Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

Taking a shot at critics
Feb04

Taking a shot at critics

American Sniper, the gut-wrenching film that depicts the life of former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle has become an instant, box office sensation. The accomplished sniper has been lauded as a hero by many, but there are some who don’t think Kyle’s actions were so noble.   In a tweet, actor Seth Rogen compared American Sniper to a Nazi propaganda film. Hollywood producer Michael Moore tweeted similar sentiments saying, “We were taught snipers were cowards” who will “shoot you in the back.”   While it’s true that snipers don’t engage in hand-to-hand combat, calling Chris Kyle a coward and comparing the film to Nazi propaganda shows ignorance in regard to what the film is truly about.   Nazi propaganda showed that it was an honor to kill others. They killed because they didn’t think certain people had the right to be alive and they took pride in doing so. Anyone who sees this in American Sniper is drastically missing the point.   Kyle didn’t shoot because he thought his targets were unworthy of living, he shot because his targets were a threat to his fellow soldiers and a threat to liberty in the Middle East. He didn’t take pride in the fact that someone died by his hand, but he did it because he felt it was necessary to protect the greater good.   While some in Hollywood may not view Kyle as an American hero, his native state of Texas does. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently declared Feb. 2 Chris Kyle Day.   Former Gov. Rick Perry described Kyle’s legacy best during a memorial service in Feb. 2013.   “Chris Kyle was the public face of an anonymous breed of American warrior who are handed the hardest missions and assume the largest risks,” Perry said. “Chris was among the very best at what he did, and he saved countless American lives in the process.”   We don’t honor Kyle for those he killed, because that would be patriotic propaganda. Instead, we honor him for the lives he saved and for his desire to protect the freedom of those who can’t protect...

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Noble idea, bad idea
Feb04

Noble idea, bad idea

One nation under God, indivisible with free tuition for all. At least that’s the pledge President Barack Obama made during this year’s State of the Union Address. Students at junior colleges with grade point averages of 2.5 and higher would have their costs completely covered.   While many Americans believe the White House’s proposal of free community college for every citizen is a noble gesture, some aren’t so sure it’s a practical one.   Supposing this plan was fiscally feasible, what happens to the influx of graduates who either enter the workforce with associate degrees or continue on to universities? How about working bipartisanly with Congress to implement measures to stabilize the economy so more jobs are available for the people who do pursue higher education? Qualifications are only as good as the market’s demand for them.   Transforming academia into a collegiate puppy mill churning out a flood of cookie-cutter graduates will only exacerbate the already inundated job market. We should be stressing the importance of identifying and choosing both traditional and unconventional career paths suited to each student’s unique aptitudes.   For instance, a certificate from a technical school that provides training in welding or specialized machinery is more practical in today’s energy-dependent, machine-driven society than a general business degree earned by someone who may have no aspirations of doing anything in a related field.   How will handing out tuition indiscriminately to students improve their work ethic? The incentive to achieve doesn’t seem to exist. According to data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, only about 19 percent of those who already receive federal funding for community college complete two-year associates degrees within three years. Why should the government and taxpayers invest more resources in such a dismal failure?   This plan spells big trouble for four-year institutions as there will be a lack of freshmen and sophomore students. Downsizing will most likely mean less government funding, which translates into fewer faculty and staff positions adding to unemployment.   Because these schools have fewer students, tuition will be all more expensive for those who try to continue their degrees after becoming accustomed to free community college tuition. This aggravates the rampant student loan problem, further hampering the economic independence of the lower and middle classes.   There is also the question of undocumented immigrants and their children, many of whom already receive assistance at the expense of American-born citizens. Will the taxpayers have to further subsidize their educations? When will the incentives for immigrating to this country illegally be cut off so America can see that its own are cared for?   What about...

