Diversity At The World Cup

The U.S. And Europe Can Learn A Lot About Immigration From The 2018 FIFA World Cup

The beauty of diversity at this year's World Cup.

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The 2018 FIFA World Cup was alight with surprises and unexpected twists throughout its entirety—the defending champion Germany getting knocked out in the group stages (still upset about that tbh) along with powerhouses Portugal and Argentina getting slotted in the Round of 16, Russia's improbable run deep into the quarter-finals, and Croatia's absolutely incredible venture into their first ever FIFA World Cup Finals, culminating in France's victory for only the second time in its career as a nation made for an incredible tournament in Russia.

While the United States was unfortunately unable to qualify and compete this time around, there are some key takeaways that we can utilize as a country from the success of this incredibly diverse French side in Moscow—namely, the idea of immigration as a force for good, which has been set alight as a largely controversial topic of discussion by consistently inflammatory remarks made by our President and various members of the far right-wing sections of the Republican Party.

Unfortunately, the value of immigration as a core component of our great nation and the work ethic displayed by those who aspire to achieve what is touted as the "American Dream" is downplayed by pure-blood activists such as Steve Bannon (how that monster of a human—actual Neo-Nazi and white supremacist—became a political strategist still defies conventional expectation) and Tomi Lahren (who seems to think that the only acceptable immigrants are ones coming from Europe like her own), among many others of the Republican Party who claim themselves loyal to the United States, a country that was founded upon the principles of freedom from tyranny and the hope of a new life for those seeking justice and prosperity.

The central aspect of ridding our nation of whom Trump calls "illegals" was one of the founding pillars of the dogma that took Republicans by storm during the 2016 election cycle, and was a major factor that led to Trump's rise to power and the destruction of moderation of Republican ideals by candidates such as John Kasich in favor of an extreme set of tactics designed to beat down and discourage the very concept of American immigration.

So far, we have had several attempts to ban Muslim immigration outright from select countries and multiple efforts to reduce the flux of immigration across the Mexican border, which has culminated into a substantial crisis as ICE has routinely separated migrant children from their families in an effort to undermine the attempts of those who seek political asylum in the United States for a chance at a new life, away from the horrors that they fled from. Our President and Congress have done nothing but degrade the concept of immigration from nations other than Europe.

Beyond just the United States, the status of immigration throughout Western Europe has come into question amidst a rising tide of right-wing candidates such as Marie Le Pen of France and political parties such as Alternative for Germany, who preach about the sanctity of national identity as the backbone of patriotism. Such contingents constantly prove their hypocrisy about the value of their so-called nationalism by pointing to national sports figures as a symbol of their countries prowess but then insulting those very athletes for their perceived lack of national character during a loss.

Whilst on the subject of the World Cup, no athlete comes more prominently to mind as a scapegoat for his national identity than Mesut Ozil, a key figure of the German National team (colloquially known as Die Mannschaft) who has been constantly ridiculed by the German right-wing for his perceived lack of Germanness due to his silence during the National Anthem (Ozil has stated that he prays during this time to ensure success), amongst a plethora of other accusations. Despite the overall poor performance of the entire German squad at this year's World Cup, it was Ozil who was singled out as a pariah by the AfD, and not for the first time.

Amongst all of the Germany squad, it is Ozil's Turkish roots that are the most heavily inspected, in spite of his unquestionable talent as one of the best midfielders in the game, and the status of other immigrants and the children of immigrants that have donned the black and white national jersey, including Sami Khedira, Lukas Podolski, and Miroslav Klose. When the team wins, they praise the strength of the collective unit; when they lose, it is often Ozil who is left taking the majority of the backlash himself. The hypocrisy of the right-wing in Europe truly is astounding.

Enter the French National team, a contingent of 23 players spanning a wealth of nationalities including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Algeria, Guinea, Cameroon, Germany, Portugal, and Spain, amongst various others. All but 2 of these footballers were born and raised in France, and their devotion to their home allowed them to put aside their differences to fight together for the collective whole of Les Bleus, culminating in a victory that can be defined as a success story for all immigrants.

In the passion of the beautiful game, it mattered not who they were as individuals, but what they represented—the ethos of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity that defined their character as a unit, and that is why they stand triumphant as world champions. The victory of the French at this year's World Cup is a symbolic icon of the value of diversity in today's world.

