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Lasell Professors Weigh in on Presidential Debate

October 03, 2016

After one of the most highly anticipated Presidential debates ever, national pundits and politicos wasted no time commenting, fact-checking and analyzing what the two candidates had to say. Here - a sampling of reactions from Lasell professors on topics raised in the debate from race to ISIS.

Dana Janbek, Professor of Public Relations and author of the book Global Terrorism and New Media: The Post Al-Qaeda Generation.

On the Topic of Terrorism:

Essentially, Mrs. Hillary Clinton talked about having both an online strategy as well as a military one. In terms of her online strategy, she wants to "disrupt their propaganda efforts online" and to work with tech companies "to prevent ISIS and their operatives from being able to use the Internet to radicalize." For her military strategy, she reiterated her views of working collaboratively with allies in the Middle East. Most importantly, it is clear that she acknowledges that terrorism today is an international problem which requires an international solution.

In his comments on terrorism, Mr. Donald Trump said that he wants to "knock the hell out of ISIS." This is neither a policy nor a strategy, so it is difficult to assess it. He blamed the Obama administration for the situation in Iraq and for the creation of ISIS, which is confusing given that the Iraq war started in 2003 and President Obama didn't assume office until 2009. Mr. Trump did say, however, that he recommends taking Iraq's oil to choke funding to ISIS: "I said it to you once, had we taken the oil -- and we should have taken the oil -- ISIS would not have been able to form either." Nevertheless, experts have raised serious ethical and legal concerns about taking oil from the country, with some saying that it could be considered a war crime.

Paul Debole, Professor of Political Science

Debate performance in general:

For the most part, Senator Clinton appeared to give well-thought out, complete answers to most of the moderator's questions.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, seldom answered the moderator's questions and seemed more focused on providing fodder for "sound bite" journalists. On the rare occasions when Mr. Trump did provide and answer to a question, they were void of any substantive detail.

At times they appeared to be two middle schoolers, arguing on the playground.

Mr. Trump chiding Senator Clinton for preparing for the debate seemed rather childish. Her answers demonstrated her deep understanding of the issues. Mr. Trump's answers were clearly indicative of his lack of preparation and his lack of familiarity with substantive material. Opinion, not based on fact, is creative fiction.

Jenifer Drew, Associate Professor of Sociology, former Director, Boston University Prison Education Program, Founder, Phoenix Rising, MCI/Framingham

On the topic of Race:

Donald Trump's description of neighborhoods where Black and Latino citizens dominate as "hell" is the essence of a hurtful stereotype. That image portrays only "criminals" roaming the streets, and ignores the majority of the people in those neighborhoods who work, have families, who try their best, as we all do, to get ahead and live a life surrounded by friends and family.
It was far more helpful for Clinton to point out the effects of mass incarceration, underperforming schools, and unemployment have on a community. But to call an entire neighborhood "hell" is to demonize its residents, overlook their strengths, and disrespect the place they call home.