lavallee blog and multimedia
travis clayton social media director tyler tran photo editor cynthia betubiza, michael dickson, carey hanlin, troy homesley, wilson hood, molly hrudka, audrey ann levallee, jen nowicki, wilson parker, kyle ann marie sebastian, luda shtessel, grace tatter, neha verma, peter vogel, ina kosova, lily clarke, gayatri surendranathan, sarah edwards staff writers janie sircey, paige warmus, katie coleman, sophie bergmann designers tyler tran, renee sullender, janie sircey, katie coleman, caitlin graham, gihani dissanayake, connely crowe
wilson hood, anne brenneman, michael dickson, kyle ann sebastian, peter vogel copy editors jeremy hollenbeck treasurer jennifer nowicki public relations director
On the Cover: “City Dusk” by Asia Morris
In the United States
The North West is predominantly non-religious (at least 30% of population) States that are predominantly Catholic (at least 30% of population)
Evidence shows that denominations in the United States are regional. This implies a regional diffusion of ideas, and questions the political nature of denominations.
The East Coast is predominantly Baptist (at least 30% of population)
Data Source: Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar (2009). “AMERICAN RELIGIOUS IDENTIFICATION SURVEY (ARIS) 2008” (PDF). Hartford, Connecticut, USA: Trinity College. Retrieved 2009-04-01Map from: wikimedia commons
NOVEMBER2012 • 3
A Precarious Balancing Act
TROY C. HOMESLEY Less than a month ago at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a large poster board with the depiction of a bomb on it. Netanyahu drew a bold red line at the top of the bomb, just beneath the fuse, denoting 90 percent enrichment of Iranian uranium and explaining that the international community cannot allow Iran to reach this red line. This is merely the latest development in an ongoing saga of sabotage, sanctions and negotiation at the international level between Iran, Israel and the United States. The familiar faces are once again rearing their heads for another discussion on the Iranian nuclear program: Netanyahu leading the Israeli cause, President Barack Obama as a biased mediator and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as an especially outspoken international actor. The United Nations General Assembly gave these three actors, especially Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad, a perfect opportunity to voice their concerns on the world stage. Netanyahu reminded the world of his belief that Iran is dangerously close to acquiring a nuclear weapon that will be used to threaten and possibly even attack nearby countries. In his speech, Netanyahu alluded to an aggressive and dangerous Iran. “I ask, given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, just imagine Iranian aggression with nuclear weapons,” the Israeli prime minister said. “Who among you would feel safe in the Middle East? Who would be safe in Europe? Who would be safe in America? Who would be safe anywhere?” An Israeli Ambassador later commented, “If the western powers had drawn a clearer red line against Nazi expansion in the 1930s, you might have avoided WWII.” With each passing day, Israeli diplomats and leaders continue to escalate their language surrounding the volatility of the Iranian nuclear program and the urgency with which the issue must be confronted. However, Iranian leaders continue to provide a much different story from the one being promulgated by Israeli leaders. Unfortunately, delegates from the United States, Israel and Canada were all absent when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave his final speech to the U.N. General Assembly. Ahmadinejad made it clear that all development of nuclear capacities in Iran are for peaceful purposes such as energy creation and reserves. Ahmadinejad told delegates that Iran is committed to peace and has a “global vision and welcomes any effort intended to provide and promote peace, stability and tranquility” in the world. Other Iranian leaders have also stepped forward in response to comments made by Netanyahu. Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Eshagh al-Habib, called Netanyahu’s remarks “entirely baseless.” “The nuclear program of my country … is exclusively peaceful and in full
One of Netanyahu’s campaign posters during the 2009 Israeli legislative elections.
conformity with our international obligations and in exercising our inalienable right to use nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes,” al-Habib said. As the saga plays out, escalation seems to be the only repose from either side of the Jordan River. Israel continues to demand tougher sanctions on Iran, even as the Iranian Rial decreases exponentially in value - dropping 40 percent of its value over the span of only a few weeks. Iran, on the other hand, continues to enrich uranium at alarming levels. President Obama has made many efforts at avoiding this escalation, hoping to curtail the possibility of military action against Iran. As election time nears, some voters are questioning Obama’s ability to take a strong stance against Iran even though he has been a leader in establishing important sanctions against the Iranian regime. Under pressure from the United States and Israel, the European Union has also intensified sanctions against the Iranian regime. Trade natural gas, financial products, and some other commodities has been banned while trade in other industries has become extremely difficult. As sanctions intensify, some are questioning the motives and end-game possibilities of more stringent policies against Iran. Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council and author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States, said in a recent interview that the “EU now has the same sanctions principle on Iran as the U.N. had on Iraq - everything is forbidden unless explicitly permitted. In Iraq it ended with war.” Within Iran, sanctions have only emboldened the regime and weakened the citizens. “Creating instability is among the arrogant powers’ insidious policies,” said Iran’s Supreme Leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamanei. “The enemies weapon. Governor Romney, on the other wanted to make our people depressed hand, prefers to stop Iran from reaching and exhausted through their sanctions. the capability to create a nuclear weapOur nation’s will and resolve to defend on. the ruling Islamic system should be a Mitt Romney’s campaign platform lesson to them.” clarifies his confrontational attitude As election time approaches in the towards Iran. “U.S. policy toward Iran United States, Israel and Iran will remain must begin with an understanding on especially important subjects in foreign Iran’s part that a military option to deal policy discussions. President Obama fac- with their nuclear weapons program is es a challenging very real and very situation in which credible. This meshe must assert ausage should not Undoubtedly, a thority in internaonly be delivered war between Iran tional affairs while through words, simultaneously but through acand the United avoiding the postions,” Romney’s States alongside Issibility of a violent platform states. rael would be detriconfrontation in a As the election mental to stability in part of the world approaches and already racked Iran-Israel relathe Middle East. with disaster. tions continue to Meanwhile, deteriorate, the presidential hopeUnited States ful Governor Mitt Romney continues to finds itself in a precarious balancing espouse confrontational rhetoric toward act. Undoubtedly, a war between Iran Iran. Romney has said the United States and the United States alongside Israel and its allies “will prevent [Iran] from ac- would be detrimental to stability in the quiring nuclear weapons capability.” This Middle East. U.S. policy makers and is especially important because Presi- politicians must take this reality into acdent Obama is more focused on cur- count as they approach the escalating tailing the actual creation of a nuclear situation in the Middle East. • NOVEMBER2012 • 5
PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
NUCLEAR ENERGY IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD
A Worthwhile Risk?
