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Archive for the ‘Ed Lima’ Category

The Case For Mike Huckabee

Posted by iusbvision on February 4, 2008

By the time this issue of The Vision hits the stand, two dozen states will have put Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul – and their Democratic Party counterparts — through the test of fire called Super Tuesday (or Super Duper Tuesday, as it has been dubbed recently). No other contest in recent years has attracted so much attention and drawn so many indelible lines in the public’s consciousness like the 2008 presidential race, perhaps because so much is at stake. If the 2000 and 2004 elections were polarizing, 2008 has elevated polarization to a level of utmost and precarious meltdown.    

There has been an insurmountable amount of bickering on both sides of the aisle, and personal attack ads have run rampant in South Carolina and Florida. At times, it’s hard to tell if the candidates have the interest of the people of the United States of America at heart, or if their interest lies in furthering a particular partisan agenda. So it is no surprise that people interested in one candidate or another have to cut through the rhetoric with a machete in search for anything resembling a platform worth adhering to. One candidate, however, has been running what could be called the cleanest, most issues-centered campaign out of the candidates still on the race. His name: former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.    

After winning the Iowa caucus, Huckabee has transformed from a complete unknown into a de facto contender. A former Baptist preacher who also served 11 years as the 44th governor of the state of Arkansas – only the second Republican since Reconstruction to achieve such a feat – Huckabee embarked into the presidential race running a campaign with very little money and relying heavily on the grassroots support of thousands who saw in him a true, unwavering conservative. His orthodox belief in the sanctity of life, his uncompromising and unabashed position regarding his faith, and support of a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman has truly struck a chord with conservatives, especially the evangelical base of the Republican Party. In addition, his proposed policies for securing the border –a 9-point strategy called The Secure America Plan – are one of the toughest by any candidate. His platform also focuses on education, infra-structure modernization, and health care.    

But the most audacious feature of his platform is the institution of a progressive national sales tax that would replace all federal income and payroll taxes, a plan commonly known as the FairTax. This would virtually place the IRS out of business and ensure a true economic stimulus, much more so than tax rebates could ever do. Huckabee’s position regarding the IRS should come as no surprise: as governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee cut taxes to the tune of $380 million and left the state of Arkansas with a $1 billion surplus.    

Pundits have criticized Huckabee, calling him ‘un-electable’, and have dubbed him ‘the destroyer of the conservative movement’, undoubtedly because some of his policies while governor were not to the liking of conservatives. Another writer for The Vision has even quoted Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative political activist, as accusing Huckabee of ‘leaving the Arkansas Republican Party in shambles’. Since I don’t have the hard data pointing to the moribund state of the Republican Party in Arkansas, I will take instead the word of the people in Arkansas, who thought highly enough of Huckabee to actually re-elect him twice as their governor. As a conservative, this is what irks me the most abut the movement: some pundits, especially those in talk radio, are more concerned with whether the tenets of conservatism are upheld, rather than examine each candidate on a case-by-case basis to determine if his policies and decisions were good to the people,  and not if these policies were ingratiating to conservatism or the Republican Party. Some of these same pundits who were at Bush’s beck and call were quick to jump boat once the president unveiled some of his more ‘compassionate conservative’ initiatives. Chalk this one up to my global world view, where I tend to side with Christian New Labor in terms of Latin American politics, but effecting social reform for the well-being of all Americans should be its government’s number one priority, whether these policies clash with the elitist position of über -conservatives or not. And this is exactly why I have chosen Mike Huckabee: he is not afraid to go against the elite of the conservative movement or the vicious criticism of liberals in his state and Washington to bring into fruition policies that benefited the people of the state of Arkansas    

As a president, he will continue his legacy and will not play into the hands of establishment know-it-alls who would rather see him as a sheep of the conservative movement.    

Alas, the media has dubbed this a ‘3-men-and-one-lady’ race, discarding Huckabee’s chance to become the nominee. In the same week when the New York Giants have pulled off one of the greatest upsets in American football history, I hope Mike Huckabee can pull just as big an upset on Super Tuesday and go on to become the next president of the United States.

