A Nobel Winner?

Posted October 11, 2009 by Amy
Categories: Uncategorized

It’s 2009. We have three years until the world might end– and frankly, it is quite possible. We’re polluting our own atmosphere, the West is at war with the East, the East is at war with itself, thousands die everyday from malnutrition and underdeveloped living conditions. I really don’t know what else could go wrong. And to be quite honest, we are so far into destroying the earth as well as each other, it seems impossible to ever fix these things.

But President Barack Obama has hope. (Slogan pun intended.) He won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Hey, I was just like most of you a couple days ago: “What has he even done?!” But, I have done some reflecting, and now, think otherwise.

As a college student, the longing for intellectual development and elitist information floods my mind everyday. My sole purpose, as an employee to the education system is to learn, and hopefully prevent ignorance through knowledge. I am a force for the future. At least that’s what they say.

Because of such, it is only mandatory that I accept President Obama’s new award with an open heart and a congratulatory welcome. He has epitomized what us college students are trying to do, according to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.

The committee said in its four-paragraph statement issued with the delivery of the prize, that President Obama was rewarded “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” He is even stated to have “created a new climate in international politics.” Let me tell you, it’s true!

I recently returned home to the States in May after spending almost six months abroad. My spring semester of 2009 was amazing, and I have never changed more. I am very grateful I was able to travel like I did, and will forever be indebted to all those who supported me in my journey. But it was there that I saw firsthand just how fucked up Bush left our reputation overseas. After the initial question of where I was from, “America,” I responded gleefully, came the inevitable, “How do you like Obama?” Shocked, I answered that I liked him very much, and was excited to see what he could do the first months in office. This is where things get tricky. I was overseas during this crucial newborn time, and most of you, were not. Here in the States, Obama was criticized and put to a timer: “When will he fix this? When will he fix that?” I, however, was with the Europeans, observing him from afar, and loving it. They most always said that they liked him as well, and was excited to see America get back to its feet.

Now, ten months into his term, we have seen even more impatience on home soil, demanding that this “superhero” we elected get down to business. Well, I have news for you, he is. And it is outrageous for us to ask him to go any quicker when our population stood and watched President Bush ruin our country for 8 long years. Unfair, to say the least.

President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize not for what he has done; I know, I know, Guantanamo is still up, the war is still active, Health Care Bill isn’t passed, and Palestine and Israel are at each other’s throats. I get it.

But, President Obama received this award because of the his groundbreaking public policy practices. He lives with hope for peace and world order, supports discussions, not violence, takes interest in climate change, and dreams for a world without nuclear weapons. It is this mindset that won him an award. He is seen as an innovator, a role model, and already someone of historic value. These peaceful practices are things that can only help our county and duty to others as a world superpower.

As a student, if we are not to learn our history, and grow from it, only ignorance can resonate. We should believe only in peace. We should support others who do, as well. And who better to support than our active in-office president?

We should look at this award as not a symbol of what he hasn’t yet accomplished, but what time, like the next three years in office, could do. It took president Bush eight years to ruin international confidence in America, and it has only taken 10 months for Obama to regain it and be rewarded by a peace committee based in Norway. Mind you, he is only the third sitting president to receive it. I think, for once, peace is talking.


Would you like some Freedom Fries with that McDemocracy?

Posted October 11, 2009 by Attaul
Categories: Uncategorized

It certainly is not uncommon to hear of high-ranking policy makers in Washington (among other places) articulating their views on transforming the political, social and economic landscape of the Middle East. What our leaders and their intellectual backscratchers fail to see, however, is that ancient and indigenous civilizations and multifarious peoples cannot so easily be shaken up like marbles in a jar.

I have a great deal of admiration for the abilities of those in that region- the Middle East and bordering areas who unfalteringly continue to resist and fight for their individual autonomy, right to self-determination, overarching perspective of who they are and what they would like to be.

In recent years, there has been such an enormous and calculatedly antagonistic assault on contemporary Arab and Muslim societies, apparently for their backwardness, dearth of democracy, and annulment of women’s rights. The reality is that such notions as modernity, enlightenment and democracy are not simple agreed-upon theories (owing much to the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of ‘enlightenment’ or ‘modernity,’ nor is the concept of democracy universally accepted) that one finds like Easter eggs in the living room appears to have been forgotten by a great deal of people.

The incredible insensibility of insipid “experts” who attempt to converse in the language of foreign policy yet have no genuine knowledge of the language real people actually speak has engineered an illusory acrid landscape at long last ready and yearning for the American model of free market “democracy.” One needs not to be able to speak Farsi or Arabic to evangelize that the “democracy domino effect” is exactly what the Arab world needs.

