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The indignation of campus activists and the strangulation of free speech

(11/23/15 7:54am)

Have you ever noticed that campus activists are perpetually “outraged” at whatever is the perceived “offensive” issue du jour? As George Will notes, “There is nothing more tiresome in modern American life than the indignation sweepstakes we get in all the time to see who can be most angry about this and that.” I can attest to Will’s weariness after enduring countless Facebook posts about “standing in solidarity” with Missouri, Yale or whatever other college that’s no longer a “safe space” for the easily offended. I’m sure President Brodhead also shares my frustrations after having been harangued not one but two Fridays in a row by hysterical students. But more dangerous than the grievances of these activists is their authoritarian tactic of attempting to silence any opposition. Not only do I find their complaints unfounded, I refuse to be cowered and intimidated into accepting their attempt at monopolizing campus dialogue.

We the people

(09/28/15 5:14am)

So begins our nation’s Constitution. Yet, I submit, few Americans today appreciate just how profound and revolutionary this document is. In celebration of Constitution Day, which occurred earlier this month, and the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, which was earlier this year, this column will trumpet the triumph of governance that is the U.S. Constitution and the continued importance of upholding its carefully-crafted structure and original meaning.

The moral crisis of our generation

(09/14/15 6:37am)

I firmly believe that the most vulnerable and voiceless among us are the most deserving of our protection. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, 58 million fetuses in America have been killed by abortions. To contextualize the magnitude of this ghastly, staggering figure, consider that Stalin’s purges and gulags killed 20 million, Hitler’s Third Reich killed 20 million and Mao’s Great Leap Forward killed 45 million. Now, consider this: the ability to crush a fetus’s skull is supported by hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government and is currently a constitutional right that cannot be unduly burdened. If that’s not institutionalized genocide comparable in scale to the most inhumane atrocities of the 20th century, I don’t know what is.

The art of argumentation

(08/31/15 5:39am)

Whether in writing or in oratory, proper argumentation is an essential component of any serious attempt at persuasion. Unfortunately, public discourse in America is largely bereft of well-reasoned arguments and instead features fallacious thinking, logical non-sequiturs, inapposite red-herrings and other intellectually spurious attempts at defending or critiquing a position. Even more lamentable, the level of dialogue at Duke, a supposed beacon of higher learning and enlightened thought, often fails to rise above the low standard set by the public at large. Thus, this column will shed light upon some of the most common failures of argumentation in the faint hope of elevating the intellectual quality of the discussion, exchange and interplay of ideas here on campus.

Marketplace of ideas

(06/15/15 8:57am)

The editorial page within any newspaper has always been a peculiar creature. Ultimately, of course, the mission of the editorial page, like the rest the paper, is to inform readers, but the editorial page carries the additional, unique task of putting forth forceful arguments intended to persuade and provoke discussion. While the rest of The Chronicle seeks to be as objective and impartial as possible in its delivery of information, the editorial page is unabashedly opinionated. Consequently, in order to physically distinguish the editorial page from the rest of the paper and to symbolically note its special status as an influencer in addition to an informer, the editorial page runs in the back page of the newspaper.

The plight of black America

(05/27/15 1:41pm)

The greatest obstacle to the advancement of black Americans isn’t racism or past injustices but rather the black community itself. Instead of paving a road to prosperity, the self-defeating economic policies advocated for by the black community are shackles of poverty and disillusionment, miring blacks in a cycle of underachievement and social immobility. In addition to failed economic policies, there are also cultural issues within the black community such as the erosion of marriage that must be internally overcome. Because the economic and cultural problems are causally interrelated, they must be addressed simultaneously if any real progress for black Americans is to be achieved.

Gay marriage is not a right

(04/18/13 8:40am)

Before I begin, I’m not ignorant. I am cognizant of the differing viewpoints pertaining to this complicated issue. Also, I’m not a bigot. I hold no contempt toward homosexuals. I respect their natural rights inherent in their humanity, as well as their legal rights accorded by the laws of this land. According to research noted by Nicholas Kristof, conservatives generally understand liberals whereas liberals find conservative reasoning incomprehensible. Most at Duke have never contended with a legitimate defense of legislation outlawing gay marriage. I will do so without sophistry or theology.

The prince and the pauper

(03/27/13 10:10am)

“The rich are getting richer at the expense of the poor” is oft stated in casual discourse. There is a general sentiment that wealth inequity is a significant issue affecting American society. In fact, there has even been a recent viral video on YouTube called “Wealth Inequality in America” that has garnered over 5 million views. Unfortunately, reality does not support this vision of unjust inequality. Our free enterprise system makes America the wealthiest country in the world, and that system must endure if we hope to continue being a prosperous and free people.

Shoot yourself in the foot and smile

(02/21/13 9:33am)

When politics runs roughshod over economics, we have a problem. In the Feb. 12 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama announced his intention to raise the minimum wage. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of microeconomics knows that minimum wage only works to deprive people of jobs that they otherwise would have had. This policy, in effect, hurts the citizens who need a job the most—and who also happen to be the people pushing the most for increased minimum wage. But that is only the beginning of many economic fallacies that run pervasive among the general population. People still cling to an archaic conception of protectionism or mercantilism. There is a belief that we must safeguard American jobs or restrict foreign competition so as not to out-compete our domestic industries. The very charge of offshoring when levied against a business is anathematic kryptonite. These ideas are well intentioned but, as is usual with well-intentioned things, lead to counterproductive policies. As Adam Smith said, “I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.” Do-gooders do no good.

Equal pay is anti-feminist

(01/24/13 10:51am)

Gender equality is an admirable goal that is almost universally agreed upon in our nation. We want men and women to have the same rights and equal access to opportunities. That is uncontroversial. What is wrong, however, is seeing unequal results and categorically inferring unjust treatment. In other words, what looks, feels and smells like sexism may not actually be sexism.