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US Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Finds Camaraderie At Texas A&M

"At my alum, we were taught not to lie cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do. Then I was the CIA Director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses!"

- Mike Pompeo

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On Monday, April 15, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, visited Texas A&M; University in College Station. I was fortunate enough to attend and ask him (preselected and edited) questions in front of the audience.

Fair warning, this article may not be your typical journalistic article that reports on political figures. There are plenty of those out there that you can and should read! But for this article, let's spice things up; I want to paint a picture of my first time communicating with a globally authoritative entity, including how Pompeo presented himself and how that presentation was received by my home.

Tone-wise, the situation felt like it had a self-conscious sense of esteem to it - likely stemming from the fact that Pompeo graduated from a military academy and was currently speaking to a few hundred people at a school with similar ties to the military.

Despite the rigid stuffiness and the irrational feeling that I was going to get sniped by the Secret Service if I even looked at the Secretary wrong, I was still excited to get in there and shake things up. Bug-eyed and buzzing with the anticipation that politics gives me, I checked in with the press and media. I was ready to absorb the experience.

Here's a breakdown of all things Pompeo-town.

First impression: as Pompeo, a sizable and stoic former CIA Director, stomped out to the podium, I couldn't help but compare him to other politicians. You see, Pompeo is not known for his glamour or his magnetism. But this seemingly unpolitical quality actually worked for this particular audience.

A strong aspect of the culture at TAMU is our laud of the useful, plain, forthright things, stripped of the glitz and straight to the point. Henceforth, I came to the conclusion that Texas A&M; is the perfect place for the relatively uncharismatic Secretary of State to directly explain diplomacy. Moreover, he urged the mini-versions of him in the crowd to pursue diplomacy and "learn how to shut up" as he did.

Relating to the presence of the Corps of Cadets on our campus, Pompeo contends, "diplomacy and military strike go hand in hand." He furthers his pitch, "the State Department has a long history of hiring people with a military background. And Texas A&M;, with its great military history, could provide many great public service leaders just as West Point has done through the years."

As questions from the audience permitted, he discussed foreign policy. Everywhere from "the crisis in Venezuela" to "coalitions in Turkey" to "sanctions in North Korea" was brought up. For the most part, the audience seemed to be tracking with him, listening intently (with the exception of a couple of folks in the audience who tried to interrupt his lecture in order to inquire about immigration reform and the Muslim ban). A straight-shooter, Pompeo was received well by the university with only a few personal anecdotes and jokes.

He did, however, get some laughs for popping any bubbles of political idealism when he said, "At my alum, we were taught not to lie cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." (Fun fact: this phrase is also shared by Aggies!) He continues, "Then I was the CIA Director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses!"

I don't mean to downplay Secretary Pompeo's charm. He made eye contact with me and every other interviewer, he greeted his listeners well, he skillfully subverted complex topics, and he spoke eloquently. But if today's political commentators argue that modern public servants prioritize style at the expense of substance - he would likely stand as the model antithesis to that statement, valuing substance over style in all matters.

As his time winded down, Pompeo stated that the reason why he does what he does, a laborer in the public sector, is to help the people of the United States, culturally and economically. The State Department currently justifies its existence with its diplomatic mission to aid developing countries in their journeys to becoming stable and democratic players in both the global village and the world market.

His parting words to us were, "I know that you all have a tremendous sense of duty, a tremendous sense of service. I hope that today that you can see that America's State Department is committed to living up to those standards."

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Just Because You Can Throw A Ball Does Not Mean Your Rape Is Admissible

Why are university athletes more likely to commit sexual assault?

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I wish rape didn't seep into every sphere of my life. But, like ink, it has.

Interpersonally, my childhood friend was gang-raped by members of the University of North Texas basketball team. As uncovered in an investigation, her circumstances were not isolated, unlike what it says in UNT's initial statement. I am proud to know my friend. I am proud to stand with her. However, I am ashamed at the situation and the commonness of her suffering among students just like me, on college campuses.

Politically, Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, promotes new fortifications for students accused of sexual assault. Basically, the rules would reduce the legal classification of harassment while offering protections for those accused of wrongdoing. In my emotions, I firmly believe in the American ideal of being "innocent until proven guilty". However, even in a crime so entrenched in emotions, I must look at facts. Facts say that the falsification rate of rape is the same as most other crimes, somewhere around 5%. Therefore, I believe that DeVos' proposal would tilt investigations in favor of the committer and significantly lessen the number of victims who would have the assurance to come forward and tell his/her story. In a campus-setting, where 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted, her "solution" adds gasoline to a country-wide fire.