GAYATRI SURENDRANATHAN A Pacific earthquake triggered a nuclear disaster in Japan last March — the worst the world has seen since the Chernobyl incident of 1986. The reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima power plant can be attributed to poor communication, inadequate safety guidelines, lack of governmental oversight and a misguided belief in nuclear infallibility. Yet as more and more countries in both the developed and the developing world come to rely heavily on nuclear energy as a main source of power, the question arises: is the risk too great? If an industrialized nation like Japan can undergo such a failure, what of countries like India and Iran? How many countries’ infrastructures can withstand a disaster on the same scale as the Fukushima meltdown? Thirty countries are currently operating 435 nuclear reactors as of Aug. 2012, and 66 new nuclear plants are in construction in 14 countries. The heavier users of nuclear energy are concentrated in Europe, but many Asian and Middle Eastern countries are set to expand their nuclear energy usage significantly during the next few years. There is no doubt that developing countries have a unique need for accessible energy options; options which also have a minimal impact on the environment. Nuclear energy is especially efficient when compared to coal and gas, and although start-up costs are high, power plant operation costs less than maintaining other energy options. Steve Kerekes, senior director of media relations at the Nuclear Energy Institute, said he thinks nuclear energy is a viable option for developing countries. “When it comes to energy, there’s no ‘one size fits all,’” Kerekes said. “In any country you need to have a big infrastructure with a well-qualified workforce and strong regulations.” And in many countries, nuclear energy is one of the leading options, if not the leading option, Kerekes said. However, Christopher Paine, nuclear program director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said nuclear power often only replaces a neo-colonial economic dependency on imported fossil fuels with a dependency on debtfinanced imported nuclear power technology. “These countries suffer from a chronic shortage of investment capital, technical expertise, governmental regulatory bodies and domestic uranium sources,” Paine said. Paine said that if those countries were to turn their attention and money toward renewable energy sources like solar, biomass and wind, it would be more efficient and would contribute to their economic autonomy. Safety is another concern for these developing countries, as the threat of meltdown is always present when adopting nuclear energy as a civilian energy source. In the event of radioactive decay, uranium nuclei emit highenergy particles that can infiltrate the human body and destroy normal cells. David McNelis, a professor in the Environmental Science department at UNC-Chapel Hill, said he thinks that, relative to other energy sources, nuclear energy is a safe option. “The total number of human casualties as a result of commercial nuclear incidents is the smallest of any industrial utility service,” McNelis said. “Coal and hydroelectric are dangerous sources too.” The debate over the risk of nuclear energy is not one that will cool any time soon. However, as long as nations, both industrialized and developing, rely on it as their main source of power, we must take utmost care to ensure that events like Chernobyl and Fukushima never happen again. •
WHERE RELIGION AND POLITICS MEET
NOVEMBER2012 • 7
Myth or reality?
