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cpr

dec 08

staff

Editor-in-Chief Art Editor Campus Editors


Karen Leung Stacy Chu Erin Conway
Kati Fossett
Publisher Design Editors Sophia Merkin
Sajaa Ahmed Sarah Cohler
Charles E. T. Roberts Poll Analyst
Managing Editors Nicolas Alvear
Sara Doskow Ideas Editors
Sara Vogel Kabita Parajuli Business Managers
David Zhou Alex Frouman
Managing Editor Max Mogensen
of Special Projects Outreach Editors
Eric Lukas Devon Galloway Fact-checking Team
Maisha Rashid Arun Gollakata
Senior Editors Tiffany Tang Adam Kuerbitz
Ayla Bonfiglio Caitlyn Malcynsky
Catherine Chong Head Copy Editor
Ian Crone Annie Ma
Jamie Kessler
Ben Small

 Columbia Political Review | cpreview.org


Political Bodies
POLITICAL BODIES

DAVID ZHOU 5 Anti-violence and Consent Culture


The movement and the message

SUSANNA O’KULA 8 The Politics of Politeness


Interview with Professor Jenny Davidson

contents
DAVID BERKE 10 The (New York) State of Sex
Same-sex marriage, abortion law,
and Democratic control

The Exposé Became the Cover-Up


LANE SELL 12 Review of Standard Operating Procedure

AVRAM SAND
14 Earl Hall, Politicized
Faith and politics on campus

Between the Trenches


J. BRYAN LOWDER
16 NROTC, queer identity,
and the soul of a university

FEATURES
NICK KELLY 21 Service and the State, Post-2008
Citizenship in the American intellectual tradition

IAN CRONE 24 Surfing the Seven Torrents


Piracy and property in the 21st century

Mad Cow Infodemic


ADOREE KIM 26 An excess of democracy in South Korean
cyberspace

REBEKAH KIM COVER ART


Stars, Stripes, and Rainbows
Ink and Photoshop

December | Columbia Political Review 


EDITOR’S NOTE

POLITICAL BODIES
DECEMBER 2008

At the Columbia Political Review, we don’t want


to be swill merchants. Our project? A journal-
ism of ideas. And yet this issue’s theme, POLIT-
ICAL BODIES, points not to airy ideas, but to life
New, web-only content
at its dirtiest and most material. But insisting on
the body is one way of approaching the mission
at cpreview.org
of this humble rag: cracking open the notion of
what the “political” might be. We want to suggest [+] Ben Small on the mythical water wars
that politics happens on the level of the body as
much as on the level of ideas-that discourse mat- [+] political cartoons by Igor Simic
ters to life as we feel and sense it. And so, Da-
vid Zhou probes both the ideals and the physical [+] visit cubpub.org, the blog of the
facts at the heart of campus consent culture (p.
5). Susanna O’Kula interviews Professor Jenny Da-
Columbia Political Union
vidson on “breeding,” politeness, and their rela-
tion to politics, showing how the novel of man- [+] e-mail cpureview@columbia.edu to
ners can confront the modern world (p. 8). David join our mailing list
Berke reports on the post-election future of New
York state sex law (p. 10). And in the cover story,
J. Bryan Lowder thinks about the difficult position
of queer students in the debate over the return
of the Naval ROTC to Columbia’s campus, tracing
sexual identity politics to a contest over the Uni-
versity’s character (p. 16).

It would be a mistake to think that ideas can’t be


made flesh.

Karen Leung

 Columbia Political Review | cpreview.org


Anti-violence and
Consent Culture
The movement and the message
David Zhou

statistics. Sexual violence seemed an issue do not happen with a stranger in a dark al-

W
e take as given the idea that
most people at Columbia larger than the university itself, so preven- ley. Many victims are men. Assault doesn’t
strive for healthy and con- tion would have to be similarly expansive. need to be forceful. Everyone has seen the
sensual sexual relationships After all, one of the first things we were “consent is sexy” campaign, but surprising-
in whatever form they might told was that work done on an interper- ly few know the meaning of the broader
take—casual, committed, maybe even im- sonal level here can change the culture of anti-violence movement that produced it.
pulsive. Sexual assault is bad; this seems a community, which can then change an When the consequences of sexual vi-
pretty self-evident. As idealistic and com- institution, which can influence a nation. olence are so real, many wonder why the
passionate people, we would therefore Apparently, all of this can be done at Co- language of anti-violence is deployed so
seek to minimize sexual violence wherev- lumbia. abstractly. After all, what is consent? How
er it might occur. Even if new students left these work- broadly can one speak of “anti-violence”
shops with a fresh understanding in the first place? Simultaneous agree-
of sexual assault, I think they often ment between partners and the absence
missed these larger implications. of emotional and physical trauma are
They may not know that University just the obvious qualifiers. Even for those
It’s important not to get programming regarding sexual
violence is matched by few other
working to prevent sexual assault, there
is no definitive answer to these ques-
too theoretical when institutions. And students may
regard NSOP consent workshops
tions, and perhaps there isn’t meant to
be. To me, what these programs and cam-
paigns ultimately seek to communicate is
speaking of as a necessary chore, like seeing
one’s advisor, but fail to appre- not how to avoid rape charges, but how
ciate that even this basic aware- to treat partners better. Perhaps then, stu-
anti-violence through ness-building is backed by deep- dents could get past the technicalities of
er principles connected to gender rape and consent’s definitions, and begin
social change. studies and grassroots activism. to investigate why discussing these seem-
ingly vague topics is so interesting and
One’s mere participation can be
a political act. crucial on a university campus.
Yet, it’s important not to get too Under Health Services at Columbia, the
theoretical when speaking of “chang- office of the Sexual Violence Prevention
With these rather simple intentions, I ing a culture of violence.” The real- & Response Program (SVPRP) oversees all
signed up to facilitate a workshop on sex- ities of sexual violence in college life are programs pertaining to education, includ-
ual consent for the New Student Orienta- harsh. An estimated one in four undergrad- ing the NSOP workshops, and advocacy
tion Program (NSOP) this year. My job, I uate women experiences sexual assault at for survivors of sexual assault. Also a men-
thought, would be making sure that incom- some point in her college career. One in 16 tor to student organizations concerned
ing students entered college life aware of college men admits to acts that qualify as with sexual violence, SVPRP is very much
the changing social rules for sexual con- rape; of that number, 63 percent have com- at the center of the anti-violence work on
duct. Perhaps these conversations would mitted multiple (on average, four) rapes. campus. Under SVPRP are programs co-
help prevent violence as well as educate Sexual violence is not limited to rape. 42.5 ordinated by staff administrators, like the
on sexual assault. percent of college women who have been Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center
Not until the training for NSOP facilita- stalked were stalked by an ex-boyfriend. (RC/AVSC) and the Men’s Peer Education
tors did I realize how deeply political and Two Columbia undergraduates have been Program. But not until 2004 did SVPRP be-
philosophically expansive the program ac- murdered by their partners in the past de- come the cohesive umbrella body of pro-
tually was. We spent more time discussing cade. grams that it is today.
the impacts of homophobia, masculinity And widespread misconceptions lie just Student demands originally made in
and gender norms than reviewing assault beneath this data’s exterior. Most incidents the 1980s called for peer counseling and

December | Columbia Political Review 


support for sexual assault survivors, yield- ing people’s attitudes about gen-
ing the creation of the RC/AVSC, where der and masculinity. In essence,
peer staffers can advise walk-in appoin- primary prevention of sexual vi-
tees and take hotline calls. The student olence demands deep-rooted Only a shift in the
demands made to the university admin- cultural change.
istration were not so different from the This task is less tangi- cultural standards for
methods leading up to the student strikes ble—and more challenging—
of 1968 and 2007. They coincided with a than that of improving phys- masculinity could create
growing nationwide awareness of sexual ical safety, which leads us to
violence and the institutional steps neces- ask why fundamental cultural an environment that
sary to combat it. Subsequently, students change is necessary. Michael
and faculty fought for a university sexu- Williams (CC ’10), a junior in- actively rejects violence
al assault policy, staff advisors to the RC/ volved with the Men’s Peer
AVSC, and 24-hour advocates to respond Education Program, puts it this before it even occurs.
to sexual assault. During the mid-1990s, way: “It’s frustrating when you
a full-time staff coordinator was added to see people…discussing how they
the program, and SVPRP was integrated ‘bagged some chick last night’…It’s
into the university. really about getting people excit- to raise awareness about sexual assault.
SVPRP director Karen Singleton was ed about discussing things from more con- Working from an international model of
one of the students who fought for the structive angles.” Only a shift in the cultur- public protest against crimes upon women,
creation of these programs in the 80s. al standards for masculine behavior could the group will hold its twenty-first annual
Following her internship as a counselor create an environment that begins active- march in the spring. The march takes place
at what was then Columbia’s Rape Crisis ly rejecting violence before it even occurs. in cities and college campuses around the
Center in the 90s, she pursued a graduate Prevention methods that don’t seek cultur- world in similar forms. Take Back the Night
degree in clinical psychology and, seeing al change, as Bello explains, would only be also organizes other awareness-raising ac-
work still to be done, returned to Colum- “servicing the crisis.” tivities, including Bar Night, during which
bia. What’s more, Singleton’s colleagues Some may not see the need for discus- they speak to bar patrons about how alco-
mirror her connection to activism and so- sions about the causes of sexual violence hol and violence can coincide.
cial justice movements. For instance, pro- to stay as abstract as they are. Masculini- “It’s jointly a space for protest and rais-
gram coordinator Asere Bello has a history ty, for one, is a very broad topic. The fact ing awareness and a space for survivors,”
of community organizing, with keen in- is that while assault happens to both men says Take Back the Night co-coordinator
terests in improving conditions from the and women, the vast majority of perpe- Linnea Hincks (CC ’10). According to Hincks,
grassroots. Considering SVPRP’s on-the- trators are male, making sexual assault a who attended her first Take Back the Night
ground approach to combating sexual as- deeply gendered crime. In preventing as- march in Stockholm when she was 13, the
sault, such a background is enormously sault, it may be more helpful to probe how organization rarely focuses on risk reduc-
practical even on the administrative level. it is engendered in expressions of mascu- tion strategies. Instead, it too engages in
The Men’s Peer Education Program, in linity than discuss legal definitions of con- critical discussions in the vein of cultural
contrast to RC/AVSC, became a full-time sent and sexual assault. change. “The development of public fem-
program only last year. It was created to Culture change and conversations about inist self-defense was started by women
reimagine men as allies to survivors, de- these topics are fairly untraditional meth- bringing their experiences to the table and
velop their ability to change the under- ods, but Singleton argues that this is all talking about how to act,” she explains. V-
lying culture of masculinity, and tackle part of reconceptualizing what it means to Day, which stages The Vagina Monologues
intersecting issues that include homopho- be effective. Speaking to Karen and Asere, annually, also tries to combat assault in a
bia, racism and sexism. Bello, who coordi- I realized how far-sighted their goals really similar way. One can hardly call its combi-
nates the Men’s Peer Education Program, were. In a way, their tactics follow a pretty nation of art and activism anything but an
keeps in touch with over a hundred men, radical tradition, targeting problems deep- attempt to change culture.
all at different levels of involvement in the er than the who’s and where’s of sexual What’s interesting about Take Back the
anti-violence movement. He calls it a “pit- misconduct. They believe that the causes Night’s organization is its deliberately non-
stop,” a space where men can engage with of violence lie not merely in physical cir- hierarchical structure. “I think a lot of so-
these topics at their leisure. Although the cumstances, but in the psychology of the cial justice organizations developed around
program has yet to hold its first meeting, perpetrator—the feelings of power and en- achieving true equality, not just around leg-
Bello says that the point of the program is titlement that make violence thinkable and islation but the way we interact with each
also to provoke conversations outside of possible. Policing and legislating against other…it brings to light what kind of orga-
organizations and structured groups. assault fall wildly short of solving this prob- nization [this] is,” says Hincks. On cam-
One would be hard-pressed to find SVPRP lem. pus, Take Back the Night is not alone in its
holding workshops on risk reduction (mini- The methods of student groups fighting use of nonhierarchical organizing; Students
mizing one’s chances of being assaulted by sexual violence often mirror the primary pre- Promoting Empowerment and Knowledge
changing physical circumstances). Instead, vention tactics championed by SVPRP. One (SPEaK), founded after the 1996 hunger
the office aims to create a community that example is Take Back the Night, which plans strike for Ethnic Studies, is another exam-
does not tolerate sexual assault by chang- an annual nighttime march and speak-out ple. Nonhierarchical groups are distinct not

