Posts Tagged ‘Yale’

Fareeding between the lines in Zakaria flap

August 23, 2012

CNN host and Time columnist Fareed Zakaria’s admitted plagiarism is sadly unsurprising. Zakaria’s apology and wrist slaps notwithstanding, the incident is unlikely to spur the formerly interesting celebrity journalist to change his ways.

Initially, I was a big fan of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, but this incident is not the first time the host has disappointed nor even the second time Zakaria fell short in his work on the show.

Underlying those failures are some key facts about Zakaria and the league where he plays that make further disappointments likely. The cult of the celebrity journalist/public intellectual makes shortcuts inevitable and militates against serious work. Hence, writing about guns in the US – that week’s hot topic and thus required for the hot columnist – even though it ranged far from Zakaria’s foreign affairs expertise.

The shoddy Newsweek cover story Hit the Road, Barrack by Zakaria cohort and frequent guest Niall Ferguson making waves this week illustrates the level of pap players at this level deliver that serve as advertising for their speaking gigs that pay huge multiples of what they make for writing. Editors are complicit in this game, suspending standards to suit celebrities and cut jobs for the likes of fact checkers.

Zakaria’s other sin is that he’s become a shill for the establishment. His CNN show is a safe haven for Robert Rubin and his ilk, the way Fox News is for John Bolton. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that the GPS wet kiss for Singapore that was my first disappointment came while Yale University, where Zakaria earned his BA and served until this week on its governing board, was laying groundwork for its Singapore branch campus, offering liberal arts in an illiberal place.

Zakaria is an inspired choice to promote, defend and extend the establishment. He’s earned his bones in the group, but given his outsider origins, he at once broadens the tent and is a reliable bet to slavishly toe the line. Zakaria has been lightly tapped for his plagiarism; he wouldn’t have gotten off so lightly if he’d asked Rubin during their interview, “Why was it okay for you to leave the government for a $15 million a year job at a bank that directly benefited from decisions you made as Treasury Secretary and policies you advocated in that position?”

Zakaria’s CNN show is also a platform for establishment celebrity journalists/public intellectuals to promote themselves and reinforce their perceived importance. Without such vehicles for mutual back scratching, people like Ferguson or Thomas Friedman might be forced to continue the more rigorous work that earned them their places at the table instead of drafting on each others’ Sunday morning hot air.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

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McYale with the death penalty – and no backtalk

July 21, 2012

Progress continues toward the debut of the Yale branch campus in Singapore. The Asian liberal arts education experiment in partnership with the National University of Singapore is scheduled to begin holding classes next year.

As plans for the new campus emerged, Yale president Richard Levin and his administration assured all that the university would uphold its values despite Singapore’s illiberal political and social climate, including strict limits on free speech. But many faculty and alumni have expressed doubts about putting Yale’s centuries old reputation on the line in anti-democratic Singapore.

Yale international relations graduate student Shaun Tan has documented compromises Western universities make to accommodate repressive regimes. The article, titled Dangerous Liaisons, also noted that Yale received no special license to stretch Singapore’s boundaries.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported Yale’s Singapore campus will severely limit political activity. Political protests will be barred on campus, and students will be prohibited from forming partisan political groups.

The new college’s president, Yale professor of English and comparative literature Pericles Lewis, insisted that Yale in Singapore students “are going to be totally free to express their views.” Just don’t express them too loudly or widely, kids. Call it liberal education with Singaporean characteristics.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Yale brings liberal arts to illiberal Singapore

September 19, 2011

In the West, Singapore has a well-crafted reputation as the little engine that could, and that does it on time. It’s a charming image that’s almost completely false.

Singapore receives ritual designation annually as the world’s second freest economy, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, from America’s rightwing Heritage Foundation. Singapore’s mythical status as a corruption-free zone is built on the twin pillars of selective law enforcement, such as ignoring widespread reports of unlicensed promoters illegally bringing higher rollers to its two enormously profitable casinos, and lack of laws against practices considered corrupt in the West, including conflict of interest and trade restraining practices. Though it presents itself as a parliamentary democracy, Singapore’s government deploys its full rage of powers to sustain the ruling party’s reign and suppress political free expression.

In its own neighborhood, people know Singapore as the preferred destination for wealth, legally obtained or otherwise. When Singapore says it wants to become the Switzerland of Asia, it’s not talking about tropical alpine skiing. While spouting pieties, Singapore bathes in filthy money stolen from the poor of Asia and beyond, and hypocrisy breeds contempt.

So it comes as a surprise and disappointment that Yale University has fallen for Singapore’s propaganda. Yale will build its first branch campus in the city-state. Bringing liberal arts to an illiberal place, Yale won zero concessions from Singapore on free speech issues and thinks the new campus will help elevate its reputation in Asia. Enjoy your Singapore sting on the rocks, Yalies.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie. See his biography, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com.

Twenty reasons Barack Obama stinks

October 29, 2010

The US midterm Congressional election is a referendum on Barack Obama’s presidency so far. His Democratic Party is likely to lose one if not both houses of Congress due to a single simple fact: Barack Obama stinks. In case you haven’t been paying attention for the past two years, here are 20 key reasons why.

He was elected by a national vote.
Supreme Court Justices are much better qualified to choose a president.

Not a single US landmark has been destroyed by terrorists during his presidency.
George W Bush got a pair of landmark buildings destroyed and a third attacked in less than half the time Obama has dallied.

He has two daughters, but they’re not even twins.
Neither one has even been arrested for getting drunk either.

He’s part of the elite.
Bush only went to Andover and Yale because the rest of his family did.

Lived with much older white women while underage.
Called them “Mom” and “Grandma” – what a sicko!

Works in a government job and lives in public housing.
Geez, don’t they all.

Only cut taxes for middle class and poor.
He has a deep-seated hatred of rich people.

His father was never Ronald Reagan’s vice president.
His own vice president never patriotically funneled tens of millions in government contracts to his former company.

People say he’s Muslim.
Where there’s smoke, something’s not kosher.

He speaks proper English.
What does he think, he’s like better than us?

He’s never been arrested for drunk driving.
See above.

Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd died during his presidency.
Bush made the hard choices to keep them safe. Now it’s ObamaCare for all.

Says he roots for the Chicago White Sox.
But never even tried to buy the team and get a sweetheart land deal out of it.

Doesn’t have a ranch.
He owns a house across from a synagogue. Wow, there went that neighborhood.

Condoleezza Rice never called him “my husband.”
And Susan Rice isn’t even Condi’s sister.

Distinguished himself earning an advanced degree at Harvard.
As if Law Review matters more than poker at drinking clubs.

Name ends in a vowel.
Typical Chicago backroom politics.

Lousy bowler.
Lousy pool player, too.

Hasn’t invaded a single country under false pretenses.
Bush didn’t do that until his third year, but he had Congressional authorization for it by now.

Never warned anyone he would be the first black president.
At least with Bush, what you saw was what you got.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.


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