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January 2018

The Non-Existent American Culture War

in Contemporary Politics/Political Issues by

There is widespread belief that America is currently engaged in a second Civil War, a culture war that pits liberalism against conservatism. The liberal side is thought to include secularists, Humanists, modernists, and progressive religionists. They tend to espouse Enlightenment values, often supporting religious pluralism, equality, and individual rights. Liberals believe in a strong, centralized federal government that focuses on promoting justice and equality.   The conservative side, on the other hand, often includes Evangelicals, libertarians, and republicans. They value tradition and adherence to the past over radical change. Conservatives detest “big government” and sometimes desire a less secular government. These two ideologies certainly oppose each other, but do they amount to a “culture war?”  I would argue that, in spite of the two clearly contrasting ideologies, there is not actually an ongoing culture war in America.

Unsurprisingly, when viewing America through a religious lens, several notable differences exist between religious liberalism and conservatism, but I do not think they warrant the title “culture war.”  Conservative religious branches views the United States as a divine entity, blessed by God as a chosen nation. Similar to their political and moral counterparts, religious conservatives value tradition and private, individualized morality. Religious conservatism, at its best, outlines the political and moral positions of numerous Americans. Yet, at its worst, religious conservatism can lead to a form of religious nationalism. Religious liberalism, on the other hand, considers the United States to be an entity for spreading the ideas of justice, equality, and civil rights. Religious liberals typically reject the idea that God granted the United States a divine superiority over other nations but, alternatively, suggests that the vast resources and power of the United States have indebted them with a responsibility to aid struggling nations. Certainly, there are significant differences between religious conservatism and liberalism, but, once again, I think that amounting some ideological differences to a “culture war” is unfair and, ultimately, counterproductive for America.

In actuality, while there are certainly some devout liberals and conservatives, most Americans fall somewhere in the middle, holding some conservative and some liberal positions. Many people, for instance, describe themselves as “fiscally conservative but socially liberal.” I think that the current highly partisan political parties overrepresent the polarization of actual Americans. Most Americans are neither radical liberals or devoted conservatives — they fall somewhere in between the two. Thus, I believe that, although there are certainly stark differences in the ideologies of liberalism and conservatism, comparing some ideological differences to a “culture war” is a melodramatic, sensationalist way of describing modern America.

I actually believe, at its best, America represents a place where people with fundamentally opposing viewpoints can come together and typically resolve their differences through compromise. I think that working through political and cultural differences is the best and most effective way to create lasting legislation that improves the lives of Americans. While I think that partisan politics have certainly created some level of toxicity in Washington, I think that these political differences amount to far less than an all-out “Culture War.”

The overdramatized term  “culture war” does nothing more than to stoke the ideological differences of Americans. Instead, a more accurate term for the religious, political, and moral differences in America would be an “ideological contest.” Sure, there are significant philosophical differences among Americans about religion, government, and morality. But they certainly don’t amount to any sort of “culture war” in America, and saying such is a drastic over-exaggeration.  

How Taylor Swift Reveals a Dark Aspect of the Feminist Movement

in Gender Issues/Political Issues by

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a renowned feminist icon, offers a simple definition of a feminist: “a person who believes in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.” If this definition is true, it would be hard to imagine anyone not calling themselves feminists. However, in my high school experience, I have seen multiple well-intentioned guys and girls shy away from labeling themselves ‘feminists.’ I asked all of these individuals if they believed in the “social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.” They all claimed that they did. Naturally, I then asked them why they were afraid to call themselves feminists. All three of their answers included the words “angry,” “screaming,” and “rioting.”

This language parallels an old Taylor Swift interview. When asked about being a feminist, the singer eloquently stated, “So many girls out there say, ‘I’m not a feminist,’ because they think it means something angry or disgruntled or complaining, or they picture rioting and picketing. It is not that at all. It just simply means that you believe that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities.”  

However, since that interview, countlessthinkpieces” have been written on Taylor Swift’s “spineless” brand of feminism. Liberal women, in particular, have been vocal in attacking Swift for her complicit silence in the 2016 election. Where in  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s definition did she say being a feminist entails endorsing a presidential candidate? Many of Swift’s contemporaries, including Bruno Mars and Carrie Underwood, did not endorse a candidate; however, the number of tweets and Google results indicate there was significantly more backlash to Swift’s non-endorsement than Underwood’s or Mars’.  