 Columbia Political Review | Political


cpreview.org
Bodies
> The Politics of Pol
Bodies, breeding, and hypo
Interview with Professor Jenny Davidson
Jenny Davidson teaches in Columbia’s Depart- tish Enlightenment and the nascent social sci- ever read Steven Pinker, you know that really
ment of English and Comparative Literature. She ences places at a premium the discovery of new he thinks Gould’s contributions were quite per-
writes on eighteenth-century literature and cul- languages for sociability, manners, politeness nicious, and that the fuzziness of thinking and
ture, and her areas of expertise include British and so forth. argument displayed throughout Gould’s work
cultural and intellectual history and the contem- completely invalidate whatever points Gould
porary novel in English. She is the author of Hy- On how politeness could preserve civility, if not was trying to make! But it really and rightly
pocrisy and the Politics of Politeness: Manners truthfulness: would not be appropriate to take the occasion
and Morals from Locke to Austen, and her most There are several notorious and highly polar- of a commemorative piece in a major nation-
recent book, Breeding: A Partial History of the izing examples in this period. When I sign a let- al periodical to say that—in this kind of case, it
Eighteenth Century, comes out this winter. She ter “Your most obedient and humble servant,” seems to me right to concentrate on the posi-
also writes a popular blog, Light Reading. Susan- is that a falsification of my relationship with tive, even if it represents pretty much a falsifi-
na O’Kula talks to Prof. Davidson about the poli- the person to whom I have addressed the let- cation of one’s views.
tics of manners and their representations. ter? What about if I ask my servant to say that
I am “not at home” to visitors—is that safely On whether manners remain as indicative of so-
On the novel of manners:  perceived as a conventional “white lie,” or do I cial status in our culture today:
When people talk about the novel of man- actually degrade my own truthfulness by prac- Yes and no. Manners are inextricably bound
ners, they’re often referring to the nineteenth ticing these forms of supposedly innocent de- up with notions of distinction, though in our
rather than the eighteenth century—the novels ception? It’s my contention, in Hypocrisy, that own time manners have been far more clearly
of Jane Austen and Henry James come to mind, it’s not a coincidence that servants should take detached from birth than they were circa 1700.
with their extraordinarily supple attentiveness such a prominent place in both these impor- But one of my arguments in the new book is
to the play of human relations. But manners tant examples; I think that anxieties about rela- that breeding is an interesting keyword to ex-
are of great interest to eighteenth-century writ- tions between people of different social classes plore precisely because it lets writers uncer-
ers also. A novelist like Samuel Richardson or tend to fray the seams of arguments about po- tain of their own position on the question of
Frances Burney describes the physical manifes- liteness…Politeness comes to be able to hold a whether a gentleman is a gentleman by virtue
tations of the emotions in individuals as they great deal of ethical and political value—it may of his birth or his upbringing hedge. Breeding,
are affected by social interactions with extraor- be worth pointing out here the etymological strange to say, works as a synonym for nature
dinary imaginative perceptiveness and preci- connection between politics and politeness. and for nurture; it clearly refers to matters of
sion, and manners—a shorthand for the com- blood, pregnancy and so forth as well as mean-
plex codes that govern those interactions—are On the use of hypocrisy as a moral and politi- ing something more like rearing or upbringing.
perceived as a key to all sorts of other things, cal virtue today:
from individual psychology to the workings of There are always two poles on this kind of On the “politics of politeness” practiced by the
political society. topic. Hypocrisy is hard to defend under its presidential campaigns in the weeks leading up
own name, and we live in a culture of expo- to the 2008 election:
On the importance of etiquette in eighteenth- sé—if someone running for office is keeping It’s an interesting question. Perhaps there
century British society: a secret, the press has all sorts of incentives to was not enough of it for me to single out spe-
Well, in a sense I’d want to say that rules of [uncover it]. I think we’re all pretty comfortable cific examples! But I think the praise that has
conduct matter in every time and place—though condemning the outright hypocrisy of an Eliot generally accrued to John McCain’s concession
it’s true that in eighteenth-century Britain, Spitzer, whose very public crusade as moral re- speech, or to his defense of Barack Obama as a
there’s a particular intensity to the attention former was fatally undermined by the revela- “decent family man,” shows the importance we
writers are paying to the relationship between tion of his dealings with prostitutes. still place on civility in politics.
ethics and etiquette. Social pressures like class But there are other kinds of hypocrisy that McCain clearly lost the election in part be-
mobility, the changing roles of men and wom- may be more allowable. After the death of Ste- cause those who had previously thought of him
en and the growth of empire overseas all con- phen Jay Gould, for instance, I remember read- as a sincere and honest adherent to an admi-
tribute to anxieties about manners, of course. ing a collection of encomia by well-known scien- rable if possibly outdated notion of honor—one
In a different sense, the emergence of ways of tists and writers on Gould’s contributions. One bound up with the traditions of the military and
thinking and writing associated with the Scot- of them was by Steven Pinker. Now, if you’ve an almost chivalric idea of individual integrity—

 Columbia Political Review | cpreview.org


Political Bodies
The (New York) State of Sex
Same-sex marriage, abortion law, and Democratic control
David Berke

