Soleimani killing not moral, Trinity professor claims

“This is less about whether or not it was justified, and more about whether or not it was morally right.”

On Wednesday February 19, Trinity Diversity Connection (TDC) held an open discussion panel that featured political science professor Sussan Siavoshi, religion professor Sajida Jalalzai and communications professor Sarah Erickson. One TDC representative, acting as moderator, asked a series of questions for each panelist for about an hour before the panel was opened up to the audience to ask questions. 

Siavoshi began with a little bit of background about the situation of the U.S. killing of Iranian General Soleimani. She said that Iran considered the killing of Soleimani an act of terrorism. Jalalzai noted the international ambiguity about the framing of Soleimani’s killing. “We must look at how we and Iran differ in what the killing was called,” she said. “Was it a murder? An assassination?”

Additionally, Jalalzai discussed how religion plays a role in the international relations of Iran, noting that Iran is predominantly Shia Muslim, which affects whom they support across the region. Erickson talked about the biases of the American media, and how it damages the images of Iranians and Muslims in America. 

One student asked if killing Soleimani was justified. “Well, it depends on who you ask,” Siavoshi answered. “This is less about whether or not it was justified, and more about whether or not it was morally right.” Siavoshi argued that it was not morally right or justified, claiming it went against the grain of certain laws and doctrines of international relations and that it created more unnecessary tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

“It creates tension at home too because there are Iran-Americans, Muslim-Americans,” Erickson said. “People who have never met, or had close relations with an Iranian or a Muslim tend to have very stereotypical views on them. They have negative views because of the media.”

The panelists all agreed that war with Iran would hurt the Iranian people more than anything. 

Siavoshi argued for an approach of “humanizing” people instead of viewing them as a target, weapon, or object.

Love Is the Greatest Gift

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Everyone loves gifts. We get excited at the prospect of opening a present from our friends and family. However, not everyone can receive a brand new car, jewellery or a gift card to a favorite restaurant for Christmas or Valentine’s Day. These holidays that include the act of gift-giving only come once a year. However, there is a present which you can both give and receive throughout the year: love.

Love is quite possibly the purest and most innocent virtue. The simple dictionary definition of love is “an intense feeling of affection for someone or something.” The feeling of loving someone or being loved is the most precious. Just looking at a mother and her child, or even at the adoring way in which pets sometimes look at their owners, we can see the love that we all have for one another. Love is one of the strongest feelings humans have. It can motivate us to do our best or to be our best selves. It is never the wrong time or place to love someone, or to be loved. 

Love is more than just a feeling, though. Love is also an action, which we express in our everyday lives. Showing love for someone is more powerful than simply saying, “I love you.” You cannot expect others to give their love to you without giving love to them in return. Love should be reciprocated. We tend to think that love is associated with romance or family. However, love does not always have to be romantic or familial. Love does not have to be specific, either. You can even love people you don’t know. This may seem odd to show love for people you don’t know, but it can happen everyday. To love others is to put others before yourself. Being selfless, helping others, or simply giving someone a compliment are all acts of love. 

Because we never truly know what those around us are suffering, it is important to always show our love for others. A simple “How are you today?” or a hug can seriously make a difference in someone’s day. To people whom you may not even know, a compliment on their appearance or question about their day can lighten the burden of sadness or even change their mood completely. Even when you are feeling bad yourself, you should always show someone love. Having a bad day is not an excuse to be rude to others. Kindness is love in its most basic form. Everyone should be treated with love: hence, the saying goes, “treat others as you wish to be treated.” 

Love is a universal message that, deep down, everyone knows regardless of background. Love transcends religion, race, and politics because we all know what it is and how we ought to express our love for one another in our own, unique ways. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is I Corinthians 13:13, which says,“now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Love is the greatest gift because faith and hope depend on love. You cannot be faithful or hopeful without love. I truly believe that if everyone shows love, then this is the start for a better tomorrow. Love can change the world, whether only the status of relationships or of an entire civilization. Love is the greatest gift because it is timeless, simple and priceless. Not everyone can afford to give tangible gifts, but we can afford to give our love to others. Opening a tangible gift can be pretty exciting, but nothing can overpower the gift of opening your heart to others.

