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My grandfather, known in our family as Pop-pop, left today after a two-week visit. Every year, he makes a pilgrimage to this part of the family in California, where he soaks in rays of sun that leave his pale skin riddled with basal cell carcinomas. Around twice a year he has these blemishes wiped off his body with blasts of liquid nitrogen. What is left are white scars the color of the moon.
In 1969, a famous sequoia tree’s extended life came to an end. The Wawona Tree in Yosemite National Park had been tunneled out so that cars and people could go through it. Even though sequoias are so massive and robust that boring a tunnel through their trunks is possible without killing them, the tunnels are damaging to the trees and only benefit park publicity. When the Wawona Tree was toppled by a storm, its lifespan was recorded to be “around 2,100 years.”
As anyone close to me knows, I love talking politics.
Cartoon of the day: Donald Trump's lunch of national security — featuring Vladimir Putin.
My mom vividly remembers the protests of 1989. She remembers the energy of the crowd as they chanted for the end of the communist government, young men and women like her yearning for a change, the glint of red, yellow and blue as protesters waved the Romanian flag with pride and the feeling of unity and belonging as she stood there in a crowd of thousands standing strong against a common enemy.
Boy Scouts didn’t teach me much. I remember one “fire safety” talk when my friends and I took turns using lighters to try to set each other on fire. Oh, and we condemned what we saw as the organization’s homophobia, transphobia and ingrained misogyny. But, from all the things that I was supposed to learn but made a joke of on my path to becoming an Eagle Scout, the organization’s slogan will always resonate with me: do a good turn daily.
Donald Trump is now the 45th president of the United States, inaugurated amidst considerable controversy and resistance. As the first 100 days of his presidency progress, I will personally continue to follow fervently and break down each of his decisions. To begin with, let’s discuss trade.
Like most Americans, I consider any question about seceding from the Union forever settled at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865. In my mind, the Civil War sanctified the United States as an indestructible union, one nation bound by the principles set by the Founding Fathers long ago. The fact that so many American lives were lost in the name of this ideal is a humbling one and is to this day a reminder of what we stand to lose should our Union ever be so questioned again.
This past weekend, students at the University of California, Berkeley protested “alt-right” journalist Milo Yiannopoulos’ planned talk. What began as peaceful demonstrations quickly became violent protests. A group of people — who may have been students — set fire to buildings, allegedly attacked Yiannopoulos’ supporters and advocated far-left ideas that contradict the tenets of our democracy.
The 2016 election was unprecedented. The fact that I can say “Donald Trump is the President of the United States” without being asked what I’ve been smoking is something that would have been nearly inconceivable four years ago — or one year ago. But the Democrats lost. They lost an election that very easily could have been theirs and are now faced with being the minority in the House, Senate, Executive Branch and soon the Supreme Court. Understandably, much Democratic soul-searching has occurred in recent months. Many feel a need to determine where the party failed during the 2016 cycle, and many different explanations have been floated. However, I believe it comes down to a relatively simple fact: the Democrats ran too many candidates who were old and, generally speaking, lacked charisma and a dynamic campaign presence.
Cartoon of the day: Sally Yates on her way out.
My head hurts and the endless stream of ridiculous news on the KAF television screens does not help — there is no escape, as there are two, one on either end of the room. Oh, the struggles of an Ivy League sophomore government major. I spend my days writing hackneyed emails to congressmen that are probably barely skimmed by their aides, attempt to survive my commitments and classes and stay constantly drugged up on Dayquil to combat the most recent bout of flu. I do the bare minimum politically, yet I feel incredibly tired. I know that many of you may feel the same but refuse to admit it because you do very little to advocate for your political views, too. Still, I would like to address the immovable, heavy weight some of you may carry with you.
Many contemporary Republicans — and in particular the proto-fascists in President Donald Trump’s administration who label themselves “Republicans” for no reason other than to ingratiate themselves with the current American political system — seem to chart a single-minded course pursuing what they call “national security,” or the safety of America and her citizens, and are now implementing measures ostensibly to that effect. But the safety of Americans, insofar as it means avoiding maiming or death, extends far beyond issues of immigration and terrorism. The administration’s singular focus on this issue belies its rhetoric on national security, because if it were indeed committed to the safety of American people, it would pursue other policies that it has not broached and has even actively suppressed.
On Jan. 27, President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning the admission of refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries and announced that Syrian refugees be indefinitely blocked from entry into the United States. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” Trump said during the signing. “We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.” The statement draws on a false narrative persistent through history that portrays the U.S. as a patron and refugees and immigrants as freeloaders or threats. Rather than believe this reductive narrative, we should remember the struggles of refugees relocated to the U.S.
All presidents — no matter their background and experience — are infinitely unprepared for the world’s highest office. That maxim of presidential fitness was still true when the junior senator from Illinois took office eight years ago. But former President Barack Obama inherited a Congress with a Democratic majority and a willingness to push through a progressive agenda, a willingness not fully realized since the Great Society of the 1970s.
“Isn’t it dreadful? Here we are, two officers of the German General Staff, discussing how best to murder our commander-in-chief,” said Henning von Tresckow, a major general in the Wehrmacht, as he plotted with his fellows to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This will not be a comparison of President Donald Trump to the forces von Tresckow and his contemporaries faced when they defied their government, their orders and their training as soldiers in an effort to bring about the end of Nazism. This is, however, a laudable example of the morality of government employees who stood up for their country even when it meant working against their leader.
Josh Kauderer ’19’s Jan. 27 guest column — published on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the very day that President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented executive order targeting Muslim refugees and immigrants — trades on the tired argument that criticism of Israel amounts to anti-Semitism and suggests that Jewish people are the religious group that most needs defending in today’s society. Kauderer so confuses and dilutes the meaning of anti-Semitism and what Jewish values ought to stand for that I struggle to decide where to spend my 800 words setting the record straight. However, two salient points stand out to me as most important.
Cartoon of the day: Donald Trump sweeps American democracy under the rug.