Letters to the Editor 7/14

Column points out many faults

I would like to thank Ryan Meehan for the courage to speak out in these times when doing so can be unpopular and possibly dangerous. He is speaking truthfully about the sorry state of affairs in this country too often overlooked by blind “patriotism.” This is the job of the true patriot — to question poor decisions made by our government.

Patriotism is not about flag waving and sewing our mouths shut.

It is about taking a risk to do the right thing. Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death!” We are living in a time when our civil liberties are being stripped away one by one.

During the present administration’s watch, we have invaded two countries where innocent people were murdered. We have accomplished nothing by our deeds.

Our economy is in crisis. The number of homeless and unemployed continues to grow. Our surplus is now a huge deficit.

Health care is unaffordable. The American people have become lazy and obese. The dependence on mood elevating drugs, like Prozac, has become the norm. The “War on Drugs” is a losing battle.

Education is a low priority. The airwaves are being monopolized. Television news is slanted. We don’t know whom to trust.

Gasoline prices have been raised to an exorbitant price. Gigantic Hummers and generic SUVs are taking up the roads, wasting resources and isolating us even more. How many times have you seen one of these monstrosities with one person in it? Selfishness and greed are the order of the day.

The country is falling apart while being led by a naked emperor. Yet we see the flag on T-shirts, lapel pins, scarves, hats, toys, jewelry, etc. (ad nauseam) that were made in China. You don’t believe me? Go ahead and look at the tags on these “American” items. For that matter, investigate your clothes and shoes’ origins. We’re all a part of it, even if we’re unaware.

When you enjoy your latté at Starbuck’s or shop at The Gap, think about what types of practices these corporations engage in. This is not America. This is America, Inc.

Keep up the good work, Ryan. The truth is on your side.

Nori Cruz is majoringin Art History.

Natural selection is a misunderstood term

I found Ryan Meehan’s column, “Natural Selection Does Not Justify War,” both encouraging and troubling. Encouraging, because he attempted to confront the ethos of Darwinian determinism as a justification for the imposition of individual or collective will. Troubling, because he failed to understand that even in attempting to critique the paradigm, he permitted the opposition to define the terms of the debate. Even if we accept the questionable proposition that a theory of genetics can be successfully applied to a non-genetic process (social evolution), it is absolutely essential that we understand that Darwin did not suggest survival of the strongest, but survival of the fittest. The mechanisms of Darwinian evolution are such that “fittest” can be reasonably defined as “best adapted.” Successful adaptation is precisely what Mr. Meehan was advocating. But it is even more important that we change our perceptions of ourselves. If you look at the greatest (and the most horrible) things that humanity has accomplished, they have not been accomplished by the strongest individual, or even the strongest group. (I remind readers of the lessons of the Vietnam War.) These things have been accomplished by those with the greatest ability and determination to work together toward a common goal. Cooperation, kindness, sharing, communalism, and nurturing are as much a part of our “nature” as dominance and force. The best and most beautiful of what humanity has accomplished is a confusing mixture of all of these characteristics, not simply the rapacious ones that self-serving individuals use as justification for their greed, cruelty and insensitivity in short-sighted pursuit of their own advantage. If we are to survive as a species and as a world community, it truly is time to adapt and adopt a different view of what Darwinian evolution really means, and what our “nature” truly is.

Richard Olinger is an Academic Advisor for the School of Art and Art History.