Category: Politics

This Trump thing has really been bothering me. I do think he will end up doing a decent job as President, but I believe he is a careless human being. You have said that you don’t condone what he’s said, but take greater issue with Hillary’s actions. That is a position that I find to be completely sound and valid. What I cannot understand is how you admire and respect his character.

The first time this tension began to form in my mind was at the table with your mom, and and you were dismissing his remarks about how he’s treated women around him. The things that he’s bragging about doing — whether he’s done them or not — have been done to me time and time again, both by strangers and men that I know. It creates an atmosphere of fear, contempt and deep, unsettling discomfort. I expect to be harassed by a man at least four times every day. It’s been that way since I was 17 years old – being harassed by men twice and three times my age. I do not feel safe from sexual assault at any point in time. You were around to experience the pain, shock, and lingering trauma of a rape with me– I find it even more relevant that this was done at the hands of a man in a position of professional power over me. You were there to see how often I have to deal with these struggles. I am not an exception – this is a widespread problem. You have seen how pedestrian this rhetoric of men being able to get away with “harmless” actions and words is — how it’s an expectation to just accept it. You wouldn’t accept it. Surely, you wouldn’t accept anything that deeply bothers you and brings anxiety that makes you physically ill for the rest of your life. This has only been happening for a few years, and it’s going to keep happening for more than twenty. Because it’s “funny” and “harmless” and the transgressions themselves can elapse a span of mere seconds, it’s okay.

The fact that this is something that has affected my life so heavily and acutely during the time we’ve been together made it feel like you weren’t standing up for me and the millions of women that are expected to just take whatever treatment is dealt to them because to millions of men, this patronizing harassment is something to brag about and applaud. Then it began to dawn on me that perhaps, you don’t even think that this is a problem, let alone that it’s something that should and needs to change. That is a hard thing for me to accept for the rest of my life. It feels fundamentally important for this to be taken seriously. In essence, it was your joy for him that unsettled me. Please do not confuse this with you being joyful that the election resulted in his favor. It’s that you’re happy FOR HIM. That you are not merely complacent about this man being cast as a hero but that you are happy. That this isn’t something you’re accepting as a necessary decision for the country because no one has any idea what he actually wants to do with it. You like him, and that disgusts me. It makes me feel sick to think about it, which is why I’ve been trying to keep my distance the past few days.

I love you very much, but I’m also deeply troubled by this tugging notion that you don’t grasp the magnitude of how certain things, which are completely within the realm of possibility to change, affect my life at the structural and systemic levels. I don’t know that you even know/acknowledge that they exist at the systemic and structural levels. Your comment that if you were raised in a low-income, inner city, high crime community, you would observe the unproductive behavior of your parents and the adults around you and work very hard to have a 4.0 to get a scholarship and go to college just illuminated how blind you could be to what it’s like to actually have those circumstances shape your life and opportunities. “Those people need to be shot,” you said.  They already get shot every day. It’s true that you can’t help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves, but society isn’t effectively and equally equipping people to help themselves. That is just a fact.

However, the rural poor, the urban poor, the profitization of prisons – I don’t know if these things matter to you at all, and it is entirely important to me and what I want to do with my life – purpose and instilling it in others. Do you want to do that or do you only want to blame them and resign yourself to the idea that these people are irredeemable and should live out the next ten, thirty, fifty years of their life wasting as something less than people?

I believe in God’s plan. For this country, for its citizens, for Donald Trump. I believe that the people who society is dismissing and discarding were created by God and are just as important as I am. I believe that every single human was designed with God’s hand and meticulous attention. I believe that anyone can lose their way and make a mess of their lives and the lives of the people around them. If someone is alive after that point of failure or mistake or evildoing, there will still be years of existence that can take the form of more good or more evil. Nevertheless, there will be more experiences – which are opportunities to grow. I believe that we are resilient creatures and that people can come back from anything.