mericans are at war, voters are told. The overwhelming majority of the electorate consists of two sharply divided groups, interminably separated on serious ideological and moral grounds. Listening to many pundits and politicians on both sides of the political spectrum, this alleged conflict comes to sound like a given. A number of books have been published on this schism, and political activists will often speak of themselves and their efforts with this same militaristic terminology; but is this idea of a deep cultural divide actually an accurate representation of America or its populace? In the 2011 edition of “Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America”, Stanford Professor Morris P. Fiorina claims that no such immense moral divide exists in the general populace. He argues that, contrary to popular belief, a majority of Americans actually agree on the issues
which are supposed to be so polarizing. Americans, registered members of each On the contentious issue of abortion, political party and between genders, for example, Fiorina refers to regular the gap in opinion was insignificant. polling conducted from the 1970s to Fewer religious people and registered the mid-2000s which show that Ameri- Democrats approved of allowing aborcans are genertion in more cirally uniform in cumstances, but Even when the polls their attitude toonly small percompared results wards abortion; centages of each between religious they say that group said they and non-religious abortion should were completely be legal in cases pro-choice or Americans, regisof rape, threats pro-life. tered members of to the mother’s Similarly, The each political party health and birth Republican Party defects. Many made the Terri and between genAmericans also Schiavo case a ders, the gap in opinsay that extreme divisive moral ion was insignificant. financial situaissue in 2005 tions can also be despite the fact suitable justifications for abortions. that a majority of Americans agreed Even when the polls compared results that Schiavo, a woman in a vegetative between religious and non-religious state, kept alive only by a feeding tube,
PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
should have been allowed to die. In fact, a clear majority, approximately 75 percent of Americans, say they support euthanasia. Other polls conducted in the mid 2000’s find that a majority of Americans feel that stem cell research is morally acceptable. Yet, Republican President Bush continued to make it a divisive moral issue. Finally, when Fiorina took the time to examine public views on gay rights, he found a very similar public consensus. A series of Gallup polls showed that in the mid-2000s, Democrats and Republicans only differed by about 10 percent in their approval of legal homosexual relations like civil unions or marriages. Going beyond these issues that are supposedly splitting America in two, Fiorina goes so far as to say that this moral division doesn’t even have that strong of an effect on the outcome of elections. Looking at the 2004 presidential election, in which moral values are said to have played a decisive role, Fiorina found that 21 percent of voters said that “Moral Issues” was the most important issue in their decision. This may seem significant, said Fiorina, but it misleadingly lumps gay rights, abortion and broader concerns
PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
about the candidates’ “values” into one ning a majority of the popular vote, option. whereas before the 1992 election, it While Fiorina acknowledges and pro- was the norm for one candidate to win vides statistical evidence that there is a a clear majority. Fiorina says that the significant positive correlation between media and the political elite misinterregular church attendance and voting preted this close electoral split as a for the Republican candidate in the deep ideological split. general election, And as evidenced he believes that by those perpetuatHis main message, economic issues ing the idea of the however, is clear: are still more imCulture War themthere is no “us” and portant to voters. selves, the politiIf Fiorina is right, cal elite of America “them.” American and Americans are have become more culture is not funbasically united on polarized. Fiorina damentally divided these controversial suggests that the along social or reliideological issues, polarization of then why are there the elite has led gious lines, and poso many who beto more polarized litical discourse does candidates as well. lieve so strongly not need to be anin the Culture War The presidenand its reality? tial candidates tagonistic. How has this idea presented to the of a deep moral division splitting the American people have become incountry gained so much momentum? creasingly distinct and radical, but Fiorina puts the blame on a misinter- this doesn’t mean that the people at pretation of election results, a polariza- large have followed suit. Fiorina says tion of the political choices that Ameri- that the American populace can hover cans are offered and a sensationalist around the middle of the political specmedia. trum, but as long as the candidates are The elections of the 1990s were very equally polarized, the close division of close races, with no one candidate win- the voters will remain. Fiorina attributes this polarization to activists and political elites who control political discourse. He also blames the media for focusing on and exaggerating the political conflict to increase interest. Fiorina offers tentative explanations for why this polarization occurred over time, but he acknowledges that they are no more than hypotheses. His main message, however, is clear: there is no “us” and “them.” American culture is not fundamentally divided along social or religious lines, and political discourse does not need to be antagonistic. •
NOVEMBER2012 • 9
IN NYC HIGH SCHOOLS
A failed local initiative, or a model for the nation to follow?
hirteen schools in New York City’s tains the same main ingredient, levoschool district have ignited a na- norgestrel. When taken less than three tional controversy with a decision to days after having unprotected sex, distribute contraceptives to minors as Plan B will prevent 7 out of 8 pregnanpart of a flagship program called CATCH cies. However, it will not work if the (Connecting Adolescents to Compre- woman is already pregnant. Therein hensive Health). lies the main difference between Plan The program was created in response B and abortion: Plan B does not termito high rates of teenage pregnancy nate an existing pregnancy, it just prein America’s largest city. About 7,000 vents a pregnancy from happening. young women become pregnant in CATCH began in Jan. 2012 with five New York City every year. 90 percent schools. By September 2012, fourteen of those pregschools were innancies are unvolved, with one About 7,000 young planned and women become preg- later dropping over half of those out, citing a lack nant in New York City pregnancies are of resources. The every year. 90 percent schools were terminated. CATCH allows a chosen because of those pregnancies high school stulacked are unplanned and over they dent as young nearby health half of those pregnan- resources and as fourteen to obtain Plan B, a they had especies are terminated. contraceptive pill cially high rates available over-the-counter for those 17 of teenage pregnancy. Parents were and older, from the school nurse with- given the option to opt out of the proout involving parents. Plan B is differ- gram, but only 1 to 2 percent did. ent from RU-486, also known as the Despite the lack of parental opposiabortion pill. In fact, it more resembles tion, CATCH has fueled a lengthy and a regular birth control in that it con- ongoing debate about sex education