Ed Lima 

Posted in Campaign 2008, Ed Lima | 12 Comments »

Are Latinos (finally) Breaking Cinematic Stereotypes?

Posted by iusbvision on January 25, 2008

For many decades, Hollywood’s depiction of Latinos has been marred with stereotypes and misconceptions. To look in Hollywood circa 1930 for a film that did not in some shape or form depicted Latinos in a condescending way would be an exercise in futility. Latinos were often pigeonholed as either the exotic bon vivant, rotund dictator from south of the border, or the jolly bearded outlaw taking his siesta under a cactus after taking orders from the Anglo posse leader or the sheriff.

What is even more disheartening is that, sometimes, those stereotypes were reinforced by some of their own. From Cantinflas to Carmen Miranda, the few Latino actors in a position to establish or represent a more accurate portrait of Latinos in North America often perpetuated the stereotypes even further.
Luckily, not all is lost. Thanks to the vision and talent of actors – and pioneers – such as Cesar Romero ( of the TV Series Batman fame) and later with Edwards James Olmos, Selma Hayek and Antonio Banderas to name a few, Hollywood began to slowly recognize the flair and performing ability of Latino actors as appealing to the American mainstream for more than just their exoticism.

In recent years, that paradigm has extended even further. As the Latino demographic expands, Hollywood has become more receptive to the works of Latino directors and producers, and their films have began to compete mano-a-mano with their Anglo counterparts in awards such as The Oscars, Golden Globe, and Sundance.
In addition, moviegoers are beginning to warm up to the concept of films made entirely in Spanish or Portuguese, with English subtitles. The list is a who’s who of talent Hollywood right how: The Motorcycle Diaries, Y tú Mama También, Central do Brasil, and the upcoming Tropa de Elite are all fine examples of the new wave of Latino filmmaking that is breaking down the boundaries and finally establishing Latinos in Hollywood as cinema powerhouses.
Here are three examples of just such movies:

In Joshua Martson’s Maria Full of Grace, Catalina Sandino Moreno plays Maria, a pregnant seventeen year-old Colombian who supports her family with her salary as a campesina. After losing her job and facing a total lack of perspective of finding a new job, she decides to accept the offer to work as a drug mule, flying to the USA with sixty-two pellets of cocaine in her stomach. The film has earned accolades from the 2004 Sundance Festival and the 2004 Berlin Film Festival, earning Sandino Moreno an Oscar nomination in 2004 for Best Actress.

Mexican director Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth tells a story of a girl in 1944 fascist Spain who is fascinated with books and fairy tales. She is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. At night, she enters a fantasy world that is beautiful and charming, as it is terrifying. Pan’s Labyrinth has earned 3 Oscars in 2007 and numerous other awards in festivals throughout the world.

Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’ City of God describes the saga of Buscapé and Marreco, two brothers struggling to survive in Cidade de Deus, one of the most violent slums of Rio. While one becomes a photographer, the other becomes a drug dealer in Rio’s crime underworld. At the center of Buscapé’s narrative is Zé Pequeno, a local drug lord, as a merciless gangster who engages other gangs in wars for drug trafficking territory. Based on a true story, City of God has been acclaimed as the best gangster film since Goodfellas and was nominated for 4 Oscars in 2002.

Ed Lima

Posted in Ed Lima | Leave a Comment »

Iowa Caucus – Did it really matter?

Posted by iusbvision on January 12, 2008

It is now the weekend after the Iowa caucus. After months of rhetoric, speculation, and polling, all which culminated last Thursday’s victory by the once long-shot Mike Huckabee, the dust has settled, the candidates have moved their entourages away from the bake shops and coffee houses in the Hawkeye state and set their aims at New Hampshire.

(By the way: if you were wondering about the Wyoming primary, it happened on Saturday the 5th. If you blinked, you missed it. And so did the majority of the candidates. Mitt Romney garnered 8 of the 12 delegates, Fred Thompson won 3, and the darkest of all horses in the contest, Duncan Hunter, won one. Romney, Thompson and Hunter were the only GOP candidates to even visit the state prior to the primary.)

