At the invitation of the Brandeis Young Americans for Liberty, Fox News anchor John Stossel presented his lecture “Freedom and its Enemies” to a crowd of around two hundred people in Olin-Sang 101 two weeks ago. I was in the front row. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but whatever it was, I did not get it.
This past week, I took a break from my schoolwork to attend the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, DC.
“How does the residential life system foster a feeling of belonging at Brandeis?” If your gut reaction to hearing this question was to burst into uncontrollable laughter — or uncontrollable tears — you’re probably not alone. The Department of Community Living is the least popular branch of the Brandeis administration; its name is often thrown around as shorthand for how out of touch the Brandeis administration is with the community. Of all the comments on Brandeis Confessions, usually a pretty good barometer of public opinion, I don’t think I’ve seen a single positive one about the job that DCL has been doing. Instead, there is a litany of complaints ranging from loud noise late at night and students smoking in residence halls to nonfunctioning showers and expensive laundry cycles, most of which fall under DCL’s authority.
After much fanfare, well-publicized negotiation efforts and one of the strangest love stories in modern diplomacy, President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un met earlier this week in Hanoi for a summit on North Korean denuclearization. While all parties present tried to avoid counting the result in negative terms, the summit is widely regarded as a failure; no new agreements were signed, and President Trump walked out after only half a day of deliberation. Speaking to the press afterwards, he cited irreconcilable differences in what the two sides offered that had made it impossible to come to an agreement.
There’s a lot to dislike about Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Aside from generally being an unpleasant person, he invented modern fascism, killed thousands of dissidents in horrible ways and fought on Hitler’s side in World War II. Nonetheless, it’s widely stated that he made the trains in Italy run on time, which apparently makes up for all of that.
Last Thanksgiving, I got up at four o’clock in the morning to go to Logan International Airport in Boston. When I left, it was freezing cold; my flight was briefly delayed on account of the snow. As I watched it fall through the terminal window, I remember thinking how happy I would be to be back in California, where my hometown’s last snowfall was in the 1960s.
For those of you living under a rock, let’s briefly go over what happened last week in Washington, D.C. After a pair of marches there, a group of students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky were approached by a small number of Black Hebrew Israelites who proceeded to shout racial epithets and homophobic slurs at them. To defuse this, a group of Native American marchers led by veteran Nathan Phillips stood between the Covington students and the Israelites, playing their drums and chanting.
There have been a number of high-profile deaths on the national stage lately — Senator John McCain, President George H.W. Bush, civility in politics in general — and I thought it was interesting to watch our reactions to them. Some of us quietly mourned or paid their respects. Others, like a “Views on the News” contributor last December, danced on their graves. Still others, like President Liebowitz, didn’t seem to notice at all.
It’s easy to miss the local news these days. With so much going on in the world and with finals rapidly approaching, students understandably have other things on their minds. Small wonder, then, that it was news to many of the first-years I spoke to last week that electric pianos were coming soon to a lounge near them.
In this regard, anonymity is extremely valuable. However, it comes at a cost. It largely removes the consequences of one’s speech, meaning one is as free to lie as to tell the truth. Worse still, it is possible for someone to say hurtful things, whether true or not, with the intention of offending someone and the expectation of not getting caught. I’ve never understood the appeal of offending others for laughs, but clearly some do. The existence of certain less-than-friendly online groups – 4chan comes to mind – is evidence enough of that