So, I have to admit it, I finally have been appalled at the depths the editorial staff has allowed The Maneater to sink to. My relationship with the publication has always been one of understanding that it’s a newspaper for brand new journalism students to get a taste of writing, and thus have always expected it to mostly consist of drivel. So, with my approach coming from there, me feeling like I have to use the word “appalled” to describe how I feel about a column really says something about how shocking the editorial oversight, or lack thereof, that goes into publishing this. Your global politics columnist Sarah Seurig penned the column entitled “Conflicts, questions remain after UN General Assembly” for your October 2nd edition. A goodly part of the column is dedicated to discussing the hope for resuming negotiations with Iran, and while I happened to find the analysis vague and lacking in concrete analysis, that’s really whatever because some highly paid columnists seem incapable of mustering better. Where my jaw began to drop was the portion of her column that veered bizarrely, with little connection, into decrying the presence of the Vatican City in the UN. For one thing, the Vatican is a sovereign state, and whether or not you like that the Catholic church has sole control over a state, that doesn’t change that that’s the current nature of the world, and the point of the UN is to be a place for sovereign states to meet. Many other statements of Suerig’s make no sense in the context of reality. Here are some:
“Since 1964, the Vatican has been recognized by the U.N. as the Holy See.” The UN referring to the Vatican as the Holy See has nothing to do with recognizing Catholicism above other religions. The Vatican IS the Holy See, that’s its entire purpose for existence. This is not some semantic choice on the UN’s part, they are the EXACT SAME THING, because it is the place where the head of the Catholic church resides. That’s what it means. “The Holy See is dangerous to the U.N.’s humanitarian efforts… It is not OK to have a religion-based state that will work to block human rights rather than protect them. The biggest problem I see is its direct opposition to LGBT rights internationally. This imposition of Christian views, even as an observing party, is extremely biased at the international level. The inclusion of the Vatican also affects the vital need of stem-cell research and directly harms reproductive rights globally.” This is where the real lack of understanding betrays itself. If the columnist is so concerned about the presence of religiously run states, then why is she focusing in on the Vatican when half of her column had just gotten done talking about Iran, noted country whose “Supreme Leader” is also the head Ayatollah for the nation, who oversees the execution of a state governed by Islamic law. On the LGBT rights front, Iran routinely executes homosexual men under their current regime. There are many other countries that are US allies that are explicitly named “Islamic Republics” like Pakistan and Afghanistan (which in 2006 attempted to execute a man named Abdul Rahman for converting to Christianity, almost 5 years after the Taliban had been driven out). Israel also gets some attention in this column, and while it’s not a real theocracy, it is still an explicitly Jewish state that has a role for their chief rabbi in the government. I am an atheist, so I have no love for what the Vatican stands for, and their influence on gay rights around the world is negative, but they’re nothing special either compared to what goes on in many countries that are completely uncontroversial members in the UN. And here’s the final key point to address about that, which is that, as Suerig says above, THE VATICAN IS AN OBSERVER STATE. Unlike any of the other countries I listed, it CANNOT vote in any elections in the General Assembly. Yes, it has some influence, and I wish it didn’t too, but in what universe is a sovereign state that doesn’t even actually have voting power a crippling flaw of the United Nations?
Lastly, just for added comedy after the professed caring about gay rights, the column starts talking about how the US and Russia could be in a new alliance (first of all, what? Have you even read a newspaper in the last year? Between Edward Snowden and gay rights and Putin intimidating the US into this arms deal, there’s not the remotest chance we will ever be their ally.) Where is your concern about gay rights with Russia’s UN membership, where they can not only vote but have a PERMANENT seat on the Security Council?
I have to ask, Did the editors even bother to read this before it was greenlit? At what level of low quality writing, complete inability to create internal logic, and total lack of understanding about global politics would you tell your Global Politics writer “You know what? Maybe you should stick to doing some more homework and write about something for us that you actually know about?” and cut the piece? I have long been amazed at how little insight and truth there is in foreign policy writing in the national press, and always wondered how on earth we got to this place where trained experts are so incapable of formulating coherent opinions that are worth publishing. Unfortunately, now I can see, if this is what students at one of the best journalism schools in the world are taught to write, and what editors decide is fit to print, that clearly explains a lot. To quote Wittgenstein out of context, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
— Charles Dees, email@example.com
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