So much was said and written about Iowa and just how much meaning one should bestow upon the results there. Candidates poured millions of dollars in campaign advertisements, criss-crossing the state hoping that their message would resonate with Iowans and would compel them to vote. 

The ensuing media circus that preceded the caucus is being called the largest one in the past four presidential election campaigns. Poll after poll, those of us who actually give a hoot about the entire election process were left in a state of complete anticipation and apprehension. After the votes were tallied, we were faced with even more speculation on the meaning behind the Huckabee and Obama victories, and what their successes meant to the Clinton and Romney camps. Both congratulated their respective party’s victors but downplayed the results as merely a first (mis)step, the first battle in the war for the White House. And before the luncheons and pies and late-night lattes even had a chance to cool off, some were even questioning the significance of the Iowa results, if one existed at all.

So, did they mean anything? And the answer is a definite maybe.

It really depends who you ask. For Huckabee, it was a tremendous victory, one that is as conclusive and determining as they come. A few months ago, only a handful of hopeful optimistic supporters gave him a shot at even a third place in Iowa.  The surge that accompanied the Huck-a-Boom grassroots movement translated into a colossal achievement, as his statesman-like oration and composure (qualities honed in his years as a Baptist minister and governor of the state of Arkansas) struck a chord with Iowans who yearn for a change in Washington. But how much of a stretch was it to win Iowa, a state where 80% of those who cast a vote for Huckabee counted themselves as evangelicals’?

That is precisely what critics point out as being Huckabee’s Achylles Heel: his ability to take his message across faith lines and into states considered more ‘secular’ than Iowa. Some pundits even consider him unelectable and called his victory a flash in the pan. But as more and more polls trickle in from South Carolina, Michigan, even California and beyond, the victory in Iowa seems to indicate a tremendous momentum for Huckabee.

However, in his first post-Iowa contest, he is struggling in New Hampshire, where he trails behind Romney and McCain and is tied with none other than Ron Paul in third place. His war chest is not as fat as the other proponents and he will need the endorsement of a major evangelical group in order to receive an injection of much-needed cash.

For Romney, the loss in Iowa is particularly disheartening because of his victory in last summer’s GOP Straw Poll. Two months ago, Romney was the candidate to beat according to all major polls. As McCain surges in New Hampshire, a back-to-back knockout could prove to be devastating to the former Massachusetts governor. He will have to concentrate his entire campaign machine to defeat McCain, and in a state that is night-and-day in comparison to Iowa in terms of welcoming mudslinging ads, his campaigning style might prove to be effective.

Both McCain and Giuliani made no secret that they would be putting all their chips on a New Hampshire victory. Giuliani didn’t even campaign in Iowa, and as of the weekend prior to New Hampshire, the polls show him in fifth place. Even in the event of yet another defeat, the former New York mayor shows no signs of hanging up his gloves, determined to fight until the end. McCain has the spotlight in New Hampshire, leading all the polls despite his poor showing in Iowa and will come out swinging at Romney, his closest rival in the state.

On the democratic side, there were significant lessons learned. If on the GOP side, Huckabee has to prove he can gain the ‘secular’ vote, Barack Obama was faced with an even more daunting task: winning the white vote. After Iowa, a state comprised of 95% whites, that uncertainty has all but dissipated. His victory in Iowa was historic and resonant for a candidate that has downplayed the ‘race card’ and who has instead stuck to discussing the issues. The populist John Edwards finished a respectable second place but was counting heavily on a victory in Iowa to give his money-starved campaign a financial boost. With New Hampshire polls showing Edwards trailing Obama and Clinton by double digits, it remains to be seen whether the second place finish in Iowa will do the job.

