Published Opinions

Submitted from Students Worldwide

November 11, 2018

IMAGE BY YASIN AKGUL VIA THE TELEGRAPH  

Today’s current state of affairs are encompassed by a myriad of tête-à-tête between our exemplary global political leaders; think the glorious Donald Trump and the suave Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. If you open a news channel or read an article, without a doubt you’ll read something about slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi and how it serves as a threat to free speech. The story of Jamal Khashoggi embodies the issues with the Arab world’s restrictions on free speech. There is a criticism to be implied on regimes in the Middle East as they lock down academics, journalists, and anyone who does not share propaganda-ridden sentiments of said regime. Brutal dismemberment of journalists globally have been occurring for decades, on lower-scale efforts, and can extend to a wide range of intellectual thinkers who are simply doing their jobs.

The crackdown on journalists is by no means a new issue, but as the years progress, there has been an incr...

March 25, 2018

SETH HARRISON VIA THE JOURNAL NEWS

Palestinian human rights are often the subject of much contention, especially when pitting it against a background of violations complicit with Israel. Initially, I was nervous about mentioning Israel in this, or venting my frustrations about how Palestinian human rights are often regarded as “controversial” or “debatable”. But I need to ask: when did human rights become so politicized? The extent of polarity with human rights is quite alarming and unquestionably detrimental to any future progress for co-existence with Palestinians and Israelis.

As an individual growing up in Canada and learning about the atrocities First Nations tribes were subject to in Canada, I resonated with them in a way that I had never understood until speaking to the Musqueam people of Vancouver about the losses and grievances they had endured. I, as a settler, living and growing up in this privileged land, understood the suffering they had experienced, in which the audacity fo...

PHOTO VIA UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL SCHOOL

Question: What Areas of our Education Need to be Reformed Most?

Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline: Written by Alan Gao

For centuries, societies have believed in the power of education. Today, we still believe that an effective education system can solve deep-rooted societal issues, such as the cycle of poverty and overburdened prisons. This belief has translated into legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 in the United States. However, the existence of the school-to-prison pipeline seems to contradict these long-standing beliefs.

Harsh, zero-tolerance disciplinary policies that push students out of the classroom lead to an increased likelihood that misbehaving students are introduced into the criminal justice system. Many schools, especially those in urban, low-income areas, have implemented strict measures against misbehaving students, including police presence and automatic punishments. These measures have result...

DAVID CRANE VIA LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS

Question:What is the most effective way to reduce sexual violence?

Educate Everyone on the Basics: Written by Carolina Gonzalez, New York

The term sexual violence can refer to crimes such as rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, to name a few. People of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, and appearances can become victims of sexual violence. Sexual violence has become a prominent and rampant issue in our society today. Especially now that more and more individuals are opening up about their experiences with sexual violence. Even celebrities such as Kesha, Lady Gaga, Terry Crews, and Aly Raisman are opening up about their experiences with sexual violence. There are also celebrities on the other side of sexual violence crimes such as Harvey Weinstein and Melanie Martinez. Recently, it seems like a never ending amount of victims of sexual violence are telling their stories and showing other victims of sexual violence that they are not suffer...

IMAGE VIA BORGEN MAGAZINE

Question: What is the most effective means of reducing (rural) poverty?

The Case for Universal Basic Income: Written by Emma Wennberg, California

In many countries, governments have set up complicated systems to alleviate poverty, including food stamps, subsidized housing, systems of earned income tax credit (EITC), among many others. While these programs aid in poverty reduction, one of the most effective ways of alleviating poverty is deceptively simple: give every citizen a check each month.

The universal basic income (UBI), also known as the basic income or unconditional basic income, appears to be a too-simple solution to poverty in which everyone receives a no-strings-attached stipend each month. The program is also seemingly less progressive than some other poverty-reduction policies, as it is a flat income–everyone gets the same amount, independent on your earnings or other quantifiers. However, this equality in the stipend may be more politically palatabl...

