At Light & Truth, we encourage robust criticism and dissent, serious reflection, and satire. Our latest issue covers ongoing debates about everything from drone strikes in Pakistan to scandals right here at Yale. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America that he knew of “no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.” At Light & Truth, we hope to prove him wrong.
The March issue of the ecumenical journal First Things features a thought-provoking essay titled “Against Heterosexuality” by Michael W. Hannon. With its sensationalist title yet substantive arguments, it focuses on the nature, history, and implications of sexual orientation and its categories. Hannon’s piece is well worth the read, but its arguments suffer from serious flaws.
Hannon presents his case as follows: The notion of sexual orientation as an essential aspect of the human person is a relatively new idea, a “fragile social construct” that only came about in the nineteenth century. Contrary to the claims of “orientation essentialism,” therefore, sexual orientation is not innate to the human condition, having not existed as a category of identification for the vast majority of human history. Furthermore, just as it was once constructed, the idea of sexual orientation must now be deconstructed, for it breeds vice in allowing individuals to identify themselves by their sexual desires and label themselves as either heterosexual or homosexual.
Why is a witty though biting comment only “bitchy” when it comes from a woman? The “Ban Bossy” campaign strives to bring attention to a double standard that discourages women from pursuing leadership. Critics uncharitably ask, “isn’t it bossy to try to ban a word?” and argue that, as being bossy actually is a bad thing, we should have a word to describe such behavior. I don’t think we should ban words, but I do think we should engage with the spirit of the campaign.
Historically, the world has been run and structured by men. Only recently have women had access to the same level of education and opportunity as that half of the population which happens to be born with a Y chromosome. Furthermore, there are biological differences between men and women that would be senseless to ignore. Women tend to be smaller and shorter than men, who are additionally blessed with lower voices and more aggressive demeanors.
This is not an argument against the legality of drone strikes, although there is a strong case to be made for a serious re-evaluation of the drone program. Instead I want to write about the very real human effects strikes have in my home country of Pakistan, though they’re also deployed in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen.
It’s been an interesting experience hearing public discourse on drones in America, and having discussions on the topic myself with various Yalies, many of whom are proponents, The detached nature of the dialogue here is so at odds with the impassioned rhetoric employed back home, where drones cannot escape any part of the conversation about the imperialist, war-mongering, Islamophobic America the vast majority of Pakistanis have rooted in their minds. It’s difficult to shift to the very removed way Pakistani lives are talked about and to hear vast underestimations of the radicalizing effects of drone use, when I have personally witnessed. Continue reading
Songsters, poets, seniors, and of course, Class of 2018,
I’ve been asked to give a graduating senior’s perspective on Yale, and there seems no better way to do this than through its songs. It will be show rather than tell, letting Yale speak for itself, and with words far better than any I could create. It will give lenses through which you might experience Yale, since the lyrics will come to mind later, and will make salient everything which accords with them. “Everybody at Yale sings,” and many Yale songs go undiscovered by most since there are so many, with at least one being added to the official canon every year. Thus, I must share this treasure trove with you.
In our latest issue, Ms. Koul implores Yale to establish a core curriculum, Mr. Gregory challenges our ideas of punishment, and Mr. Halikias elucidates the true meaning of social justice. The issue also features commentary from Mr. Lilienfeld on the writings of Isaiah Berlin, Mr. Aboutorabi on the conservatism of Richard Weaver, and Mr. Lizardo on the role of Catholicism in William F. Buckley’s philosophy. Editorials characteristically critical of Yale’s administration round out our longest issue in years. Check it out here!
Before this semester, I had never experienced the social buzz surrounding “gut classes” (a code word for courses that lack academic rigor and have astoundingly low workloads). As someone who arrived at Yale determined to take those challenging classes that my high school didn’t offer, I usually tried to sidestep the conversations about which classes had the easiest grading, the least work, or frequently showed movies in class. This semester, though, they were unavoidable. By allowing students to efficiently rank courses by workload, professor ratings, and overall class ratings, CourseTable, a.k.a. Yale Bluebook+, made identifying guts easier than ever before.
Last September, Yale could boast an impressive 617 registered undergraduate organizations. At the start of this semester, thanks to new registration requirements implemented by the Dean’s Office, it could claim less than half that number, a measly 279. A university that prides itself in its undergraduate community should be seriously concerned.
What is a liberal education and at what is it aimed?
Implementing any curriculum, even the chaotic cafeteria that passes for a liberal education in American universities today, assumes some answer to that question. As different points in the history of the West have responded differently, it is important that we too understand the necessity of wondering: why are we here?
Over the last two years, I have pondered why I am not doing what my parents expected I would at university: studying engineering, computer science, or anything, for that matter, which might earn me a lot of money in the future. Many of us spend our time at Yale reading books, learning languages, and talking about it all, but to what end? Prof. Kagan’s farewell lecture provides a wise and comprehensive answer to these questions.