No other candidate was more deeply and negatively impacted by the results in Iowa than Hillary Rodham Clinton. The former first lady finished third behind Obama and Edwards and her campaign was left scrambling for answers. Once a virtual shoo-in in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and lauded as the inevitable winner of the dems’ nomination, the senator for New York and former first lady has seen her lead evaporate right before her eyes. She brought the entire Clinton electoral machine to Iowa and betted high on a victory there. Finishing a dismal third and now ceding the lead in the polls in New Hampshire, she could be 0-2 going into Michigan, leaving her campaign in utter disarray.

A poor showing in New Hampshire will leave her constituency wondering what went wrong and if the nomination would even be feasible. Could it be that the cult of personality that surrounds the Clinton name may not be enough after all? Or was it the fact that she arrived by helicopter at many of the events in Iowa – a move that could be interpreted as elitist and haughty rather than presidential by voters? But most important of all, if her message is ignored by middle-America, mostly blue-collar Iowa, and by the East-Coast-Ivy-League-Hamptons-bourgeois New Hampshire, who else is left to woo? The hardcore, MoveOn.org crowd? It was proven highly ineffective in 2004 and I doubt it will work this time around.

Still, it is anybody’s game after Iowa. Trend lines seem to indicate it being the case. Ronald Reagan lost in Iowa and went on to win the nomination and consequently the election. Bill Clinton, a veteran of past Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries is the only candidate ever to lose both states and still win the presidency. So if you ask again if Iowa really means anything, I would suggest that it is all a matter of perception. Iowa is the place where the candidates have their first opportunity to showcase their ability to sway a small number of voters in a very specific part of the country. To the victor goes the spoils, like the campaign momentum to continue on to other, more prominent primaries, and the possibility of raising more funds. Iowa is a test of fire, a thermometer that indicates the fever pitch of any given presidential campaign. And if the 2007 caucus is any indication, we are in for an exciting ride.

Ed Lima

Posted in Campaign 2008, Ed Lima | Leave a Comment »

When the Eagle Cries

Posted by iusbvision on December 17, 2007

Another day just like any other
Out of the blue it turned to horror
How could they?
Why would they?
The innocent suffered hell’s inferno
A senseless act that goes unforgotten
How could they?
They will pay

When the eagle cries
(Blood will flow)
When the eagle cries
(For freedom’s fight)
When the eagle cries
(We love her so)
When the eagle cries
(We will sacrifice)
When the eagle cries

Out of the ashes came a tempting vengeance
But we are focused, we seek redemption
We are free
We’ll stay free
All they’ve done is make us stronger
The sleeping giant is asleep no longer
If need be
We’ll die free

When the eagle cries
(Blood will flow)
When the eagle cries
(For freedom’s fight)
When the eagle cries
(We love her so)
When the eagle cries
(We will sacrifice)
When the eagle cries

Music & Lyrics by Jon Schaffer of ICED EARTH 

Posted in Ed Lima, Volume 4, Issue 7 | Leave a Comment »

Almost There – Free the West Memphis Three

Posted by iusbvision on November 16, 2007

Damien Echols. Jason Baldwin. Jessie Misskelley. These are hardly household names. You probably never heard of them – a shame, really, considering that they are the main protagonists in one of America’s most astonishing cases of blundered police work and shoddy judicial prosecution.

They are known as The West Memphis Three, a group of young men who were arrested as teenagers in the murders of three 8-year-old boys in the spring of 1993. According to the prosecution, the three boys were murdered and subsequently mutilated – one of them had the skin around his genitals completely and precisely removed – in a drainage ditch in the now infamous Robin Hood Hills neighborhood of West Memphis, Arkansas.

In a dramatic display reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials, the three teenagers were accused and tried for the murders without a single piece of material evidence, in a trial featuring tales of satanic rituals and occultism. Fabricated testimony after fabricated testimony, the three teens were convicted simply because they wore black clothing and listened to heavy metal. The prosecution’s main argument rests on the confession made by Jessie Misskelley himself, who has an IQ of 72 and is borderline mentally impaired.

