BREAKING: Violence Breaks Out Between Political Groups at Texas State

Today at Texas State University, students accosted a member of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) on campus, taking his hat and pushing him to the ground. Police removed at least one handcuffed person from the scene.

Tyler Minor, a member of YCT at Texas State University in San Marcos, was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat in front of a group of students. Individuals identified as members of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) allegedly snatched the hat from his head, according to a Facebook post by YCT. Minor attempted to retrieve the hat and was then pushed to the ground by a currently unidentified man.

Video livestreamed by YCT-Texas State member Sebastian Quaid shows police removing at least one person from the scene.

This article will be updated as more verifiable information becomes available.

Photo screenshot from Quaid’s Facebook video.

The Conservatism of Russell Kirk: Prudence

Kirk writes that prudence is chief among virtues, not only as the cause of other virtues, as Thomas Aquinas thought, but as the most important virtue to be considered by our public leaders. Our actions always have consequences we cannot foresee, but acting too hastily in favor of some more advanced time or a desire to return to a different age can bear results that we can foresee, and it is our duty to avoid all inadvertent tragedy we can. Prudence as a political virtue is founded on a recognition that the world we live in is extraordinarily complex, and what is popular in the moment may have catastrophic results for the future. Similarly, what is unpopular today may be exactly what our society needs to be prosperous and just in the future.

Our desire for change is not always a bad thing. There are injustices in the world that must be remedied by decisive action, even if those remedies are incomplete. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was an order of dubious constitutionality (at least based on contemporary jurisprudence), did not help slaves in the Union states and didn’t do much for slaves in the Confederacy, at least right away. Yet ordering that Southern slaves be freed was not imprudent because the chaos of wartime demanded unilateral action.

Our founders placed a high premium on prudence. The Constitution consistently places Congress, designed to be the most deliberative of the three branches, above the Executive or Judiciary. In cases of treaty and war, it is even placed above the States with few exceptions.

While discussing the ways our government acts with a deficiency of prudence and the ways it acts with perhaps an excess of prudence and deliberation might be an easier undertaking, it will serve us better to explore the ways we treat prudence in our individual and communal lives. After all, politics is downstream from culture, so a remedy to any problem with the State must come after a remedy to the problems in ourselves and between each of us.

Today, people are imprudent on the whole. Exhortations to “follow your heart” are common in everything from counseling sessions to commencement addresses. We shouldn’t ignore the desires of our heart, but we should really be following our reason. Human beings are fickle beings, but rational thought, imperfect as it is for us, is a surer guide than the fleeting emotions and passions of our everyday.

In an imprudent society, morality is constantly being reframed, politics is a race to bring America to the next best thing and our personal decisions are often impulsive, hasty, and crudely conceived. People make important decisions like those to marry, divorce, buy cars or homes in a moment, or after minimal discernment. Prudence takes the natural human tendency to prefer immediate satisfaction over delayed gratification and restricts our appetites so that our reason can overcome the desire to have everything we want now, now, now.

College students tend to be worse on the whole. Rather than deliberate over the choices before us, too often we make choices with no more than a split second of thought. Some of these decisions don’t have long term consequences, and even have opportunities for future remediation, like course selection and the Add/Drop period at the beginning of the semester. But others can have lifelong consequences that we may not even see for decades.

There are myriad reasons that college students do not embrace prudence. Psychologists may speak of our still-developing prefrontal cortex, but this is unsatisfactory. Merely because we have trouble seeing every consequence of our actions or have a tendency to act unthinkingly does not absolve us from the obligation to take serious decisions seriously. While there are numerous possible reasons that this principle of conservatism is rejected in society as a whole and by young adults particularly, the most basic reason is the same for everyone, and the same as it has always been: prudence, like any virtue, is hard. It is hard to make measured decisions that diminish the influence of our passions. It is hard to abstain from some pleasures or decisions in favor of considering all the options.

Kirk writes that “liberals and radicals… dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away.” If you are facing graduation this May, you are likely concerned about employment or graduate studies. In attempting to remedy the “evil” (or at least inconvenience) of having to move back home for a few months over the summer, do not just accept the first offer you get. Every decision we make, especially out of college, has an impact on the rest of our life in ways we may not see for decades.