and the moral catch-22 that accompanies underage access to free contraceptives. One of the more well-known arguments against underage access to contraceptives is that instead of preventing pregnancies, contraceptives will essentially act as a “green light” to minors and encourage careless sexual behavior. Additionally, without proper sex education, teenagers might not be aware that Plan B doesn’t protect against STDs. However, if Plan B were to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, fewer young women would be forced to drop out of school prematurely. It’s too soon to know if CATCH has swayed adolescent pregnancy statistics, so the debate continues. Contraceptives themselves have played a surprisingly significant role in recent political conversations. The Obama Administration has faced enormous pressure to back down on a policy that requires religious institutions to provide employees with access to contraceptives without a co-pay. According to the Public Religion Re-
Photos 1 and 2 by Renee Sullender Planned Parenthood pink sign - 2012 Capital Pride Parade
search Institute, a Washington D.C. Religious Americans are not alone think tank, 72 percent of evangelical in criticizing CATCH. CATCH makes birth Protestants and 62 percent of Catho- control available to 14-year-olds, and lics oppose makage range is imporing contraceptant, statistically Once the age is tives available to speaking. Accordbumped up to 16, minors. In New ing to the same however, 52 percent Public Religion York, an area with a high concentrapoll, a majority of of Americans said tion of Catholics, Americans — 55 they support school the Catholic depercent — do not health programs like believe that contramographic is likely CATCH. to have a stronceptives like Plan ger political pull. B should be availYounger Catholics, however, tend to able to 14-year-olds. Once the age is agree that Plan B should be available bumped up to 16, however, 52 percent to high school students. of Americans said they support school
Photo 3 from Adam Fagen, FLIKR
health programs like CATCH. Daniel Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, said, “Social policies like gay marriage and contraceptives tend to animate religious and political conservatives to a much greater degree than Americans overall.” But will CATCH succeed in New York schools? Could it even move on and become a mold for the rest of the nation to follow? It’s too early to tell. Nevertheless, CATCH remains in the public eye as a program deeply linked to the controversial question of contraceptives — and, more importantly, who should have access to them. • NOVEMBER2012 • 11
ecular feminism is noble in the sense that it is universal, that it demands freedom, justice, and equality for all women, independent of race, religion, or ethnicity. However, it is this very universality that stands in the way of the secular feminist movement, ostracizing groups of women that are supposed to form the universal sisterhood. Secular feminism is an abstract concept. It focuses on Western liberal ideals, on individualism, on equality in the public and private sphere, and on government-subsidized benefits for mothers, among other things. But for all of its idealistic attempts, there is a stigma in the non-Western world associated with this type of feminism. Dr. Miriam Cooke, Professor of Arabic at Duke University, in her piece entitled, Islamic Feminism Before and After September 11th, argues for a link between gender and empire. She references the British abolition in the 1800’s of the practice of Sati, where a Hindu woman climbed onto the funeral pyre of her husband. What this amounted to was “white men saving brown women from brown men.” And, according to Dr. Cooke, what the Americans are doing in NOVEMBER2012
the Middle East is based on the logic that, “To defend our universal civilization we must rescue the women. To rescue these women we must attack these men.” But this mission to “rescue” the woman is inherently an argument of superiority, that the Western tradition is superior to native traditions, whether they be Hindu, Arab, or Muslim. And, what’s even more disturbing, is the idea that these Arab women need a savior, that they need to be rescued. Laura Bush, on November 17, 2001, stated in her radio address to the nation: “Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. They can listen to music and teach their daughters without fear of punishment.” This is essentially an “ifthen” statement; if the Americans defeat the oppressor-man, then victimwoman is liberated. But let’s focus in on this idea of the “victim-woman;” she is a victim because she is passive, because she accepts the oppression that denies her equality, freedom, and justice. What the First Lady ignored in her speech is the fact that Afghan women have been advocating for their rights
long before the American invasion. In the 1970s, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan was created to protest Soviet rule and then the fundamentalist regimes that followed, including the Taliban. But it is not only the Americans that have ignored the activism of Muslim women; the French also played the role of liberator in their ban on veils, spearheaded by Mayor André Gérin. According to a New York Times article on the issue, “Mr. Gérin said at the time that the full facial veil, which is known in France erroneously as the burqa, should be banned in the name of the liberty and equality of women in a secular country.” Mr. Gérin, along with other French MPs, treat the veil as compulsory, as a symbol of concrete subordination imposed on Muslim women by their fathers, brothers, and husbands. These MPs have created the same image of Muslim women as Laura Bush did in her speech: the passive victim. In an interview with Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Duke University, Frances Hasso, the following question was posed: what is the greatest obstacle to traditional feminism in the
PHOTO FROM FLICKR
UNDERMINING FEMINISM IN THE MIDDLE EAST
PHOTO FROM FLICKR Middle East? Her reply should not be surprising: “Western power, ignorance and arrogance are the most constraining factors on feminist projects in the sense that western domination projects often rationalize themselves on the basis of their cultural or other superiority.” Therefore, because traditional, secular feminism is so entangled with Western arrogance and perceptions of superiority, Arab women have been eager to create their own strain of feminism: Islamic feminism. Islamic feminism is based on the Qu’ran and on the Hadith, but in such a way that interpretations by generations of men are separated from the direct teachings of the Prophet. In fact, according to Professor Hasso, Islamic feminists “contend that many of the misogynist or sexist statements and practices of men do not have religious justification, even when such justification is claimed.” The Muslim religion is seen as one that offers these women religious equality, that offers them freedoms and individualism as in secular feminism; but because it is rooted in the Islamic faith, it also focuses on a woman’s familial role, on her religious role, and
on her relationship to men. The Islamic feminist in not a victim; she fights for her rights alongside the men in jihad. She does not tolerate subordination, even if she is veiled. In fact, according to Professor Fadwa el Guindi of Qatar University, “Encoded in the dress style is an affirmation of an Islamic identity and morality and a rejection of Western materialism, consumerism, commercialism, and values.” It is this strain of feminism, alongside secular feminism, that has been reinvigorated by the Arab Spring. In her lecture at Duke University on September 27, 2012, Dr. Zakia Salime, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers, emphasized the importance of the Arab Spring as a desexualized public forum. It was an arena where men and women came together in unprecedented ways, where the feminine body, with its connotations of sexuality and suggestiveness, disappeared in favor of a united, degendered voice. Ironically enough, with the collapse of the dictators came revitalized attempts to bring the feminine body back into the national dialogue; Arab men now attempted to assert their newfound masculinity.