These things have been weighing heavily on my mind because I love you so much and I do want to plan a future with you, but I’m only 20-years-old and my future is just beginning to take shape. The delay in expressing my feelings is due to my own anxiety – fear of bringing these feelings up and having you think that I see you as completely unsupportive of me. None of these issues are individual; they’re issues of idealism. You are the most understanding guy I know and you have strong opinions so I wanted to have mine formed in an organized manner. You take care of me so well and understand me as a human being. I love you so much.

Jacie Goudy is a third year student in Columbia College (2018) double majoring in History and Political Science. She is especially interested in the comparative study of social factors on the political economy between Eastern and Western societies.

 The Lion is the only campus publication with an open-submissions policy. To respond to this op-ed or to submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com

A brief note to people who voted for Trump to preserve their ‘conservative religious values’:

I am a devout (Brethren) Christian. I always look to preserve my religious values (which may be considered conservative) when I vote. Always. And I firmly believe that a Trump vote does not embody this.

When I look for a candidate who preserves my Christian values, I don’t look for if they oppose certain ‘taboo’ sins as considered by popular culture – but if they exemplify what a Christian is by showing a Christ-like love. This person is not Donald Trump. So please do not try to disguise your racist bias under your so called pursuit of Christ. Above all Jesus calls us to love him and one another (Matthew 22:36-40). His second greatest commandment is to love another and I would like to know how you believe Donald Trump is pursuing this doctrine.

I can see how coming from your place of (presumably white) privilege you can overlook his other flaws because nobody is perfect and you are pro-life above all. I’d just like to add that I’m very pro-life. Pro-life as in the lives of millions of immigrants (documented and undocumented) who fear for their safety, millions of LGTBQ who fear for their safety, millions of people of color (like me) who fear for their safety, millions of AMERICANS who fear for their safety. Pro-life as in the lives of millions of Americans who do not feel the love of Christ from someone you voted for. Someone you voted for to uphold your ‘conservative religious values’ which to me are ‘conservative values that are not at all religious but definitely borderline racist’.

So please, do not continue to spread the lie that your vote for Donald Trump was a vote to uphold your religious beliefs. Do not be fooled: your vote for Trump was not a vote for Christianity. It was a vote that supported Trump, as a sexually immoral, misogynistic, racist bigot. It was a vote for someone who definitely does not uphold Christian values.

The author proclaims to have ‘a conservative mind but liberal views’ because she believes that above all – Christians need to show Christ’s love first. She is a first year student of color at Columbia College for now, but like may students is considering transferring to McGill or really any other school in Canada if Trump becomes the misogynistic, racist leader he portrayed himself as being during the election. She is constantly praying for the state of this country (and is low key happy that she is not an American at this point in time).

On Tuesday, we elected a man who had double-digit sexual offense accusations to be our 45th president. We elected a man as President who repeatedly spoke of groping women and called them “pigs” and “slobs.” We  elected a racist and misogynistic man president, instead of a competent and experienced woman.

This makes me sick to my stomach.

Being a girl in the United States today means being constantly taken for a sack of meat. It means frat boys at the entrance of parties only letting girls enter  – and only the ones who they deem to be “hot” enough – so that brothers can maintain their monopoly on women. It means having to justify not wanting to sleep with this or that boy. It means having to explain why you don’t want to be grabbed by the ass by a boy you barely know. It means being called a slut or a bitch because you refused to go on a date or to sleep with a certain guy. It means having to put your headphones in and your chin up when you walk down the street to tune out the constant harassment.

Growing up a girl means being sexualized before you even understand what that means. It means checking with your father, mother, brother, or best friend about whether that skirt is long enough for you to wear outside. It means the constant “do I look skanky?” and “will I get in trouble?” It means having to second-guess yourself in the mirror every day to make sure you aren’t “provoking” anything or “asking for it.”

This isn’t about the glass ceiling, equal pay for equal work, or academic and professional discrimination. This is about how we relate to our identities and our bodies, about what it means to grow up a girl.