After Forum, Weight Given to Race in Trinity Admissions Still Unclear

Students of all persuasions left Tuesday’s town hall with vague answers to hard questions.

The admissions office at Trinity is located in Northrup Hall.

On Tuesday, February 4, the Trinity University Admissions Staff hosted an open forum about race and diversity in the admissions process. The staff present were Vice President for Enrollment Management Eric Maloof, Dean of Admissions Justin Doty, Associate Director of Admissions Jeremy Boyce, and Assistant Director of Admissions Michaela Knipp. The forum was open to the public for students and other faculty and staff. All four admissions staff members described their vision for a diverse student body as well as some shortcomings of the admissions committee. At the end, there was a twenty minute Q&A session with some students and faculty members.

Maloof opened with some statistics on Trinity admissions, stating that 65% of the applicants for this admission year were nonwhite, and 48% of students admitted to the class of 2023 were nonwhite. He stated that although Trinity is not a diverse university overall when compared to every school in the country, it is a diverse school for its size and category.

“We do not admit students solely on race,” Knipp added.

Maloof stressed the importance of having racial and ethnic diversity at Trinity. “We do take race into account when we admit students here,” Maloof said. He hopes that the numbers of nonwhite students will continue to climb in the future. 

Boyce stressed the importance of reaching out to people with diverse backgrounds, but also discussed the value of diversity itself. “We look at a variety of very different backgrounds when admitting students. Race is not the only aspect of diversity that we look at. There are some people who are not black or brown that can be more diverse.” 

During the Q&A session, one student asked what aspect of diversity is most important when the Admissions Committee comes across students with very similar academic criteria. Doty deflected, saying this was a hard question to answer and that the admissions process is so individual. 

“We do take race into account when we admit students here,” Maloof said.

“We can’t say one thing completely overrides another. We look at everything: hometown, high school activities, and their essay response,” Doty said.

Maloof asked the student if she was essentially asking “what race holds the most weight?” He responded saying that it is an advantage to be a certain race at Trinity and at other schools it is a disadvantage for that race. 

“For instance, it is an advantage to be Asian-American at Trinity because they are a low population group here, while at schools where they are overrepresented, it is a disadvantage,” Maloof said. “We will never admit someone who we think can’t do the work here.” 

“We do not admit students solely on race,” Knipp added.

TUFS, TFL host public abortion debate

On Thursday, Sept. 19, the Trinity University Forensic Society (TUFS) and Tigers for Life (TFL) held a public debate on the legality of abortion. TUFS members Lisel Faust and her debate partner, who asked to not be named, argued in favor of keeping abortion legal, while TFL members Alex Jacobs and Jace Woody argued against it. Each debater gave a four to five minute speech, went into a brief cross-examination period, and then opened the floor to questions from the audience. After that, there was a break for Cane’s and Pizza Classics. Following the break, there was a final period of speeches from each debater. 

The main question was whether abortion should be legal or not. TUFS focused on arguing for the woman’s right to choose what they want to do with their bodies, while TFL focused on the immorality of taking an innocent human life.

Some other main arguments that the affirmative side introduced was the differentiation between a fetus and a baby, unsafe abortions occurring if the government makes abortion illegal, and the issue of having an abortion in the case of rape. The negative side refuted these arguments by saying that this is beyond a women’s issue because it involves the taking of a human life, arguing that just because unsafe abortions occur does not make it morally right to take an innocent human life. In cases of rape, the negative side argued that rape is not a reason to kill an innocent human life. 

The issue of abortion was important to the debaters on both sides.

“I believe the right of abortion should be protected because there are so many women out there that should have the decision on how this big, fundamental decision in their life should turn out,” said affirmative debater Lisel Faunt. 

On the other hand, Jace Woody wanted to debate against the legality of abortion because of his human rights-based philosophy. “All lives are important, we are all human, and we all have the right to live. Millions of innocent people are being killed, and I should be there to stop the taking of human life,” he said.