Virginity tests followed in Egypt, the government attempting to propagandize the women that protested in Tahrir Square as immoral in an attempt to restabilize the patriarchal order. But the Arab Spring, like other revolutions, has given Islamic feminists new resolve, fighting, alongside with men, for what Dr. Hasso calls “a range of freedoms and dignities that include bodily and psychic integrity.” The women of the Middle East do not need saving. Fadwa Laroui, who set herself on fire on February 12, 2011 in Morocco, does not need saving. She was protesting a Moroccan law that would not give her access to state-funded housing because she was a single mother. She became the first woman to protest in this manner after the selfimmolation of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, an act that sparked the Jasmine Revolution. These women protesting on the streets for their rights have drawn a direct parallel between their struggle against the oppression inherent in a patriarchal society to the struggle of the Arab Spring against the oppression of corrupt regimes and dictatorships. • NOVEMBER2012 • 13
THE JOHN WILLIAM POPE CENTER
Helping navigate the black sea of liberal indoctrination since 2003
y dedicating itself to purging universities of entrepreneurial programs, non-western civilization studies, and all forms of creative thinking, the John William Pope Center is taking a brave stand to rid higher education of the blasphemous liberal indoctrination that has become so pervasive on North Carolina’s college campuses. Recognizing that the true path to academic achievement lies in maximizing economic prosperity rather than in trivial things like developing moral force of character, honing leadership skills, or pursuing academic excellence, the Pope Center is taking a stand to streamline university curriculums and rescue students from “fluff” and “cotton candy-like” courses that dare to explore such things as international citizenship, postmodernism, and women’s studies. The Pope Center works tirelessly to defend the mission of the public university: to provide a high-quality education to those who can afford it. The Center has proven itself again and again as a champion of ensuring access to
higher education for qualified students earned a high school diploma. whose parents can comfortably pay tuOnce those “high-performing stuition. dents who breeze through their SATs, In addition to providing invaluable enjoy digging into math problems, or reflection and suggestions for contin- include classics like ‘Hamlet; among ued achievement, Pope Center con- their favorite works” have decided that tributors such as Jenna Ashley Robin- college is right for them, Ms. Robinson son distribute useful materials for high helps students choose the right school. school students considering college. “If cost is a factor,” she writes, “conShe urges students to consider their sider community college.” At this point, desired future high school stu“If you graduate from career and asks dents will be them to consider singing Ms. Robone of these lesserthe question, “If inson’s praises known schools, you high school was for saving them might even become boring, will I rethe few minutes ally enjoy a desk president of the United it takes to apply job (the likely reStates-just like Ronald for one of the sult of a four-year many federal, Reagan did.” education)?” The state, or UNC proPope Center is grams that helps lucky to have Ms. make college ac-Phyllis Schlafly Robinson; withcessible for all. out her, students might be tempted In addition to her indispensable to apply to college because they find advice, Ms. Robinson includes some out that the median income of college valuable resources to help students graduates working full time in 2008 find the school that’s right for them. was $21,900 more than those who just Her first recommendation is Thomas
Sowell’s Choosing College: A Guide for Parents and Students, which rightly dismisses everything except history, economics, or science as “just a smorgasbord of courses.” The second resource that Ms. Robinson approves is The Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s All-American Colleges: Top Schools for Conservatives, Old-Fashioned Liberals, and People of Faith. This is a fantastic read that every senior in high school should take advantage of. It includes informative reviews of universities that cultivate true conservative values. Where else could you find such insider information like that in Auburn University’s review. The school “is in some ways a throwback to an earlier America: football is king, the Greeks rule the social scene, and political activism is next to nil.” High school students and their parents aren’t the only ones to recognize the genius of All-American Colleges; the critics can’t stop raving about it. Phyllis Schlafly, nationally syndicated columnist and founder of Eagle Forum, writes, “If you graduate from one of these lesser-known schools, you might even become president of the United States-just like Ronald Reagan did.” Talk about inspiration. The New Oxford Review echoes Ms. Schlafly’s sentiment. “Too many college guidebooks have lost their esteem for true liberal arts education, favoring instead fashionable and trendy schools that preach the newfangled dogmas of moral and religious liberalism.” I can’t say this enough: high school seniors would be lost without this resource. Ms. Robinson includes one other resource, fire.org’s free-speech rankings, which will help college bound seniors navigate the sea of universities that deny students’ individual rights. The progressive organization ranks universities through complex scientific methods.
