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BROWN | The Ivy League Breeds Obedient Capitalists

Prestigious universities like Cornell are, in theory, institutions where talented young people receive the education, ideas and skills needed to tackle the world’s most pressing issues.  A closer look into elite culture reveals that these conceptions are fantasies that serve privileged, wealthy sectors of society that equate their own interests with those of the rest of the world. While the concerns of financial institutions, big tech and other sources of extreme wealth are carefully looked after by Cornell as an institution and community, the most fundamental issues for the world’s poor majority and for future generations: Climate change, nuclear proliferation and widespread hunger, are hardly considered outside of abstraction. That two of these issues are existential threats to human civilization is a testament to the irrationality of managerial class interests which dominate discourse among the political, business and intellectual communities. That universities like Cornell ignore calls for modest steps towards social responsibility on climate change, whereas dialogue about world hunger and nuclear proliferation is virtually nonexistent, is demonstrative of an intellectual environment that discourages cosmopolitan, rational policy in favor of the pathological preservation of the status quo. Elite universities indoctrinate future professionals and upper-class members of society into conformity, creating generation after generation of obedient capitalists.

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BROWN | Spotlight on Hong Kong, Blackout on Haiti

Students walking between Collegetown and the Engineering Quad in recent weeks have seen the pro-Hong Kong slogans on the footbridge over Cascadilla Gorge. The Sun has featured several articles this semester about the protests rocking the semi-autonomous region, including a recent story on vandalism of the bridge stickers and other pro-Hong Kong posters on campus. Not a single article, however, mentions the deadly anti-government protests less than 700 miles from Miami that have thrown impoverished Haiti to a political standstill for most of 2019. But The Sun is not alone: The corporate media in the Global North have tacitly concluded that Haiti, unlike Hong Kong, is undeserving of our attention and sympathies. It is natural then to ask why Hong Kong gets so much attention from American politicians across the spectrum and every major news outlet despite much less violence against protestors.

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BROWN | Terrorism: Propaganda Versus Reality

There is hardly an accusation more damning in American political discourse than to be declared a “sponsor of terrorism.” We are used to certain countries, primarily Iran, being labeled by government officials and media outlets as state sponsors of terrorism. In the case of Iran, this claim is certainly true. But Sun columnist Michael Johns ’20, echoing a statement by former President George W. Bush, takes this accusation to the extreme by claiming that Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. The recent historical record, however, shows that this is far from true: It is the United States that routinely tops the list of rogue states with little regard for international law and diplomatic norms.

To make such an accusation against a country merits an investigation into its veracity. Johns references Iranian support for violent non-governmental actors such as the Lebanese militant-political party Hezbollah and Shi’ite militias in Iraq, as well as its ties to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as proof that Iran reigns world champion of terrorism.

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BROWN | Climate Change Isn’t the Only Reason to Divest From Fossil Fuels

Hundreds of Cornellians and millions of young people worldwide walked out of school or work on Friday, Sept. 20 to protest government inaction toward climate change and demand divestment from fossil fuels. The case for divestment has never been stronger: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded last year that a radical transition away from fossil fuels in just over a decade is necessary in order to avoid irreversible disaster. Yet inaction is precisely the strategy of Cornell’s Board of Trustees and President Martha Pollack, defying the wishes of the Student Assembly, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the Faculty Senate. The Board of Trustees states that it will divest only in the case of “morally reprehensible” activity in which “the company in question contributes to harm so grave that it would be inconsistent with the goals and principles of the University,” as if an existential threat to human civilization in the near future is not morally reprehensible.

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BROWN | Washington Strangles a Crippled Venezuela

Shelves bereft of food, hospitals short of medicine. Police brutality and state-sanctioned violence. Assassinations of United Socialist Party officials, government buildings set ablaze. Much of the blame for the inflation and recent economic mismanagement in Venezuela lies with President Nicolás Maduro and the ruling PSUV. But the United States’ brutal sanctions campaign and coup attempts have dramatically magnified Venezuela’s misery.

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BROWN | As the Amazon Burns, Brazil’s Political Nightmare Rages On

International outrage continues to grow over the massive destruction caused by forest fires currently burning across the vast Amazon rainforest. But much of the commentary in the West has failed to link the fires to Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, and his collaborationist allies among the Brazilian business and political elite who are encouraging illegal miners, farmers and ranchers to slash and burn whatever land they deem fit for industry. Bolsonaro and his henchmen are dedicated to the unchecked destruction of the Amazon and its indigenous peoples for short-term profit, and the new Brazilian government is in power thanks to the efforts of a group of reactionary elites who wished to ensure that the 2018 election would be sufficiently rigged in their favor. Western commentary has also largely ignored the human toll of the destruction of the Amazon, as Brazil’s indigenous peoples are engaged in a struggle for their very right to exist. On July 23, a leader of the Wajãpi people in the Northern Amazon was stabbed to death by illegal gold miners on protected ancestral lands, part of a trend of escalating land invasions and violence against indigenous populations.