While our left-leaning peers may have objections to some of these ten conservative principles, it seems that prudence should be something embraced by all. Kirk acknowledges that the complexity of human society mandates prudence in public policy; complexity in individual human lives warrants the same level of prudence in the decisions we make for ourselves. While it is certainly possible to fall into crippling indecision (think of Chidi in NBC’s The Good Place), true prudence will diminish the unintended consequences of our decisions. There are few, if any, important decisions placed before us that require immediate consideration.

Life is complicated. It is impossible for any one person to see every possible, or even every likely, thing that may come about from our decisions. When I was considering which school to attend, Trinity was not my first choice- it was my fourth. It was also not my best scholarship offer among the first round of offers. Had I merely accepted the best offer I had at the time, which was to my first choice school, I suspect I would have had a wonderful four years. But in waiting to decide until nearer to the deadline, I had the opportunity to compete for and win more money from Trinity, which has turned out to be an incredibly formative and positive experience. Running roughshod to write my deposit check to another school may not have resulted in evil, but it at least would have resulted in more college debt. The conservative believes that every decision should only be made after “sufficient reflection, having weighed the consequences.” The level of reflection necessary for each decision is different (obviously, as what size latte to order is less consequential than whether to propose marriage), but in every case we should reflect as much as we can on what might occur if we don’t take it seriously enough. A wholehearted embrace of prudence will yield a better life and a better society.

Editor’s Note: I want to apologize for the hiccup we experienced in publishing this series regularly. For a variety of reasons, it took longer to get this piece written and edited than we expected. We should be back on a regular schedule going forward from the fifth article in the series this coming Friday.

Fasting Isn’t an “If”, it’s a “When”

Christians are now fully underway in fasting before Easter. Western Christians, namely protestants and most Catholics (celebrating Easter this year on April 21) began either on Ash Wednesday on March 6, or Pure Monday, on March 4. The Orthodox, who calculate Easter according to the older, Julian calendar, began the Great Fast in earnest with Pure Monday on March 11. Whether you’ll be celebrating on April 21 or 28, we are all now fully immersed in preparation for Easter.

Fasting, and asceticism generally, are grossly misunderstood terms, not only in secular society but even among Christians. Put simply, asceticism is the practice of prayerfully denying yourself worldly pleasures so as to train yourself in resisting the empty pleasure of sin.

In the Christian tradition, there are common periods of fasting that have been observed since the earliest days of the Church. Traditionally, Christians would fast on Wednesday, because that is the day Christ was betrayed, on Friday, the day Christ died, and Saturday, the day Christ was in the tomb. Fasting prior to Easter in a longer and more rigorous way also emerged fairly early in Christian history.

Over time, other fasts emerged. Rigorous fasting was observed in the west on four sets of Ember Days throughout the years. In the Byzantine tradition, which I do my best to follow, there are also periods of fasting 40 days before Christmas, 14 days before the Dormition of Mary (August 15), and from the second Monday after Pentecost (itself 50 days after Easter) to the feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29).

The Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac fast traditions are also spiritually rich, and have served their faithful well for 2,000 years. But rather than going into a history of Christian asceticism, I want to encourage those Christians reading this to take up prayer, fasting and almsgiving this Lent, even if you aren’t part of a denomination that traditionally does so. Rather than avoiding Lent as “too Catholic” or legalistic, embrace this time, as an element of your shared tradition, to prepare yourself for the most important feast day in the Christian’s year: Easter.

Asceticism does not just mean fasting. Some people aren’t able to fast at all. Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those with eating disorders will often be exhorted by their pastors not to fast, or to fast in a less difficult way than what is prescribed generally. If limiting your food is not an option, you can also also abstain from certain foods or activities. Around this time of year, it is common for many Christians to give up chocolate, sugar, alcohol or television. Some people take cold showers, exercise, or will stop listening to music in the car.

Even though we’re less than a month until Easter, you can still start doing something. I can assure you that fasting from worldly pleasures, if done prayerfully, will prepare your heart for the joyousness of the rising of Christ (and ourselves) to new life in a way you would not expect.