Out of possible rankings of “green, ing programs across the state univeryellow or red light” UNC received a “red sity network that address similar islight.” This was primarily due to the sues. For example, Appalachian State, University’s atWestern Carolina tempt to make and East Carolina “While there may be a capella group each have censome reason for this Psalm 100 reters encouraging in the sciences and scind its ousting entrepreneurof an openly gay technical fields, the ship, innovation, member, to strip and economic research done in the the InterVarsity development. humanities and social Christian FelThis is just ludisciences does not war- crous. North Carolowship of privileges and fundrant such a light teach- lina doesn’t really ing for requiring need more than ing load.” its leaders to one of these. be Christian, Because a budand to revoke -Jay Schalin get plan would recognition of be remiss witha Christian fraternity for only allow- out commentary on professors’ teaching Christian members. It is important ing methods, Mr. Schalin reveals that for students to know that they have UNC system professors “cling to ‘hoa friend in FIRE when it comes to de- listic’ methods that doom many chilfending religious liberty, as long as dren to failure.” Personally, I shudder at religious liberty means being able to the thought of my child being taught exclude whomever you want from your through a variety of teaching styles. school-supported organization based In one of his final points, Mr. Schalin on their beliefs. expresses the progressive opinion that In addition to the eloquent and ob- public universities “should strive to be jective Ms. Robinson, the Pope Center politically neutral.” Complete neutralstaffs the innovative Jay Schalin, whose ity is the only way to encourage stuproposed plan to cut the 2011 UNC Bud- dents to form and reform their own get will help the university on its way diverse opinions. A key component to to becoming a tremendous, profit-max- this process, writes Mr. Schalin, is the imizing machine. elimination of politically inspired proMr. Schalin points out that many UNC grams and entities like “diversity or professors manage to teach less than multicultural offices, women’s and eththe minimum two courses per semes- nic studies centers and programs, and ter by conducting research and taking environmental programs.” This type of on certain administrative roles. Accord- programming is far too opinionated to ing to Mr. Schalin, “While there may be be included in a higher education cursome reason for this in the sciences riculum because it might encourage and technical fields, the research done the formation of new and innovative in the humanities and social sciences ideas. does not warrant such a light teaching With the Pope Center’s continued inload.” put on university affairs, I am confident In addition to elucidating the gross that this state’s higher education sysinjustices of teaching loads, Mr. Schalin tem will remain diverse, opinionated, illuminates the absurdity of maintain- and accessible to all. • NOVEMBER2012 • 15
THE MODERN EVANGELICAL VOTER
A Man Without A Country?
Sounds great! And it also sounds strangely like Barack Obama. But every good evangelical knows not to vote for Barack Obama. If Obama’s policies sound like Jesus’ teachings, does that mean that maybe, possibly, Jesus was a progressive? Does that mean if Jesus came back and entered the 2012 election, his most traditional voter base would shut him down? Does that make Jesus the man without a country in this election? After all, the evangelicals wouldn’t support him, and everyone knows that all liberals are godless, Jesus-hating atheists who don’t believe in any divine savior anyway (unless we’re talking about Barack Obama, of course). If only there were Christian voters who made life decisions based on Jesus’ teachings! Well, much to the chagrin of any heathen liberal, they do exist – as a huge demographic, it turns out, on both sides of the political spectrum. So that means that nearly everyone – Jesus, liberals, moderate Christians, and everyone else – knows who they will be voting for this November. But the evangelical is still left between in the middle, without a country of his own, asking “Obama or Romney?” •
If the evangelical Christian voter something you specifically don’t want base seems a bit on edge this year, him to be). it’s not without reason. We all know So now the typical evangelical votthat typical evangelical voter: pro-life, er must ask himself not “who will run pro-death penalty, anti-homosexuali- my country as a Christian” but rather ty, anti-evolution, and especially anti- “who will run my country the least like Obama. But that last one shouldn’t a devil worshiping heathen?” Well come as a great surprise since Obama let’s look at it. Romney has at differhas little to no overlap of opinions ent times supported and condemned with such voters – a group that con- legal access to abortion. Obama used sistently votes for the most conserva- to be against gay marriage but now tive candidate he favors it. available. Obama supports So where does stem cell reDoes that mean if that leave them in search. Romney Jesus came back the 2012 election? thinks evolution After all, Barack could be part of and entered the Obama is viewed God’s plan. It’s 2012 election, his as either an athean evangelical’s most traditional ist or a Muslim (or nightmare! voter base would both, depending So it looks on who you ask) like evangelical shut him down? seeking to restrict voters will just Christian religious have to vote for freedom in America. And Mitt Rom- the candidate that best embodies Jeney? Well Romney is a religious con- sus’ beneficent teachings of loving servative. And a religious moderate... thy neighbor, ditching pride and mateand a religious liberal, depending on rial desires, helping the less fortunate when the questions are being asked. and befriending the untouchables. And he’s also a Mormon, which is defi- In today’s modern world that would nitely not a sect of Christianity unless mean treating everyone equally, placyou consider it a sect of Christianity. I ing worth in people over money, proguess you could say that Mitt is who- viding health and opportunity to the ever you want him to be (until he’s poor, and befriending social outcasts.