When asked why the backlash to Taylor Swift’s feminism is so pronounced, liberals frequently argue that she exploited feminism to boost her career but did not authentically support the feminist movement. How exactly did embracing feminism bolster her career? Bruno Mars and Carrie Underwood, who have not publicly labeled themselves feminists (Underwood actually claimed that she would not call herself a feminist), received exponentially less criticism from “feminists” than did Swift. Putting aside her triumphant sexual assault lawsuit, Swift used her platform of millions to promote the ideology of feminism. Unfortunately, the backlash to Swift’s support of feminism exemplifies a dark, exclusive brand of feminism that ostracizes women for “not doing enough” or for “being a fake feminist.” Swift’s case merely illuminates a broader issue within the feminist movement.

Some extreme, radical feminists have hijacked the movement, creating a misconception of feminism that has repelled many people from the movement. A culture of attacking women for not doing enough for feminism seems, ironically, very anti-feminist. Perhaps this exclusive climate contributes to the hesitancy of young girls and guys to label themselves feminists. How can the feminist movement reach equality by putting down other women? Feminism should strive to be an all-encompassing movement of men and women, conservative and liberal, working together to address the systemic inequality between men and women. Bashing other women, however, does not seem to be a good starting point.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.

Libertarian Morality

in Miscellaneous/Political Issues by

I believe the foundation of morality to be self-ownership; therefore, respecting the rights of the individual is the baseline for moral behavior. These rights are determined by our sentience and humanity. Because we recognize that we are alive, we have the right to live unmolested. Because we recognize that we have opinions, we have the right to voice those opinions. Because we recognize that we can produce goods and services, we have the right to keep the fruits of our production. Rights come in two forms: personal rights and property rights. My rights end where your rights begin, as I do not have the right to abuse you or your property. The function of government should be to protect each citizen’s rights.

In order to define my moral philosophy, I must first define what constitutes a personal right and what constitutes a property right. In my view, personal rights are encapsulated by the right to life. The right to life is the right to live physically unmolested. This means that any law restricting self-ownership is immoral, as laws are inevitably backed up by the threat of physical violence. For example, I believe hate speech laws to be immoral. The act of voicing one’s opinion is well within the purview of self-ownership. Any law that restricts that right ultimately results in the violator being dragged to prison, thus violating their right to life. Similarly, a ban on gay marriage is one of the ultimate violations of personal rights. An agreement between consenting adults is not open to interference by anyone else because that agreement does not infringe on another’s personal or property rights.

The moment you cross the threshold into violating another’s right to live is the moment in which their possession of that right trumps yours. For instance, threatening someone with a firearm places their right to live in immediate danger, and it becomes their right to kill you in order to preserve their own rights against an aggressor. An example of this would be the trial of a man for killing a SWAT police officer after the officers had stormed the wrong house. The man, not knowing that it was a police raid, used his own firearm to kill an apparent home invader who had a gun. The trial was dismissed, as the man had his right to life threatened and acted to preserve it. Similarly, a murderer or rapist gives up their rights the moment they infringe on the rights of another through an act of aggression. They then are stripped of their rights through things such as prison time to whatever extent the society deems appropriate.

Property rights are the rights to retain what you produce through your own means or what you obtain through consensual transaction. My stance on property rights as a matter of morality means that I believe Marxism and its associated politics to be fundamentally immoral. The idea that an individual is entitled to another’s labor is immoral as it violates a right guaranteed by our existence. We possess the ability to produce without violating anyone’s property rights or right to live; therefore, what we produce by our own means is inherently ours and should not be taken at gunpoint. Though I believe that taxes are necessary to maintain government at the functioning level, any bureaucratic waste or large-scale wealth redistribution constitutes theft. There are certain allowances that must be made in order to live within a functioning country, such as the possession of a military and a public education system. These issues should be left up to a democratic vote; however, I believe  the guiding principle of government should be the protection of the personal and property rights of its citizens.

My guiding moral principle can be seen in a quote from President Thomas Jefferson. In discussing religious freedom, he stated that the “legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Though Jefferson is referring specifically to government involvement in religion, his last sentence can be applied to all human interactions regarding morality. It is no one’s business to enforce “morality” upon others. The only just moral action is allowing individuals to do what they please so long as it does not encroach on the personal rights or property rights of another individual.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.