You might notice the qualifier I added there: prayerfully. Fasting apart from prayer is just dieting (and not very good dieting, as the strictest fasts tend to mostly be carbs) and won’t give you anything but a bad attitude and an empty stomach. If you go to Church on Sundays, excellent. Add more services throughout the week. At Trinity, that might be Catholic Student Group’s Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesdays and Fridays, or InterVarsity’s large groups on Thursdays. In the Byzantine tradition, we celebrate the Divine Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts, a special Lenten service that offers us a chance to receive our Eucharistic Lord in a more penitential way than is usually appropriate for Sunday Liturgies, which are always oriented towards Easter, even during the Great Fast.

I want to close with a final exhortation: if you’re Catholic, do more than the bare minimum this Lent. Do as much as you can do, and do it well. If you’re from a faith background that doesn’t typically fast, don’t let that stop you. Christ gave us instructions for when we fast, not if we fast. Fast, pray, and give alms.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A final note: if you’re still confused about fasting, I highly recommend you check out this short video from Eastern Hospitality, featuring Mother Gabriella of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery and my friend Father Moses of Holy Resurrection Monastery.

Photo from the Facebook page of St. Anastasia the Great Martyr Byzantine Catholic Community of San Antonio during Lent, where the author attends Church.

Trinity Student Invited to White House

On Thursday, March 21, Trinity student Maddie D’Iorio attended the signing of Executive Order 13865 and President Trump’s remarks in the White House East Room. D’Iorio was invited after being fired from her position as an opinion columnist for the Trinitonian, Trinity’s school newspaper. Around 60 other college students were also invited.

Last month, activist Hayden Williams was assaulted at UC-Berkeley, where he was assisting the Turning Point, USA (TPUSA) chapter. Williams is a field representative for the Leadership Institute, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides training and assistance to nonpartisan conservative student groups, like TPUSA chapters. Shortly after, President Trump spoke about the incident at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MD, including his plans for the executive order.

D’Iorio was fired from the Trinitonian on February 27. “[T]he situation had nothing to do with the content she was producing or the perspective she was offering, rather with her position as an executive editor of [the Tower],” wrote Trinitonian editor-in-chief Julia Weis in an email.

D’Iorio is the lifestyle editor and the deputy editor for the Tower and began as a Trinitonian columnist in August. “[Getting fired] was really quite surprising,” said D’Iorio. “I told them in January that I wasn’t planning on working after that semester, because I felt that opinion columnists should really only have a year, to allow another student to have their voice be heard the next year.”

In a January 21 email to D’Iorio, Weis described steps that the Trinitonian staff took to avoid a potential conflict of interest, including removing her from the back-end of the website to avoid the appearance of the two publications sharing stories.

“We talked about the fact that there might be a conflict of interest with the Tower, but I thought that it was all taken care of because they said we had reached a solution,” said D’Iorio, adding that she “didn’t understand why the situation had changed.”

After her termination, D’Iorio shared the news with Manfred Wendt, executive director of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT), a statewide organization with chapters at several schools, including Trinity. Wendt is also a Trinity alumnus (class of 2018).

“I told Manfred because he’s a friend,” said D’Iorio. “I didn’t expect that he would actually do anything with it, so being invited to the White House was a total surprise.”

In preparation for the signing of the order, the White House began searching for students to invie. Through Wendt’s personal and professional network, D’Iorio’s name came to the attention of the White House Social Office. D’Iorio and two other Texas students, including Saurabh Sharma, chairman of YCT statewide and the YCT chapter at the University of Texas, were invited to attend the Thursday event.

Bernadette Tasy, a masters student in speech pathology at Fresno State University and leader of Fresno State’s Students for Life of America (SFLA) chapter said “I am grateful for President Trump’s support for the students across the country who have been silenced on our college campuses, including myself.”

Tasy stood behind Trump during his remarks and the signing of the order. The Fresno State SFLA chapter found itself in a legal battle after a professor erased their chalk messages in 2017. “Our free speech has been shut down by administrators, professors, and other students. Today’s college students are tomorrow’s legislators, judges, and voters, so it’s critical that our universities uphold the value of free speech,” said Tasy.

Dr. David Crockett, chair of Trinity’s political science department, wrote in an email that “there are always issues with campus speech codes and with bureaucratic barriers placed in front of student conservative groups trying to bring speakers to campus. I would say that the state of free speech at Trinity is fairly healthy.” D’Iorio echoed Crockett’s sentiments in saying that “generally Trinity is on the better end; our administration for the most part is pretty welcoming and accepting of different views.”

