EDITORIAL: Top 5 stories from the break
Our View: The winter break saw some of the most tragic and frustrating events in the past year. School shootings, politics, civil wars and bowl games captured national attention. These controversial issues represent a brief look at the stories you might have missed over the break.
1) Sandy Hook: In 1999 one of our editorial board was an eighth grader living in Littleton, Colo., when the Columbine massacre occurred. The senseless and brutality of the tragedy shook our community in lasting and profound ways that must also be felt in Newtown, Conn., after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. The shooting at Sandy Hook is even more senseless and tragic than anything we have seen in an American school. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and community affected by this most horrific event. The citizens of Newton need our support, not our politics.
2) Gun Control: Sparked by school shootings, the gun control debate reached new heights over the break. After the shooting, Vice President Joe Biden immediately encouraged action through a new gun violence task force. Reactions by pro-firearms organizations were swift and intense. The National Rifle Association flatly rejected the administration’s proposals. We should not use gun control as a way to react to school shootings. The use of tragedies by both sides to bolster their positions is disturbing and reprehensible. Gun control is an issue that must be analyzed logically and thoughtfully, not as a tool to gain political points after a shooting.
3) Fiscal Cliff: The pageantry and theater were performed by both sides of the aisle during the final stages of negotiations rivaled the best Christmas performances. Democrats and Republicans created the conditions that led to the artificial crisis in the first place. The fiscal cliff was originally developed as a built-in consequence to congressional inaction. If Congress did not make budgetary decisions by a certain date, automatic budget cuts would be issued. The endless talks and meetings in front of TV cameras ended in a predictable compromise. Democrats won agreements to delay spending cuts and raised taxes on citizens earning more than $400,000 a year, while Republicans won agreements to maintain Bush-era tax breaks for citizens below that line. Voters in each party should not be encouraged by their representatives’ efforts. Both sides lost ground and only postponed necessary reforms to spending and tax policies. It might have looked like Democrats and Republicans were fighting hard, but they just played opossum.
4) Syria: Early this month, the U.N. released a report dramatically increasing the estimated death toll in the Syrian Civil War. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has been responsible for 60,000 casualties and many believe the actual number to be much higher. This number is more than the roughly 50,000 U.S. combat deaths in Vietnam and is only expected to rise. The international community has been inactive in pushing for a peaceful end to the conflict, but the new report should spur significant pressure from the U.N. and the United States. President Barack Obama and the U.N. should follow up recognition of the rebel leaders with continuing diplomatic support to end the killings of Syrian citizens immediately. More violence is not the answer. The U.S. should not lend military aid to the Syrian revolutionaries. The last thing we want is more of our students fighting and dying in yet another foreign conflict.
5) OU Football: Our defeat at the Cotton Bowl brought the direction of the Sooner football program into question. Starting quarterback Landry Jones is leaving sparking questions surrounding backup quarterback Blake Bell’s ability to fill his shoes. The exodus of three experienced veterans — juniors Kenny Stills, Tony Jefferson and Tom Wort — is further evidence of dramatic changes to the makeup of the team and necessitates rethinking strategies on both sides of the football. At this point, it is not clear in what direction OU football will go. Right now the only thing certain in Sooner land is change.