Commentary  Don’t read the comments

Dear Daily,

Commentary provides a useful space for discussion unconstrained by the themes of other sections. The editors for this section must exercise care in what they choose to publish, as their articles both shape the structure of ongoing discussions on campus and represent the most visible face of the paper’s principles.

“Ro-dee-NO” (Commentary, September 6, page 6) by Natalie Church was intended to take on the themes of rape culture, colonization, and racism that permeate Frosh events. Unfortunately, it skipped about and rarely made strong links between Frosh events and the problems it attempted to point out. Several similar critiques, published later, made the same points much more concretely. Similarly, Ethan Feldman’s more-radikal-than-thou rant (“Dear Boot-Licking Apologists,” Commentary, November 8, page 8) was entirely redundant given Sheehan Moore and Flora Dunster’s article “Amnesia in wartime” (Commentary, November 8, page 8), which managed to critique the militarist aspects of Remembrance Day while allowing that it could be more than that. Publishing the better articles first or alone would have, in both cases, kept focus on the issue at hand rather than allowing the commentariat to divert argument to the tone or style of the articles.

In both cases, Commentary also gave the ‘other side’ several letters and articles that missed every legitimate criticism of the original, while reinforcing dominant narratives about race, gender, and class, often in smugly insulting ways (such as Alex Simakov’s snide dismissal of “cis-gendered” (“Dear baton-licking pacifists,” Commentary, November 15, page 6). The Daily has a mission to give voice to marginalized individuals and communities. Articles reinforcing dominant, reactionary narratives do not fit this, and demand a response that diverts discussion from the original issue.

If The Daily is serious about its principles, it ought to work to publish the best critical pieces it can, while restricting hard copy responses to those which actually engage critical pieces within those principles. The rest of the responses can be seen easily enough in the comments online.

Benjamin Elgie
Ph.D. 3 Neuroscience