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.

GOP gets bad rap: Republican Party unfairly cast as racist
Nov18

GOP gets bad rap: Republican Party unfairly cast as racist

Abraham Lincoln was a racist. Well, actually, he was a Republican, which to some means the same thing. It is accepted as truth by many that the Republican Party is the refuge of bigots and racists, while the Democratic Party is hailed as the champion of black Americans, especially with Barack Obama’s election. However, Republicans have historically been strong proponents of black advancement in America, and accepted truths to the contrary, they still are. From its beginning, the Republican Party stood to liberate black Americans from the oppression of slavery and racism. Lincoln, the first Republican president, secured freedom for black slaves, and many other Republicans after him continued in the same spirit. Ulysses S. Grant, who defeated the Confederacy, signed the first anti-Ku Klux Klan legislation as president. Jeremiah Haralson, Jefferson Long and other black Americans rose to be elected to Congress after the Civil War as Republicans. A Republican congress passed the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 over the veto of Democratic president Andrew Johnson and drafted the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed citizenship to black Americans. In 1964, a greater percentage of congressional Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act, and in 1966 Edward Brooke, a Republican, became the first elected black senator. Clarence Thomas, currently the only black Supreme Court justice, was appointed by President George H.W. Bush. General Colin Powell became the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appointed to the office by president Ronald Reagan. He became the first black secretary of state during President George W. Bush’s first term, and after his retirement, Condoleeza Rice took his place, the first black woman to hold the office. Despite this storied history, most black Americans today are Democrats. This may have to do with the fact that Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and he had much more national visibility than the Republican congressmen who joined him. While it’s true that today there are no black Republican congressmen or senators, that has more to do with demographics than anything else. If, as some surveys show, up to 90% of black Americans identify themselves as Democrats, there simply aren’t that many black Republicans to run. When they have, however, Republican voters have enthusiastically supported them. Former congressman J.C. Watts Jr, was elected as a Republican to four terms in Congress by voters in Oklahoma, an extremely white, Republican state. Lt. Governor Michael Steele of Maryland, a black Republican, ran unsuccessfully for one of the state’s senate seats in 2004, but he did receive the overwhelming majority of Republican votes. Fortunately, even some Democrats are beginning...

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More stuff won’t satisfy
Nov18

More stuff won’t satisfy

By Laura Beth Gebhardt Satisfaction does not exist in today’s society. There is always something better to work for, to obtain. The latest Ipod, the bigger plasma TV and the faster car are a few of these things. This constant desire for more leaves people constantly unsatisfied. This need for more is taught as early as childhood. Something as simple as watching Disney movies influences the way children think. Belle was discontent with her simple farm life, and longed for adventure. Ariel wanted the one thing she couldn’t have, the life and love of a human. She became so unsatisfied with living under the sea that she risked everything to get it. Jasmine was a princess who lived in luxury and yet wanted nothing more than to be the common person. Aladdin was the everyday man who looked up at Jasmine in envy. He longed for the life she lived. This idea carries on to people’s everyday life. If a people have curly hair, they want straight hair. If people have a car from the year 2005 they want the one from 2008. People become obsessed with getting the latest and greatest, but it never satisfies. People look at the lives of movie stars and long to have what they have, but those stars’ suicides, drug addictions, alcoholic tendencies and depression prove that possessions do not bring happiness. Ezekiel 7:19 says that in the end, gold and silver and all the things people have accumulated will be worthless, because material possessions will not save from God’s wrath. They are wholly insufficient. The one time that being unsatisfied is a good thing is in one’s relationship with Christ. He created people in a way that leaves them in constant hunger for Him. This leaves believers constantly striving for more, yet fulfilled in Him. Psalm 17:15 says, “Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.” The love of God is the only thing that brings true...