Royal Dutch Petroleum
Will the Supreme Court continue to hold corporations accountable for international human rights abuse?
t the center of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum is the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), a law passed in 1789, which until now has been interpreted to allow international human rights abuse cases to be brought before American courts. The case stems from a civil suit brought by Esther Kiobel, whose husband was killed along with eleven others by the Nigerian government, purportedly to quell protests against developing land for oil production purposes. The question currently before the Supreme Court is whether US courts will continue to have a role in holding foreign rights abusers accountable for their actions, and whether the ATS should be curtailed in scope or even eliminated. Kiobel is particularly important for victims of human rights abuses, as a decision against the plaintiffs could exempt corporations from international law violations, and their finances from being used for restitution. Holding corporations accountable would create a much larger pool of money available for compensation than if individuals were targeted, and would make pro-
tecting human rights abroad a compel- 1980 with Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, when ling interest of organizations. Many of a Paraguayan national was sued by the amicus briefs filed in favor of the two other Paraguayan citizens for a huRoyal Dutch Petroleum company are man rights crime that happened outfrom large corposide of the United This is attractive berations, including States. The US Coca-Cola and BP Second Court of cause corporations America. Appeals declared have money. The language in the opening of the Alien Tort of their majority Statute seems to imply that violators opinion: “[W]e hold that deliberate torof international law can be tried and ture perpetrated under color of official brought before a US court by aliens. authority violates universally accepted But UNC law professor Mark Weis- norms of the international law of huburd, an expert in international law, man rights, regardless of the nationalexplained that determining the intent ity of the parties.” of the centuries-old law remains woeThis decision made it possible for forfully unclear. eign nationals to bring a case to Amer“Nobody knows,” he said. “People ican courts in order to address past argue back and forth about what [the human rights abuses in their home ATS] meant. I have speculated that the countries. But between 1980 and 2011, idea was to make it easier for aliens to the identity of the accused gradually bring tort suits.” changed. Initially, the defendants were For 200 years, the statute remained foreign government officials who had relatively dormant, with few lawsuits committed egregious human rights invoking its use in court, and even abuses. then the suit involved the United “After a while, people came up with States in some way. That changed in the idea of accusing corporations of NOVEMBER2012 • 17
having aided and abetted,” Weisburd damage award here.” said. “This is attractive because corpoThe Kiobel case began in 1994, when rations have money.” Nigerian Ogoni leader Dr. Barinem The Filartiga case set off a wave of Kiobel and eleven other men were lawsuits for the next three decades, detained by the Nigerian government with foreign nationals routinely bring- and held in military custody on speing suits against other aliens or corpo- cious charges, including murder. They rations for crimes were then tried committed outbefore a military “American juries are side of the United tribunal known known throughout States’ borders. for violating interHuge sums were national fair trial the world for the generally awarded standards, which size of the damage to the plaintiffs, was protested by awards they give.” making the use of various human the American court rights organizasystem extremely tions for lack of -Mark Weisburd popular with podue process and tential complainants. the overall bogus nature of the origi“American juries are known through- nal charges. Just ten days later, the out the world for the size of the dam- twelve men were found guilty and image awards they give,” Weisburd said. mediately executed. “Even if another court would hear the Esther Kiobel, along with the famicase, you might get a much larger lies of the other men who were killed, 18 NOVEMBER2012
have accused the Nigerian government of pursuing spurious charges against the men due to their participation in protests against the planned development of local land for oil — an extremely lucrative prospect for the government. They also indicted Royal Dutch Petroleum, the company that the government contracted for the oil production, of conspiring against the protesters to the point of bribing witnesses at the men’s trials to testify in the government’s favor. The case was originally filed in 2002, and made its way through the American court system for nine years, culminating in a decision by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010 that corporations could not be held liable for human rights abuse cases under the ATS. The Kiobel plaintiffs appealed, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in October 2011. “The question seems silly to an
American because we’re used to think“What’s the constitutional basis for a gestion during oral arguments. “This ing that corporations have the same lawsuit like this, where an alien is su- would be a forum by necessity.” rights and liabilities that people do,” ing an alien?” Justice Alito asked durProfessor Weisburd agreed. “My imWeisburd said. “But the only halfway ing the hearing. pression was that there was a lot of analogous cases Instead of de- discomfort on the Court with the noare the Nuremciding the case, tion of imposing no limits at all on ...some justices berg trials, and it the Court elected these kinds of suits,” he said. wondered why the was pretty well to expand their Weisburd further noted that even if Supreme Court accepted that correview of the ATS the ATS was overturned or drastically porations [manubeyond the ques- reduced in scope, foreign victims still was hearing a case facturers of Zyktion of whether have an alternate recourse to file unbrought by a foreign lon B] could not c o r p o r a t i o n s der. The 1991 Torture Victim Protection plaintiff against anbe criminally liacould be held li- Act (TVPA) states that any individual other foreign party, ble at Nuremberg; able, to whether under the authority of any foreign nathey went after the ATS was con- tion who subjects an individual to torfor a crime committhe individuals for stitutional in the ture or extrajudicial killing, can still be ted in a foreign coun- first place. Both held liable in court. The