S
ave for a fleeting moment in cess advocates to support the Reproductive vative, stating point-blank that he will never
1965, Democrats have not con- Health and Privacy Protection Act (RHPP). vote the Democratic line on abortion, same-
trolled the New York State Senate The Act enshrines abortion until fetal viabili- sex marriage, or stem cell research. “Sen-
since 1935. For decades, the Re- ty as a “fundamental” right for New Yorkers ator Díaz has always been a friend to the
publican-ruled Senate has been and removes references to abortion in state pro-life life movement,” noted Debrah Cody,
clashing with the Democratic State Assem- homicide law. It also forbids any additional current director of political and legislative
bly, the bitterly opposed factions battling regulation of abortion. activity for the New York State Right to Life
themselves into a legislative stalemate. As The Republican Senate proved an insur- Committee.
a result, three men—the Governor, the As- mountable obstacle to passing the RHPP, Though important to NARAL and many
sembly Leader and the Senate Leader—have and Spitzer, the bill’s chief champion, re- New York voters, passing the RHPP does not
controlled New York politics, dictating poli- signed after the public discovered his predi- carry the same urgency it did in 2007. The
cy to the otherwise irreconcilable state leg- lection for prostitutes. Now, pro-choice ad- bill’s goal was to act as a fail-safe were the
islature. vocates are ready for a second try. “We’re Supreme Court to strike down Roe v. Wade.
But thanks definitely hope- The fall of Roe v. Wade was a real possibility
to this past ful,” said Saman- under Bush and would have remained possi-
election, the tha Levine of the ble, even likely, if McCain had won. But with
National Associa- Obama in the White House, sizeable Demo-
stagnation may
end. Behooved Is gay marriage still tion for the Repeal cratic majorities in both Houses of Congress,
by Obama ma-
nia, the Demo-
atop the Democratic list? of Abortion Laws
(NARAL), an abor-
and the possible selection of new Supreme
Court justices by these Democrats, the fed-
crats gained a
thin two-sen-
“We’re putting tion access advo-
cacy group. “This
eral right to abortion will undoubtedly stand
for years to come.
ator majority.
Queens Repub-
everything on hold change is our op-
portunity to make
With abortion safe on the federal lev-
el, Senate Democrats will be able to stall
lican stalwart
Serphin Maltese
until we fix the economy,” New York a pro-
choice leader.”
pro-choice progress in order to focus on
shoring up their governing coalition. With
fell to Democrat said Senator Duane. NARAL can- same-sex marriage, however, the battle is
far more contentious, with groups in the
Joseph Addab- vassed, sent mail-
bo, and Cae- ers, and cultivated Democratic Party stubbornly demanding
sar Trunzo of support on behalf opposing outcomes. With no federal pro-
Long Island lost of Foley and Add- tection, the legislative wars over same-sex
to Brian Foley, giving Democrats a 32-to-30 abbo, and the upcoming session is prime marriage could be brutal enough to topple
edge in the 62-seat chamber. Along with the time for Democrats to return the favor. How- the Democratic majority.
Senate, Democrats maintained commanding ever, fault lines within the Democratic Party Democrats are heavily indebted to gay
control of the Assembly and the governor- may hinder movement on the RHPP. The day advocacy groups, for their support was a
ship. after the election, four city Democrats—Sen- driving force behind the Democratic take-
With this domination of state govern- ators Pedro Espada, Rubén Díaz, Carl Kruger, over. Gay advocacy donations to senate
ment, the expectation is that Democrats can and Hiram Monserrate—formed an indepen- races, the majority given by the Empire
now achieve long-time goals like further lib- dent caucus that, if not appeased by Demo- State Pride Agenda (ESPA), totaled around
eralizing abortion law and legalizing same- crat leadership, may remain independent or $500,000. Given that the cost of an entire
sex marriage. But these goals may prove support current Republican senate majority Senate race averages $500,000, that finan-
more difficult than the sea of blue indicates. leader Dean Skelos. cial support is substantial. Before this elec-
The slim two-senator majority may not be “The so-called ‘group of four’ is defined tion, ESPA had worked with candidates on
enough for changes to social policy, and if by their relatively conservative social views,” both sides of the aisle, but in light of recent
not handled correctly, these issues could said Gerald Benjamin, state political expert Republican opposition to ESPA-backed
splinter the majority they helped to create. at SUNY New Paltz. Five days after the elec- legislation, the group swung Democratic.
Though New York’s abortion laws are tion, Senator Monserrate dropped out of the Without ESPA’s partisan support, the Dem-
among the most liberal in the country, pro- caucus, but he was the most socially liber- ocratic Senate takeover campaign would
choice advocates have been working to ex- al of the group, the easiest ally for the Dem- have been far weaker.
pand the state’s abortion protections. In ocratic establishment. Senator Díaz, on the ESPA’s mobilization was predicated on
2007, Governor Spitzer joined abortion ac- other hand, is an entrenched social conser- strong promises from Democrats. Malcolm

10 Columbia Political Review | cpreview.org


Political Bodies
photos “instrument[s] of deliberate misdirec- perienced MI unit, hardworking interrogators the very fact of the photographs shows that they
tion.” Photographs, he notes, give us only “peep- trying to do the right thing, hamstrung by lan- were amateur demons. They were like us, and
holes into history.” guage, mortared, huge pressure to produce re- like them we are not lily-white. In their shoes,
Morris’s archive, which includes telling let- sults from on high, very few resources, at the far we might have done the same, or worse. That
ters from Private Sabrina Harman, suggests, fur- end of the support chain.” they were ill-disciplined and ill-led was the very
ther, that privileging sight at all may be a mis- But it also arose through the standard oper- fact that allowed them to be exploited as fall-
take. The crucial story of Abu Ghraib escapes ating procedures instituted from above, vaguely men when the scandal came to light. Naïvely, we
the photographs precisely because photo- permissive and permissively vague, intentionally might have believed that near-civilians would be
graphs are not history. History, especially cor- open-ended, and seldom written down. It came the soldiers least likely to commit such abuses.
rective history, demands expression in words. It from assigning troops with no relevant training And if they committed such acts, what were the
requires that we not only see, but listen: listen to as prison guards and implementing them into hardened combat troops doing?
the people we have just seen or (mis)seen, and the Intelligence program. As Gourevitch puts it, The difference becomes clear in the battle re-
interrogate their words and ourselves, in an ac- “There would have been no liberties to take, and cord of the Marine First Recon Battalion, chroni-
tivity as silent as seeing even as it moves away no extremes to go to, if anybody had wanted to cled in Evan Wright’s Generation Kill. These Ma-
from sight’s immediacy. keep the MPs in check. Nobody wanted to be- rines, elite soldiers on par with Navy SEALs and
Where the film forces us to feel with the MPs cause at Abu Ghraib lawlessness was the law.” Army Rangers, formed the tip of the spear dur-
on the Military Intelligence block, Gourevitch’s Gross command negligence amounted to design. ing the invasion of Iraq. They were furnished with
writing probes problems of accountability and Though indebted to Arendt, Standard Operat- rules of engagement that turned cities and towns
seeks the origin of the crimes at Abu Ghraib. The ing Procedure’s work on the problem of evil (par- into free-fire zones, yet the pains these men took
challenge to listen and see outside the frame don the word) does more than rehash Eichmann. to avoid inflicting gratuitous suffering during
provokes innovative formal responses from both Adolf Eichmann mattered because he illustrated their blistering advance through the Fertile Cres-
writer and director. One of the book’s most strik- the malfunctioning of human conscience. Arendt cent testifies remarkably to the power of their
ing stylistic features is its exclusion of the infa- described him as a man whose mind “was indeed discipline. Despite their battle cry—“Kill!”—these
mous images. Because those photos are already set at rest when he saw the zeal and earnestness men believed they would be called to account for
burned into our memory, and we can always see with which ‘good society’ everywhere reacted as their actions. Their standard operating procedure
them, reading Standard Operating Procedure re- he did.” She notes that he did not need to “close was not lawlessness.
turns us to the moment of the photo-taking. Con- his ears to the voice of conscience,” as the judg- “There is a constant temptation, when ren-
spicuous in their absence, the photos are filled ment had it, not because he had none, but be- dering an account of history, to distort reality by
in by words. cause his conscience spoke with a “respectable making too much sense of it,” Gourevitch warns.
On film, too, Morris’s artful “illustrations” in voice”—that of respectable society around him. Nearly all who viewed the Abu Ghraib photos
slow motion and shadow point away from the Eichmann merely judged what was acceptable on made too much warped sense of them. Thus
photos (which appear only briefly), giving a vi- the basis of what was considered acceptable by the photos told Susan Sontag that the entire
sual context that includes “happy snaps.” And it his betters; what they said was good, he could American nation was morally diseased—that
is a testament to the clarity of Morris’s thinking not feel bad about. we had raised a generation of violence junkies.
that he never yields to the temptation to let the This was not the case for the MPs at Abu They told the Army courts-martial that “a few
photos sit in majestic silence, but places them Ghraib. Gourevitch writes, “It is almost as much bad apples” had dishonored the military profes-
within a stark white frame—emphasizing their a cause for national pride as it is for despair that sion. The current administration explained that
limits—and overlays them with provocative some American soldiers didn’t seem to under- the excesses of these “bad apples” were driving
prose. The images are always accompanied by stand, or to care, that they were supposed to be the insurgency: that rooting them out would
some voice giving an account of them—as act, keeping their diabolical assignment a secret, that turn the war around. Each account made too
as evidence, as cover-up. they never fully accepted the guilty code of omer- much sense of a world where sense itself had
Standard Operating Procedure probes the na- ta that comes naturally to those who are truly been suspended, except for that of pain.
ture and mechanics of evil. But Gourevitch strin- and self-consciously corrupt. They never entire- In rendering their account, the authors of-
gently objects to the word itself. Evil, he has noted ly lost sight of the absurdity and insanity of their ten refrain from explaining human behavior, in-
in interviews, almost unfailingly makes us think position.” The position for the night-shift MPs at stead forcing us to look at it. This move leaves
of a supernatural force external to our characters. Abu Ghraib was not one of simple conformity to the reader with a moral koan. The perverse iro-
In the wrong circumstances, though, most of us the opinions of their betters, but a struggle be- ny of the Abu Ghraib photos is that they were of-
can be brought to commit wicked acts. Searching tween bruised consciences, perceived military ten taken to document abuse; these documents
out the conditions that brought the MPs in the necessity, and an atmosphere of permissiveness ended up hiding the torture inflicted off-camera.
photographs to do what they did—and, more im- that actively encouraged abuse. We were almost bound to confound seeing with
portantly, brought the people missing from the Recovering these soldiers from the realm of knowing, evidence with self-evidence. As Goure-
pictures (the interrogators, the torturers, the kill- monsters means remembering that the MPs were vitch has it, “That’s how it worked: no photo, no
ers) to do what they did, off-camera—we need citizen soldiers, reservists sent into a war zone. crime. The ocular proof: the exposé became the
to understand how evil can lose, in Arendt’s for- Weekend warriors, kids working for college ben- cover-up.”
mulation from Eichmann in Jerusalem, “the qual- efits, they were certainly not hardened torturers;
ity by which most people recognize it—the quali-
ty of temptation.”
At Abu Ghraib, it happened through what
interviewee Colonel Stuart Herrington terms Lane Sell Reports of Lane’s (GS ‘09) death have
“a perfect storm of insecure poisonous loca- lds2113@columbia.com been exaggerated.
tion, inexperienced MP unit poorly led, inex- Classics, Visual Arts
December | Columbia Political Review 13
COLUMBIA MUSLIM INTERVARSITY
ATHEISTS & STUDENTS CHRISTIAN
AGNOSTICS ASSOCIATION FELLOWSHIP
Columbia Atheists and Agnostics (CA&A) is The Muslim Students Association (MSA), like Hil- When refusing to interview on political
unique: its role consists largely of questioning lel and IVCF, shies away from taking strong posi- issues, many campus Christian groups,
religion’s role in society. tions on many controversial issues. But unlike those such as the Korean Campus Crusade for
Alon Levy (GSAS), CA&A secretary, describes two groups, MSA does not attempt to remain apo- Christ, advised the Columbia Political Re-
the group’s mission as providing a “forum for litical. view to speak with the Intervarsity Chris-
students to voice views on religion and political MSA’s political committee functions similarly to tian Fellowship (IVCF). However, Kyle Jura-
issues from a secular perspective.” He says that Hillel subgroups on issues like the war in Iraq and do (CC ’09), president of the Fellowship’s
about half of all discussion meetings typical- the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This committee co- Columbia chapter, says IVCF tries to steer
ly address political issues. Some of the topics sponsored the Antiwar in Iraq movement last year, clear of politics.
have included the New Atheism Movement led participating in a reading of names at the sundi- Jurado notes that “the Columbia Dems
by authors such as Richard Dawkins and Chris- al, and helping to organize a lecture by Professor aren’t going to local churches and having
topher Hitchens, the intersection between reli- Rashid Khalidi. According to MSA president Suzanne worship services. For each group, there’s
gion and gender, and the war in Iraq. Motwaly (CC ’09), the committee plans to co-host a strong focus for what they should be
The other major focus of the group relates a panel this January with the Muslim Public Affairs concerned with. For us, that’s Christ.” He
to political and social discrimination against Council on the incoming Obama administration and ties that emphasis to the broad diversi-
atheists in the United States. Levy points to a its potential impact on US Middle East policies. ty of political views within IVCF and the
CA&A member from the Deep South who had Nonetheless, MSA picks its causes carefully. group’s reluctance to alienate its mem-
no friends in high school because she was an Former president Adil Ahmed (CC ’09) recalls that bers.
atheist, and another whose missionary parents MSA worked closely with the College Republicans According to Jurado, IVCF is mainly a
cut her off as soon as they discovered she was during last year’s “Islamo-fascism” controversy to worship community that also participates
not Christian. Though these examples are ex- tone down the rhetoric surrounding Horowitz’s visit. in social justice work; one example is its
treme, Levy asserts that discrimination from Ahmed says that the executive board also resisted partnership with World Vision, a Chris-
mainstream society is often left out of the pub- pressure to stage a protest against Horowitz for fear tian relief organization, for which IVCF has
lic conversation. that it “could turn too ugly.” Instead, MSA hosted a raised tens of thousands of dollars to as-
This is not to say that the group sees religion counter-panel with the College Democrats, the Co- sist areas affected by years of Ugandan
in the public sphere as necessarily problematic. lumbia Political Union, and Amnesty International. civil war.
Many events, like a recent “Ask an Atheist” pan- When Ahmadinejad spoke on campus last Sep- Though the Ugandan civil war is a con-
el, involve interacting with Columbia’s religious tember, MSA did not participate in the Coalition. spicuously political conflict, IVCF does not
population. CA&A invited Austin Dacey, author However, Ahmed explains that Muslim students un- support any one party—the group seems
of The Secular Conscience, to discuss the under- derstood why many Jewish students were made un- to avoid partisanship, rather than entan-
pinnings of secular humanist morality and the comfortable by the visit. “As a Muslim communi- glement with the political per se. Jurado
need for discussion with the religious. During his ty in the United States, we were targeted following emphasizes that while the World Vision
talk, Dacey pushed strongly against the Rawlsian 9/11. We know what it’s like to be in New York City partnership may naturally overlap with
notion that public discussion cannot happen in and be targeted, having someone come here and the perspectives of politically focused
moral terms because of irreconcilable differenc- call us the problem,” he says. groups, Intervarsity’s motivation is entire-
es between perspectives on morality. MSA also involves itself in political activism not ly based in religious teachings.
Levy claims that the group has a similar at- obviously related to Islam and the Arab American
titude and is willing to partner with religious community. In addition to maintaining cordial re-
groups like the Christian-inspired Veritas Forum lations with the College Republicans, MSA has ral- Avram Sand
for discussions. Ultimately, he opposes the gen- lied for the Jena Six with the Black Students Orga- ads2130@columbia.edu
eral taboo on mixing religion and politics at Co- nization, discussed immigration with the Student East Asian Languages and Cultures
lumbia. “How is the role of a group that sup- Organization of Latinos, and pushed for action on
ports immigrant rights markedly different from a Darfur. Ahmed notes that MSA also considers Co-
religious group that takes political stances?” he lumbia’s Manhattanville expansion to be of concern:
asks. CA&C may lack a theological basis for or- “There are people in our community who come to Avram (CC ‘10) is a board member
ganizing, but they tie political involvement to a our events who are going to be forced out of their of Lalekhet, a religious group at Co-
secular humanist morality instead. housing.” Ahmed ties the wide range of causes to a lumbia Hillel. He is interested in
diverse constituency that includes students of Mid- the economics of religious plural-
dle Eastern, East and South Asian, South American, ism.
and European descent.