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Facebook insanity: Election-related Facebook statuses dredge up hurtful topics, ignore national progress
Nov18

Facebook insanity: Election-related Facebook statuses dredge up hurtful topics, ignore national progress

Let me preface the following statements by admitting to being a strong advocate of the Republican Party during this last election. While disappointed about the final results, there are limits to expressing these feelings and emotions to the general public. Sadly, many people have crossed this line—on both sides. While Facebook statuses are great ways of revealing emotions and thoughts of friends, it has been taken to the extreme. It now blasphemes, ridicules, belittles and annoys others and their politics. Why are Facebook wars necessary? Can these things not be civilly discussed in person? I have many friends who voted for Obama. While we disagreed on several levels, we had many enlightening conversations without raising our voices or calling people names that should not be repeated in public. Doing these things in private with trusted friends can be acceptable. However, the line is drawn when opinions are made to purposefully ridicule and demean others to prove oneself, or one’s opinions, better. If you cannot say it without yelling, can it really stand on its own? Why is it that race is still a factor when the truly important issues are in a person’s credentials, experience and moral issues? I have a problem with some of these qualifying factors, but race has no place in deciding elections. The only time it should arise is during an attempt to eliminate racist behaviors. People should not cast racial judgments. Many racist jokes or slurs have been made, but it really only makes those people look like loud, pigheaded jerks. On the flip side, many people voted solely on basis of the pigment of the candidates’ skin. While it makes history, it will make no other trivial difference. Racist issues still exist, but it is a dying factor that belongs to people who cannot think outside their little box. One of the benefits of this election was that Obama is this nation’s first black president. This is a truly amazing feat, considering the segregation issues that were considered normal and acceptable less than a century ago. Another important result was the rise in voting turn-outs across the nation. The final turn-out of voters went from 55.3 percent in the 2004 election to 64.1 percent in 2008. While I actually like some of the words President Bush created, it irritated many. Now we won’t have to worry about listening to comedians mock the president’s latest verbal mishap. With Obama in office, the nation can also enjoy an eloquent State of the Union Address every year. Most importantly, there will no longer be any argument as to how the word “nuclear” should be pronounced. The...

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Corporate corruption hurting us all

By Jordan Gustin Here’s a riddle. How does Congress solve a problem in America? They throw taxpayer money at it and hope it sticks. Since a riddle is a solution shrouded in a mystery, this answer wasn’t much of a riddle. Congress’ nonchalant mismanagement of our money has long been known. They explain their reason for spending during times when saving is needed, but even the blind could see right past the greed and corruption that grins beneath. When a CEO is laid off due to corruption in a corporate scandal, no one is surprised. When a congressman is put on trial for accepting gifts and is found guilty, no one is shocked. So why does everyone allow these CEOs and congressmen to handle their money and spend it freely? It happens because of the corrupt mindset most people unknowingly accept growing up. From a young age, Americans are taught that if they become very rich, they have a right to hoard all of that money for themselves. They’ve earned it. We reward wealth in America. The problem is that most of the rich people in our country haven’t worked very hard to get it. Why is it that we praise our teachers, police officers, fire fighters and military personnel as heroes but pay them next to nothing? Why allow our least respected paper-pushers and money-manipulators to make more money than anyone else simply by “knowing people who know people?” Haven’t the real heroes earned more than just respect? Something is very wrong with this picture. It’s time for a change. Democrats and Republicans alike have caused this problem. Corporate giants have paid our congressmen and congresswomen copious amounts of cash to vote in their favor. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were doing this for more than 10 years until they were taken over by the Federal Reserve in September along with other companies. Then the issue of a bailout came up. Once again, Congress predictably infused cash into the bloodstream of the problem — $800 billion (and counting) to be precise. In the process of deciding whether or not to pass the bailout, Congress uncovered some shady characters. Take for example Richard Fuld, former CEO of Lehman Brothers, who knew his company was going bankrupt and still decided to keep $480 million plus additional payouts. Still living in a $14 million oceanfront villa with a million-dollar art collection, he complained to Congress that he didn’t get any severance pay and that he lost more than $10 million. Congressman Waxman set Fuld straight by reminding everyone, “You made all this money taking risks with other people’s money.” So why...