The affirmative side did not focus on when life begins, but instead mainly discussed a women’s right to choose. The negative side continued to argue that abortion takes away innocent human lives. 

The lecture room in Northrup was almost full, as students packed in to support their peers and learn more. During the cross-examination period, students asked questions like, “Where can we draw the line for freedom of choice?” and “If abortion was illegal, what should be the punishment for a woman getting an abortion?” 

Tigers for Life has weekly meetings on Thursdays at 6 pm in the Woodlawn room, and the Trinity University Forensic Society will continue to host more public debates in the future on contentious issues such as this.

Being Adopted and Colorblind in America

My name is Emma McMahan. I am Asian, though you wouldn’t know it from my name. McMahan is not an Asian name, but Irish because I was adopted at 8 months from Changsha, Hunan, China. My parents tell me they always wanted to adopt a baby from China, which is how I ended up living in the United States. As soon as I arrived, I became a naturalized citizen.

My parents took me home to a small town called Madisonville, Texas. The population at the time was just over 3,000 people. One might think that growing up in rural Texas as a person of color would be hard, especially since most small towns in Texas have a majority white population. This was not the case for me. Racial discrimination rarely affected me when I lived in Madisonville. In fact, it was when I moved to Houston that I started to experience racial discrimination. 

In Madisonville, I remember playing cowboys and Indians with my neighbors and my classmates at school. I always wore my cowboy hat or baseball cap wherever I went. When most people think of cowboys or American farm dwellers, a small, Asian girl does not come to mind. Nonetheless, I wore whatever my parents bought me to wear or what my younger brother Liam wore: jeans, t-shirts, overalls, some kind of hat, and of course, cowboy boots. 

My parents do not see me any differently because I am Chinese.

Even though I am racially and ethnically Chinese, I did not grow up with Chinese culture. I never learned Chinese in the home because my parents did not speak Chinese. For supper, my parents cooked me burgers, steak, beef stew, and spaghetti instead of rice or stir fry. My parents raised me in their Irish-American culture with a Texan twist. They did not force Chinese culture in my life because of my skin color. My parents wanted me to feel included in the family just as much as my brother, who is not adopted. 

My parents do not see me any differently because I am Chinese. Humorously, my mom often forgets that she adopted me. She tells me, “I always think of you as if I had you myself.” How much more inclusive could she be? My skin color never mattered to her, but she loves me because I am her daughter, regardless of what I look like.

This is where a fine line appears between race and culture. Some people like to comment on how “American” I am when they first get to know me. Race is race, but I’d say culture is much more important. One is not required to be a certain race to practice a certain culture. Racially, I am Chinese. Culturally, I am Irish-American-Texan. This is the beauty of America: you don’t have to be a certain race to practice our culture. My parents were colorblind while raising me, and still are colorblind. They always taught me what Martin Luther King, Jr. taught: never judge based on color. This colorblind approach has always stuck with me. I find racism deplorable because I’ve been taught to love others because of their personhood and character, not their race. 

You can’t change race, so why judge others for it? Judgment should always focus on character, not color. This is not to deny racial identity, but to focus instead on what means more. Culture is much more meaningful because culture can be chosen. Race should not define culture, either. While some may argue that race is a big part of culture, this doesn’t have to be the case in America. As an adoptee, I believe that my culture completes my identity more than my race does. My experience as an adoptee has shaped my colorblind attitude. Because my parents love me for my character, I learned to love others for theirs as well.

Tigers for Life Hosts Prof. David Crockett to Discuss Natural Law and Abortion

On Thursday, April 11, at their general meeting, Tigers for Life (TFL) hosted political science professor David Crockett as a guest speaker. Crockett, the chair of the Trinity University political science department, is an expert in the American presidency and classical and conservative philosophy, including the philosophy of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and St. Augustine.

The crowd was mixed, with TFL members and visitors alike in attendance. Before he started his talk, Crockett handed out an outline of topics to be discussed. Crockett’s main topic of focus in his talk was how natural law can provide a framework to argue for the immorality of abortion. First, he gave a brief introduction to natural law as an objective concept that can be applied to every human being. He also brought up Aquinas’s concept of human law, saying that human law does not always adhere to natural law, and thus, natural law can condemn certain human laws that violate it, such as murder, adultery, and theft. He also emphasized that his talk will not focus on abortion through a religious perspective, despite his own Christian identification.