Crockett added that Trinity is not without challenges, noting pushback after a March 2018 Facebook video highlighting Trump’s 2016 digital director and 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale, Trinity class of 1999. “I haven’t witnessed attempts to squelch it [free speech]–although there have been examples of alumni who threatened to withhold funds from the university because it recognized Brad Parscale in some online format last year.”

“It might just be a product of us being in the south and being in Texas, but I think generally people are nicer. I talked to a few other students, and people are just downright rude to them all the time and they have to deal with it every day,” D’Iorio said of general campus attitude towards conservatives. “We sometimes get a small portion of that, but it’s really nothing in comparison to these other schools.”

Watch the signing of the tningon YouTube.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article have been thoroughly fact checked and examined for bias by Nathan Darsch and Isaiah Mitchell, the other editors for the Tower. D’Iorio did not edit the article.

Update: this article has been lightly edited for clarity.

Photo by Maddie D’Iorio.

Martyr Valentinus the Presbyter of Rome

Today is Valentine’s Day, a day when couples are given special permission to be extra affectionate, guys who never buy flowers buy their wives and girlfriends two dozen roses and when many single people wonder whether next year will finally be the year they have someone for whom to buy chocolate.

Everyone knows that Feb. 14 is a holiday connected in some way to romantic love. Many will know that it has something to do with a Saint named Valentine. A small minority will have some vague idea that he was a priest who married people (or something like that). I personally credit Jason Bach Cartoons with 95% of contemporary Catholic awareness surrounding the life of the actual saint. For those of you who are (defensibly) unaware of the life of this priest, and his festal history in the past decades, allow me to provide a brief primer.

In 1969, following the Second Vatican Council, St. Valentine was removed from regular public commemoration because so little is known about his life. He most certainly existed (that’s his skull at the top there, if you were wondering), and we have records of his public veneration as early as 496, just about two centuries after he was martyred around 270.

Additionally, there were actually two saints named Valentine, both martyred around the same time, and by the same emperor. The first St. Valentine was the Bishop of Terni, Narnia, and Amelia in Italy, and is closely associated with miraculous healings. Bishop Valentine was known as a friend of young people and the sick, and was ultimately martyred for attempting to convert the Roman Emperor Claudius II.

The second St. Valentine, the priest, is where the association with romantic love comes from. The story often goes that he married Christian couples in secret, in defiance of Emperor Claudius’s orders. Once he was found out, he was also executed. Regardless of whether St. Valentine was one priest, one bishop, or two men who were priest and bishop, the association with Christian marriage is one that we should not lose sight of in our modern day celebrations.

Today, a record number of American adults—around 20%—have never been married.

Rising Share of Never-Married Adults, 1960-2012

Also today, less than half of people think society is better off if marriage and children are a priority.

Public Is Divided over Value of Marriage for Society

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic (though I don’t think I am), the family is the foundation of society, and if the family unit crumbles, the society will too. At the core of family is marriage. Thus, if marriage crumbles, so too will family, and the society as a whole will not be far behind. St. Valentine promoted marriage in the Roman empire, and he was literally killed for it. The modern United States isn’t at that point, but that doesn’t mean we should be any less forceful in our defense of sacramental marriage as an institution worth preserving and expanding.

Consider what most people in their 20s and 30s today treat marriage as, in practice. I don’t mean what they put in their vows, or what they speak of, I mean the way they act. Essentially, marriage today is what Dr. Budziszewski would call “cohabitation with formalities.” People who live together before marriage will get married, and very little will change except some rings, a big party and then a vacation. Even popular media is becoming aware of this, as Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes remarks in BBC’s Sherlock before Watson’s wedding: “Two people who currently live together are about to attend church, have a party, go on a short holiday and then carry on living together. What’s big about that?”

Marriage as a divinely instituted covenant is something that St. Valentine thought was worth dying for. Marriage is not merely a legal agreement to have a joint bank account, live together and then to possibly divide your possessions in half down the road if you decide it was a mistake. Marriage ought to be a promise before each other and before God. It is something supremely important—something capable of leading yourself, your spouse and your children to heaven. St. Valentine thought that real, sacramental marriage was worth dying for, and we should too.