I consider myself a feminist, and yet, I find myself falling into the trap of all these accusations. I find myself wondering whether I was really right to refuse that date, whether it was really okay for me not to go back home with that boy. Boys and men have disrespected me more times than I can count. I have been called a slut for not going along with what a guy was asking of me a shameful number of times. Like this, myself and millions of other women walk on eggshells to avoid the stigma of oversexualization. We keep our eyes down and pull down our skirts not to be noticed, and we fight off unwanted gestures as swiftly as possible.

We all suffer from this, girls and boys, who play along with the trend to appear “tough,” yet we keep quiet. Yet again, yesterday we elected a misogynistic man to preside over this country. We elected someone who not only exposes and embraces the entire array of sexual violence – from harassment to assault – that we face every day, but also legitimizes it. On Tuesday, 53% of white women voted for a man who considers them nothing more  than objects.

We have normalized sexual violence to such an extent that it has become imperceptible. We hide behind our libertarian ideas of hookup culture, drink an extra shot and assume everything is fine. We forget the rapes, the unwanted touching, the gross comments, and, most of all, the pressure. The pressure to pretend that everything is okay, that we are young and free and so is our sexuality. We blame each other for being stuck up, for not playing along.

I firmly believe that this is fundamentally wrong. I also believe that this wrong will only be fixed when we all stand behind our female role models and help them lead. Until we trust our fellow women enough to stand with them and fight against this image. Until we all stand together and fight everyday sexist violence, until we realize it is not normal, we will not be able to change anything.

Ana is a junior in the School of General Studies majoring in MESAAS.

The Lion is the only campus publication with an open-submissions policy. To respond to this piece or to submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com.

Although I had intended to continue the series on the neuroscience of education, when I sat down to write a column a day before the United States votes for a new president, many new senate members, and hundreds of ballot measures, I’ve found that this election has truly consumed us all. So instead, today’s column will be dedicated to the young realm of neuropolitics – and what ramifications neuroscience may have for tomorrow’s vote.

Although contentious elections are nothing new, this cycle certainly feels more polarizing than years past. Many people on both sides are in disbelief as to how supporters of the opposing candidate could possibly overlook the horrible things they’ve said or done. Both sides are utterly confident that not only are they correct, but that all the facts support their position. Here is where fMRI has an answer.

In one of the first studies of its kind right before the 2004 elections, 30 self-identified ‘strong’ Democrats and 30 Republicans reviewed John Kerry and George W. Bush making self-contradictory statements while having their brains imaged. In an experience familiar to anyone who has tried this tactic against a member of the opposing party, the participants were critical of the hypocrisy in the opposing candidate while letting their own candidate off easy. While that result is predictable, the fMRI results were not at all.

The participants achieved this feat of mental gymnastics by quieting down the part of their brains necessary for impartial reasoning like the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and instead lighting up emotional circuitry such as the amygdala, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the insula, which will all be important later. Specifically, an area of the brain called the basal ganglia lit up, which is, among other tasks, responsible for rewarding selective behaviors with dopamine. Effectively, partisan brains were triggering dopamine rushes for ignoring the issues in their own candidates’ statements and criticizing their opponents. Once entrenched, it seems very difficult to combat confirmation bias by rational arguments when the ‘rational argument’ part of the brain is offline during these discussions.

The differences that divide us seem to run deeper than confirmation bias. A growing body of research shows some fundamental wiring differences in the brains of liberals and conservatives. One study was actually able to use brain regions of interest from an fMRI to determine political affiliation with 83% accuracy, which is over 10% higher than the next-best factor of parent’s ideology. In general, a conservative brain will more strongly react to disgust and react with more emotionality to uncertain concepts or events, thanks to a larger and more active insula and right amygdala.

Liberals, on the other hand, are less fearful of new stimuli and less reactive to negative events, and more likely to adapt to changes in established patterns. Some of these effects can be attributed to their larger and more reactive anterior cingulate cortex, which has long been known to monitor and mediate conflicting information. From the psychology side of things, personality data shows that conservatives value loyalty, stability, and are both risk- and change-averse.