Common Cents: It’s Time to Abandon the Penny

in Miscellaneous/Political Issues by

In an increasingly cash-free world, pennies have become almost completely obsolete. The bronze 1¢ coin reaches the apex of its usefulness when a toddler needs to make a wish in a fountain or when an upset individual wants to make a spiteful payment. Pennies are simply impractical and unnecessary in our modern economy, posing a burden on both consumers and businesses. No one enjoys handling the nearly worthless piece of change. Thus, it’s time to discontinue the penny.

In 2008, The Washington Post reports that the US Mint spent 1.8¢ to make each individual penny. That means that, for every penny made, the government lost .8¢. While .8¢ may not seem like a lot of money, this loose change adds up when 9.3 billion pennies are made annually. US taxpayers, therefore, lost $135 million dollars due to coin making in 2013. Typically, the process of making money has been a source of revenue for the government; however, the procedure of making pennies now wastes the money of hard-working Americans. Government funds that could be redistributed elsewhere (towards education or infrastructure, for example) is being flushed away by the penny.

Moreover, the penny serves no practical function to many Americans. Most pennies, according to a study from the US Government Accountability Office, drift out of circulation — only 34.2% of pennies are actually in circulation.  In fact, a recent Gallup Poll found that 1 in 50 Americans throw pennies in the garbage. So, the government is just spending money to make what 2% of Americans consider literal trash.  

Many businesses have simply stopped accepting pennies, arguing that squabbles over a few cents waste the both employee and customer’s time. Instead, the stores round down to the nearest 5¢ increment, an act that could save our government millions of dollars if implemented everywhere. Ultimately, pro-penny advocates tend to not dispute any of my previous arguments. Their main point: the penny serves as an everyday memorial to the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln certainly deserves to be recognized for his monumental achievements during his presidency. But paying homage to him with the most wasteful and ineffective coin seems to be an unfitting way to honor his effectiveness as President. Luckily, he is already plastered on the $5 bill (worth 500 pennies). Abandoning the penny does not jeopardize Lincoln’s legacy because he’s already been immortalized on the $5 bill!

Discontinuing the penny would save the government millions of dollars and would lead to the lowering of prices in stores across the nation (albeit by only a few cents), all while continuing to honor the legacy of President Lincoln. Eliminating the penny symbolizes adapting to the demands of a changing world and increasing the effectiveness of our government, while continuing to pay respect to our history as a nation.

If we want to fix our government, then it’s time to change the way we make change.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/03/10/taxpayers-lost-105-million-on-pennies-and-nickels-last-year/?utm_term=.ce300712d59c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tyszHg96KI
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Mint_coin_production

The Affordable Care Act: A Complicated, Imperfect, and Necessary Regulation

in Healthcare/Political Issues by

Tom Donnely, his body unnaturally twisted into a knot of limbs, lay immobile in the middle of the road. The wet, jagged asphalt dug into his face as he glimpsed the pale headlights zooming forward through the downpour. His life didn’t flash before his eyes; he didn’t see a blinding white light; he just hoped it would be painless.  

In Greenwich Hospital, Connecticut, he awoke to find a stroke paralyzed the right side of his body. Thankfully after his collapse, no other injuries occurred, but now another challenge faced him. Insurance.  

He worked two jobs and barley made enough money to rent a one bed apartment and feed himself. Medicaid saved his life. Medicaid is a public assistance program which pays for medical insurance for low income individuals. Federal and State funds from taxes allow for these suffering poor individuals to receive life-saving medical treatment. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed in 2010 by the Obama administration, greatly enlarged this program to protect over 20 million more individuals. Tom Donnely signifies only one of the many millions of individuals saved by this program.    

So what is actually the Affordable Care Act?

If your sitting on your couch, scratching your head at the ACA. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. A study by Carnegie Mellon found that 86% of Americans between the age of 25 and 64 have even the faintest idea of what the Affordable Care Act does. The main purpose of this act is to make health insurance more affordable (obviously!). To perform this feat, the government offers individuals under a certain income level tax credits (which are refunds) on the government health care plans. The rule book for insurance companies has also changed. Previously, you could be turned away by insurance companies due to your preexisting conditions. Let’s say you suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) an insurance agency could have declined to have even accept you as a client. With ACA, this process is illegal.  