In college, we are constantly bombarded with questions about our future. “What are you doing when you graduate?” “What are you majoring in?” “Where are you interning this summer?” These are all important questions, and I don’t mind answering them when my friends and family ask, but they all fail to get to the real heart of why I’m studying in college.

Every person of faith, and I daresay even the irreligious, should look to their education as primarily an instrumental good—certainly knowledge has some intrinsic value, but the primary purpose of seeking an education should be to provide a good life for our spouse and our children. You’ll notice I didn’t say “ourselves, our spouse and our children.” That was an intentional omission: the nature of love is to be self-sacrificing, and none in quite spectacular a fashion as the love that comes with marriage and raising children. I don’t have to be married or have children to see how difficult, and fulfilling, it is in the lives of those around me.

If you’re reading this and single, it may seem odd to think of something as foundational to the contemporary American experience as college as being directed towards a spouse you haven’t met and children who don’t exist yet. I don’t have any immediate plans for marriage, but I am dating, so it’s less abstract. We are all called to something in life that will help lead us and those around us to heaven. For most, that vocation is marriage. For others it’s the priesthood, monastic life or living single and in the world. If you are confident that you are called to marriage as the means to sanctify yourself, your spouse and whatever children God blesses you with, but don’t yet have the faintest idea of who that person might be, that’s OK. Pray for them, whoever they are.

Author’s Note: You might notice this is tagged “Luke’s Catholic Corner.” If you liked this (this being a distinctively Catholic take on something), leave some feedback either as a comment or using our contact form, and if it got a positive response I’ll begin writing things like this once or twice a month.

Photo by AlvfanBeem. CCO 1.0. Wikimedia Commons.

The Conservatism of Russell Kirk: Introduction to the Project

There are few figures as towering in contemporary American conservatism as Russell Kirk. To be a conservative in a philosophical, rather than political (or perhaps electoral) sense is to be grounded, at least partially, in the writings of Kirk. In the years following World War II, when the American conservative movement was still in its embryonic stages, Kirk did something invaluable in giving shape to the movement that has become arguably the most coherent and influential political philosophy in America. Conservatism has been given many definitions, and it’s hard to pinpoint which one we should use, because it is not only an ideology, but also an attitude. This series will look at conservatism as an ideology, as given definite shape by Russell Kirk.

G. K. Chesterton, in his 1929 book The Thing, wrote that the difference between reforming and deforming a thing comes from an understanding of why a thing was implemented.

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.

He wrote about this attitude of wanting to change things for the sake of changing it in Chapter 3 of Orthodoxy as well.

It is true that a man (a silly man) might make change itself his object or ideal. But as an ideal, change itself becomes unchangeable. If the change-worshipper wishes to estimate his own progress, he must be sternly loyal to the ideal of change; he must not begin to flirt gaily with the ideal of monotony. Progress itself cannot progress.

People today, even among those who claim to be conservatives, all too easily fall into the attitude of “change-worshipping.” People have lost sight of ideals they are striving towards, and instead promote progress for progress’s sake. They demand that the fence be torn down simply because it was built by people who aren’t around anymore, without any thought to whether the fence still serves an important purpose.

We believe that there are still ideals that we should base our political organization on: principles and values that are not tied to any particular politician, party, or era. From our perspective, these are what Russell Kirk distilled as “ten articles of belief [that] reflect the emphases of conservatives” in his essay Ten Conservative Principles. Many of them also find exploration in the introduction to The Conservative Mind as the “six canons of conservative thought.” We firmly believe that if our society embraces these ten principles, we will see many of the challenges of today become much easier to address.

These ideals of conservatism are:

1) Belief in a transcendent and enduring moral order.

2) Adherence to custom, convention, and continuity.

3) Faith in prescription, and “distrust of ‘sophisters, calculators, and economists’ who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs.”

4) Holding to prudence as the chief political virtue.

5) Affection for the “proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life” over “the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism of radical systems.”

6) Belief in the ultimate imperfectability of human nature.

7) “Conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.”

8) Upholding voluntary community and opposing involuntary collectivism.

9) Acknowledging the need for prudent restraints on power and human passions.

10) Careful reconciliation of permanence and change in society.

