Let me preface this by saying I am well aware of your youth. Of course I am. As you are a reporter for a college publication, it is fair to deduce you are between the ages of 18 and 22. And as I am at least 15 years your senior, I take no pride in condemning your work except that I remember being your age very well and what's more, I had my own opinion column in my college newspaper so all of the preceding facts aside, the truth is, I am inside your head and know what it's like to think you know your shit; you have an opinion and you know you're right.
And even all of that aside, unlike you - and I pay you this compliment loosely - I am not reporter. So I'm going to also add that I'm probably not gonna fact check everything here and operate on a lot of fair assumption.
Here is what I know.
I know you published an article about Greek Life at San Diego State University. Where, in the interest of full disclosure, more than a couple members of my family have matriculated.
I know that not all of my family members who attended SDSU were members of a frat or sorority however I know that all of these family members were/are Jewish.
I know that your sensationalized expose on Greek Life began as such:
For Nazis to participate in the senseless murder of millions of Jews, they needed to conform. It is very unlikely that every individual who acted in the Holocaust was a bloodthirsty sociopath. More likely, they were a part of a larger group, and simply conformed to the mob mentality of hyper-racism encompassing their lives and culture. Fear of rejection by the men in charge led to the creation of millions of citizens with one mind. On a smaller (and relatively less anti-Semitic ) scale, we have collegiate Greek life.
I know that I read past that paragraph - I read the whole article even though it's been removed from the Daily Aztec website (admission of guilt, guys - journalism 101, right?) -- but I didn't need to. Because once you published that paragraph, your credibility went right in the toilet.
I know that I am Jewish and proud. I know I am not the most religious Jew on the planet but I know I can be irrevocably passionate about it regardless.
It's not untrue that problems ocurr in fraternities and sororities. I'm not going to deny the system is flawed. I did rush a sorority once (and enjoyed the experience, actually - I won the karaoke competition!). I was only nearly a member - it was just not for me. But before I went on to the college I graduated from, where I rushed, I spent two years at a school that is famously Greek-friendly and many of my friends there and beyond were members of that life. And I often envied them and often benefitted socially from knowing them. As I did with my high school youth group and with other organizations I belonged to in college; as I do now as an adult, many of my Greek friends engaged in philanthropic activities and community service. Yeah, they drank and they partied and there were some pretty raunchy hazing rituals. Whatever - they were the cool kids on campus and a lot of us wanted to be them or be around them. It's part of the experience. It's growing up. It's college.
And you have a whole bunch of statistics in your article about binge drinking and gang rapes - again, none of which I have knowledge or research on hand to support. And it may very well happen - but that is not even the issue for me (which is tragic in a way because if those things are truly a problem on your campus, it stands to reason we should be having a serious discussion about it, not questioning your unethical journalistic choices).
I realize you write an opinions column and you might think that gives you a little latitude. And it probably does. Lord knows I got shit on for a column or two. But I can't find any empathy for you. I did try - I went back and read a few more of your articles and can't help but notice all you do is chastize. So I challenge you to write something of great power - something that will make people feel truly positive. Make people feel good about themselves and the world. Make people get off their sofa and do something. You want to change the Greek system? Tell me what I need to do. Tell me where to send a letter. Empower me to make a difference. Show me an alternative. Show me that. Teach us that.
The pen is mightier than the sword but all you're doing is jumping into a crowd and chucking your pen at someone's head.
I'd like to point out, by the way, that SDSU has Jewish fraternities. Most colleges do, in fact. I'm told at SDSU, there are programs in place to battle environments that propone rape. I've read they do a lot of community service over there. I'm not saying that your students are 100% sober, drug free, upstanding citizens - I don't have the first clue about that - but all I did was spend five minutes on Google to find out a couple of positive things happening on campus that you totally omitted in order to paint your school's Greek system as the second coming of The Third Reich or La Cosa Nostra.
Hitler's severely evil genius succeeded because he twisted truths and prayed on vulnerability to sway people toward his way of thinking. In a depressed economy and broken social conditions, Hitler saw an open wound and proclaimed with enthusiasm, German pride and an amazing cinematographer that he could bandage it. He resorted to drastic propoganda and told people who to blame for their problems. He hated a group of people out of ignorance or fear or both, and used whatever melodrama he could wrap his cold fists around to drag an entire continent into a crime against humanity.
Think about that. Think about how a better article could have empowered a positive change. Think about the strength of your words and how right now, instead of condemning you for a single paragraph we could all be affecting something for the greater good right now.
Do better. Take a position, do your research, put it to us with some eloquence and finesse and do better.
And furthermore, while I applaud the mature statement published by SDSU's Intrafraternity Council President where in he states
It is our hope in the Greek Community that such a foolish and ill-informed article is seen for what it is by students: an ignorant individuals attack on something she does not understand. We ask that the Daily Aztec's staff realize this mistake, and take necessary action to rectify the situation, beginning first with the removal of such a poor writer.
I challenge The Daily Aztec to go one step further because it's not only your fault, Madison, for writing this piece, some fault must also lie with your editor, Leonardo Castaneda. I can only imagine how he salivated over this tabloid journalism. He saw buzz words and catchphrases and imagined for a moment how he could be Harvey Levin someday (FYI, I'm being an ass here to make a point and owning it). You know what one of the major differences is between bloggers like me and journalists like you? A chain of command.
Just... do better.