December | Columbia Political Review 15


COVER STORY
of the military found themselves balanc-
ing these two roles. Their sexual identities
were politicized in a very specific way, yet

BETWEEN THE
their personal politics led them to resist
this interpellation.
In what has been called a battle over

TRENCHES
hearts and minds, this internal struggle
accesses, far more deeply than partisan
talking points, the questions undergirding
NROTC at Columbia. How does the indi-
vidual relate to the community, how does
NROTC, queer identity, and the that community influence the university,
and what is the responsibility of that in-
soul of a university stitution to larger civil society? Both sides
have staunch answers, but neither has it
completely right. Those in the space be-
tween the trenches recognize this; and it’s
through the lens of their experience that I
hope we can find a little truth.

by J. Bryan Lowder THE PATRIOTIC HOMOPHILE


I think it’s appropriate that Donaldson
watches over this debate. He dealt with the
same conflict between identity and poli-
tics that many members of the queer com-
munity face today. Originally named Rob-
ert Anthony Martin, Jr., Donaldson adopted
his pseudonym upon entering Columbia in

I
1965 to avoid damaging the reputation of
f you had to describe the interior naval uniform next to a large ship anchor, his father, a Rutgers math professor and
design of the Stephen Donaldson a smiling Donaldson surveys the Fur- Navy veteran. His open bisexuality, he rea-
Lounge, you might call it “trendy nald basement room from a large portrait soned, would not do much for Dad’s ca-
activism.” mounted beneath the windows. Over the reer. Angered by instances of homopho-
Soft, chic lighting gives a cer- years, the Lounge has played host to its bic discrimination at Columbia, Donaldson
tain glimmer to the bowl of NYC-pro- share of controversy, but this fall, one is- quickly became a sort of proto-activist,
mo condoms resting on the side table. sue has reigned supreme. starting a movement to establish a student
Queer theory books line the shelves, and Early in the semester, word spread that “homophile” group on campus in 1966.
a handwritten chart of “safe space” guide- certain University Senators were moving After months of struggle, Donaldson’s
lines hangs from the room’s central col- to raise the question of bringing a Naval Student Homophile League was finally
umn. Much of the decoration in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) granted an official University charter on
Lounge—the University’s dedicated LG- program back to Columbia’s campus. April 19, 1967. As the first queer student
BTQ students’ space—features its name- The leadership of various queer student organization in the United States, the SHL
sake, Stephen Donaldson. Posing in his groups, many which meet in the Donald- made headlines and gave Donaldson a
son Lounge, quickly mobilized to join the platform from which to advance his gay
discussion by developing positions and rights agenda. The Columbia Queer Alli-
Both sides have drafting statements: tactics familiar to
most activist organizations.
ance (CQA), a descendant of the SHL, con-
tinues to advocate on behalf of LGBTQ
But beyond the forums and flyers, a students today.
staunch answers, but more interesting story was taking shape.
Members of the queer community were
Gay rights were not Donaldson’s only
interest. He also had a strong desire to