TVPA is far less damages.” try. Until the Kioparties were or- ambiguous than the ATS—it includes bel case, the Sudered to re-file rigid bounds on the types of conduct preme Court’s only decision regarding briefs and prepare for an unusual sec- that can be held accountable, and esthe Alien Tort Statute occurred in the ond hearing the following term. tablishes a statute of limitations for Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain (2004) case, In the second round of oral argu- claims. which involved a Mexican national ments on October 1st, 2012, the Court But the main difference between the who sued the US for an unlawful ar- seemed to be looking for ways to limit TVPA and ATS is that the former explicitrest while he was in Mexico. The court the ATS, which could exclude account- ly states that only an individual can be rejected his claim, saying that Sosa ability of corporaheld accountable did not meet the standard of human tions. There did not for human rights ...the ATS does not rights abuse under the ATS. The court seem to be a clear abuses, wheredefine who or what limited the scope of cases that could majority in favor of as the ATS does can be sued, which proceed, asserting that torts had to be eliminating the law not define who has made the latter “specific, universal, and obligatory”, i.e. completely, howor what can be have practical consequences for the ever, as this would sued, which has a popular route for plaintiffs. Though Sosa did not have overturn the recent made the latter a those seeking to sue the merits of a human rights violation precedent from the popular route for corporations. under the ATS, the Court implied that Sosa case. those seeking to other cases might under this definiThis ambivasue corporations. tion. lence implies that a compromise is in If the plaintiff is truly seeking jusOral arguments began in February the works, and may take the form of tice and not a large payout, however, of 2012, wherein the question at stake an idea stemming from the European Weisburd argues that this difference was whether the Supreme Court would Commission’s amicus brief favoring shouldn’t matter. reverse the 2nd Circuit’s decision re- the plaintiffs, which would only al“[The TVPA] means if you want to sue garding the liability of corporations. low cases under the ATS wherein the an individual for torture or extrajudiArguments quickly shifted towards the courts are the only way that human cial killings, Congress has enacted a extraterritorial jurisdiction of the ATS, rights violations could be rectified. statute for just that purpose,” he said. however, as some justices wondered “It seems to me like a fairly simple “This is a right created by Congress, it why the Supreme Court was hearing set of rules clearly defined and limiting is a federal law.” a case brought by a foreign plaintiff the application of this statute in a way A decision in the Kiobel case is against another foreign party, for a that sort of makes sense,” Justice So- expected sometime in the coming crime committed in a foreign country. tomayor said of the Commission’s sug- months. • NOVEMBER2012 • 19
in the 2012 Election
FEATURING CHARLIE HARRIS
Expedition 33 crew members wave farewell on their departure to the International Space Station.
axes, healthcare, jobs and economic growth are all subjects we’ve become increasingly familiar with these last few months. The election has brought these issues — and the positions of Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama on them — to the forefront of the national debate. In the midst of all this discussion, however, one issue continuously escapes the media’s attention: space policy. In the United States, space exploration and research has been largely marginalized since the late 1960s. NASA’s budget has plummeted since the heroic Apollo missions to the moon, and recent projects like the James Webb Space Telescope have been routinely exposed to dangerous budget cuts in Congress. Funding for space missions is difficult due to the massive scales of projects and the technologies involved, which carry unavoidable uncertainties with them. The recent landing of the Mars rover Curiosity has reminded Americans of the importance of scientific research, but Curiosity had to undergo years of research, construction and testing before it ever yielded results and attracted national attention. In order to come to fruition, such projects must navigate not only scien-
PHOTO FROM nasa.gov
PHOTO FROM nasa.gov
President Obama visits the Kennedy Space Center.
tific and technological but also political and economic obstacles. For many, the vision laid out for America’s future in space by both presidential candidates is vague and unfulfilling. To see for yourself, visit each candidate’s website and check out the “more issues” tabs. That won’t get you anywhere. You’ll have to use the search tool to find a document detailing each candidate’s image of U.S. space efforts. The Obama Biden campaign reflected on Obama’s space policies of the past four years by releasing President Obama’s First Term: Key Accomplishments for NASA and Space in early September 2012. The Romney Ryan campaign responded with an eight page document titled Securing US Leadership in Space on Sept. 22. While Romney’s white paper is much longer, neither document actually sheds much light on America’s future in space. Both
candidates vaguely discuss supporting Washington Operations for the Space private enterprise while continuing to Foundation, explained that the nareach for farther destinations like Mars tion’s capital is “still seeing ripple and asteroids. effects from the cancellation of the The Obama paper touts the success of Constellation program.” He also said investment in companies like SpaceX that Romney is not promising any big for achieving low-Earth orbit and pro- spending increases for NASA. poses making the Space Launch SysI strongly encourage readers to check tem NASA’s next large project. The out both white papers for themselves. Romney paper “Regardless of hammers Obama’s who wins, the ...one issue continudecision to scrap NASA Authorizaously escapes the President Bush’s tion Act of 2010 Constellation prowill expire next media’s attention: gram, which envifall,” said Curry. space policy. sioned a return of He stressed that astronauts to the it would be nice moon on board a family of Ares rock- to pass another bill immediately. ets, and touts letters of support from While we may not see space play a the late Neil Armstrong and Gene Cer- large role in the election this fall, look nan, the commander of the Apollo XVII out for some heavy discussion next mission. spring in preparation for the bill’s exBrendan Curry, Vice President of piration. • NOVEMBER2012 • 21
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