It is no question that there exists a difference between the knowledge of other societies and eras that comes about as a result of careful understanding, examination and study for their own sakes and a knowledge that seeks shameless self-validation. That there is a deep distinction between the will to comprehend for the purpose of co-existence and broadening of perspectives and the will to comprehend for the sole purpose of domination is self-evident as well. It truly ranks as one of the utmost intellectual catastrophes of history that an imperialist war developed by a splinter of unelected US officials was put into effect against a distraught Third World dictatorship on nothing more than meticulous dogmatic justifications dealing with scant resources, security and world domination.

One only needs to walk into a bookstore to come across manuscripts crying the link between Islam and terror; Islam exposed; the Arab peril and the Muslim menace- each written by political sophists claiming to possess marvelous knowledge and who have presumably infiltrated deep into the heart of these strange Oriental people. Leading the war-mongering effort are the major news outlets and publications, all of them doing nothing more than regurgitating the same centuries-old drivel, unverifiable fables and gross oversimplifications in the effort to whisk together Americans’ anxieties and fears against the foreign devils.

Had there not been an extremely regimented conviction that this group of people over there were nothing like “us” and didn’t appreciate “our” values and thus wanted to destroy us- the Iraq war would never have occurred in the first place. Thus, from the same pool of professional scholars recruited by the British conquerors in Egypt and India, the French colonialists of Indochina and North Africa and the Dutch imperialists of Malaysia and Indonesia came the advisors to the Pentagon and White House. These modern “scholars,” recruited by American leadership formulaically utilized the same rationalizations for aggression, the same age-old clichés, and the same debasing stereotypes as their colonial predecessors.

In its officially proffered statements of dialogue, every single empire that has ever existed has explicitly made the case that it is not at all comparable to its contemporaries or predecessors, that its underlying circumstances are extraordinary, that it has a task to enlighten, liberate, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that coercion is only used as an act of last resort. What is still sadder though, is that there always is a healthy choir of enthusiastic intellectuals who are more than happy to speak calming words about benevolent or altruistic empires.

Let us not forget the fact that a credible link between Iraq and Al Qaeda was never established. Our sole reason for invading Iraq was to topple a dictator- yet another textbook example of the West “straightening the crooked timber” of the East.

A final point I would like to stress and which really is what I’m trying to make the case for is that no matter what ideas or ideology are deemed “objectively right”, Middle Easterners are humans who have just as much the ability and right to determine their future as anyone else and it’s fundamentally racist even to feel the responsibility to “correct” their path.

Religion or Civilization: Why Democrats should support the war in the Middle East.

Posted October 6, 2009 by markolepeterson
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

islam1In 2003, when US marines first invaded Iraq,   I looked on with familiar sadness as death and destruction were brought to me live via CNN, Fox Noise, MSNBC and others. At the time I thought the old PBS line  “This program is made possible with support from viewers like you,” should be shown as  fitting reminder to the American people that each  of us were morally responsible for suffering caused by the actions of our military, and that by being apathetic or voting for a hawkish pro-war Republican we were saying that the cause of wrenching Iraq from the hands of a brutal , rogue dictator was worth the price it would be paid in human tragedy; that above  the scars of war ten, fifteen, or thirty years from now a beautiful civilization would spring forth once again between the Tigris and Euphrates and that this would be worth the fatherless children, amputated lives, and bitter hatred toward the sources of that  anguish. Feeling that such a radical social transformation was not possible I opposed the war with a deep indignance, considering it to be the Vietnam of my generation.

Five and 1/2 years later with extremist violence in Iraq still on-going and U.S. withdrawal sure to leave an explosive power vacuum we must ask ourselves that same moral question that we did in Vietnam. Now that we have come to set the stage for Iraqi westernization, how are we to act if our leaving will eventually mean that over 700,000 people, and a handful of American soldiers in comparison  have died as a direct result of our invasion. As Sen. John Kerry so wisely put in his youth ” how do we ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam.”  Are we to let so many Iraqis die by our hands in vain? How will history judge us if we do not continue fight this fight, more importantly, what will be our history?

Let us make no mistake, the gauntlet is off and there is no going back. It is not unreasonable to say that the scourge of Islamic extremism is now an ever present danger in every nation on Earth. At the heart of this campaign is dark form of cultural and religious extremism equivalent to the Catholics during the crusades and the National Socialism of the early 20th century. Radical Islam yearns for world domination and the imposition of wacky religious laws that are based on twisted distortions of the Quran. They feed of of the economic stagnation of many Middle Eastern countries to breed hatred toward Israel and the West. We must push forward with all we have or not push at all. The Islamic extremists are right about one thing, there is a conspiracy to secularize the Middle East and to subvert Islamic theocracies, and I think it’s about time all Democrats got on board. Barack Obama and his army of lets-all-just-respect-each other-and-talkocrats need to buck up and defend the fort.  If sending in 40000 more US troops into Pakistan and Afghanistan means that we make headway against the rising tide of Islamic Extremism, then I say that this is a moral cause not unlike fighting Hitler during WWII, or with  much irony, Catholics during the crusades. While we are there, perhaps we can pass out copies of  The Origin of Species.