neither has it forced, some for the first time, to confront


the intersection between identity and pol-
serve in the US Navy, and, upon gradua-
tion, he pursued his dream. He served as
itics directly. Being gay meant that you a radioman from 1970-1971 with an un-
completely right. were expected to align with the anti-ROTC
side, and while the membership of most
marked record, only to receive a General
Discharge in 1972 when personal letters
queer organizations did so, a minority of detailing his homosexual exploits were
students who were queer and supportive discovered by officials. Donaldson fought
16 Columbia Political Review | cpreview.org
Political Bodies
the discharge, bringing a great deal of at- Hall for the Rifle Club. dents may participate, no naval program
tention to the question of homosexuals in In the decades that followed, support currently has an arrangement with the
the military, but ultimately lost his case. In for the military diminished on campus, University.
1977, however, President Carter upgrad- culminating in the years surrounding the The debate got moving on Septem-
ed Donaldson’s status as part of a gener- student protests of 1968. By the spring of ber 11, when then-Presidential candi-
al review program for Vietnam veterans. 1969, the newly-constituted University dates Barack Obama and John McCain
Donaldson became the first person dis- Senate decided to ban NROTC from cam- both called for the return of ROTC to Co-
missed on the grounds of homosexual ac- pus in an effort to satisfy the widespread lumbia at the ServiceNation Forum held
tivity to receive an Honorable Discharge. anti-war movement within the commu- in Alfred Lerner Hall. Obama said on the
A certificate commemorating the up- nity. Interestingly, it was Stephen Don- issue, “the notion that young people here
grade still hangs in the Lounge. aldson, then a member of the Columbia at Columbia or anywhere, in any universi-
Donaldson’s story of passionate strug- College Student Council (CCSC), who sub- ty, aren’t offered the choice, the option of
gle for both civil equality and service to mitted the ban resolution to the Council, participating in military service, I think is
country is highly relevant to the current citing the military’s discrimination against a mistake.” Neither candidate even men-
situation. Donaldson was both gay and a homosexuals as a key reason to remove tioned the current reasoning for the ban,
supporter of the military, both a civil lib- the program from the University. but this bipartisan directive reignited the
erties activist and a soldier; he felt it im- Following the end of Vietnam, no issue, and the old battle-lines were quick-
possible to ignore either aspect of his life. move was made to reinstate the unit, and ly drawn.
In the divisive climate of the current the issue remained essentially closed un- Over the next few weeks, student coun-
NROTC debate at Columbia, a segment til the spring of 2005. In May of that se- cils held a number of contentious dis-
of the LGBTQ population finds itself at mester, a grassroots movement led by cussions, eventually deciding to pose the
ground zero of the collision between student veterans to reestablish NROTC question to students in a survey format,
identity politics and civic engagement. was thwarted by a University Senate vote after which the University Senate could
As Donaldson’s example demonstrates,
A midshipman training program was housed in John Jay residence hall (colloquially
called the U.S.S. John Jay) and a shooting range was even built under Kent Hall for the
Rifle Club.
their position is not entirely new. The his- of 53-10 against, with the military’s “Don’t take more substantive action in accor-
torical relationship between Columbia, Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy and its in- dance with student support. Ad-hoc coali-
a pluralistic space ostensibly open to all compatibility with the University’s anti- tions quickly formed on the pro and anti
identities, and the military, a hierarchical discrimination statutes cited as the main sides, with mainly veterans and military
organization necessarily limiting to indi- reason. supporters making up the former, and LG-
vidualism, has deep significance for the Since the early days of Donaldson’s BTQ, anti-war, and other social justice orga-
definition of the University’s modern in- SHL, homosexuals had won the declassi- nizations on the latter.
stitutional character. fication of homosexuality as a psycholog-
ical disorder, and attained minority sta- TACTICAL MANEUVERS
U.S.S. JOHN JAY tus similar to that of racialized groups in As I write a few days before the survey
The NROTC story at Columbia begins in the liberal imagination. It’s not surprising, is released, ad campaigns are in full swing,
the late 1960s, in the midst of dissatis- then, that DADT, a law overtly discrimi- the panel debates have passed, and both
faction with the handling of the Vietnam natory towards gays, became such a hot- sides hope to win the support of the wid-
War. button issue at Columbia. er student body. The funny thing is, for all
The University had traditionally main- Still, unfazed NROTC proponents their fervor, the hours of organizing, cam-
tained strong ties to the military, having vowed that the 2005 vote was just “the paigning, and debating may be pointless.
hosted a naval training unit on campus end of the beginning.” For one thing, the final word on NROTC
since 1916 (NROTC, specifically, began in The current controversy began in May must come from President Bollinger and
the 1940s). During WWII, Columbia dedi- of 2008. A group of SEAS students led by the Board of Trustees, and he has made
cated a large portion of its space and re- University Senator Rajat Roy began peti- it clear that the return of the program is
sources to the war effort with particular tioning the Engineering Student Council highly unlikely, regardless of student feel-
focus on the Navy, producing more naval (ESC) to reestablish NROTC because the ing. And it’s not even certain that the mil-
officers per year than the US Naval Acade- program offers scholarships to students itary would be interested in investing the
my. A midshipman training program was struggling to meet tuition costs. An im- money and manpower necessary to build a
housed in John Jay residence hall (collo- portant detail to note is that, unlike oth- program at Columbia if given the go-ahead.
quially called the U.S.S. John Jay) and a er off-campus ROTC programs for the Air The anti-ROTC side, it seems, has nothing
shooting range was even built under Kent Force and Army in which Columbia stu- to fear, and the pro side fights a losing

December | Columbia Political Review 17


COVER STORY
battle. A SIMPLE ISSUE program [NROTC] might look like in the fu-
So what are we really talking about? On one hand, Columbia’s queer student ture,” said CQA vice president Aries Dela
NROTC itself isn’t the real issue—it’s just groups—the Columbia Queer Alliance being Cruz (GS ’09) at the CCSC debate on No-
the symbol of a deeper conflict. Past all the one—ostensibly oppose the return of NROTC vember 19. “It’s about the program as it
rhetoric, the real fight is over the ideologi- on the grounds that DADT stands in direct stands now. It’s a simple issue.” For Cruz
cal soul of the University. conflict with the University’s anti-discrimi- and others, the fact that openly gay stu-
In a sense, the anti-ROTC side envi- nation policy. In other words, it’s simply a dents would not be allowed to fully par-
sions an institution that stands as a model matter of legality. ticipate in NROTC now is reason enough to
to the rest of society. Free from prejudice Established in 1993 by Congress under ban the Corps from campus. If their anti-
and discrimination, the school should be the Clinton administration, DADT (Title discrimination policy logic were correct,
a so-called “safe space,” where academics 10:654 of the United States Code) makes then the issue might be as clear-cut as the
work to improve the world without inter- “a person who engages in, attempts to anti-ROTC students claim. But some on the
ference from governments. The creation engage in, has a propensity to engage in, other side argue that Columbia already al-
of such a space, in their view, challeng- or intends to engage in homosexual acts” lows discriminatory organizations to oper-
es societal injustice by refusing to partici- ineligible to serve in the US Armed Forces ate on campus.
pate in its propagation. in the case that he or she is discovered to Catholic student groups, for instance,
The pro-ROTC side has a more hands- fit one of those categories. can discriminate against gay students in
on perspective. It imagines the Universi- Officers are barred from asking about a accordance with Church doctrine. Study
ty as inexorably linked to the nation-state serviceperson’s sexual orientation, while abroad programs suggest that students
(including the military), with an essential soldiers are banned from disclosing their downplay their sexuality in certain cul-
duty to engage directly with that construct. sexuality to others within the military. tural contexts. Because of FDA policy, the
“Safe space,” they might argue, is a fanta- Many viewed the measure as a compro- Red Cross prohibits sexually active gay
sy that doesn’t reflect the realities of civ- mise, as it allowed gays and lesbians to men from donating in its campus blood
il society. While they agree that the acad- serve where they had been completely drives. The comparison to NROTC is strik-
emy should work to combat prejudice and prohibited before—only silently. ing. The Red Cross is a national organiza-
discrimination, they firmly believe that the Almost everyone now admits that the tion, which, like the military, works for the
most effective strategy is direct involve- policy is ethically problematic and, per- benefit of citizens. Gay people, unfortu-
ment—change from the inside. haps more importantly, logistically coun- nately, are not allowed to “serve” in this or-
To understand this disagreement over terproductive to the military at a time ganization because of federal law. Yet, the
tactics, I think it’s helpful to examine the when enlistment is low and forces are Red Cross van is a regular visitor to Col-
most salient point in the debate: “Don’t over-stretched. The newly-elected Obama lege Walk. How is this fair?
Ask, Don’t Tell.” Both sides agree that the administration has promised to tackle the Anti-ROTC partisans answer this criti-
military, and by extension NROTC, institu- issue by 2010, so DADT may soon be a cism with two arguments.
tionalizes discriminatory practices though moot topic. The first, the fact that NROTC would be
the DADT policy, and both sides believe However, queer leaders on the con side institutionalized and not simply a student
that change is necessary. But they ap- say that this is not the point. “This isn’t organization, is a good one. ROTC pro-
proach that change entirely differently. about some romanticized idea of what the grams generally function as military sci-
ence departments, complete with classes
and instructors. These teachers would be
Stacy Chu
granted full professor status without par-
ticipating in the school tenure process, ac-
countable only to the military. The Univer-
sity would have to find a way to vet new
hires; oversight would be almost impossi-
ble. Understandably, anti-ROTC students
fear that Columbia’s liberal arts ideology
would not necessarily be preserved.
Second, they say that it’s unfair to treat
large bodies like the Catholic Church as
single-minded entities—different sects
could be more tolerant, for instance.
It’s hard to see how this isn’t a little
hypocritical, as this is precisely how anti-
ROTC proponents treat the military. Fur-
thermore, the Catholic Church’s position
is similar to that of the military under
DADT. Essentially, homosexuals aren’t ex-

18 Columbia Political Review | Political


cpreview.org
Bodies
cluded from the communion as long as tion: a pretty good solution now is better moved, not the straight men who would
they don’t act on their desires—as long than a 100 percent solution later when “have to” react negatively.
as they “don’t tell” their sexuality. The doc- everyone’s dead. DADT is like that.” But as the men rightly pointed out, this
trine seems to have the same effect as the Sean O’Keefe (GS ’10), a former Green prejudice isn’t unique to the Armed Forc-
military’s policy, yet Catholic organiza- Beret, nodded in agreement. “In some es. The military, they argued, is a job like
tions receive support from the University. sense, the point of basic training is to any other. According to O’Keefe, “sexuality
Maybe the failure here is not of log- minimize your identity,” he said. “The [De- doesn’t matter on the ground.”
ic, but of the extent to which that logic is partment of Defense] wants to get rid of “It’s like working at Goldman Sachs,”
pursued. If anti-discrimination is the issue, anything that might break cohesion, es- the College student added. “You can’t
then everything from the Red Cross to the pecially in combat units. It’s not fair, but walk in there in a pink zoot-suit and ex-
Catholic Church should be banned. But I DADT, like the exclusion of women from pect to be taken seriously. Sometimes you
suspect that most anti-ROTC students certain units, is necessary for unit cohe- have to bite your tongue for the good of
wouldn’t want this to happen. Collecting sion. Until a better idea comes along, the group.” In an organizational context,
blood for sick people, they might agree, is the possibility of social tension is just too they argue, personal identity is always sec-
more important than boycotting the Red risky.” ondary to the success of the whole. If you
Cross for a misguided and discriminato- In my conversations, I found this 70 accept this logic, it does seem unfair that
ry policy that it’s not even responsible for. percent idea integral to the mindset of the Columbia actively encourages banking and
pro-ROTC supporters. Both men were consulting recruiters to come to campus,
quite clear in affirming that DADT is dis- while banning the NROTC.
crimination—they just feel that “defend- Of course, these men do not speak for
What pro-ROTC ing the Constitution” is more important all pro-NROTC students. In fact, I think it’s
than total sexual freedom. fair to say that most proponents disagree
activists seem to This is the Red Cross question. When with DADT entirely. What the men do have
is mission more important than meth- in common with the majority, however, is
envision is a military that od? To the ROTC supporter, the success their strong belief in the positive impact
looks, in a sense, like the of the military and the defense of the
nation simply take precedence over the
that an NROTC program would have on the
University and on the military.
University. problems that may or may not arise Almost everyone I spoke with made the
from the presence of openly gay servi- case for a sort of osmosis theory of social
cepersons. Like blood for sick people, change. Officers trained in a liberal arts tra-
military success may require some sac- dition would export the values of their ed-
But where is the line drawn? What makes rifice of individualism for the good of the ucation to the military, thereby liberalizing
the goal of an organization more impor- collective. the entire organization—an interesting idea
tant than its means? While I agree that national defense is that assumes that the military can and
a top priority, the underlying assumption should be “liberalized.” What pro-ROTC ac-
THE 70 PERCENT SOLUTION of this argument strikes me as problemat- tivists seem to envision is a military that
Proponents of NROTC, first and fore- ic. Ideally, the two servicemen suggested, looks, in a sense, like the University. Cre-
most, believe that Columbia has a civ- DADT would only apply to combat units, ative leaders would use progressive ideas
ic duty to support the US Armed Forces. where quarters are close and emotions to run their platoons, and all Americans
While they admit that DADT is problemat- run high. This assumes that soldiers, gay could serve with dignity, regardless of per-
ic and would like to amend it, most pro- or straight, could not control themselves sonal identity.
NROTC students think that the issue isn’t on two levels. Gay soldiers apparent- I wonder if this is a realistic possibili-
as simple as “you discriminate, I don’t par- ly can’t keep their hands to themselves. ty. Change might be effected this way, but
ticipate.” All assert that Columbia’s disen- And straight soldiers couldn’t possibly then again, NROTC programs have operat-
gagement from the military is at best inef- deal with the fact that a gay person might ed at other universities for decades, and
fective at fighting prejudice, and at worst, be physically attracted to them, and so the military arguably remains a bastion of
harmful to both parties. would have to retaliate, either passively or conservatism.
I recently talked with two Columbia violently. The unit would destabilize, lead- And the military, as an idea, must be or-
students involved with the Armed Forces ing to mission disaster. ganized hierarchically, and has an interest
about these issues, and both men seemed I don’t buy this scenario. It casts homo- in the success of the mission over the hap-
to think that the real source of the resis- sexual desire (and heterosexual desire, for piness of the individual soldier. Even if ho-
tance to NROTC lies in a misunderstand- that matter, considering the exclusion of mosexuals could serve without fear of dis-
ing of the nature of the military. women from these units) as some sort crimination, neither they, nor anyone else,
One of the men, a Columbia College of subversive force, and denies person- would be allowed to question the actions
student who wished to remain anony- al agency to everyone involved. Further- of their superiors using Kant’s categorical
mous, explained things this way: “The mil- more, it’s the perceived carriers of this imperative. So-called liberal values like the
itary has this idea called a 70 percent solu- force, gays and women, who must be re- “free flow of ideas” may not be possible or