These ideals seem obvious to many people (including, I expect, most of our readers), yet they are rejected in increasing numbers by more and more college students. Questions about issues that were agreed upon by nearly everyone just a few decades ago are now derided as outdated, wrong, and even bigoted.

Starting today and going every Friday until Good Friday, we will be publishing articles expounding on each of these ten principles, exploring what on Earth Kirk meant when he wrote them and how this idea is treated today. Specifically, we’ll be looking at what college students tend to think about this idea, how a re-embrace of this idea might serve to remedy some societal ills and why college students should move to adopt the ideal even in the face of cultural opposition. These ten articles will be longer than most of the other things we’re publishing, and that’s intentional.

We believe that, as Chesterton might have put it, most fences in our world are still needed. Maybe some need repair or updating, but very few ought to be torn down entirely. Over the next ten weeks, our writers will be giving an excellent defence of these ten ideals that define conservatism. It might seem like an overly ambitious project, and you might doubt whether a bunch of college students have anything useful to add beyond what Kirk himself wrote, but I think we can bring these ideas to new audiences and reframe them for a new time.

The first article in the series will be published next Friday, written by Maddie D’Iorio on the truth and importance of believing in a transcendent and enduring moral order.

What Are We Doing? The Mission of The Tower

By now, we’re about a month into this new phase in the publication’s life. We changed our name (for good this time), launched a new website, reorganized our editorial team, and added many more writers. In the past month, we’ve published more articles of higher quality than ever before, and we’re only picking up the pace thanks to our dedicated team of writers. We’ve been publishing The Darsch Report almost every week for a few months now, and this Friday we’re starting an 11 week series exploring the 10 ideals of conservatism according to Russell Kirk. That’s not to mention the four podcasts we’re working on (more on that coming soon, too).

One might ask: what do we have to offer that existing publications don’t? Why should anyone care that at a school as small as Trinity University there’s another publication serving the student body? It might be easy to say we want to provide a conservative voice and perspective on campus events, and while it’s certainly true that our opinions are at least right of center, I think we have something to offer to everyone at Trinity, in the San Antonio area and even in Texas more generally. To justify asking already busy students to write, to justify paying for our upcoming print issues and anything else we do, we need to defend the claim that what we’re offering is better and different from any other publication.

We have the most potential for growth and a wider readership by offering a more conservative perspective on events in San Antonio. I’m not talking about biased news reporting (because we take great care to report on news stories as objectively as we can), but coverage of events that left-leaning papers in town like the Express-News, the Current, or the Rivard Report wouldn’t often bother reporting on. Things like the Alamo March for Life or individualized profiles on City Council candidates.

We also tend to have our ear closer to the ground for news of interest to conservatives, like the recent closure of the Whole Woman’s Health facility in town. We wrote about it at the end of December, and the Express-News didn’t have their article published until mid-January. For whatever reason, no right-leaning paper in San Antonio has gained traction yet, and I think we are excellently positioned to fill that void (speaking of which, we aren’t restricted only to Trinity students— anyone, from any school or decades out of college, is welcome to write a one-off op-ed or join us on a regular basis).

We’re also writing about statewide, national, and even global events, but from our perspective. If we don’t think we have something unique to offer about an event, such as an interview with a student who has some personal connection to it, or some little-known connection to Trinity or San Antonio, we won’t write about it. The trap that many student publications run into is thinking that they’re the same caliber as the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. We aren’t, and we won’t pretend to be something we’re not.

Probably the biggest question here is “what about the Trinitonian?” Why does Trinity need another publication focusing on campus news? From where we’re standing, we see two main reasons: perspective and independence.

The Trinitonian is undeniably left-leaning. This is not an indictment of their journalistic integrity or the character of the staff, just a function of it being the paper at a liberal arts university. The Trinitonian should be commended for not going after conservative students or clubs in the name of ‘news reporting’ as papers at some other institutions sometimes do. The news section fairly portrays the events of the past week. However, the Trinitonian tends not to address events that are less mainstream, like the Young Conservatives of Texas’s Berlin Wall last semester. Or, when the Trinity Diversity Connection, a University Sponsored Organization (USO), endorsed candidates for Student Government Association (SGA).