Jessie sat for 12 hours of interrogation at the West Memphis Police Department without his legal guardians and without representation, without food or water, and under constant pressure by the cops. He finally caved in and provided a disconnected — and clearly coerced — account of the murders, implicating himself, Damien and Jason as perpetrators. Jessie and Jason were sentenced to life in prison. Damien, the supposed ringleader, was sentenced to death by lethal injection. It is noteworthy that Jessie was tried separately from Damien and Jason, and at the time the prosecutor’s office considered Jessie’s testimony in the case against the other two accused to be absolutely paramount for a conviction. Yet, even after being offered a plea bargain, Jessie refused to testify against his two friends. He refused to lie, even to save himself.

The documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and the follow-up film Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, both produced by HBO, depict with painful and exhaustive exactitude the events that lead to the conviction of Damien, Jason, and Jessie. One cannot watch them without a sense of complete and utter disgust and hopelessness.
How could this happen in 20th century America? How could the judicial system fail in such a blatant and horrifying manner? But the most compelling revelation is that under the right circumstances, it could happen to anyone. This was a very combustible, volatile combination of satanic panic, public hysteria, and slapdash police work that concluded with the conviction of three teenagers whose only ‘sin’ was a penchant for dressing in black and their taste in music.

The extraordinary mobilization this case has created in all sectors of society — from artists, lawyers, to politicians and forensic experts – attests to the significance and the injustice brought forth by the ruling, and just how far-reaching the scope of the case really is. An insurmountable amount of money and resources have been utilized to clear the West Memphis Three from the killings. Donations have poured in from all corners of the globe; local WM3 chapters have organized concerts and other fundraising events; and lawyers have worked tirelessly (some pro bono). And after more than 15 years of angst, anger, and sometimes bleak resignation after every appeal for a retrial was defeated in the Arkansas Supreme Court, their efforts seemed to have finally paid off.

After conducting exhaustive DNA tests in dozens of pieces of evidence, the concluding results shows no link whatsoever to any of the accused, but rather single out the father of one of the slaughtered boys and possibly implicates him in the murders. For all of us who have shared the fear, the inconformity and the indignation that have desolated Damien, Jason, and Jessie, this comes as extraordinary news. We also mourn for the three innocent boys whose lives were so brutally interrupted, who are now vindicated as true justice will finally put the real perpetrators behind bars.

But the scars remain and can never be fully healed. The three young men who have paid dearly for a crime they did not commit have been subjected to 15 years of hell in the Arkansas Corrections System. Damien has confessed that he has been raped several times while in prison – a practice sometimes reserved to inmates who commit crimes against children. But through it all, he remained optimistic. He has written a book called Almost Home: My Life Story Vol. I which chronicles his time spent imprisoned while waiting for an absolution that sometimes seemed so far away. Jason spends most of his time reading books from various authors, as has Jessie. Always waiting, always hoping, always faithful. It appears impossible to fathom the exhilaration they will feel when they are finally set free. Justice, albeit belated, seems finally achievable. And not a minute too soon.

“Remember, Red: hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”
– Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption

The fight for justice in the WM3 case had reached a pivotal point. The new DNA evidence is definitely an astounding accomplishment, but the struggle is far from over. For more information on the case, please watch Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, both available in DVD and VHS at your local video store. Also, please visit http://www.wm3.org for updated news, media files, court documents, and the a comprehensive coverage of the case.

Ed Lima

Posted in Ed Lima | 7 Comments »

Dorms, Norms, and the New University Model

Posted by iusbvision on October 22, 2007

These are momentous times at IU South Bend. With the construction of the new student housing complex, the university is positioning itself to attract in- and out-of-state students and to compete against other area universities for a piece of the traditional student money pie.

As it is the case, this new initiative is not impervious to controversy: the newly-released housing website FAQ page announces that the new housing development will not accept applications from married couples and families, and there are talks of a formal dispute to be filed on behalf of the affected parties. With the work across the river well under way, I caught up with Teresa Santos, secretary for the Student Government Association to get her insight on the role the SGA has played in this new venture and the job that lies ahead.

What role did the SGA have  in the planning and development of the new student housing facility?