After giving a brief background on natural and human law, Crockett delved into the discussion of abortion and natural law. He claimed that the first thing to consider regarding abortion is whether or not abortion can be classified as murder, which he defined as “the deliberate taking of human life.” To determine whether or not abortion is murder, he said we must consider four questions: Is abortion deliberate? Are we talking about a life? Is the life human? Is the life innocent? The most debated question is whether or not the life is human. Many abortion activists do not consider a fetus a life, so they would answer “no” to this question.

Dr. Crockett cited some interesting arguments that would question the innocence of an unborn baby. “Feminist scholar Ivy Munduna argues that the fetus aggressively intrudes on a woman’s body so massively that deadly force is justified to stop it.  She argues that the fetus is objectively at fault for causing pregnancy,” said Crockett. However, he came to the conclusion that the answer is “yes” to all of the above questions, therefore, abortion is murder. “If abortion is murder, then overall, it violates natural law.”

According to attendees, average pro-life or pro-choice activists often neglect discussion of the topic in a philosophical context. “I found the theories or possibilities of why pro-choice people think that way in the context of natural law very interesting,” said Angelique Lopez, president of TFL.

Finally, Crockett discussed Thomas Aquinas’s concept of the corruption of reason and the five explanations for why people dispute the principles of natural law and whether or not abortion is murder. They are as follows: corruption of reason by passion, evil habit, evil disposition of nature, vicious custom, and depraved ideology. He emphasized that these are the main reasons why people violate the natural law conclusion that abortion is murder. Crockett concluded that we need to emphasize the centrality of humanity in order to prevent the taking of human life.

Tigers for Life will continue to host meetings and guest speakers to talk about multiple issues related to abortion from philosophy to public policy.

Bob Fu of ChinaAid Speaks to YCT about Christianity, Communism

Tuesday, March 19, Trinity University’s Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) hosted Bob Fu. Fu is the founder and president of ChinaAid, a non-profit, Christian-based organization that advocates for human rights and religious freedom in China. ChinaAid gives financial and moral support to Christian Chinese families who have been persecuted by the Chinese government. His main goal is for Chinese Christians and other religious groups to express their religion with ease and without persecution from the Chinese government.

To begin his speech, Fu gave a short backstory about his earlier life and how ChinaAid came to be founded. While attending university in Beijing, he participated in the 1989 Tiananmen Square student and intellectuals demonstrations. During which Fu and his girlfriend at the time, now his wife, Heidi, converted to Christianity. Soon after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, he was imprisoned in China for identifying as a Christian. It was these incidents in his life that highlight his history of fighting for freedom and democracy in China.

Bob Fu is not the only one to have been imprisoned for his religious beliefs. Even today, many Chinese Christians are being imprisoned for their faith. In fact, one who expresses his or her faith is considered a political dissident, which can warrant imprisonment.

“Hearing that from the point of view of someone who grew up under a regime like China was shocking,” said Daniel Mitchell, a junior at Trinity University.

However, it is not only Chinese Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. “One to three million Muslims are being put into concentration camps by the Communist Party,” explained Fu.

The Uyghurs, a majority Muslim ethnic minority from Xinjiang province, are being torn from their homes and sent to concentration camps by the Chinese Communist Party.

Fu further explained that the amount of Christians in China actually grew after the Tiananmen Square Massacre. He predicts that there will be over 200 million Christians in China within the next 20 to 30 years.

“It was interesting to see Fu’s predictions of the numbers regarding the amount of future Chinese Christians,” said Ian Kavanagh, a senior at Trinity University who worked at ChinaAid this past summer.

Fu is optimistic about the growth of the amount of Christians in China, he predicted there will soon be more than 200 million Chinese Christians. “Sooner or later, they [Chinese government] will realize that imprisoning these Christians will not be a sustainable policy,” he said.