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Note to Republicans: A McCain defeat has a silver lining
Nov04

Note to Republicans: A McCain defeat has a silver lining

They say the last stage of grief is acceptance. Like many American conservatives, I have gone into fits just thinking about the near-certainty that Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. No wonder election day is so close to Halloween. While the specter of Obama pulling the levers of executive power will no doubt fill pharmacies with Republicans seeking anti-depressant medication, this dark cloud has a silver lining. Unbelievable as it may seem, from the ashes of the Second Republican Massacre can arise something even Obama wouldn’t begrudge a conservative: hope. It is an unfortunate reality that most Americans have no idea how their government works. They see the president on television and in the newspapers, and since they probably can’t even name their own congressman, they think the president is responsible for everything. When things go wrong, they blame him and his party. As a result, President Bush’s catastrophically low approval ratings have trickled down to Republicans in general as they are associated with one of the most hated men in America. Even though a McCain victory would bring Republicans out from under the shadow of Bush, it would not save them. A President McCain would be blamed for everything that goes wrong during the next four years, while Democrats, though they control both houses of Congress, could sit back and say, “Don’t blame us. The president is a Republican.” And the public would agree with them. If conservatives truly believe their ideas are better than those of liberals, they should not worry about a President Obama wildly succeeding. His tax-raising, over-regulating, free-spending economic policies will run the country into the ground, while his weak-kneed foreign policy will embolden enemies to strike U.S. interests around the world. Republicans should welcome this opportunity to sit back and let the Democrats take the blame for failing, but that will not be enough. They must offer Americans a viable alternative, which is why this time will be equally important for the Republican Party to do something long overdue: remake itself. Republicans need to figure out who they really are. The grand coalition Reagan built has shattered. On one side stand the social conservatives in the mold of Bush, who want to expand government so it can enforce their moral agenda. On the other stand the fiscal conservatives, who don’t care so much about social issues but are fanatics about balanced budgets and cutting the size government. If the “Grand Old Party” wants to have any chance of winning elections, it must reconcile these two camps. But it will take fresh leadership to do so. Republicans need to...

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Don’t blame media for pregnant teens
Nov04

Don’t blame media for pregnant teens

Society cannot blame its problems solely on the influence modern pop culture has on younger generations. The movie Juno did not embellish the life of a pregnant teenager, nor did it make it attractive. Jamie Lynn Spears did not encourage 16-year-old-girls to carry around a baby as this season’s newest style. But somehow today’s culture has swept the real sources of youth ignorance under the rug and covered it up by pointing fingers at the media. Television shows, magazines, movies and famous people do have an influence on adolescent actions. However, no one should disregard sloppy parenting, rebellious spirits, experimental mentalities, boredom and the absence of unfailing love in a child’s life. These, perhaps are the real, attackable issues at hand. The most recent and major publicized event concerning this matter is the pregnancy pact among 17 teenage girls in Gloucester, Mass. The nation is seeking answers on why so many high school students are bonding together to raise their children and what statement they are making by getting pregnant at such an early age. Has a pregnancy epidemic already arrived? We must stop blaming the media for our youth’s problems and then hoping they will just fade away. Action is more profitable than ignorance. Plan B should not be encouraged by public schools. Condoms, contraceptives and women’s health clinics have no place in our educational establishments, nor should the government pay for daycare in this regard. There should be a balance in sex-education curriculum. Abstinence is best, but being naïve is counterproductive. Yes, teenagers will prematurely sleep around, and parents should be aware. Being blindfolded to the issue is more dangerous than addressing it. Education is vital, and self-discipline needs to be encouraged. Enabling pregnant students is promoting the misconceived idea that children can raise children. Nancy Gibbs wrote in TIME magazine that people should view higher teenage pregnancy rates as a step in a positive direction. She said, “Surely they deserve more sympathy and support than shame and derision, if the trend they reflect is not a typical teenager’s inclination to have sex but rather a willingness to take responsibility for the consequences.” Optimism is a great concept, but 750,000 teenagers becoming pregnant every year is an issue. Every child deserves the chance to be born, and I applaud any female for not using abortion as birth control. But the truth of the matter is that if girls were responsible earlier on, they wouldn’t be faced with such a tough decision. Rock music, hippies and GenXers have all defined a past generation. Perhaps we can name the upcoming future the overweight, overstressed, computer-generated baby...

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