Over the past academic year or two, the SGA has appointed various individuals to attend meetings and speak with administration about what was being planned for housing. I attended a number of those sessions and a few others were former SGA President’s Mike Renfrow and Marcus Vigil, and Chief-of-Staff Kim Muncie.

We have spoken up to point out things that students have expressed concerns over or had a desire to see. Some of which are access to facilities by off-campus students, security, the kinds of recreational facilities we would like to see, and the cost of living in the dorms.

Our concern that off-campus students have access to the site was met; all students will have access to public areas of the community building, soccer field, and the bicycle and pedestrian trail. The community building will house laundry facilities, an exercise room, a computer room, two study rooms, a large event room with a big screen TV and fireplace, and the housing offices. The trail will have lighting, landscaping, emergency phones, bike racks and some scenic gathering spots with benches including a cantilever that will be directed out over the water. 

Mike Prater, Director of Facilities Management, commented that attention is also being directed towards the required retention pond, and thoughts are being discussed that will allow for a useful development, such as a wooden walkway with native plantings versus just a pond. Students also voiced concern over the cost of residency and the administration did take our views under advisement. I think they are reasonably priced and the estimates for renting them did come down.

The apartments are accessible by key card through a main entrance, and each apartment will be accessible by the same key card, after which each resident can enter their bedroom with their own key. Administration has been very active in getting student opinions about what we wanted in student housing. Last year, Chancellor Reck held a number of campus forums where she could discuss housing and directly solicit students for their opinions. The soccer field was a desire of the students and that was incorporated into the plans for the site.

When are the new tenants expected to start occupying the units?

Housing is on schedule to be completed in June of 2008. They will be made available for fall 2008; however I do not yet know the projected dates of move-in.

What are the criteria for selecting the occupants?

Applications are not yet available, but they will be available no later than January 2, 2008. This is a question for Vice-Chancellor Bill O’Donnell, but I believe the Student Housing Advisory Board will be addressing this.

Are there any plans to repair the existing student houses around the campus?

This question should be directed to Mike Prater, Director of Facilities Management. I do not have sufficient knowledge of the matter and this would best be addressed by Mike Prater or the President of the SGA, Ivan Blount, as he is the spokesperson for the SGA. The SGA, to my knowledge, has not received any complaints on the matter, during my tenure.

What are your thoughts regarding the school’s policy that prevents married couples and families from applying for residency at the new dorms, and what is the SGA’s position on the matter?

The SGA has not addressed this issue. While I am not yet up-to-date on the full policy concerning married couples and families, which keeps them from applying for housing in the dorms, I can tell you that it is not unusual for public or private universities to have such a policy. Generally housing runs in sections for individuals with similar goals and lifestyles; single undergraduate students, graduate students, married students and students with families.

I myself have lived in college dorms as well as married student housing, and from my personal experience, thus my own personal opinion, singles and married/families together in campus dorms wouldn’t have mixed well. This isn’t an apartment complex built with the intention of housing individuals who will live, go to work, and raise their families.

This is a dorm with the focus being on the support of students who are leaving home, perhaps for the first time, and going to away to college. Many colleges and universities have married/family student housing in a separate area of their campuses, it is a different environment that is conducive to their lifestyle. I am not saying whether the policy is right or wrong, good or bad, but it is what it is. Remember, we are just starting out in the beginning stages of student dorms and there is nothing that says married dorm-type housing can’t happen in a later stage.

The housing process will come in stages and we actually do have housing available for married students and families. The University has a number of homes currently utilized by students that surround the campus and they are available for rent by married students, students with families, graduate students, faculty and staff.

Do you believe it is the university’s job to determine which environment is more conducive  to the lifestyle of married couples and families? Knowing of the problems that the student houses are having, don’t you think that it sends the message that the school is willing to cater and give special treatment to traditional students while relegating married students to a lower level?

I believe my first answer is sufficient at this time.

Do you foresee the new dorms playing an important role in attracting a more traditional type of student to IU South Bend?

