Bias University Teachings

Political affiliations are often a personal choice made based on an individual’s morals, trust in the government and economic situation. Many young people usually affiliate with the same party as their parents until they get to college, gain independence, and become more informed. However, numerous academic institutions that students attend are bias towards one party and do not offer students the chance to see the aspects of both platforms.

Typically, public universities tend to favor the democratic party and focus teachings around their platforms and principles, while openly showing detest towards other ideas. Even the textbooks that are used for classes explicitly favor liberal policies and frame conservative policies as shameful and egotistic. The strong-opinionated teachings that are executed at many public universities, such as UNC, are not appropriate in order to facilitate unbiased learned that leads to self-made opinions based purely on factual evidence. Even worse, students are learning to develop a hatred for not only other parties, but also those affiliated with those parties. The universities depict the Republican Party in a singular way and mislead their students into thinking that there is only one way to be a republican. They teach that there are not diversions in ideology, when in actuality, there are many degrees of republican, just as there are many degrees of being a democrat. The professors who teach in this way are limiting the minds of students and only showing them one path, when there is a magnitude of combinations of ideologies in which the students could study. Narrowing students minds to only consider one political party and directly steering them to detest other parties is limiting the minds of future generations.

Classes should not inaccurately shame other political affiliations because many students trust the learning institution whole-heartedly and will believe whatever is taught to them. Then, their opinions are based solely off of their trust of the professor and not through their own research and findings, creating naive citizens. Students should be shown an unbiased overview of party platforms along with the positions that each party takes and the moderations that are made. Students should be able to make a decision of their party individually, without feeling ashamed for what they believe to be correct. And students should not be taught that other parties are wrong, but rather to respect each person’s opinion of why they support their chosen party, even if they do not agree.

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“The Hill is Burning:” Rand Shannon’s Guide to Being a Great Congressman

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by | March 24, 2015 · 4:03 pm

Reflections on Leonard Bernstein

If you are lucky, you might get a composer with Leonard Bernstein’s popular appeal and intellectual aptitude every fifty years or so – a man with the musical skill of Herbert von Karajan, but not so much of the exclusivity and sourness that made Karajan distant and unlikeable. In fact, it is difficult to imagine how one person could contribute more to the consumption of music than did Bernstein: Aside, obviously, from his capacity as a composer, having written one of the great musicals of our time in West Side Story, Bernstein saw the importance of helping those who are otherwise non-musical to understand why it is that someone like Mozart is great, and why, exactly, Mozart’s music is foundational and intriguing. He knew, too, that the conducting profession entailed something far greater than merely touring around the world with an accomplished orchestra in order to offer respectable interpretations of the great pieces. Bernstein was great at doing just that, of course, and much more; but humans need, in some sense, to be taught, and if Bernstein excelled in anything, it was in teaching children and adults, college graduates and working men, alike, about what it means to truly appreciate music.

One of the keys to interpreting Bernstein’s career thus seems to involve the importance of music education – not just playing band in high school, or hearing a few minutes of Bach on the radio as you drive home from school, but actually studying the mechanics of music and appreciating its fruitful historical unveiling. Bernstein’s contributions to the field were invaluable, but the study of classical music remains stigmatized in twenty-first-century American culture precisely because it is seen as the stuff of snobs and cultural pedants. In light of Bernstein’s proper legacy as an educator, this development seems tragic, and I think he would be the first to point out the necessity of reaching the poor, the marginalized, and social outcasts of all sorts with the transforming power of music.

To focus on Bernstein the teacher, however, is not, by any means, to underestimate Bernstein’s eminence as a composer – nourished by his friendships with geniuses like Aaron Copland and Igor Stravinsky – evident in his musical variety and in his ability to capture in sound the mid-nineteenth-century American spirit. Though Bernstein spent much time with symphonic music in directing orchestras like the New York Philharmonic, two of his most famous works, Candide and West Side Story, were written for the stage – the latter of which brilliantly reinterprets Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet to an American audience, using jazzy sounds and dancing city slackers to tell the lovers’ story. Accordingly, it is no coincidence that we see the musical as quintessentially 1950s in its pertinent understanding of intercity ethnic conflict, but that we also acknowledge its continued relevance to the sorts of struggles characteristic of contemporary culture. As Bernstein once reflected, “I don’t get sick of [West Side Story] – that’s a sign of something fresh; I mean, it’s not fresh the way Mozart stays fresh time after time, but who’s in that class?”