The Trinitonian claims to be independent—right there in their tagline, “The Independent Student Publication of Trinity University.” And while they tend not to run rampant with bias or prop up obviously unqualified faculty or administrators (which likely has more to do with the excellence of our faculty), the Trinitonian can never truly be an independent paper. While not technically a USO, their budget is guaranteed in the SGA constitution at their five year average, as is true for every USO. They have a faculty advisor, workspace, and funding guaranteed by Trinity. These are not necessarily bad things, but they make it impossible for the Trinitonian to ever be truly independent.

The Tower is completely committed to independence. We will never take direction from Trinity or any other outside organization. Our goal is to serve the students of Trinity and the people of San Antonio with the best news stories and the right ideas. The Tower has no paid personnel—we are all taking the time out of our schedules to work on this project because we believe it will better the communities we care so much about. If you read something on the Tower, you can trust that no one told us what to publish or not publish, and that we are ready to stand behind what we’ve written.

We chose to rename our publication for the distinctive Murchison Tower on Trinity’s campus, for the Tower of the Americas and for the idea of intellectual pursuit that the image of a tower evokes. There’s a reason our first major project is a long exploration of the ideas of Russell Kirk. With the right ideas, we believe the right perspective will come across in everything we publish, whether it’s a review of VeggieTales in the House or a news article on the annual MLK march. If you understand that ideas have consequences and that factual and independent reporting matters, then the Tower, the right voice for the Alamo City, is the publication for you.

Review: Mowgli Legend of the Jungle

Disclaimer: this article contains spoilers for Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle.

Just two years after Disney’s live action remake of The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau, Netflix has expanded its tendrils into the story with Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, directed by Andy Serkis. Serkis’s Mowgli is a much darker take on Rudyard Kipling’s original narrative, and an even farther departure from the animated 1967 film.

Mowgli demonstrates the fundamental flaw with identity politics and the importance of value-based identity over holding to your identity. The fundamental question in this version of the Jungle Book story, more so than other versions, is whether Mowgli is a man or a wolf. Though born a human, he was raised as a wolf, and has fought to hold his own place as a true wolf.

The climax of the movie begins when Mowgli is expelled from the jungle and sent to the village. He doesn’t understand the language (unsurprising as he’s never heard it before) but still tries, after some resistance, to fit in with the men. He bonds with the white hunter as a result of their shared history with Shere Khan, but remains cautious.

Mowgli is explicit in acknowledging that he isn’t all man or all wolf, but something in between. This is the kind of nuance with which conservatives are comfortable. Mowgli is able to embrace what progressives might call his “identity” as a man, not shying away from all that entails—namely, running on two legs, and using a knife to fight Shere Khan, rather than his teeth and “claws” like might be expected of him if he really were a wolf.

Mowgli tries for a time to be all man, befriending the hunter. But ultimately, his values are incompatible with the man village. This is clearest when Mowgli discovers that the hunter killed his best friend, the albino wolf Bhoot. Having been practicing with the knife, and becoming more immersed in human culture, it is not until he sees his dead friend that he realizes fitting in with his so-called “identity” would mean rejecting his values.

Mowgli chooses to give his allegiance to the Jungle, not to the Village of Man, yet acknowledges his past, embracing it and determining how it fits with his values. He uses the knife to fight Shere Khan but does not embrace the message of the Hunter who gave him the knife. In short, he embraces what Russell Kirk would call “affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence,” or, one might say, “wolf existence.”

Acknowledging that one comes from a particular ethnic or religious background or that one’s gender affects one’s life is not an embrace of identity politics. We should instead determine what values will guide us, and hold fast to those, rather than allowing ourselves to be buffeted by whatever our culture says we should believe based on our gender or the color of our skin.

Inaugural Alamo March for Life Draws Crowd

Trinity students participate in the Alamo March for Life. Image courtesy Tigers for Life.

On Sunday, Jan. 20, a few days before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the San Antonio Family Association (SAFA) hosted the 43rd San Antonio Rally for Life and the first Alamo March for Life at Alamo Plaza to protest Roe and the abortion industry. The march began at Alamo Plaza, progressed to Travis Park, and finished at the Plaza. First Lady of Texas Cecilia Abbott was the keynote speaker, joined by State Senator Peter Flores (R-San Antonio) and Nathan McDaniel, representing Congressman Chip Roy (R-CD21). Fr. Will Combs of St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church led the opening prayer.