December | Columbia Political Review 19


COVER STORY
desirable in every context. veteran, believes that homophobic institu- question somewhat unfairly. If DADT is really
Policy change that limits discrimina- tions, like homophobic individuals, must be the issue, then regardless of how the change
tion, more than some abstract idea of lib- confronted directly. “When gay people come is predicated, NROTC should be allowed to re-
eralization, is probably what the military out to their family and friends, it changes turn once the law is repealed.
really needs, and I’m almost certain that opinions,” he said. “How does excising our- Yet, based on some of the rhetoric I’ve
the federal government will take those selves from the discussion help?” Johnson, heard from queer individuals on the anti-
like Foote, feels that the best way to chal- ROTC side, I worry that this isn’t the plan. The
steps in the coming years.
lenge DADT and more general homophobia is use of third-person pronouns like “they” and
Regardless of future change in the
to fill the military with gay-friendly—and even “them” seems to suggest that anti-ROTC ac-
larger military, the point still stands that
openly gay—officers. As a gay person, he un- tivists view the military as inherently sepa-
NROTC, as it is exists, would directly dis- derstands the queer community’s frustration rate from themselves—a logic I find false and
criminate against openly queer Columbia with the discrimination embedded in NROTC, dangerous. This is the language of the anti-
students today. but he also questions the value of a boycott. military crowd, and even though their inter-
“What are we really doing to fight DADT?” he ests are aligned with the gay community right
THE SPACE BETWEEN now, anti-militarism has no neces-
So what’s the answer? sary connection to queer politics.
There may not be a perfect solution, but Queer leaders should be careful
we can learn a great deal by examining the
tricky terrain between the trenches: the
“How does to maintain the distinction between
protecting our community from dis-
space inhabited by those individuals who
happen to be both LGTBQ-identified and
excising ourselves crimination and separating our-
selves from society, because while
“safe space” can be a tool for so-
pro-ROTC. While traversing the expanse be-
tween two belligerent parties can alien-
ate the individual from both, this distance
from the cial change, it can also morph into
a bubble of complacency and isola-
tion. The pro-ROTC side’s logic about
can afford a certain insight into the conflict
that’s difficult for more entrenched play-
discussion help?” liberalization through osmosis might
be flawed, but their belief in the in-
ers to access.
Learned Foote (CC ’11), president of his
class and treasurer of the CQA, finds him-
Johnson asked. timate, crucial connection between
the University and civil society—a so-
ciety which requires a healthy mili-
self in this difficult position. Like Stephen tary—is right.
Donaldson, Learned is a gay military sup- We, as a university community,
porter. He wants NROTC to return to Co- asked. “I hope people, especially heterosexu- have a duty to fight discrimination, both here
lumbia, not because he wishes to par- als, aren’t using DADT to fight Vietnam.” and outside of our gates. Gay social justice is
ticipate himself, but because he thinks Here, Johnson gets at something that I an honorable cause, and keeping NROTC off
personal involvement is the only way to think is central to this entire debate. Many on campus until the repeal of DADT may be the
the pro-ROTC side feel that beneath the cries best way to support that cause. But it’s only
challenge prejudice. “You can’t talk with
of discrimination, the real reason for banning a 70 percent solution at best.
people you vilify,” Foote said when asked
NROTC from Columbia is broader anti-milita-
about his philosophy. “Hearts are changed
rism.
though personal relationships.” Certain groups on the anti-ROTC side have The undergraduate student survey on NROTC
The military and the discrimination taken decidedly anti-military stances, but the closed on December 1. 2971 valid votes—rep-
therein, he argues, reflect the society of queer community, and the groups that rep- resenting 43 percent of the population—were
which it constitutes a part, and Colum- resent it, have not. The queer groups have, submitted in response to the question “Would
bia is not exempt. “Discrimination is a nat- however, aligned with anti-military organiza- you support bringing a Naval ROTC program to
ural human tendency,” he said. “The idea tions in the “con coalition.” This partnership Columbia’s campus at this time?” 49.24 per-
of our campus as a safe-space—as a non- raises the question of the limits of solidari- cent voted YES, 50.56 percent voted NO, and
discriminatory space—is impossible.” ty against a common enemy. While all of the 0.20 percent abstained.
I admire Foote’s reminder that “vilifying” con parties have an interest in keeping NROTC
and disengaging completely from discrimi- off campus, their alliance obscures the DADT
natory people and institutions is not a pro-
ductive measure, at least not in the long run.
But I wonder if his dismissal of safe space is
entirely fair. I don’t think most people inter-
ested in creating a non-discriminatory envi-
ronment believe that such a place can really
exist; rather, it’s a goal to work toward, and a J. Bryan Lowder Bryan (CC ‘10) enjoys writing words
condemnation of the discrimination that ex- jbl2121@columbia.edu and music. Being (slightly) more
ists elsewhere. English, Music Composition interested in particles than politics,
Justin Johnson (SIPA ’10), a gay military he hopes to become a science writer.

20 Columbia Political Review | cpreview.org


Political Bodies
Nick Kelly

Service and the State, Post-2008


Citizenship in the American intellectual tradition

lthough I’d read about how the meaning of citizenship, but also on claim for the limited obligations of citizen-

A Obama had inspired and mobi-


lized a truly astounding num-
ber of volunteers, when I visited
Obama’s local campaign office
in New Hampshire a few days before the
what should be done about it? Citizen-
ship, that idea for which so much blood
and ink has been spent—this, of all top-
ics, was chosen for its supposed apoliti-
cal, non-partisan content at a September
ship.
America’s distinctly liberal tradition
radically narrows what we actually de-
mand of citizens. But we don’t have to
stop there: we can recognize liberalism’s
2008 election, I couldn’t help but be over- 11 debate? Stranger still, swept under the limitations while importing ideas from
whelmed by their energy and sense of ur- political rug was the fact that the two can- other traditions. And we don’t have to
gency. didates had radically different experienc- look far, because liberalism has not always
“You can sleep after election day,” I es of service—military service and com- been America’s dominant political philos-
heard one volunteer say, and this battle munity organizing—and that, especially ophy. Throughout its history, the United
cry seemed to capture a truth of the 2008 in Obama’s case, this service was hardly States has been in a perpetual identity cri-
presidential campaign—that the election apolitical. sis about whether democracy requires an
mattered, not only because of the presi- While bipartisanship can indicate
dent we would elect, but because of the consensus and compromise, we should
sense of belonging and meaning citizens be suspicious of issues on which debate We should be suspicious of is-
gained from their participation in it. But has ceased—where discourse has given
it also hinted that for most people, come way to a sterility of ideas, a narrowing of sues on which debate has
November 4, the work would be over. political imagination. ceased—where
Even though this year’s presidential pri-
maries marked the highest voter turnout TWO IDEAS OF CITIZENSHIP
discourse has given way to a
in over three decades, less than one-fifth What does it mean to be an active citi- sterility of ideas, a
of Americans expected to be involved in zen? In America, it has traditionally meant
political issues after the election. It would more than legal status, being a good
narrowing of political
be Obama’s job from there on out. neighbor, and voting on Election Day. imagination.
What should we expect of citizens be- No, active citizenship, as almost ev-
yond voting and campaigning for repre- ery American political thinker who cares
sentatives? McCain and Obama discussed about it has said, means something more: active citizenry, or whether government
citizenship at Columbia this past Septem- involvement in public life beyond the vot- should operate without demanding much
ber 11, but the event fell off the national ing booth. But among proponents of active citizen participation.
headlines just a day later. Were the can- citizenship, agreement ends there. What Although the Constitution does not re-
didates so uninteresting that there was constitutes “involvement,” and what do we quire active citizenship—and although
nothing to report? mean by “public life?” And why should we Americans elect representatives to govern
For the newspapers that feed on con- want active citizens anyway? for them—it did not necessarily follow, for
troversy, maybe. The candidates agreed American thinkers have split rough- thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, that citizens
that government simply needed to ex- ly into two factions on this question: re- had no obligations beyond voting. While
pand volunteer opportunities like the publicans and liberals, as understood in Hamilton and Madison distrusted democ-
Peace Corps and Americorps. And when the classical, not modern, sense. Republi- racy and thought government should op-
Judy Woodruff asked Obama about the cans—like Aristotle, Machiavelli and Rous- erate fairly independently of the people,
differences between his and McCain’s seau—believe citizens have significant John Adams was averse to liberalism be-
views on citizenship, he answered meek- political obligations beyond the voting cause he believed a strong sense of mor-
ly, “Well, I’m not sure there is anything dif- booth. Liberals, like the two Johns (Locke al citizenship was vital to democracy. Ad-
ferent.” Where there’s no argument, there’s and Rawls) don’t think citizens have many ams put it bluntly: “Public Virtue cannot
no story. obligations at all: mind your business, exist without private virtue, and Public Vir-
But there was another story underlying pay your taxes, and vote—if you feel like tue is the only Foundation of Republics.”
the entire debate. How did these candi- it. Perhaps surprisingly, most Americans And Jeffersonians passionately called for in-
dates, who seemed to disagree about ev- agree with the liberal model: both Demo- timate involvement with the political pro-
erything else, come to agree not only on crats and Republicans operate within this cess. Americans, they argued, should en-