Bernstein’s approach to music education can be adequately summed up by his ability to analyze with relatable language and accessible conceptual lenses the works of great composers – his knack for lecturing with passion, precision, and charisma. He never shied away from structural detail, but he also never allowed esoteric technicality to get too much in the way of his listeners’ apprehension: With regard to Beethoven’s central talents, for example, he remarks, “In Beethoven’s case, the form is all, because it is a case of what note succeeds every other note; and in Beethoven’s case it was always the right next note, as if he had his own private telephone wire to heaven …. Inevitability – that’s the word for it.” A renowned connoisseur of the inscrutable Mahler, Bernstein used the notion of inner conflict – indeed, relating it to his own life as a composer and a conductor – to explain the tensions and struggles inherent to Mahler’s glorious symphonies. And when it came to the eccentric Berlioz, he delighted in discussing the elusive, imperious idee fixe pervading the Symphonie Fantastique and lending to the psychedelic romanticism of an early-nineteenth-century work. Whenever he wanted to illustrate a point, of course, he only had to turn around and point his baton to his personal assembly of musical masters – the New York Philharmonic – to make it happen.

Bernstein even tackled such difficult subjects as the nature of American music and the many possibilities of melodic structuring in certain lectures he gave … to children! Called the Young People’s Concerts, these informative sessions brought together Bernstein’s youthfulness, his passion for people, and his musical sharpness in order to teach puerile minds all they needed to know about listening well during formal performances. In other words, he reached young people without having to use the typically frivolous shortcuts employed by disinterested adults in all venues of academic life; he taught them something they could hold on to, without pandering to them and without treating them as if they were the same age as their accompanying parents. And so it was that one of the great musical minds of the twentieth century focused on imparting his wisdom to new generations: As would any great teacher, he sought to cultivate passion for the musical traditions that Westerners continue to hold dear.

Regardless, perhaps Leonard Bernstein’s greatest legacy is not necessarily the individual impact he made in the worlds of composing, conducting, and teaching, serving as one of the definitive ambassadors of classical music to the general public in the twentieth century; perhaps his greatest legacy, rather, is the fact that when we hear the transcendental beauty and truth that good music has to offer – when we think of Beethoven’s humanness and sublimity, Mahler and his torturous complexity – we see, in part, that dignified, deep, emotional man with a cigarette in his mouth, sitting upright at a piano or on a raised platform, motivating us to understand the art with which we have been thoroughly blessed.

And for that alone, I think we are inexpressibly thankful. When Bernstein traveled to Berlin in 1989 following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the inspiring maestro decided to change the German word for joy, “Freude,” with the German word for freedom, “Freiheit,” in Beethoven’s epic final symphony. He did so because he knew as well as anyone the spiritual and even political intricacies of music’s significance to our souls: Even though he died shortly thereafter, his memory lives on just as music continues to bring beauty to the lives of the lost, changing the fortunes of kids who, instead of video-gaming or mulling about sketchy malls listlessly, are experiencing the intricate notes and delightful tones of their first melodies.

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The Danger of Cultural Relativism in our Foreign Policy

Much is being made of the letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran, warning them that any agreement reached with President Obama is not guaranteed to last past 2016, when there will be a new president in the White House. Some question the legality of this move, others its wisdom and what precedent it might set for future diplomatic negotiations with the United States. There is even a petition at whitehouse.gov calling for criminal charges against the 47, accompanied by cries of treason and claims of an “unprecedented breach of protocol.” Now, regardless of how blatantly false, mendacious, and misguided these claims are, they neglect a far more important and politically far less expedient point: what those who support the President in this endeavor to sign an agreement with Iran are missing is the absolute and utter irrationality of such a deal.

Fundamentally – for anyone to advocate a formal agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program, one has to have faith that Iran will actually comply with the agreement. Given its history of failing to do so, what makes anyone think this time will be different? What, then, is the point of such an agreement? If you have that confidence in Iran, you’re not only kidding yourself, but you’re also putting millions of lives at risk (unless the goal is to lure them into some false sense of security and then catch them “red-handed”).