PHOTO VIA GW LAW

Over the past few weeks, the Bridge the Divide community has focused on the role of religion in modern society through multiple lenses. In this room for debate, ambassadors weigh in on what they think the relationship between religion and state should be.

Question: To What Extent Should Religion Influence the State?

Secularism Should not Conflict with Freedom: written by Lucy Arundell, Australia

As the West becomes increasingly secular, discussions around the separation between religion and state have become more important. For most of human history, any kind of leadership and government has been strongly characterized by religion. The ancient Athenians created the world’s first democracy, while their leaders frequently referred to signs and portents from the gods to validate their decisions. Religion has gone hand and hand with leadership and government since the beginning of organised society. But what is the place of religion in government in our modern era?

Countries ac...

IMAGE VIA OHIO UNIVERSITY 

Every year around this time, the number of Google searches containing two words rapidly increases: cultural appropriation. It’s a topic that gets flung around intellectual groups and news stations, but whose parameters have inevitably fallen into the dust. Halloween comes, and with it arrives the barrage of headdresses, long silks, and other ethnic costuming promoted by the clothing industry. So, at what point does that little girl’s kimono become racist? She didn’t mean any harm by it, so how can she be accused of anything besides pure intentions? If we are trying to become a more evolved society of overlapping cultures, how does the celebration of one culture also attack its origins?

The answer, unwaveringly, lies in the approach, not the actions themselves. When choosing to integrate a piece of another culture into your dress or mannerisms, some will say you have to run through an evaluation of what that item or symbol may represent. Essentially, it’s the co...

IMAGE VIA REUTERS

Over the past few weeks, Bridge the Divide has turned its focus on religious divides that exist globally. In the BTD: Converge conference we ran a panel discussing different ways people are divided both between different religious groups and between religious and secular groups. As part of an ongoing attempt to increase interfaith dialogue and understanding a group of ambassadors have joined to share their thoughts and experiences regarding religion.

Christianity - Jeffrey Che, Maryland:

I believe that religion brings people together, but there is a cutoff point. Religion can help people develop morals, but when stark differences exist between people with different religious backgrounds and values, they clash and remain close minded.

Judaism - Jac Guerra, Connecticut:

My hometown, like many other southern New England areas, is mainly Catholic with a much higher concentration of Jewish representation than other areas. It wasn't until I started getting involved in media that...

October 25, 2017

HOWARD SIMMONS VIA NY DAILY NEWS

*For the protection of my friend involved in this still active and open case, their name has been changed. The name Nat was chosen as a tribute to Nat Turner, a former African American slave who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831.

As I write this, two shots have rung off just minutes ago, a helicopter has been circling overhead for ten minutes, and police cars are only now beginning to converge towards the shots. It's Friday, October the 13th, 2017.

In this part of Brooklyn, gunfire is a normal occurrence from about April until November, when the weather is the warmest and most people are outside. This area, with a population of 48,000, is covered by 3 housing projects, brownstone townhouses, and patrolled by 3 police precincts and 2 NYPD Police Service Areas (PSA)—strictly dedicated to patrolling these towering project complexes courtyards, stairwells, and rooftops with their controversial vertical patrol tactic.

This small community, however, lead...

October 19, 2017

OFFICE OF THE MINORITY LEADER VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The most recent focus of the Bridge the Divide community has been feminism and its importance across the political spectrum. In her follow-up to weeks of discussion Dalya Al Masri gives a wide range of thoughts on feminism including the real-world benefits of women in political positions, the ideological transitions between send wave and third wave feminism, the stigma towards feminism and how to stop it, and  women's rights across the globe.

The progression for women’s involvement in society has been slow and steady. Although voting rights have been established in many countries for decades, female politicians have only recently become regulars in major parties' presidential nominations. Decades of slow progress culminated last year in Hillary Clinton’s presidential nomination. Nonetheless, while women make up a quarter of state legislators in the US, the contribution of women in major political positions remain disproportionately low.

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