December | Columbia Political Review 21


gage in deliberative political participation of the state and the mass economy. “The years. Though ballot initiatives have been
and embody in their private lives the vir- first expression of the discontents that we on the rise, this form of democracy is more
tues they publically espouse. find so powerful today showed up really in direct than deliberative: citizens vote their
Though these criticisms were rooted the early twentieth century, when sudden- preferences without having to consider the
in a desire to revive a mythical, idealized, ly big business and the national economy common good or expose their views to the
pre-capitalist agrarian republic, think- and monopolies and trusts organized eco- critique of fellow citizens. And while an ex-
ers like Adams and Jefferson still provide nomic power and social life on a vast scale plosion of online political discussion pro-
the resources for a distinctly American cri- and people felt disoriented, displaced,” he vides the illusion of discourse, the self-se-
tique of liberalism. noted in an interview with David Gergen. lecting nature of these communities does
Add to this the rise of massive bureaucra- more to reinforce existing opinions than
LET’S TALK: THE NEED FOR cy, as well as the increased importance of encourage intellectual engagement.
DELIBERATION experts in politics, and it’s not hard to see Modern America could use a dose of de-
It is not obvious why active citizenship why citizens feel disconnected from—and liberation in its politics. Professional politi-
requires deliberation. Isn’t volunteering averse to—government. John Dewey rec- cians, small groups of dedicated activists,
enough? ognized the destructive impact of a large and expert bureaucrats dominate the polit-
Volunteering—in one’s community, in state and unwieldy economy on democrat- ical sphere; most citizens remain apathetic.
the military, or in any number of other ic deliberation as early as the 1920s, but The ills of our modern democracy—vitriolic
forms—is an undeniably selfless act of cit- he held out hope that citizens would de- partisanship, civic incompetence—urge us
izenship, but it is not enough. Like join- liberate again. to bring this ideal back. It’s no panacea, of
ing an association of citizens who share He was wrong. From the turn of the course: these problems have deeper roots
your policy goals, volunteering lacks an twentieth century onwards, American pol- that will not be solved by mere political re-
important element of citizenship: deliber- itics has operated within a liberal frame- form, or even debate. People will continue
ation with citizens with whom you might work, and active, deliberative citizenship to fundamentally disagree on many politi-
disagree. And deliberative politics requires has continued its long decline in both theo- cal and moral issues. Social inequality will
citizens to discuss political issues—be they ry and reality. It’s true that major groups of not magically wither away. But deliberation
specific policy questions, or citizens have made their voices heard is a good first step in a much-needed pro-
candidate choices—in a vari- in the twentieth century through cess of political reform.
ety of settings: school meet- mass organized efforts like the The Achilles’ heel of modern republi-
ings, neighborhood associa- women’s suffrage and civil rights canism has been its inability to adjust to
tions, and town halls. movements. Presidents from JFK to the modern political realities of mass poli-
Alexis de Tocqueville ex- George W. Bush have called on citi- tics and representative government. Amer-
tolled deliberation’s virtues af- zens to get more involved in govern- ica is not Athens (thankfully); the sheer
ter observing it in action in the ment. But the general trend has been number of citizens, combined with the fact
New England town meetings of one of diminishing civic involvement— that we constitutionally delegate most po-
the 1820s. He wrote, “The inter- a drastic decrease in even the last 30 litical power to our representatives, seems
ests of the country are everywhere to make deliberation irrelevant. Nor should
kept in view; they are an object of we blindly and anachronis-
solicitude to the people of the whole tically revive an outdated
Union, and every citizen is as warm- model unless it responds
ly attached to them as if they were to modern concerns. But a
his own.” Through deliberation, citi- number of theorists, aca-
zens can expand their viewpoints be- demics, and activists have
yond personal self-interest to the needs been formulating inno-
of the community and the nation as a vative ways to re-involve
whole. Social scientist James Fishkin has Americans in the political
confirmed Tocqueville’s observations by process.
demonstrating that when voters discuss One innovative idea
issues in small groups in consultation with developed by Fishkin and
relevant experts, they become better in- Bruce Ackerman is the in-
formed and generate more coherent poli- stitution of a “delibera-
cy opinions. tion day,” during which
The modern world has not been kind citizens meet in small
to deliberation. In its 2008 report, the Na- groups to discuss politi-
tional Conference on Citizenship (NCoC)— cal issues before nation-
a government-created center that aims al elections. Eighty per-
to promote America’s “civic life”—found cent of Americans favor
that most Americans recoil negatively at such a proposal. Nation-
the word “democracy.” Political philos- al Issues Forums, a na-
opher Michael Sandel traces this “dis- tionwide network of
content” with democracy to the growth organizations that sup-
Stacy Chu
22 Columbia Political Review | cpreview.org
gage in deliberative
ports public forums, has already proven ef- es (to name a few examples) is difficult if virtue would seem to violate the rights of
fective. Eighty percent of Americans favor not impossible to pass in America, not only citizens who want to determine the course
such a proposal. After the 2002 riots in Cin- because of a general disgust for anything of their own lives. Instead of abandoning
cinnati over police shootings, over a hun- suggesting “paternalism,” but also because morality in the political sphere, however,
dred deliberative forums were created that, something in the American creed denies some communitarian philosophers rightly
by bringing citizens together and forming the idea that the individual must take re- argue that we can keep moral questions—
community organizations, helped calm se- sponsibility for the social costs of his ac- issues of the common good—in the politi-
vere racial tensions. By updating the delib- tions. Inculcating a sense of the common cal realm without allowing them to be de-
erative ideal for the modern era through good in American citizens could help us to fined entirely by cultural issues. Morality,
proposals like these, we could put the indi- begin solving some of America’s most diffi- and thus the ability to ask more of Ameri-
vidual citizen—not the government—back at cult problems. can citizens, need not be taken off the po-
the center of American political life. If only it were that easy. Before we can litical table. Agreement on the common
address the common good, we need some good will be difficult and contentious, but
INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR moral agreement as to what that might en- we need a serious debate about what this
tail. This hits at the most vexing and con- is—and what, if anything, Americans should
PUBLIC PROBLEMS tested element of modern liberalism: the feel compelled to do about it.
Americans love a scapegoat. Usually
separation of the ethical sphere from the The ideals of deliberation and private
“Washington”—the perennial punching bag
political sphere. Modern liberal theorists obligation both rest upon a simple idea:
of campaign rhetoric—fills that role nice-
like John Rawls argue that citizens should that citizens should be involved in their

It’s often said that we get the government we deserve. Well, we get
the citizens we deserve.
ly. It was only upstaged this year by the
not be able to legislate on moral issues: own government. The two ideas work in
new American evil—“Wall Street”—and its
ethically speaking, each individual should tandem: deliberation expands citizens’
infinitely better, amorphous twin—“Main
have the right to determine the way in viewpoints beyond their personal self-in-
Street.” Idealizing the common citizen as
which he or she lives. terests, while private virtue encourages cit-
both helpless and morally pure is so en-
To most modern liberals, this sounds izens to involve themselves in political life
demic to our political discourse that we of-
exactly right: the culture wars of the last and work for the common good.
ten don’t notice it. But it is more than a
30 years have shown that vast numbers of Barack Obama seems to grasp this idea.
political ploy: it is indicative of how little
Americans (Christian conservative groups In his election night victory speech, he de-
politicians expect of Americans, and how
or otherwise) want to impose their concep- clared, “Let us summon a new spirit of
little we expect of ourselves.
tion of morality on all Americans. America’s patriotism; of service and responsibility
Almost all Americans favor tighter fuel
diversity complicates matters still further: where each of us resolves to pitch in and
efficiency standards for automobiles, but a
Americans have so many different mor- work harder and look after not only our-
recent Pew survey reports that most people
al and religious viewpoints that agreement selves, but each other.” These are inspir-
cannot—or will not—buy more fuel-efficient
seems impossible. As Columbia history pro- ing words, but we should understand their
cars. This is old news. More interesting-
fessor Casey Blake puts it, in this pluralist context. Within America’s liberal tradition,
ly, the NCoC noted that this “not unusu-
world, “Many people throw up their hands they ring a little hollow.
al” discrepancy between personal behavior
and say that the most we can hope for is a Mining the forgotten American tradi-
and policy preferences demonstrated ei-
robust administrative state.” tion of republicanism may not be the only
ther “hypocrisy or... that individual volun-
But by excluding ethical issues from the way to recreate a more meaningful ideal of
tary action is impossible [without govern-
political sphere, we also lose the ability to citizenship, or even the best way. But we
ment support].”
call for an expanded conception of citizen- shouldn’t sleep on this opportunity to think
Most people may very well be unable to
ship. Imposing a moral standard for civic creatively about citizenship in America.
afford fuel-efficient cars. But citizens living
under a liberal government are not hypo-
critical when they want government to do
things for them that they themselves are
unwilling to do. In fact, these are ideal cit-
izens in a liberal state: perfectly self-inter- Nick Kelly Nick (CC ‘09) enjoys the ethereal
ested, perfectly indifferent to the conse- nfk2101@columbia.edu world of political theory and trying
quences of their actions. Political Science in vain to connect it to reality.
It’s often said that we get the govern-
ment we deserve. Well, we get the citizens
we deserve. Legislation mandating recy-
cling, or energy-efficient cars and applianc-

