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Last week, President Donald Trump suddenly announced his decision to withdraw American troops from northern Syria. The withdrawal effectively made way for the Turkish military to move in and seize land that had previously been held by the Kurds, who are often referred to as “the largest ethnic group in the world not to have a state of their own.” Countless Kurds have been slaughtered, and Trump has faced bipartisan condemnation for abandoning our Kurdish allies, who have long aided American forces in the fight against various terrorist groups.
Earlier this September, the Department of Education ordered sweeping changes to a Middle Eastern studies program run jointly by Duke University and the University of North Carolina. The MES program was rebuked for not complying with Title VI, which grants federal funding to international studies programs, and criticized for various reasons, including the placement of “considerable emphasis on ... the positive aspects of Islam” and an absence of “positive” imagery of Judaism and Christianity. Assistant secretary for postsecondary education Robert King, author of the official statement published by the DOE. regarding Duke-UNC’s consortium, also disparaged the program for its irrelevance to “the development of foreign language and international expertise for the benefit of U.S. national security and economic stability.”
I hardly need to introduce U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand ’88. The famous Dartmouth alumna, a senator from New York who is also running for president, has stood out among Democrats as one of the fiercest critics of President Donald Trump. She boasts the most votes against Trump’s cabinet nominations of any Democratic senator running for president. Her progressive record should position her to be a competitive contender in the upcoming election. She was, after all, the first senator to insist Al Franken resign after evidence of inappropriate sexual behavior surfaced. And she has voiced firm support for the Green New Deal and some version of Medicare for All. She’s denounced the Trump administration’s “outrageous and unacceptable” treatment of immigrants and has also expressed urgency in ending America’s gun violence epidemic.
Just last fall, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was elected as the representative of Minnesota’s 5th district. Since then, she has faced a relentless storm of personal attacks and death threats, and has featured in one controversy after another. Scandals and personal attacks are nothing new for anyone in politics, but the level of vitriol directed at Omar, a Somali-born refugee who moved to the U.S. as a teenager, seems to be especially extreme. Unfortunately, as Omar stands up for herself, politicians too often deliberately stoke fury towards her or idly stand by.
Solemn crowds of Parisians gathered on April 15 to watch as one of the city’s greatest icons, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, burned. The news sent shockwaves around the world and has prompted immense sorrow for one of the greatest emblems of France and a marvel of Gothic architecture.
It was a weekend of protests. While Americans turned out for the third Women’s March in three years, France saw thousands of Yellow Vest protesters rally for the 10th weekend in a row. (Make of that what you will.) The Yellow Vest protests originated in outrage toward a diesel fuel tax that French President Emmanuel Macron — the target of the protesters and, in their eyes, the embodiment of the gap between the wealthy elite and lower class — says is meant to minimize fossil-fuel use.
Before I’d ever set foot on campus, I knew about Dartmouth’s emphasis on bystander culture. I took the same sexual assault prevention courses that my peers did and clicked through the same slides on bystander intervention as the other members of the Class of 2022. (Do something yourself! Bring others in! Ingenious alternatives.) I sat through the same New Student Orientation talks on the College’s very rigorous, serious, vague efforts to combat sexual assault. The pen I almost exclusively used during my first quarter has the letters “DBI,” or Dartmouth Bystander Initiative, printed on it — if that’s not the ultimate sign of how ubiquitous DBI’s branding is on campus then I don’t know what is.
Lines of increasingly restless people, who had been waiting for hours, wound around blocks and spilled into streets on a late night. A scene like this might suggest crowds queueing to attend, perhaps, an exclusive performance or speaker event. Instead, this exact scenario occurred all over the United States on Election Night as busy citizens carved time out of their workdays to attempt to exercise their right to vote (ideally, one of the least exclusive things ever) and faced endless bureaucratic and logistical nightmares. Missing voting machines, understaffing and delayed openings (or unexpected closings) plagued polling places all over America. “Dysfunctional democracy” has been given a new, more expansive definition, one that not only encompasses the outrageous actions of American politicians but their constituents’ inability to vote them out, and the broken voting machine is emblematic of it.
The photograph of Amal Hussein, an emaciated 7-year-old Yemeni girl on the brink of death, took America by storm when it was first published in the New York Times. Its wide circulation drew long-overdue attention to Yemen’s ongoing crisis — although crisis seems too small a word for it. Famine and cholera have swept the country; as of June, one million Yemenis were infected with cholera, and 18 million don’t know where their next meal will come from. Of the country’s population of 28 million, over 22 million live in dire need of humanitarian aid. The health and survival of over 80 percent of Yemeni children are at risk. The U.N. has dubbed this catastrophe the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and potentially the worst famine the world has seen in a century if the war continues.
A few weeks ago, during a class discussion on media portrayals of archaeology, my professor questioned why films so often lacked diverse casts and dismissed a lack of demand as a possible reason, saying something to the effect of “obviously, people want more diverse films.”
A few weeks ago, in the midst of the outrage surrounding alleged rapist turned Supreme Court Justice (yes, in that order) Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, people across the country took to the streets to protest, pressure their senators to vote against him and support sexual assault survivors.