Educationally, Brock Turner, a swimmer at Stanford University received just six months in county jail after being found guilty of five felonies, all of which amount to him raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. In defense of the light sentence, the judge said, "the more time (Turner spends) in jail, the more severe impact" on his future, who wanted to go to the Olympics. Never mind the future of the victim.

First off, rape culture, a sociological concept in which sexual assault is pervasive and normalized, exists. And while it exists everywhere, I can only speak with any authority on the campus setting, where hook-up culture is both catalyzed and camouflaged. Here, the area that needs the most treatment is in the locker room, on the court, or on the field.

Student athletes are proportionally the greatest perpetrators of sexual misconduct.

While a tiny 3% of male students are athletes, male student athletes are responsible for almost a fifth of sexual assaults on campus. And that is just the events that are reported, (just so you know, about 3 out of 4 go unreported). However, the NCAA has no policy that lessens a student's athletic eligibility in the face of sexually violent behavioral patterns. If you have allowed these numbers to simmer in your mind, you can see that this is unacceptable.

Why are university athletes more likely to commit sexual assault?

Most experts make cultural and institutional arguments.

Culturally, student athletes are not seen as "normal" students – rather, they provide a service to the college. Where most students get something from the college, student athletes give to the college, and we should be so lucky to have them grace us with their presence. It is a part of the status quo: high-status students on campus are athletes, especially males who play the most popular sports, like football, basketball, or baseball. These students carry social privilege.

Obviously, athletes are not naturally ethically worse than other students. I am simply saying that absolutely no one is immune to the culture that surrounds him/her, and we have a weird culture.

On average, athletes are more likely than other students on campus to buy into the cross-cultural concept of robust masculinity, which, in extreme cases, can lead to increased sexual aggression. Don't just take it from a non-athlete like me. Even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, an NBA champion and a former UCLA basketball player, declared the cultural privilege from which he benefited.

"I'm especially aware of the culture of entitlement that athletes feel... they strut around campus with the belief that they can do no wrong."

I am not going to sugarcoat the point that we all know well: football players are comparable to celebrities on campus, which has dangerous implications for a certain untouchability in mindsets.

Institutionally, colleges are as inclined to protect the perpetrator over non-athletic peers. A Senate report concluded that administrators tend to do three actions to protect their athletes, and therefore, their brand.

1. Higher-ups at the school discourage victims from reporting to police outside of the university. In this method, they let the campus police "handle it" and not report to less-biased city forces.

2. Admins downplay an assault's severity, making it less 'criminal', more unintentional and of an event to "move on from".

3. The athletic department can work with the administration and strategically delay proceedings while athletes finish their season.

If these three things are not enough as far as systemic ethical transgressions go, when athletes are found responsible for sexual assault, they may face small consequences.

Just to pull an infamous example from my home state of Texas, Baylor University continues to wrestle with how to deal with battery; I don't need to go over the sheer amount of claims that they were conscious and compliant to most allegations of assault involving their student-athletes.

So, not only is our mindset messed up, but the administration who is supposed to protect us is similarly bungled.

Obviously, athletes are not bad people, only people that are subject to their environment and protected by their talent. But crime is crime. The unnamed victim of Brock Turner said it well as she argued that being "an athlete at a university should not be an entitlement to leniency, but an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law" no matter your status.

Throwing a ball does not make someone above the rules.

Yes, I realize that my words have become trite. Scary articles, documentaries, and books about the sheer magnitude of sexual crime in college abound. But I see my seemingly-repetitive diction more as a reflection of our fallen collegiate system, rather than of myself.

With my article, I only ask that you keep fighting for victims like my childhood friend, for the classmate who sits next to you in lecture, for yourself. This institutional and social discrepancy of "athletics above all else" happens at more universities than I had the breath to mention.

Your first step is taking a searing examination at the failure of American universities to grapple successfully with campus rape in the systematic pattern of protecting student athletes more than other students. The next steps follow naturally. Take part in the activism at your school, encourage survivors, and productively confront the problem. Fear not, the policies will change with your effort.

Politics aside, we are in a time for you to continue speaking the truth, even if your voice trembles.

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