Fu believes that imprisoning people for their faith will eventually become unsustainable because Chinese prisons “will not able to hold every single Christian in China.”

Even though religious persecution continues in China, Bob Fu will not give up. Today, he continues as president of ChinaAid to advocate for religious freedom and basic human rights in China. ChinaAid continues to support persecuted families in need and educating those who are not familiar with this issue.

Photo courtesy YCT.

Is There a Gun Show Loophole?

Firearms are one of the United States’s most heated political topics. Gun control opponents tend to argue that gun control takes away the right to protect oneself, while gun control advocates argue that more gun control will better protect the public from danger. More restrictions on firearms or banning all firearms are the two main goals of gun control advocates. Gun control advocates tend to mention the “gun show loophole.” The gun show loophole is the alleged practice of firearm vendors selling firearms without meeting any federal background check requirements, which makes it easier for unqualified buyers to get weapons.

Recently, I went to my first gun show ever. Each third weekend of the month, the Austin Highway Event Center hosts a gun show called, “Kim’s Gun Show”. I saw the event on Facebook, and decided to go. I wanted to take this opportunity to see if this “gun show loophole” really exists, and if so, to what extent it does exist.

Once I entered the venue, I was amazed. There were over 200 tables of guns, knives, ammunition, antiques, T-shirts, jewellery and more. I did not really know where to begin. I started walking around until I found a table with handguns. I asked questions to the vendor and displayed my interest in buying one. The vendor notified me that I had to be 21 in order for him to be able to sell one to me. Of course, I was not really serious about purchasing a gun that day. I just wanted to see if vendors heeded to the federal background check and the state law that says one must be 21 or over in order to purchase a handgun. Next, I went over to a table full of pocket knives and Bowie knives. I wanted to buy a cheap folding knife just to use as a utility. Once I spotted one I wanted, I picked it up and notified the vendor. I handed him 5 dollars, and he said “enjoy your knife”.

When people think of the “gun show loophole,” knives do not usually come to mind. People tend to think of mass shooters or murderers getting away with buying assault rifles or automatic weapons at these shows. Knives are not really in the picture, initially. However, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Expanded Homicide Data Table for 2017, more homicides are committed with knives than both rifles and shotguns combined. To be specific, 403 homicides were committed with rifles, 264 with shotguns, and 1,591 were committed with knives. These are big numbers, but nowhere near the amount of handgun homicides. Handguns accounted for 7,032 homicides. Handguns are more controlled, however. In Texas, where 18-year-olds can buy rifles, one must be 21 or over to purchase a handgun. This partially disproves the existence of a “gun show loophole.”

Even though some vendors might be more lenient than others, this does not fully prove that there is an absolute “gun show loophole”. If someone gets away with purchasing a firearms without going through federal background check or identification, that is the fault of the firearm vendor. The firearm vendor is the one breaking the law by selling one a firearm without performing the federal background check. Secondly, I did not see any automatic weapons or illegal knives being sold at this gun show. The fault is fully on the intentions of the individual vendor. We should not ban gun shows because of an individual seller’s sketchy dealings.

Texas Pride

On this day, Texas celebrates its 183rd birthday. On March 2, 1836, a group of 60 delegates in what was then known as Mexican Texas signed the Texas Declaration of Independence to declare independence from Mexico. After the harrowing defeat at the Battle of the Alamo in December of 1835, these 60 delegates signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. After Texan forces had a major victory at the Battle of San Jacinto, Texas was officially independent, creating the Republic of Texas. This is the story of Texas Independence Day.

Those who are not from Texas may not even know that Texas has its own day of independence. Many do not know the significance of the Alamo in San Antonio. Texas is the only state to have had its own independence and status as a country. In fact, Texas was internationally recognized as its own country. Nine years after Texas declared independence from Mexico, the United States of America annexed Texas in December of 1845. Today, Texas Independence Day is a state holiday. Many schools and businesses have the day off. This year, it falls on a Saturday.  On this day, some Texans celebrate with family, friends, barbeque and beer. Barbeque and grilling is a huge part of Texan culture.