The government offers four different health care plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Bronze is the cheapest, but the insurance only covers 60% of the medical bills, while Platinum is the most expensive but covers 90%.

However, Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States of America, attacked this plan, calling it “very bad health insurance… [and f]ar too expensive.” Yes, ACA increases the rates of taxes, but the expense of this program in 2014 remained well below the price projected by the Congressional Budget Office writes Paul Krugman, a notable economist.

Locally, Houston funds a number of Women, Children, and Infant (WIC) clinics. These places provide medical benefits to pregnant women and children under the age of five who are all under are under a certain income level. For a family of one member, if the individual makes below $22,311 annually, they qualify for this program. To put this in perspective, Saint John’s tuition costs $27,545 per year, and, according to Datausa, 42.5% of Houstonian annually make $30k or less. The ACA expanded the coverage of programs like these WIC clinics to encompass more of the overwhelming population of economically struggling families.  

No, this plan is far from perfect, yet a total repeal without a suitable replacement, though it might raise taxes, throws out millions of Americans’ safety net. Medicaid coverage allowed Tom Donnely to receive the proper, life-saving treatment. Let’s allow for more people like Tom to get a second chance at life.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.
https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/wic/WIC-IEGS-2017.pdf
http://www.city-data.com/income/income-Houston-Texas.html
https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/081114/medicaid-vs-medicare.asp
https://www.voanews.com/a/fact-check-both-sides-lose-with-facts-in-health-care-debate/3766445.html  
https://healthcarereform.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001526  

World War Three or Diplomacy?

in Foreign Policy/Political Issues by

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”     Albert Einstein

Since 2006, North Korea has had nuclear weaponry. One of their more recent tests displayed a bomb seven times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, which triggered an earthquake with a magnitude of  6.1…in Japan. In 2017, an intercontinental missile test revealed that they had the capability to hit the United States if they desired.  Immediately, worries of a nuclear World War III spread across the nation and the globe as tensions between the two countries continued to rise.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently stated that the North Korea threat “is growing.”  So how serious is this threat? Are we staring in the face of World War III?  

Recent writers say that perhaps North Korea’s nuclear efforts don’t have the feared motives behind them, but rather they have created a nuclear stockpile simply to use as leverage for diplomacy.  The best case scenario would be that, after seeing the United States’ treatment of Cuba, Kim Jong Un is simply creating enough force to deter a similar invasion.  To protect his similar dictatorship from a Bay of Pigs-esque invasion, Kim Jong Un created and threatened the use of nuclear weapons. Another slightly comforting thought is that the weapons will just be used to strong-arm South Korea into annexation.  “Other than as a smoking crater, Kim Jong Un simply doesn’t have the resources to take over South Korea,” remarked one writer, “the nukes are just for leverage.” Top CIA officials have stated that Kim Jong Un is not the “madman” that the United States often portrays, but rather a “rational actor” motivated by “clear, long-term goals.”  “Waking up one morning and deciding to nuke LA is not something he’s likely to do,” said Yong Suk Lee, deputy assistant director of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center, “he knows he would be utterly eliminated…he wants to rule for a long time and die peacefully in his bed.”  It seems as if worries of an unprompted nuclear strike on the United States are unlikely to come true; of course, all of this relies on the rationality of our leaders…

Donald Trump’s reaction to the “North Korea crisis” and nuclear warfare in general is perhaps the greatest threat facing our world today.  The simple act of getting in petty twitter wars with another nuclear power world leader is arguably the most irresponsible act of his entire administration (which is a pretty high bar).  Those CIA officials that suggest Kim Jong Un is a rational leader are “continuously undermined” by the president’s words and actions.  The Moon administration in South Korea see Kim Jong Un’s actions as “largely defensive and rational,” but the reasonable voices of the world are drowned out by Trump’s petulant outcries. The most concerning of his antics is the increase of nuclear weapons.  In July 2017, Trump said he wanted to return the United States active nuclear stockpile to 1960 levels.  