In the past, SAFA has attempted to get permits from the city of San Antonio to host the event at  Alamo Plaza but has been unsuccessful. In his remarks at the rally, Patrick Von Dohlen, president of SAFA, attributed their success this year to the legal assistance of a SAFA supporter who is an attorney. Last year, the rally took place in a grassy area off of San Pedro Avenue near Park North Drive due to scheduling conflicts with the event’s original location, San Antonio Milam Park. The march and rally drew a crowd of a few hundred.

Image courtesy Tigers for Life.

In their remarks, Flores and McDaniel emphasized their offices’ commitment to the pro-life movement. Both Flores and Roy are currently in the beginning of their first term in office. Flores was elected in a special runoff election last year on September 18 after a first place finish in the first election on July 31. Flores is the first Republican to represent Senate District 19 since the end of Reconstruction. During his time at the podium, he focused on how his Catholic faith influences his pro-life convictions.

Sen. Flores speaks to rally attendees. Image courtesy Tigers for Life.

Abbott also spoke about how her faith shaped her views on abortion, relating how her favorite place to play growing up was her family’s parish Church. She talked about how her and Governor Greg Abbott’s experience adopting their daughter Audrey solidified their belief that a woman’s decision to place her child for adoption is a brave and selfless choice.

First Lady Cecilia Abbott shares her family’s adoption story. Image courtesy Tigers for Life. 

The event was co-sponsored by several organizations, including Shavano Family Practice, Allied Women’s Center, A Woman’s Haven, LifeChoices Medical Clinic, Abortion Hurts, God Heals, and the Justice Foundation.

BREAKING: Abortion Chain Closes SA Location

Screenshot from Google Maps.

Abortion provider Whole Woman’s Health closes San Antonio location, leaving only two abortion clinics left in city.

Whole Woman’s Health, one of the largest abortion chains in Texas, has quietly ended their operations in San Antonio. This was confirmed by the staff of a local Pro-Life pregnancy resource center, A Woman’s Haven, via phone call on Dec. 26. Whole Woman’s Health’s San Antonio location was located in the Southeast part of the city , in the between the I-37, I-410 and HWY 87 triangle, just west of China Grove. The Tower has also confirmed this location’s closure by email.

Screenshot of email response to online appointment request form at Whole Woman’s Health’s website.

Since April 2017, A Woman’s Haven has frequently parked their mobile ultrasound van near Whole Woman’s Health, offering free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds in the van. In a Facebook post, Susan Perez, the Executive Director of A Woman’s Haven, attributed the clinic closure to the van and a “faithful sidewalk presence” that “interrupted their business enough” to shut them down. In addition to pregnancy testing and ultrasound services, A Woman’s Haven offers post-birth resources and referrals for other medical care.

Diane Fournier, president of Tigers for Life, a Pro-Life registered student organization at Trinity, said in a statement that the facility closure is “undoubtedly a victory for the Pro-Life cause in more ways than we realize. It really shows how abortion, even with all its justifications, isn’t something women truly want.” Fournier pointed out the difference between a facility shutting down because of legislation and because of a lack of business, showing “the power of offering resources and support.” Perez expressed a similar sentiment, writing that A Woman’s Haven offers a “superior product (LIFE over DEATH!),” which she believed contributed heavily to the facility closing down.

Whole Woman’s Health is best known for the 2016 Supreme Court decision in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down several portions of Texas’s 2013 Pro-Life Omnibus Bill, House Bill 2. Some provisions of this bill required abortion facilities to meet the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers, such as having hallways wide enough for an EMS gurney to get through, and for abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Whole Woman’s Health of San Antonio was one of the facilities that complied with these regulations before parts of the bill were struck down by the Supreme Court ruling.

Whole Woman’s Health also sued over portions of Texas’s 2017 Senate Bill 8, which mandates, in part, the humane disposition of fetal remains after an abortion. Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, said at the District Court trial of Whole Woman’s Health v. Paxton in July that Whole Woman’s Health had not attempted to comply with the new law, instead devoting their resources to fighting the rule.

In the same Facebook post, Perez said that A Woman’s Haven would be refocusing their efforts on Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, one of two remaining abortion facilities in San Antonio.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.