Many non-Texans wonder why Texans celebrate this day. What does it mean to celebrate Texas Independence Day? Texas Independence Day signifies Texas’s strength and exceptionalism as a state and former country. Texas Independence Day is an important day for me and other Texans because it resembles the persistence and glory that the Texan soldiers had during battles for independence. As a proud Texan, this day reminds me of American Independence Day. I feel the same patriotic and state-pride sentiment when the Fourth of July comes around.

Being a Texan is a benefit and a privilege because Texans get to celebrate two independence days in one year. These two days are similar in the sense that both struggled in a fight against two different foreign imperial powers. Just as the settlers in colonial America had grievances against the British King George III, the Texan settlers had similar types of grievances against the Mexican general, Antonio López de Santa Anna. The American Revolution and the Texas Revolution both mean something special to Texans.

Along with 19 other states, Texas has its own Pledge of Allegiance. However, Texas is one of the only states to recite the Texas Pledge in public schools. When I attended public school in my middle school to high school years, the Texas Pledge was recited every morning on the intercom. This is a good example of Texas’s exceptional status as a state. Every morning, I would be reminded that I live in a state with unique history unlike any other state in America. Sure, most of America’s founding history comes from New England and the Northeastern states in general, but Texas has history that only happened for Texas, not the United States as a whole.  In addition, Texas is also one of the only states that teaches its own state history to students in public schools. I remember telling my non-Texan friends I had a test coming up for Texas History class, and they were astonished to hear that Texas has its own history class. Teaching students Texas history in schools emphasizes the importance of Texas’s beginnings and fight for independence. Many states began as British colonies in colonial America or as vast territories, but Texas began as its own country that was eventually annexed to the United States. Texas pride roots from independence from Mexico.

Photo: YCT @ Trinity distributing Texas flags and bluebonnet seeds on Friday, Mar. 1. Photo by Manfred Wendt.

YCT Hosts Lecture on American Exceptionalism

Monday, February 18, the Trinity University Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) hosted a speaker named Jonathan Dunne. Dunne is an Irishman who writes for theBlaze, an American conservative media company that provides television networks, podcasts, and news articles. Dunne came to Trinity University to speak about American exceptionalism from a European point of view. With a heavy Irish accent and great enthusiasm, he had many good things to say about the United States. Dunne shared that his lifelong dream is to become an American citizen, claiming to have been in line for citizenship for about 12 years.

American exceptionalism is one of the issues that Dunne is very passionate about. His sweatshirt read, “America is great because Americans are good.” He stated that one of the things that makes America different from every other country in the world is the idea that rights come from their creator, not from men or from the government. Rights are inherently given to humans just because they are human.

Dunne further discussed the founding American documents, namely the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. According to Dunne, the main rights that make up America today come from the Declaration of Independence. He said that America is different because we have a “God-given right to pursue happiness.” He quoted the Declaration of Independence’s famous phrases that “all men are created equal” and that humans have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Dunne argues these documents prove that the United States is built upon exceptional, God-given values that cannot be given or taken away by men or governments.

“I admire how Americans are always so hopeful and always looking to the future,” Dunne said. During the talk, he expressed his admiration for how motivated and persistent Americans are when facing everyday life. He noted that the attitudes in America are much different from European attitudes. George Washington’s values were one of his favorite things about the foundation of the United States.

Students in the audience, mainly YCT members, seemed to enjoy Jonathan Dunne’s talk because most of the members agreed with Dunne that America is indeed exceptional and special. “I loved his passionate knowledge of America’s founding documents. His main argument was that America was the first nation to achieve a system of laws based on principles that mankind cannot alter,” said Isaiah Mitchell, junior english major and chairman of YCT.

More students expressed agreement with Dunne and admired his passion for America as a whole. “I liked how positive he is about America: past, present, and future, noted Victoria Ydens, a freshman classics major and member of YCT. She added that it was “a refreshing change from the usual negativity.”
Young Conservatives of Texas will continue to host speakers in the future. The next speaker on their schedule is Bob Fu, founder and president of ChinaAid.

Disclaimer: Emma McMahan is the social chair of YCT at Trinity.

Photo by Samantha Farnsworth.