Yes, I do foresee that happening. We are right on the cusp of an opportunity to truly make an impact and offer something that will make a real difference in our student’s lives. This is an exciting time for our campus and planning for our dorm residents is crucial at this stage. We can make a positive difference or a negative difference in the lives of not only our on-campus students, but also our off-campus students. I for one believe that this will be a positive life-changing and campus-changing event. I think that we will have an opportunity to develop a richer student life experience through our clubs and organizations and through sports. The soccer field will play a major role in attracting more traditional students.

The Search and Screen Committees are narrowing down the candidate field for the new Director of Student Life, and part of his or her responsibilities will be the integration and event planning for on-campus students into student life at IUSB. We are actively searching for a Housing Director and 2 auxiliary staff persons, and there will also be 8 RA’s, who will serve as support staff for the students. Our Director of the Health and Wellness Center Laura Hieronymus, RN, is already looking towards educating students on what they can do to stay healthy and for ways for the campus can handle the inevitable trips students will have to take to see a doctor or to go to the hospital. Mike Prater has said that the campus is going in a new direction.  We have an opportunity to make a change, a real difference in the lives of students.  There is a lot that we can do and still have to do – communication and involvement is the key.

Ed Lima
 

Posted in Ed Lima, Volume 4, Issue 5 | Leave a Comment »

Welcome to the U.S., Mahmoud. Now Go Away.

Posted by iusbvision on September 25, 2007

By the time you read this, one of the most catastrophic blunders in the history of US diplomacy and homeland security will have taken place. Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the Iranian president who for years has been one of the most outspoken and vitriolic enemies of the United States, will have been allowed to enter American soil to address the United Nations General Assembly. And while the UN is technically not considered American sovereign territory, I’m sure Mr. Ahmedinejad will go for a stroll through the streets of New York City to grab a bite to eat at some of their world-renowned delis, while being guarded by dozens of Secret Service agents — paid for by the graces and auspices of American taxpayers to provide security for a man who hates this country with every breath he can muster.

To add insult to injury, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has been invited by Columbia University in New York to deliver a speech as part of their World Leaders Forum, addressing faculty and students alike. The university, under the guise of academic integrity and freedom, thumbs their nose at America in a despicable elitist demonstration of disrespect that boggles the mind and defies logic. In a town with such a large Jewish community such as New York, the man who claims that the holocaust was “a myth” and wishes Israel was “wiped off the map” is received with open arms by the intellectual pseudo-elites of that magnificent brick-and-mortar monument to moral relativism.

It may sound strange to some of you, but I actually defend Columbia’s decision to allow Ahmedinejad to speak. No – defend is perhaps too strong a word. It implies that I have a vested commitment in some level to their decision, which I do not. My position is more of indifference than support, of ‘un-amusement’ than outrage. The fact of the matter is, the overwhelming barrage of leftist rhetoric that oozes from academia nowadays demonstrates their complete and utter disregard for the morals and worldview of the majority of Middle-America, which they despise for their lack of finesse and acculturation. To somehow demand that they uphold our national interest in a higher degree would be an exercise in futility. So the outcry is that Columbia University should cancel Ahmedinejad’s appearance and listen to the voice of common sense on the issue. My reply is, they have yet to behave in such a way, so why start now?

But not all ears are shut to the voices of reason: the NYPD Chief of Police has warned Ahmedinejad that he is not welcome to pay a visit to Ground Zero, which the Iranian president had planned to do. Even more defiantly ironic was Ahmedinejad’s plan to lay a wreath of flowers at the site. I believe I am not alone in saying this, but the world will be a better place when a wreath of flowers lays over Ahmedinejad’s grave.

Ed Lima

Posted in Ed Lima, Israel, Volume 4, Issue 3 | 5 Comments »

Do You Know Who This Man Is?

