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Brandeis University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1949 | Waltham, MA

Harrison Paek


Cancel culture: a truly toxic phenomenon in modern politics

President Obama recently gave remarks about the phenomena of cancel culture and callout culture during an interview about youth activism with the Obama Foundation. “People who do really good stuff have flaws,” said the former president, who went on to express his discontent for the watered down and lazy activism that “wokeness” is creating. An angry tweet calling someone out about something they have done wrong is “not bringing about change,” according to Obama. President Obama’s comments get to the heart of a major problem causing division and rancor in America. Social activism and social change have been replaced by anger, expressed in unconstructive ways. 

A love letter to affirmative action

 When I read the takeaways from Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard, I stepped out onto the top of the Rabb Steps the next day and took a good hard look at a 2:00 p.m. rush, a hundred strong. I felt two things. The first was immediate relief. Affirmative action is safe for now, and the diversity I saw only stands to grow from here. The second feeling I had, however, was more malignant. Would this campus be better with less people like me? 

Take a break from all the depressing news and try to enjoy life

 The news can feel like a thick drink I’m forcing down before breakfast every morning. My classes start early, and morning hours beforehand may be better spent splayed out on a yoga mat or listening to classical music. It seems that some days, I forego mindfulness and mental health in favor of reading news that is the same but different every day; it is a Groundhog Day of X with a side of Y on the front page of Z week in and week out. Can’t I pass on this? Because I certainly cannot blame any one of the people I know that have completely cut off their subscription to the daily sludge of violence, hatred and fear on planet Earth 2019. Despite this, here is  why I make an effort to read the news. 

Why Joe Biden is still the ideal candidate

 At this point in time, there are few places left to turn for a Democrat, none of them ideal. With the new accusations against Joe Biden and his subsequent response, the pool of candidates and potential candidates for the 2020 presidential election has by the day grown larger and more confusing. Often, I write articles because I am confused about the issue. I write about subjects I feel are important, but being able to write about something in length requires a lot of reading. On the issue of Joe Biden, my goal is not to push the reader toward any course of action. This article is just my attempt to educate myself with the resources I have, like any other college student. I was sure that I would vote for Joe Biden in the next election; I am less sure now, but he still has my vote. Here is why. 

Yemen famine crisis is an untold, preventable tragedy

 Reading the news gives me a feeling of being stuck. I feel stuck being a college student, especially in a world that has so many problems. Often I sit on the floor and feel powerless. I want to save the world, but I have classes and the T runs to Boston, not Yemen. Thus, too often my solution to big problems is to not think about them at all. How Brandesian. There is a famine in Yemen right now. Millions of pounds of grain earmarked to relieve the widespread famine are rotting in storehouses, according to the New York Times. Doctors Without Borders says the medical health system has effectively collapsed and the country is a hairbreadth away from an outbreak of measles, cholera and diphtheria.  

On the Gillette ad controversy: doing good is doing good

 I watch significantly more YouTube videos than I should. In the heaps of media that I consume on a daily basis, very seldom do I pay attention to advertisements. More often than not, I see adverts as an obstacle; if I am not watching the yellow line creep right toward my next video, I watch ads with the reservation of a jaded consumer. It is only when an advertisement oversteps its role as a distant annoyance that I lean in to show even a minor amount of interest.  

Strongman dictators are increasing in number and are a threat to democracy

 Strongmen are destroying modern democracy from the inside out. Whether it be  Donald Trump in the United States, Xi Jinping in China, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia or the recently elected Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, every inhabitable continent but Australia has an iron-fisted “strongman” in power. One can observe the phenomenon sweeping international politics: Syria, Venezuela, North Korea, Malta, the Philippines, and innumerable others. It is the year of the strongman, a year that holds none of the auspices of its Chinese counterparts. However, the year of the pig starts with the death sentence for a Canadian citizen held in China on charges of drug trafficking. Two Canadian businessmen are also being detained, but for reasons unpublicized. Ever since the arrest of Huawei’s corporate financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Canada, recent Chinese actions against Canadian citizens have been construed as suspicious. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg has been charged with smuggling methamphetamines to China. He is alleged to have orchestrated a trade of well over one kilo of illegal substances; in China, one kilo warrants the death penalty. However, it is not the legitimacy of the charge that should be put under scrutiny, but rather the timing.  

China's oppression of Uyghurs remains hidden from view

 Many people in the West are comfortable with the thought that the People’s Republic of China is a benign communist state. Especially within its close geographical proximity to the tyrannical North Korea, as well as its history under Mao Zedong, the iron grip of Beijing has with time loosened to a bearable squeeze. One might be taken aback to hear China is still putting people into “reeducation camps” based upon their religion. In the case of Muslim Uyghurs, this is a harsh reality the public seems to turn a blind eye to. Recent unrest across the world has sown seeds of systematic Islamophobia, and China’s government is using this to their advantage. 

Harvard lawsuit exposes longtime issues with college admissions

 As college has become a requirement for a widening array of jobs and opportunities in America, it has become more difficult to provide equal opportunities for those who are underrepresented or underprivileged. Affirmative action is a series of policies that aim to tackle this issue. However, America is a strange beast regarding education. The population is so diverse that it is impossible and grossly unfair to treat everyone the same way, yet it is very difficult to be the arbiter of how equality should be. 

Louis CK: Bound and Gagged?

 ne would be hard pressed to find a comedian as well-known and formerly beloved as Louis CK. The dark, raunchy, guilty-pleasure comedy that oozed out of every special Mr. CK delivered spoke to a dark pit in the collective imagination of the audience — it was exciting. In this sense, it is difficult to confront the fact that the crimes he was accused of had already been hiding in his comedy under the guise of benign humor. 

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