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Keystone XL: Conflict coming down the pipe
Feb04

Keystone XL: Conflict coming down the pipe

For years, progress on the Keystone XL Pipeline was slowed due to stringent opposition of environmentalists on the left. It’s a shame, seeing the pipeline promises jobs.   The climate-consciousness oppose the pipeline, claiming it to be an environmental killer. Our president happens to be one of them. Even after the Senate voted 62-36 in favor of the energy infrastructure project (nine of which were democrats), President Obama will most likely seek to veto the bill.   Al Gore, who’s known to blow smoke of all kinds, has become the Obama’s administration leading source for facts on climate change.   He told the Huffington Post the pipeline is a threat for climate change reasons.   In his climate speech last June, Obama said he’d support Keystone XL if it “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”   Keystone XL’s effects will resemble a pin-prick, not an atom bomb. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates Keystone’s greenhouse gas emissions currently amount to less than one percent of the United States’ total per year. The U.S. produces 5.5 billion metric tons of carbon pollution of the world’s 32.6 billion tons, coming in second to China, which puts out 8.7 billion tons. Keystone’s maximum addition to the nation’s greenhouse gas footprint: a measly .04 percent maximum. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions stated it a small increase. Nothing significant, Mr. President.   Keystone XL Pipeline’s benefits certainly outweigh any risks associated with it.   U.S. State Department reviews show global oil demands bid Canadian Oil come to market one way or another. These oil sands, the future of North America’s oil industry, could enter the U.S. by train, a hazardous endeavor.   Or, policy makers can approve the pipeline, not a foolproof transportation system, but with proper staffing and monitoring, a common sense routing system.   The Canadian Energy Research Institute says the United States can become the beneficiary of the following should an agreement come concerning the pipeline be reached: nearly half a million new jobs, more than $500 billion in U.S. government revenues by the year 2035 and energy security.   Go big or go home, America. Go Keystone XL. But then again, we don’t really have a say in the matter. Go pray 2016 will come...

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Artist ready to dish out new music in 2015
Feb04

Artist ready to dish out new music in 2015

Music plays a huge role in society today. New songs are always finding their way to the radio and iTunes, surprising people, or giving them something to look forward to.   It is only a little more than a month into 2015 and some groundbreaking music has already been released, leaving many people with high hopes for the upcoming new music for the rest of the year.   In the middle of January, Kanye West teamed up with Rihanna and Paul McCartney to record the song “Four Five Seconds.” It’s a little different sounding than any of these artists are really known for, but they work it.   While one of her songs, “All About That Bass,” became incredibly popular at the end of 2014, Meghan Trainor has let the world know she won’t be just a one-hit wonder. Her album, “Title,” also was released in January, shooting her newest single “Lips Are Movin’” to numbers three and four on the Billboard Hot 100.   Of course, it being so early in the year, there is more music from old and new artists that should peak just about everyone’s interest.   The new Imagine Dragons album “Smoke + Mirrors” is coming out later this month, finally feeding their fans new music since their last album was released in 2013.   Female rapper Iggy Azalea, who became popular in the middle of last year, is releasing her untitled album. The date is currently still pending, but she has been promoting it on her Twitter for several months.   Many artists who haven’t put out new music in several years are planning on making their debut this year. In March, Madonna and Ludacris are both releasing their albums, giving music lovers something to look forward to since both of these artists ran the music industry at some point in their careers.   Rock music junkies will be happy to know that Guns N’ Roses, Metallica and Muse are bringing new music in this year. Though the dates haven’t been announced, they have done a good job of promoting it on their websites.   Plenty of hip-hop and rap music will be making its way into the year with artists such as Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi and 50 Cent.   The women in the music industry are about to start reigning. Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani as a solo artist and her band No Doubt, Ellie Goulding and Lorde have also let it be known that they are releasing albums in this year.   The music industry is giving music lovers a lot to anticipate this year. With all the variety...