A friend and fellow Democrat told me something promising today over lunch, he said that when he goes home to visit his cousins in Pakistan, he finds that more and more of the people around him are Atheists.  Rejection of religion is the only rational insight to have when you see hoards  of barbarians blowing themselves up in the name of some socially reproduced  delusion called “god,”  or in Arabic “Allah.”

The question one must ask him or herself  when considering  whether the U.S. involvement is warranted must go beyond pretensions of pacifism, or blind faith in the milk of human kindness. The question is one of a combination of ethical judgment in the spirit of Jeremy Bentham, and practical wisdom of Winston Churchill. Bentham argued that “that which is ethical  minimizes pain and maximizes pleasure for the largest number of people.”  Churchill continuously warned British prime minister Neville Chamberlain of the danger the rise of National Socialism posed to Europe and the world many years before  the ruthless Hitler violated the Warsaw pact by annexing Czechoslovakia. If Chamberlain and the isolationist United States had heeded his call for action the world could very well have avoided a long and brutal war which caused human suffering on a truly unimaginable level. Alas, this is the argument for the neoconservative doctrine of  pre-emption, a dangerous ideology which must measure the need for intervention with the imagined need for intervention, or the call for war in the name of military-industrial, or other economic reasons.

As this doctrine is dangerous to our democracy, and yet still the threat that militant Islam poses to the world is very real and very frightening, we must point to  the larger philosophical driver for the reproduction of militant Islam in the first place- religion. It is without hesitation that all of us, in good conscience and clear thought , cannot deny that at the heart of this conflict is human religiosity and that it should be fitting that  the place where the three major world religions were born is also the place that they should die.  Now this sounds harsh to the cultural and moral relativist ear of the average Democrat,  but we must remain objective and realistic about what drives , and has been the driving factor behind the scourge of war throughout human history.  Behind nearly every dark story of the suffering of war is a leader or movement which claims to be divinely ordained. Hitler claimed to have been acting under the authority of an Aryan Jesus, and even visited the head of the Palestinian army before embarking on a brutal campaign of ethnic genocide.  Mahmood Amadinejad and his theocratic overlords have repeatedly claimed divine authority in their campaign to engage in a proxy war using the Palestinian  PLO and Hamas as fronts. In WW II we had emperor Hirohito of Japan, who claimed divinity by inheritance. In Ireland we have Protestants and Catholics, in the Middle east we have Shia and Sunni. When confronted with proof of evil in tangible human suffering throughout modern history, religion answers back with nothing but dangerous superstition. It is time to wrestle our world from the hands of myths wrought in human fear. Religion is the poison which allows otherwise moral and decent people to be manipulated into purveyors of the inhumane.  And if we oppose the war in the Middle East because we are disgusted by the  endless parade of human suffering we must also oppose the core ideology which  begot  its existence.  Thus as a Democrats , We should support  the war because occupying the middle east, and installing leaders who support our interests will help facilitate the spread of  western secularism to the Middle East, which will serve as an antidote to the emergence of dangerous Islamic Theocrats, and Caliphate ideology in the future. In short, the less religion is accepted in the  Middle East, the more stable, prosperous, and peaceful it will be.

Democrats have too long  straddled the fence on this all-too-important issue, we have walked softly and now it is time to show those lunatics just how big our stick really is. Barack Obama should follow the advice of his Pentagon advisors and send in more ground support. And you, as a Democrat, and especially as an Athiest or Agnostic Democrat should stand in full support, sad that while we are temporarily increasing human misery,  in the end it will serve as a great first step toward a New World Order in which religion will be considered as quaint as burning witches. Over and Out.

Respect for Rationality largely missing from US political mainstream

Posted September 27, 2009 by markolepeterson
Categories: Corruption, Foreign Policy, Legal, NYC Politics, something that makes me mad, stupid, Television, Uncategorized, United States President

Tags: , , , ,

BehindTheScenesGlennBeck.flv Every night the eternal political soap opera machine whirs into action. Millions of Americans , filled with human hopes, and fears, and too often an acute disdain for rationality sit neutrally before their telescreens, waiting to be programmed. Enter Glenn Beck, enter Keith Olbermann, enter the era of postmodern journalism.

In a country farmhouse in rural Iowa, a man fearful of the sexualization of everyday life tunes into Bill O’Reily of Fox news, because his appeal to the moral climate of  small town christian culture is in keeping with his own. Satisfied and vindicated at hearing the “Hollywood left” chastised and villanized, he says a prayer for his family and his crops and his country at war and falls peacefully asleep.