The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” Trump tweeted. Coming to your senses is decreasing the amount of nuclear weapons in the world, not increasing it. Every presidential Administration since Lyndon Johnson in the 60s has decreased the nuclear stockpile.  Trump is single handedly starting a second Cold War. What kept the Cold War from sparking into a full on nuclear war was the principle of MAD (mutually assured destruction).  We would never start a nuclear war with Russia because we knew they could annihilate our civilization, and vice versa. What is concerning about the North Korea crisis (though seemingly counterintuitive) is that we could survive their attacks, making it possible for the Trump administration to decide to go head to head.  On a morning news show Trump seemed to invite this line of logic: “Let it be an arms race.  We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” Yes, congratulations, your button is bigger and you would win, but with millions and millions of lives lost. Some have even suggested executing a preemptive “bloody nose strike” on North Korea, assuming that eventual war is inevitable.  Pence stated recently that “the era of strategic patience is over.” Though the experts say that peace is still entirely possible and most Americans believe that “North Korea is bluffing,” our leaders seem to be unnecessarily escalating an incredibly dangerous situation.

Nuclear war should simply not be an option and should be avoided at all costs. The power of modern nuclear bombs is incomprehensibly devastating.  Even in 1961, the Tsar bomb detonated with a forces of 3,800 Hiroshima explosions.  The thousands of 21st century nuclear bombs could no doubt wipe civilizations off of the face of the Earth.  Trading nuclear blows with North Korea just to quiet them would be sacrificing millions of lives over a matter of pride.  If the situation is handled by our leaders properly, there should be little worry. Unfortunately that’s a big if.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Property of Errant Publishing Co.
https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/906428/North-Korea-news-Donald-Trump-Kim-Jong-un-World-War-3-US
http://www.businessinsider.com/north-korea-hydrogen-bomb-test-evidence-2017-9
http://www.businessinsider.com/reason-north-korea-needs-nukes-deterrence-vs-expansion-2018-1
http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/05/politics/cia-kim-jong-un-intelligence-profile/index.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/09/peace-north-korea-170905092328093.html
http://www.businessinsider.com/nuclear-posture-review-trump-huffpost-draft-report-2018-1
https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/903266/North-Korea-news-Kim-Jong-un-Donald-Trump-Moon-Jae-in-South-Korea-World-War-3-latest?utm_source=traffic.outbrain&utm_medium=traffic.outbrain&utm_term=traffic.outbrain&utm_content=traffic.outbrain&utm_campaign=traffic.outbrain

 

Who’s Responsible for the Government Shutdown?

in Contemporary Politics/Political Issues by

At 12:01 AM, on the one year anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the government shut down. The Senate proved unable to pass a budget plan for the upcoming year, so all “nonessential” governmental operations have ceased. Now, politicians are delivering scathing speeches, releasing ruthless attack ads, and tweeting ferociously to ascribe blame to various groups and people for the shutdown. Here are some of the most compelling suspects.

Suspect #1: Senate Democrats

THE EVIDENCE: Certainly receiving the most blame from the executive office, the Senate Democrats assembled the necessary votes to prevent the budget plan that passed through the House from becoming law. Republicans argue, therefore, that they blocked the only viable spending plan from becoming law and, thus, are naturally the cause of the shutdown. Democrats, on the other hand, point out that the House bill failed to provide a solution for the DACA kids (dubbed “Dreamers”). Senate Democrats have long held the position that they would reject any bill that fails to negotiate a solution for the Dreamers. Although the bill does continue to fund CHIP, another essential Democratic program that provides American children with healthcare, Democrats still largely rejected the budget.  To their credit, Democrats have been very open to bipartisan negotiations, earning praise from several Republican Senators, such as Senator Jeff Flake.

THE ACCUSERS: President Trump and Congressional Republicans.

VERDICT: The Democrats have been abundantly clear about their positions and are willing to negotiate. Furthermore, they hold a minority in both chambers of Congress, so it seems very hard to pin all of the blame on them. They demand that American children have a right to healthcare and Dreamers are able to continue positively contributing to American society.

Suspect #2: Senate Republicans

THE EVIDENCE: Since Republicans have a majority in both the House and Senate, many expect them to keep the government functioning. The failure to pass a budget bill certainly demonstrates a poor ability to lead and continues their struggle to pass legislation, despite their majorities. In fact, multiple Republicans voted against the Mitch McConnell-endorsed spending bill. Democrats accused them of using CHIP and DACA children as political hostages by pinning them against each other, reducing them to political bargaining chips. Judging from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent tweet, it’s hard to blame them.