Meanwhile, liberals are more likely to change their opinions and base decision-making on new information, specifically the kind of fact-heavy information that activates the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Without placing a value judgement on either ideology, it seems that biological differences in how people process and respond to information aligns with ideological differences.

Of course it’s important to keep in mind that the brain is a highly plastic structure, so there’s a classic chicken-and-the-egg problem in play here. Twin studies, long the gold standard for measuring genetic influence, attribute somewhere between 40 to 60% of political preference up to genetics, as manifested by differences in brain structure. It’s also possible, even likely, that slight anatomical differences might snowball into bigger ones if those neurological pathways are strengthened by continued exposure to politically charged information.

As with much of neuroscience, it’s sometimes unnerving to think about how our decisions are so frequently based on the activation of subcortical structures, not conscious thought. While we may find it difficult how someone could possibly vote for the other candidate, perhaps political neuroscience can contribute some understanding to the underlying motivations that determine political choices. So as we decide on a new president this Tuesday, give a thought to those scientists trying to figure out what’s going on in your brain while you’re making that oh-so-important choice.  

Uniquely Human runs alternative Mondays. To submit a comment or a piece of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com.

If you watched the Presidential debate on November 1st, one of the issues raised was the question of Syria. From the greatest humanitarian disaster since World War II to the rise of a terrorist state, Syria seems to be the nexus of ills. Given the seriousness of the situation, politicians and military leaders are considering military action in Syria, from Hillary Clinton’s no fly zone to Donald Trump’s yet to be announced strategy to take down ISIS. For most of us, these are abstract things we discuss rhetorically when discussing American military strength. For over four hundred students, this is a well-lived reality. If you are veteran attending Columbia today, you probably served in either Iraq or Afghanistan, two of the longest wars in American history. You also have the privilege, like Vietnam veterans, of realizing that the public believes the war in Iraq was pointless and seeing those gains fall so easily to ISIS. After that, statistically, veterans tend to support candidates who don’t have a history of hawkishness, like Gary Johnson or Donald Trump.

On the bright side, when veterans return home, they rightly have an expectation that they will be treated with respect. They risk their lives for their country and their country should give back. One of the ways we as a nation rewarded their service was the GI Bill.  Passed during World War II, it gave veterans returning home assistance in paying for college and trade school tuition. We passed an extension to this to apply for veterans of engagements after 9/11. You would think this would be uncontroversial, but Donald Trump complicates everything. In May of this year, he said to CNN that he doesn’t support the GI Bill. While there was one time where the Republican Congress tried to shift funds from one GI Bill benefit to support other veterans programs, usually Republicans stop after suggesting the privatization of the Department of Veterans Affairs. For those unfamiliar, the Department of Veterans Affairs oversees the Veterans Health Administration which should handle healthcare once veterans get past the very deep backlog. If you are wondering, the VA’s website states “VA health care is NOT considered a health insurance plan” which one would need to not be forced to pay for Columbia’s insurance. This is all simple with the Democrats in that they have thrown their support behind the GI Bill and against privatization, but I honestly was surprised I was covering this difference at all. Usually serving veterans is bipartisan except for the tiny details. In 2015, nearly two-thirds of veterans opposed privatization of the VA in a bipartisan poll. If veterans have spoken, and we love them, why is this a debate?

Of course, I generalize. There are over 400 opinions on campus that are much more valuable than mine on these things. They can provide perspectives more grounded in reality than a first-year. But Republicans have touched the GI Bill before. If Donald Trump wins, they might change a few things here and there. That might affect people who attend this university, and therefore I felt that not saying when there is a significant difference on approaches would be a disservice, because those of us who haven’t gone to war still have to vote on Tuesday.

Ufon’s mini-series, Columbia and the 2016 Election, will run through the November 8th Presidential Elections.

The Lion is the only Columbia publication with an open-submissions policy. To respond to this piece or to submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com