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Opinion: Terrorists confirm negative views of Quran

The hashtag “Je Suis Charlie,” (I am Charlie), infiltrated Twitter as millions across the world paid homage to the 12 killed in the terrorist attack on a Paris satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Two more subsequent attacks raised the death toll to 17.   Dialogue on national media programs immediately channeled its attention to the attack which claim more than lives, but free speech as well.   This is true: satirists are at risk when producing work that criticizes the prophet Mohammed and certain aspects of the Islamic faith.   We must be people who recognize Islam as a multi-faceted practice.   All faiths are. Not all Muslims approve of what happened in Paris; not all Muslims resort to terrorist action to spread their faith.   Islamic faith calls for Sharia to be implemented worldwide. The way that Muslims go about that, though, differs.   So to blame the Islamic faith as a whole is wrong.   Are Christians to blame when the Ku Klux Klan burns crosses in a black family’s yard?   No. Christian theology reprimands such deplorable action.   Laws found in the Old Testament required adulterers, disobedient children and homosexuals to be put to death, though. Do Christians abide by them today?   No, and it is all because of Jesus Christ. His teachings were revolutionary; they reformed the religion.   Islam is different from Christianity in that regard. Years of reformation and enlightenment led to a positive turn for the Christian faith.   Recent trends have sent Islam in the opposite direction. Extremism has become the predominant face of Islam. Its Reformation has become one of war. The Paris terror attacks confirm this. Few in the Islamic faith criticize these terrorists’ attacks and many more applaud them.   Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the attacks in Paris were not the act of a “lone-wolf gunman. This was not an ‘un-Islamic’ attack by a bunch of thugs—the perpetrators could be heard shouting that they were avenging the Prophet Muhammad.”   Within the Islamic faith, these actions are justified. Jesus Christ taught His followers to turn the other cheek.   The prophet Muhammad commands his name be honored and violators be ushered to death.   But there is much the West does not know of the Islamic culture and faith. Most believe what they see on television: the beheadings, kidnappings and terrorist attacks.   Six-time NBA champion and notable Muslim Kareem Adbul-Jabbar probably said it best in a post he wrote for Time magazine.   “Ironically, terrorism is actually an act against the very religion...

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Why I won’t go to Africa to help fight Ebola

As a nursing student, I participate in interdisciplinary ethics meetings with healthcare professionals and students. At the last meeting, the question posed was: “Would you go to Africa to help with the Ebola crisis?”   Some people said no, with reasons ranging from “I don’t feel qualified” to “We don’t know enough about the virus’ transmission.” Some said yes, because as healthcare professionals, we are to help other people. I said I would consider it.   When asked to explain, my heartbeat quickened; my face grew warm; my voice wavered. Not because of nerves but because this topic is emotional for me.   You see, I volunteered at a Cambodian hospital this summer and learned a lot about caring for health needs in other countries. Upon returning to the United States, I had more than dirty socks to unpack. With some nudging from a counselor, I delved into unpacking complex emotions and wrestling with the “why’s” of preventable suffering and death. Why did God want me to witness such suffering?   After many prayers the Lord showed me that he allowed me to see the suffering because He sees each person’s pain, too. He grieves compassionately for each of them, and He has invited me into that part of His heart. Though I never would have asked to be ushered into this part of God’s heart, He chose to bring me in anyway — and I know Him more intimately for it.   So when people asked about my response to Ebola, my voice wavered, my heart pounded and face flushed because talking about healthcare in other countries stirs up emotions. The reason I would not consider going is because seeing people suffer and die in a developing country is extremely hard emotionally, mentally and spiritually. When you know just as much as physicians about medical care for a disease, and you still do not know what to do to treat someone — that is one of the most helpless and overwhelming feelings that exists.   I have prayed about going, yet for now, I will not travel to help with the Ebola crisis because my heart is not ready for it. After a summer in Cambodia, there is unfinished grieving and healing for my heart to finish.   Perhaps, when we talk about going to Africa and the reasons we would or would not go, we are mistaken about the hardest parts of being there. Perhaps the hardest part would not be the fear of contracting the virus or not feeling qualified to treat a patient. Perhaps the hardest part would be the grieving it would demand from...

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