THE ACCUSERS: Democrats and most Americans.

THE VERDICT: Yes, the Senate Republicans are largely to blame for the government shutdown. Exploiting the lives of Dreamers and threatening the status of CHIP to force a government shutdown was a machiavellian political move to avoid the looming 2018 bloodbath. Many Republicans rejected negotiations with willing Democratic senators. However, they should not receive all of the blame, which leads us to suspect #3.

Suspect #3: President Donald Trump

THE EVIDENCE: Author of The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump has seemingly lost his former dealmaking prowess. After one year in office (with majorities in both chambers of Congress), Trump has narrowly passed one major piece of legislation: tax reform. One might assume that a slow legislative year suggests that the President also spent most of the year under the radar. One would be wrong; the president’s chaotic first year was fittingly capped with a government shutdown. And no one lays out a stronger case against the president than … President Trump himself.

THE ACCUSERS: Democrats, most Americans, and President Trump(?)

THE VERDICT: As Donald Trump once said, “The President has to lead.” He should take his own advice.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.
https://goo.gl/WUb7pX

 

 

Prioritizing Justice Over Civility

in Contemporary Politics/Political Issues by

No words resonate with the modern status of racial inequality more than those of Dr. Martin Luther King in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Over 54 years ago, King reminded African Americans that the Negro’s greatest stumbling block in his stride toward freedom would be the white moderate. King defined this individual as more devoted to ‘order’ than to progress. The archetype of the moderate, an individual preferring an absence of tension over the presence of justice, appears in both the fiction of literature and the realities of our own history. President Donald Trump’s ambiguous response to the violence incited by a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville revealed Trump’s preference for American order over African-American justice. President Trump’s inexcusable behaviour demonstrates that acting on the grounds of civility with regards to racism prohibits social progress towards justice.  

In present day America, our nation’s foremost priority of civil order threatens social progress towards complete racial equality. In August of 2017, in response to the prejudice-motivated actions of a white nationalist group in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump blamed “many sides” for the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence.”* Yet, he failed to identify the Alt-Right white supremacist group as the sole perpetrators of this crime. By equating the blame “on both sides” instead of condemning the white-supremacists, Trump undermines the efforts of anti-racists protestors. Essentially, the President reduced the concerns of these individuals to avoid further disruption in Charlottesville. The President’s desire to placate racial animosity hinders the resolution of these recurring conflicts.

Trump, assuming the role of King’s white moderate archetype, prefers to silence the anger of African Americans rather than to combat the racist ideologies of their oppressors. In his initial remarks, Trump identified the anti-racist supporters as the “Alt-Left group,” criticizing that, unlike the Alt-Right group, these counter-demonstrators did not have a permit to protest in Charlottesville. Regardless of whether the anti-racists protesters violated this requirement, their actions to counter the hate-filled speech pervading Charlottesville deserved the President’s praise, not his criticism. Trump’s injection of moral equivalence into a situation of racial discrimination demonstrates his attempt to prioritize the law of the nation over justice for the nation’s African-American people. While other prominent politicians ardently denounced the actions of these white supremacists, Trump defended his moderate response by accusing “fake media” of never being satisfied. Even with backlash from his initial remarks, Trump insisted that “not all of [these protestors] were white supremacists.”  Despite their Confederate flags and “You will not replace us” posters, Trump concluded that these individuals were simply protesting “the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” later questioning “whether the movement to pull down [these] Confederate statues would lead to the desecration of memorials to George Washington.” If Trump were to denounce the cruelties of these white-supremacists, he would legitimize the anger of African-Americans and inspire more individuals to protest these injustices.

However, rather than recognizing the prejudiced truth behind their opposition, Trump justified their protests by dismissing the relevance of counter-protestors concerns. Rationalizing the issue of racial discrimination, Trump subverted all efforts toward social progress. Instead of using his platform to promote change, Trump exploited his power to undermine progressive movements and, in effect, prevent racial equality in America. Trump’s inability to condemn the evident acts of terror in Charlottesville perpetuated the culture of unspoken racism permeating in American society, denying justice to the African American community.