In a Lower East Side flat, 20 minutes from the center of the media universe,  a hysterical laughter echoes through the cramped living room of a young NYU graduate student offended and demoralized by what he sees as an attack on rationality, freedom of expression, and truth. Keith Olbermann’s witty characterizations of Bill O’Reilly are to him a humorous transfusion of  rational blood into the toxic, hostile, irrational climate of American politics.

Somewhere in Georgia, an unemployed former machinist-turned militia member polishes his prized possession—a scoped M14 assault rifle passed to him through the generations. But this instrument of violence is not the only thing passed down to him from his predecessors. On a small, color television in the corner of his garage, the Aryan features of Glenn Beck maniacally oscillate from unmitigated rage to tears of defeat as the drama of American racism marches on.

A young man sits in Jamaica Queens, writing a blog for his college’s Democratic organization wondering how it is that his nation’s major source of information became an incessant middle school shouting match complete with name-calling, gossip, and intense clannishness.

It is clear that modern media had always been distorted, manipulated and influenced by economic and political elites for the purposes of social control, value impregnation, and economic gain. But the postmodern media is something even more sinister than the belated objectives of social engineering.

The main function of  modern US political media is to serve as a distraction from the realities of the political questions of our times. By turning the objective into the interpretive, fact into opinion, and distortions into topics for serious consideration we get a country where  millions of citizens seriously debate whether public health care could lead to death panels, or health insurance for illegal immigrants,  or socialized everything. This “debate”  over misinformation distracts people from serious critical questions  about American democracy and balancing the need for free-enterprise with answering the moral call to ease  human suffering.

Our irrational media has allowed irrationality into the mainstream, if only because irrational, faith-driven people are easier to herd than a questioning, skeptical populace. Why is it that in a country where 40% of the population identifies as Athiest or Agnostic that presidential candidates, if not all candidates are terrified to admit they do not “believe in God,”  which is a striking difference to most industrialized democracies with the exception of  Ireland and Italy. So who is speaking for us, the real outcasts of the American political mainstream?   Who will speak for us?

Candidate Forums at St. John’s

Posted September 2, 2009 by thomasolik
Categories: Uncategorized

As Part of St. John’s “Participate in ’09/ Queens Courier Candidate Forums”
St. John’s University Queens campus will host the following events:
City Comptroller Candidate Forum
Thursday, September 3, 7 p.m.
Public Advocate Candidate Forum
Thursday, September 10, 7 p.m.
Come Join Us for Two Nights of Discussion on the Issues  
Both events are held in the Belson Moot Courtroom (Law School) and are open to the general public.  
For more details on these events, visit the University’s Web site at: http://www.stjohns.edu/participatein09 
For More Information, please contact:
Thomas Olik; 646-331-3628

Obama Pushes for Improved US-Mideast relations in Historic Speech

Posted June 5, 2009 by markolepeterson
Categories: Uncategorized

This past Thursday, at approximately 1:30 pm Cairo time President Barack Obama achieved something no other president before him ever did. In a speech directed at healing relations between the US and the Muslim world, Obama  quoted the Koran on several occasions, calling it “holy”  and showing respect for Islam by saying “may peace be upon them” when speaking of Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammad.

Obama touched upon many points , including Muslim extremisim, Women’s Rights,  and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however the center of his message was clear: The  United States is open for dialogue between nations so long as they are democratic, peaceful, and do no harm to their citizens.  Furthermore, he made a clear distinction between the vast majority of middle-eastern Muslims who seek peaceful discourse, and the “small but potent” minority of violent extremists who have sought to exploit them.

“The sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions if Islam.”  he explained,  “Violent extremists have exploited these tensions.”

Student Government Endorsement

Posted March 6, 2009 by nickroloson
Categories: Uncategorized

In times of great growth for our organization, leadership is critical to our sustained expansion on campus. From Participate ’08, to the election of Barack Obama, and now looking forward to our state-wide convention, our organization has developed much more than I ever could have imagined. Now, as I hand our organization over to a new executive board, I know that we need good leaders both in our organization, as well as in Student Government. Student Government has proved to be a great asset to us, but has also created several challenges. We need to a Student Government who can work with our new executive board; who can talk with us and not at us. It is under this principle that we proudly support P.R.I.D.E. for the 2009 Student Government Elections. After a stellar debate performance last night, the P.R.I.D.E. ticket exemplified the personal leadership we need. With a platform, creating a new liaison program putting the floor representatives to work, and creating an “Organization of the Month” program to provide an incentive for extraordinary organizational performance, we believe that the P.R.I.D.E. ticket will best serve the student organizations and the entire student body.


We are the College Democrats and we have PRIDE.


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For more information:

Email sgipride@gmail.com


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