Others argue that “Iran has every right to nuclear capability” and ask, “who are we to deny them this right?” At its vey core, such a statement is rooted in a cultural relativist worldview. In other words, one has to wholeheartedly believe that nothing separates Iran from the United States, that our differences are merely “matters of perspective,” and that we, as the United States, “have no right to deny them” nuclear power or nuclear weapons. It is a worldview, a belief system that completely abdicates any notion of right or wrong and chalks up all such characterizations to “difference” and mere matters of opinion.

But if you live in the real world, you will realize that Iran is an unadulterated evil. Its leaders are hateful, cruel, and ruthless madmen who have repeatedly expressed their desire and intentions to exterminate both Israel, the United States, and all the Jews of the world. It is a state riddled with absolute contempt for the West. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to posit that many of its people feel similarly. Iran is dangerous and simply has not proven itself to be a reasonable, responsible, peace-seeking member of the global community. This is why Iran does not have any sort of “right” to nuclear weapons.

What makes us different –  what makes us deserving of having nuclear power? Our civility, our common sense, our compassion,  our preference for peace, harmony, democracy as opposed to fanatical war and destruction, and our institutions and Constitutional foundation. It is impossible to equate these two sets of characteristics and it is because of this that Iran simply does not “deserve” to have nuclear weapons (of course, ideally, there would be no nuclear weapons at all in the world, but that’s utopian).

And finally, if my claim that the United States is deserving while Iran is not offends you and makes you want to cry out that we as a nation are merely “different,” I invite you to go live in one of these countries (Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, etc.) that is merely “different” from ours for a year and to report back to us how “different” those experiences of yours were.

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Stop Belittling Religion!

Religion is a positive influence on a person. It brings good morals, guidance, structure and peace of mind to daily life. Different religions differ in morals and some are more extreme than others, but most have good intentions. Some moral decisions play a part in politics, an aspect of life that has become increasingly stifling toward religious opinions. People are made to feel bad about their religious beliefs if they are contrary to popular opinion, calling into question our respect for the First Amendment.

The fundamentals of most religions teach right from wrong, which is an important concept for each and every person to understand. That does not mean that one must be religious to understand right from wrong, but without the structured learning of these morals, there might never be the chance to learn. America was founded on Christian principles, but lately it seems to be encouraging the suppression of public acts of religion. The general discouragement of religious practices in public places is increasing, as is the lack of morality in our society.  Some are teased or scorned for their religious beliefs. Within politics, conservatives tend to be more religious than liberals. Some liberals have used that as a weapon against the generally conservative Republican party when, in reality, it should be an advantage. Many people are passionate about their religion and find it important to uphold their religion’s standards. Everyone else should respect that. Our country is avid about accepting people from all different backgrounds based on race, but we should expand that to accepting them for their religion, and not shaming them or belittling their beliefs.

As a society, we focus more on what the media tells us is right than we focus on basic readings of principle, like the Bible. Hardly anyone questions the media’s judgment about everyday occurrences, which in light of recent events we know that there are many cases of false reporting, yet basic principles that teach good morals are scrutinized.  As a country, we should be supportive of each other’s religions. It should not be used as a way to discredit someone’s opinions if it is based off of their religion.

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The Philosophical Inconsistenty of Race-Baiting Liberals

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, Utah Representative Mia Love, and retired pediatric neurosurgeon and GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson – what do these three established individuals have in common? Well, they’re all black conservatives. They’ve also been labeled “tokens” and “Uncle Toms” by a vast array of liberals and progressives who refuse to recant the accusation that conservatives and Republicans are, generally speaking, racist. What this effectively does is rob these wonderful people of their dignity and of their independence while simultaneously calling into question their intelligence and their integrity. Yet, even though these insults are fundamentally rooted in Scott’s, Love’s, and Carson’s race, no one ever accuses these liberals and progressives of being racist.

It is interesting, then, that when conservatives criticize a liberal black man or woman for their decisions, opinions, or policies, you can always hear murmurs (or very often, outright cries) of racism, or at least people openly entertaining the idea that “race probably plays a role here.” This is simply assumed as a matter of course.

What this sort of double-standard really comes down to is a form of prejudice against conservatives. It seems that a lot of people operate under the assumption that if someone is racist, they must be conservative, that, generally speaking, only conservatives can be racist. This is a judgment, an assumption that is made about conservatives.