Posted by iusbvision on September 12, 2007

che.jpg 

“Hay que endurecerse pero sin perder la ternura jamás”

You have probably seen the picture:  The ubiquitous effigy of the fervent revolutionary, looking solemn and pensive as Alberto Korda shot the photograph that would turn him into an icon. Pop culture has immortalized him, rock stars wear t-shirts emblazoned with his face, but only a few can claim to know who he was. Most cannot even pronounce his name correctly. His legend, however,  lives on.

But before Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, the icon, there was Che Guevara the guerilla leader, the fearless combatant, The Butcher of La Cabaña who personally oversaw – and had the final decision upon – the execution of hundreds of his own countrymen. Before the romanticized Che, there was the bloodthirsty Che, the soldier who fought for the utopian socialist ideal and stopped at nothing to see that ideal become a reality.

“One must endure without losing tenderness”, is the famous quote attributed to Che – a far cry from the man who once claimed hatred as being “an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become.”

The dichotomy is perhaps the most telling feature of the cult of Gue Guevara, the icon: years of romanticizing by the media have turned the fiercest defender of authoritarianism into a symbol of liberty. He hated the West and its ‘money fetish’ and blamed Washington for the woes of South American peasants. He fought side-to-side with Fidel Castro to extirpate Cubans of their most basic freedoms and fundamental human rights and exterminated those who dare to stand between him and his ultimate goal: the destruction of capitalism and democracy.

Che Guevara, the sympathetic rebel lauded by the likes of Carlos Santana and Tom Morello, the figure whose physiognomy is known the world over, the most renowned symbol of social equality and freedom, was actually an enemy of freedom.

The adoring fans of the rebel free-thinking revolutionary, blinded by the obfuscating light of saint-in-waiting Che, seem oblivious to two inescapable truths: First, Cuba is in turmoil. It is a pressure cooker of social instability, aided by decades of military dictatorship and lagging growth that have rendered the nation’s economy virtually stagnated. Second, communism is dead. It has been proven time and again to be a failed system because it infringes on one of the most ingrained, natural tendencies of human beings: the desire of having more.

The Soviet Union, East Germany, and Albania, all have succumbed to the sweet bosom of el capitalismo salvaje that Che Guevara fought against. With Chaves’ Venezuela not-withstanding, Cuba and North Korea are the swan songs of an antiquated ideology that was predestined to fail. Even China is slowly waking up to that reality and opening up its markets to foreign investments and as a result it has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. From raw materials to finished goods, the awakening Asian giant exports billions of dollars each year to their western counterparts.

Meanwhile, Cuba’s main export is, well…Cubans.  Every year, thousands of dissidents flee Fidel Castro’s little utopian Club Red in search of the ‘better tomorrow’ promised by Castro and Che Guevara during the Cuban Revolution. Yet, where are the t-shirts and the movies with the faces of these thousands? Is their struggle less important, their cause less ‘sexy’ than that of the Argentinean hero of the Latin-American indigenists, himself born with a silver spoon? Does Hollywood give a damn about them?

To all these dissenters, this is the legacy of Che the icon: not The Motorcycle Diaries, but a nation-island marred in oppression and discontent. To hundreds, perhaps even thousands that were victimized by Che Guevara’s rampant and egocentric wanderlust, he wasn’t a martyr or a saint. To them, his image does not symbolize a struggle for freedom, but rather it brings them back memories of the ruthless ‘supreme prosecutor’ appointed by Castro to execute their political enemies.

Yet, there he stands. The unmovable obelisk of communist rhetoric, becoming what he hated the most: a product for capitalist exploitation. That is, perhaps, the irony of Che Guevara: The man who spent a lifetime speaking against the tyrannical hand of the imperialist capitalist West didn’t live long enough to see his face adorning t-shirts and coffee mugs and being lauded by musicians, sports starts, and other pseudo-celebrities.

The iconoclast became an icon himself. And as he stares into the oblivion, the hundreds that were killed under his watch are again victimized by his ambiguous fame as a freedom fighter. His face may be a hot commodity, but the cloth of all the shirts in the world cannot cover the scars left by his legacy.

Ed Lima

Posted in Ed Lima, Volume 4, Issue 2 | 1 Comment »