December | Columbia Political Review 23


Content producers who characterize proposition. money lawsuits by groups like the Re-
file-sharing as theft—they call the prac- An intermediate kind of property— cording Industry Association of America
tice “piracy,” conjuring images of peg- books—may offer a solution. Imagine a and Motion Picture Association of Amer-
legged, scurvious rogues—only cloud world in which books were treated like ica. Vice President-elect Joe Biden, an
the issue. Pirates take booty in a zero- games, restricted to one user with a ally of media companies, has urged the
sum interaction: someone wins, some- EULA and DRM. Would corporations con- Department of Justice to “vigilantly en-
one loses. But the difference between sent to the creation of libraries, or to force intellectual property laws…[and]
physical property and intellectual prop- the right of customers to lend or give punish online theft.”
erty—between a car and a comput- away books? Yet loans and libraries Yet the Obama/Biden campaign
er file—is clear. Stealing a car deprives help create markets by turning children website takes a softer stance, offer-
the owner of its use. Downloading soft- into readers and leading readers to new ing to “update and reform our copy-
ware doesn’t prevent a license holder authors and genres. What might seem a right and patent systems to promote
from using it; instead, it represents ille- drain on profits is instead a boon. civic discourse, innovation and invest-
gal distribution and a violation of the li- Some producers have recognized the ment while ensuring that intellectu-
cense agreement. Users who download value in marketing a product that is ac- al property owners are fairly treated.”
rather than purchasing software harm cessible to everyone. Several bands, Will the incoming Obama administra-
the producer by taking potential reve- most notably Radiohead, now offer tion change course and advocate for
nue out of his pocket. downloads on a “pay-what-you-want” a more reasonable compromise? Per-
Intellectual property guarantees are (often nothing) basis, hoping to make haps. But despite more recent efforts,
important; they create an incentive to up any lost revenue by reaping new such as a 2007 bill creating an execu-
develop new ideas, which the inventor fans for tours and merchandise. The ul- tive agency dedicated to intellectual

Buying a game means purchasing a license to use the software, not an irrevoca-
ble right of possession.
tra-popular World of Warcraft, an online
can sell knowing that a competitor will role-playing game with more than 11 property enforcement, this battle will
not simply copy and market an identi- million users, charges on a monthly ba- not be won by legislation. File-shar-
cal product. Yet these controls seem to sis, making the initial game sales prob- ing has exploded in the decade since
have gone too far: rather than prevent- lem, and therefore illegal downloads, the DMCA was passed; no government
ing a competitor from stealing ideas, something of a moot point. can effectively restrain the behavior of
they prevent customers from using Instead of assuming that all cus- hundreds of millions of people around
their purchased property as they wish. tomers are pirates, perhaps companies the world.
Programmer and intellectual proper- should embrace the inevitability of pi- Today, the US Department of State
ty pioneer Richard Stallman referred to racy and treat it as free marketing—like estimates that 50 percent of US ex-
DRM on the website of the Free Soft- allowing a free download of the basic ports depend on intellectual property
ware Foundation as “[a] mechanism game, but restricting some features to protection. Thus maintaining effective
intended to deny the public the exer- those who purchase it. These models— practices for selling that property are
cise of those rights which copyright law like Stardock’s—represent something of vital. Consumers are unlikely to change
has not yet denied them.” The extent a new wave. But most companies aren’t their behavior and have demonstrat-
to which property rights should apply buying it, pressing instead for better ed their capacity to force change—at
to purchased software is contested, but DRM, further legal pursuit of violators, least in the short term. But real change
DRM often delegates to the producer ex- and increased regulation. in the way that companies like EA do
tensive power to dictate how the prop- Congress has traditionally, if un- business demands a reexamination of
erty may be used. surprisingly, aligned itself with “Big intellectual property in the age of the
We tend to think that when we make Content.” Content producers lobbied internet.
a purchase—like a hammer—we can use Congress to pass the 1998 Digital Millen- If American media companies want
it however we like: to build furniture nium Copyright Act, commonly known to retain their dominance, they should
or to give as a gift. But buying a game as DMCA. Under the aegis of this act, remember the cardinal sin of empire:
means purchasing a license to use the copyright violators—many of them col- inflexibility. DRM is headed the way of
software, not an irrevocable right of lege students—are targeted with big- the dodo. Ironically, it’s Spore, a game
possession. Stealing a hammer is theft, based on biological evolution, that tells
punishable by criminal statutes; down- the story: adapt or die.
loading a computer game is copyright
violation, punishable by civil suit. Re- Ian Crone Ian (CC ‘09) defends the galaxy in
solving the difference—retaining protec- ipc2101@columbia.edu his free time.
tion for artists and publishers without Political Science, History
alienating customers—remains a sticky

December | Columbia Political Review 25


We have to guard against ‘infodemics,’ in which inaccurate, false information is
disseminated, prompting social unrest that spreads like an epidemic.
President Lee Myung-bak to the South Korean parliament, July 2008

networking of sites like MySpace, Twitter And yes, young South Koreans are en- claims that online discussion groups usual-
and YouTube…Consider the video ”Yes We amored of the idea of grassroots participa- ly move “in the direction of their initial in-
Can,” Mr. Obama’s words set to music by tory democracy. In a sense, protestors were clinations,” further polarizing users. Group
will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, which has just as concerned with protesting an unre- polarization is a natural social tendency,
been viewed more than 18 million times on- sponsive and unsympathetic government as Sunstein argues, but it grows more acute
line, first at YouTube, and now at the Obama they were with US beef. It seems that the if people think of themselves as part of a
campaign’s portal.” Cohen praises the Sen- disparity between youth mobilization in the group with a shared identity and a sense of
ator for facilitating internet users’ collec- US and South Korea arises not from citizen solidarity. If site managers and discussion
tive efforts to create a community for mutu- initiative, but the media’s ability to shape leaders deliberately—or even unconscious-
al benefit. He conceives of the internet as a and foment it. In the case of the beef pro- ly—structure the group identities that mem-
tool for the mass mobilization of those pre- tests, the same energy that was present in bers follow, how democratic could the inter-
viously disaffected under a democratic fran- the Obama campaign’s youth support was net possibly be?
chise. funneled into angry—if just as fanatical— Too democratic, says the Korean govern-
forms of civic participation. ment. In answer to a number of celebrity
In the past, suggests Sohn Jang-hwan suicides driven by online rumors, President
READ BEN SMALL ON THE in Joongang Daily, the internet served as Lee told his parliament in early July, “We
MYTHICAL WATER WARS a more benign platform for discussion and have to guard against ‘infodemics,’ in which
AT CPREVIEW.ORG minute-by-minute participation as Surow- inaccurate, false information is disseminat-
iecki described. But Sohn also complicates ed, prompting social unrest that spreads
this rosy perception, writing, “The internet like an epidemic.” This past August, his ad-
“If the wars of the twentieth today is not a forum for discussion but a fo- ministration began the Cyber Defamation
century were fought over oil, the rum for confrontation. Anyone with a dif- Law. If passed by the National Assembly, fo-
wars of this century will be fought ferent opinion is considered to be paid to rum and chatroom users will be required to
over water.” work for the other side…Communication is register with their real names. 900 agents
Ismail Serageldin
Vice President of the World Bank, 1995 not two-way but unilateral.” Overly simplis- from the government’s Cyber Terror Re-
tic, to be sure, but the influence of the me- sponse Center began a month-long internet
dia is undeniable. To a large degree, Gener- defamation crackdown in October, scouring
ation H’s internet ethos is driven by forces blogs and online discussion boards to iden-
that are traditionally overlooked. While me- tify and arrest those who “habitually post
dia coverage of this movement has empha- slander and instigate cyber bullying.” The
sized the citizens’ fanaticism and extremist administration also plans to create a regu-
appropriation of democratic ideals, such a latory commission with the power to sus-
narrative masks the larger agents that fuel pend and remove the publication of online
it. articles it considers “fraudulent or slander-
Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein, the ous,” according to Michael Fitzpatrick in the
author of Republic.com 2.0, believes that Guardian.
the internet gives us unprecedented power While Lee’s overt censorship is another
to filter what we see, hear, and discuss. Par- instance of internet users being restricted
adoxically, however, our control over what and shaped by dominant forces, the more
“Competition for fresh water may we think and believe has been diminished. insidious censorship and control practiced
well become a source of conflict Sunstein writes that internet users tend to by the media elite may be just as undemo-
and wars in the future.” choose “like-minded sites and like-minded cratic. It is both forms of control—one open,
Kofi Annan discussion groups…It is exceedingly rare for the other insidious—that turn a disease that
Secretary-General of the UN, 2001 a site with an identifiable point of view to hits only one in one million people into an
provide links to sites with opposing views; object of national fanaticism.
but it is very common for such a site to
“I’ve been hearing about the danger provide links to like-minded sites.” And he
of wars over water for thirty years
and haven’t seen one yet.” Adoree Kim Adoree (CC’12) has interned as a re-
Richard Betts atk2112@columbia.edu porter for American, Korean, and
Director of the Saltzman Institute Japanese newspapers.
of War and Peace Studies, 2008
Undecided

December | Columbia Political Review 27