Letters to the Editor

Tech Should Not Protect Kras

Thomas Armet suggests that The Tech should have not published Artem Kras’ name to avoid a “witch hunt.” The term “witch hunt” distinctly implies an absence of “witches,” which is not the case here — there was a severe incident with an identifiable perpetrator, and the Committee on Disciple proved too impotent to effectively punish him. The Tech is acting as an important public servant by ensuring that Kras is roundly ridiculed for his actions, and is doing the COD’s job by ensuring that this kind of action does not go unpunished in our community.

Justin Wong’s ludicrous idea that we should “accommodate” other cultures’ intolerance is a total perversion of the concept of inclusivity. Inclusivity does not mean importing hate and bigotry which may be tolerated elsewhere; it means creating a welcoming environment for all students that allows us to draw the best and brightest from everywhere. If you’re going to threaten to send your classmate to the “resuscitation ward,” MIT does not want or need you.

Olympics Frame Rights Debate

Recent Letters to the Editor concerning the Beijing Olympics have focused on the unfair treatment China has received in The Tech’s political cartoons. While I am generally unsympathetic to most of the claims advanced in these letters, I was struck by one sincerely unflattering parallel between China and the current politics of the United States: namely, the subordination of human rights to the expedient resolution of the government’s political agenda.

If we are to believe the group letter printed last Friday, there exists a tension in China between the effort to modernize China economically and the political techniques used to ensure that the transition is orderly. In this analysis, human dignity is simply a cost item to be weighed against the seemingly limitless growth of the Chinese economy.

In America, the years since 9/11 have been marked by a subjugation of basic human rights to help secure the country against terrorists. In our prosecution of the War on Terror, we have demonstrated almost no restraint in our treatment of foreigners with anything of value to our security aims. We have also shown an ominous willingness to turn our security apparatus against U.S. citizens.

These are two different situations — yet, sadly, they are symptomatic of the same illness that seeks to limit, measure, and compare a person’s dignity to and against other goals. As Americans, we should be particularly ashamed because we began our country with a declaration of the correct framework for human rights — that all men are created equal and are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

The Olympics provide a fitting backdrop to examine not only the human rights record of the host nation but the state of our own human rights. As Americans, we are sacrificing our liberty for the illusion of security. Ben Franklin tells us we will lose both and deserve neither. Similarly, for China, the words of RFK seem particularly poignant: “GDP does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our courage nor our wisdom, nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America, except why we are proud to be Americans.”

So I hope the cartoons continue — and I applaud the directness of past cartoons. I hope the cartoons do offend because the situation being parodied is offensive to all decent people. I hope students offended by the cartoons can learn to decouple criticism of the Chinese government from criticism of its people. I hope the Beijing Games give us a chance to change the repressive tactics being used against people everywhere, and I am very much looking forward to this summer’s Games.

Editor’s Note: Chambers also submitted the opinion comic above.

China’s Human Rights Improving

China has dramatically improved its basic human rights during the last thirty years, according to UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) report. Now China ranks 86 on the HDI report, while its GDP per capita ranks 124 in the world, which indicates (at least to me) that China is doing lots better on improving human rights than on developing its economy. China is willing to change and China is changing. Everyone in the world is witnessing the changes that China has been making.

Because China is such a huge country and there are 56 ethnic groups and 1.4 billion people, we cannot expect China change overnight. It is very difficult for the Chinese government to develop its economy and human rights while maintaining a stable social environment. As a Chinese student, I am very proud of Beijing holding the 2008 Olympic Games and I am happy to see any constructive suggestions and friendly criticism about China. I just do not understand the intention of some people who want to boycott the 2008 Olympic Games just because of China’s human rights problem. It is unfair.

Editor’s Note: Chen also submitted the opinion comic at left.