It is striking that this particular type of judgment, this assumption based on political ideology, doesn’t bother liberals. After all, people make these “judgments” and “assumptions” based on skin color as well, and this has race-baiters (who are, without seeking to speak divisively, largely liberal) like Al Sharpton crying racism 24/7.

In effect, what liberals who assume racist motives among conservatives are doing is the same thing police officers sometimes do when they encounter a group of, for instance, young black males in a suspicious situation. In this instance, the police might make a judgment, an assumption (voluntarily or involuntarily) that, based on previous experience or because young black males commit a disproportionate number of crimes, these young black males they’ve encountered in a situation must be committing some sort of crime – regardless of whether this is actually the case. It’s an assumption, a judgment that is made (again, voluntarily or involuntarily) based, superficially, on the young men’s race.

Similarly, to get back to the original thought: liberals make assumptions and judgments about conservatives. The assumption/judgment becomes about ideology instead of race, but it remains an assumption and a judgment, so it’s operating using precisely the same principle.

Thus, to bring this full circle: race-baiting liberals who are constantly and without real cause accusing conservatives of racism are doing the exact same thing they criticize in others. They chide police officers for making assumptions based on a set of perceived experiences and call them racist, but then they go around and make the same assumptions about conservatives.

Ultimately, the point of this post is not to pompously declare that we must totally disallow assumption-making. That isn’t a reasonable proposition because we’re all human, and we all make assumptions and pronounce judgments (voluntarily and involuntarily) every time we assemble a thought. What we should strive for, however, is to encourage people to look past their assumptions and make a concerted effort to become more open-minded, so that given the time to contemplate an issue, we are not speaking or making decisions BASED ON those assumptions.

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DHS Funding and Politics

While I generally consider myself a proud Republican – and while I almost always defend both the tactics and policies of the Republicans Party whenever necessary – I very much dislike the idiotic political strategy congressional Republicans have been attempting to use with regard to funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over the past few weeks. In short, House Republicans passed a bill that ties together a challenge to President Obama’s “executive amnesty” with money for the DHS, such that if a Democrat wishes to vote in favor of providing the necessary funding for that particular department, he or she must also make an indirect show of opposition toward the President’s immigration policy. The bill ended up passing the House easily, but was held up in the Senate due to Democrats’ obvious uneasiness with regard to its ridiculous stipulations. As an ultimate result, Senate Majority Leader McConnell has been forced to reject or separate the bill lest Republicans come across as if they are opposed to public, domestic safety. In other words, this was a losing proposition for Republicans, no matter how you look at it.

In my view, President Obama’s use of executive fiat to essentially change immigration law constitutes an egregious violation of the separation of powers, and I have made this clear on multiple occasions; however, I cannot support, nor understand, a political move which not only ends up making Republicans look stupid, but which also challenges the President’s policy in an entirely inappropriate manner.

It simply is not fair for either party to tie two disparate pieces of potential legislation – in this case, funding for DHS and a challenge of “executive amnesty” – into one bill, and then cry foul when the other party does not want to vote on it. Obviously, Republicans were trying to force Democrats into making a politically unsavory move, but the end result has been its backfiring on Republicans who look like political craftsmen instead of sincere legislators with honest and well-reasoned issues with overreach from the executive branch. Once more, Congressional Republicans show themselves to be political novices. Their messaging abilities are insufficient to clear the air once they so flippantly fail at passing a piece of legislation through a congress that they, ironically, control.

Thus, I can once again point to the inefficacies of politics, the processes of which are frustrating, arduous, and often perverse. Legislative and government gridlock, according to the original designation of the American system, are not horrific outcomes; rather, they serve to illustrate why bureaucracy must get out of our lives in as complete a manner as possible – because it is so inept in answering the issues we face as citizens that it manages to profoundly complicate, burden, and stifle the marketplaces, programs, and activities that we freely create. Stumbling back to their districts, breathless from all the lies and half-truths they’ve been propagating, slobbering over their own electoral futures, do legislators honestly expect that voters will end up allowing them to continue on with their fatuous regulations and their pernicious revocations of our fundamental rights?

Indeed, they do. They do so because the Left has made it politically expedient to scale back our private liberty and flexibility under the false guise of a deceptive egalitarian ideal. So while I may express utter frustration with the political ineptitude of the Republican Party, you better believe that I will continue to support it in fighting the illiberalism of the modern Left.

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