Daniel Ellsberg: From the Pentagon Papers to Wiki-Leaks

Daniel Ellsberg at The Most Dangerous Man in A...

Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

One of the biggest benefits of being a Newhouse student is being able to see the amazing speakers that come through The Herg on any given week. Although I’m late posting this I did see Daniel Ellsberg on Tuesday, March 8, as he spoke to a full-house as part of the Tully Center for Free Speech. Ellsberg, a controversial figure in U.S. history, always stood out to me as a hero for free speech and I am extremely humbled that I was able to see speak him in person. It’s not every day that you occupy the same space as someone who completely changed the course of American history!

Daniel Ellsberg, of course, was the man who released the Pentagon Papers to the NY Times and eventually to the Washington Post, which alerted the American public to the true nature of the Vietnam war. Ellsberg extensively about how his actions relate to the current actions by Wiki-Leaks founder Julian Assange. Assange is quite the controversial figure himself with many unsure wether to paint his as a mad-man or a martyr for free-speech.

Ellsberg spoke candidly about being limited by the technology of his time. He released 4,000 pages of the top-secret policy files with the help of Xerox. Ellsberg said he feared that if he were only to take a selection of the documents, the files would be easily explained away by the government. Assange has of course been able to digitally release nearly twenty times the volume that Ellsberg did of documents pertaining to the War in Afghanistan.

The most important difference between the two, Ellsberg noted, was that he released U.S. policy blunders while the documents that Wiki-Leaks have released describe un-authorized killings that have occurred during the war.

Perhaps most fascinating to me was how Ellsberg spoke so non-chalantly of the events that would alter American history. He talked about meeting Julian Assange in person as if he had just met a friend for coffee. I’m struggling to imagine Assange being painted in the same light as Ellsberg for future history textbooks. Assange seems to be much more haphazard with his releases, as of late, and is currently plagued by sexual assault charges. It’s interesting to see these events unfold within my generation, and while I greatly respect Daniel Ellsberg, I wonder if Julian Assange will be villified or villianized.

Guyland: A Critical Look at the College-Aged Male

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Dr. Michael Kimmel gave a lecture entitled ‘Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men‘ at Syracuse University this past Thursday, March 24. Kimmel published the book of the same name in 2008 after interviewing over 400 college-aged males, a sample which was mostly comprised of middle-class white kids, about what it means to enter “Guyland”, or the period between the ages of 15 and 25 in which boys are taught societal values and begin to transition from adolescence into adulthood.

Kimmel believes that Guyland emerged a result of changes in the economy where people are pursuing multiple career paths within their lifetime, and changes in American and European parenting styles. Kimmel believes that the emergence of the “helicopter parent” has over-time produced less resilient children who are more risk-averse than previous generations, and therefore are allowed hover outside of adulthood for as long as their parents enable them. He also believes that the women’s movement, which ultimately made gender visible, also reinforced the emergence of Guyland. The modern American woman was empowered to be anything she desires, while the modern American male had lost his superior status.

As a result, Kimmel’s theory is that in this 15-25 age bracket, boys have an overwhelming need to prove their masculinity and police each other into holding these same standards. If a guy adheres to these rules then he can be part of the group that lives by the motto “Bros before hos”. When Kimmel asked these college-aged males what it meant to be a man, their answers all boiled down to these simple rules of Guyland:

1. No sissy stuff.
2. Be a big wheel (or bring in a big paycheck)
3. Be a sturdy oak (reliable and strong)
4. Exude a daring interest.

Kimmel also delved into the hook-up culture on college campuses and the sexual assault that often occurs in the shadows of Guyland. Although, as a woman, I have never personally transitioned through this phase, I am surrounded every day on this campus by boys who are. You only have to take a stroll down Frat Row at 10pm to get to the heart of Guyland. As a young woman in that specific environment, as Kimmel says, you can either be a “babe” or a “bitch”.

At the beginning of the year I remember avoiding going anywhere near certain frats for fear of being spotted by the frat guys that sat on top of their house and held up “Ratings” of the girls that passed by. All of it blatantly objectifying. And with the addition of alcohol, the perfect environment for sexual assault was being bred right on the Syracuse campus without any intervention.

Kimmel concluded that, “the question is not ‘How do we avoid Guyland?’, but how do we do it more consciously?” or at least more ethically? He believes that adults should be more involved on-campus– at the very least in the ratings incidence, the DPS officers could have told the guys to get off the roof. He also believes that cross-sex friendships can make the biggest difference in terms of breaking up the boys club. And most importantly, there needs to be an increase in programming for men in terms of sexual assault awareness so that men are conscious of the environment that they are contributing to on-campus.

Here’s a video of Kimmel giving a speech on gender and privilege. I saw this on YouTube before I saw him in person and it really changed my perspective on things. You can also get a sense for his speaking style, which is very engaging.