To obtain rightful justice, individuals must disregard the order which infiltrates their surroundings. By opting for social order when justice was required, Trump engaged in a form of covert racism which trivialized the problems of the black community under a false pretense of sustaining “order”. It is this “order” which prevented those silenced in Charlottesville from complete freedom.

Thus, disregard the institution. Renounce the plagued loyalties. Condemn the acts of racism. Equality can only be realized by transcending civility, shouting against the cruelties executed by the moderate, yelling and screaming, deafening the oppressor of justice.

*On August 12, 2017, while protesting the decided removal of a confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, a supporter of the Alt-Right white-supremacist group rammed his car into a crowd of anti-racist counter-demonstrators, killing one young woman and injuring dozens.
Graphic Design by Frederique Fyhr
www.cnn.com/2017/08/12/politics/trump-fails-to-condemn-the-alt-right-white-supremacists/index.html
theestablishment.co/white-people-its-time-to-prioritize-justice-over-civility-bfd90b80012e
www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/us/politics/trump-press-conference-charlottesville.html

The Fake News Awards: An Ominous Attack on the Free Press

in Contemporary Politics/Political Issues by

Donald Trump is engaged in a war against “Fake News.” Although, in his mind, “Fake News” means any sort of criticism against him, regardless of its veracity. Although there is obviously some widespread misinformation about him, Donald Trump is most certainly not engaged in a battle against fictitious news stories. If he were, his preferred news source might be NPR, not Fox News (whose consistent viewers, according to a FDU Public Mind Study, scored lower in a current events questionnaire than viewers who watched no news at all). Fox News, undoubtedly, perpetuates far more biased information than the other major news networks, so, if the president were keen on restoring truth to journalism, he would detest the deliberately deceptive partisanship of Fox News.  

To give you a sense of the other news sources Trump supports, while appearing on Infowars, Alex Jones’ radio talk show, he complimented Jones’s “amazing reputation.” Alex Jones, for context, once introduced a conspiracy theory that the gut-wrenching Sandy Hook massacre was a government hoax where no one was killed (prior to Trump’s appearance on his show). In all of the false reports that I have seen, no story is more heartless, baseless, and absolutely detestable. Exploiting the murders of innocent school children to stir up controversy and garner attention for a radio show is utterly reprehensible, and no one who does such has an “amazing reputation.”

In actuality, Trump’s attacks on CNN, the New York Times, and other reputable news sources serves as a means to delegitimize the media as a reliable source of information. The free press provides a key tenet in maintaining our democracy, offering an often unrecognized system of checks and balances between representatives and their constituents. By corroding the inherent dependability of the free press, Donald Trump has created an environment where (at least to his supporters) he is the sole dictator of what’s true and false. News sources that support the president are rewarded with retweets, while news sources that cover him negatively are attacked relentlessly, permanently branded with a Scarlet Letter-esq “Fake News” tweet.

The parallels between Trump’s actions and previous authoritarian fascists are alarming, to say the least. Both Hitler and Stalin rose to power by instituting a state-controlled press, and modern-day dictators, such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Venezuela’s socialist leader Nicolás Maduro, have already used the term “Fake News” to quash criticism from their own respective journalists.

Trump’s recent Fake News Awards are perhaps the climax of his attacks on the press. A collection of “Fake News” sources, listing Op-Eds that incorrectly predicted the future and retracted stories as “Fake News,” the awards were nothing more than a callous attack on the media.  The issue here is not that the stories were incorrect — it’s that Trump has forever tarnished the reputability of these news organizations with his tweets. An act undermining our democratic processes — whether it be our right to free elections, right to free speech, or right to free press — is an attack on our country, and must be treated as such.

Product of Errant Publishing Co.
Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
http://www.newsweek.com/trump-fake-news-awards-media-783228
http://www.historyguide.org/europe/lecture10.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Hook_Elementary_School_shooting_
conspiracy_theories#Alex_Jones_claims
http://www.businessinsider.com/study-watching-fox-news-makes-you-less-informed-than-watching-no-news-at-all-2012-5
http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/tv/fox/

Slides from Mr. Hegeman’s Climate Change Presentation

in Political Issues/Science & Technology by

If you have any lingering questions about Climate Change, feel free to email ehegeman@sjs.org for more information.

Created by Mr. Hegeman

 

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