Does Your Type of American Even Matter?

Written by Jolene Avila 

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The United States of America is a nation of immigrants from all over the world. While this nation started from European settlers, these are equivalent to today’s immigrants that vary from Muslim to Mexican to African. Many of these immigrants are forced to displace themselves from their home countries and must learn to adapt to new surroundings. Some immigrants retain a sense of pride and loyalty to their heritage and we tend to call them hyphenated citizens. Hyphenated Americans, to be specific, are very diverse. For example there are Mexican-Americans, Chinese-Americans, and the list goes on and on.

While although many immigrants find success from assimilating to the American culture, this however does not mean you must disregard your old values for “superior” American ones. Almost a fifth of the U.S. population identifies as non-white and this number is growing. In the next 20 years or so, the United States is set to become one of the first post-industrial countries where racial and ethnic minorities will be the majority of the population. A predominantly white America will be a thing of the past. This shows that immigrants do not have to put their past aside to be truly “American.” While some people may have the idea that, “If I wanted to be Japanese, I would have stayed in Japan” or wherever they may be from, this is not the way to think. At the end of the day, you cannot pick and choose your heritage or where your family came from. You are not either American or Japanese. It is possible to be both. If you are the outcome of immigrant parents but born in the U.S., you are American. If people ask you where you’re from, you should tell them “here.” You should never be categorized by either “American” or “Immigrant” because you can be both and proudly share that. In “What Does It Mean to be an American?” by Michael Walzer he argues for ethnic-Americans in the case that they can live a whichever life as they choose, on either side of the hyphen. His biggest point being that pushing for a radical program of Americanization would really be un-American.

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Overall, a hyphenated identity does not make you an outsider of any sort, but proves that you are true to yourself and your heritage. It is not un-American nor an identity crisis. Anyone can be an American, an Englishman, or an Aussie, but in the end, these nationalities are all social constructs. No one should be forced to throw away their identities because others have disavowed their own. If you are an immigrant but decide to be identified as only American, that is okay too. It is just important to acknowledge and support those who do wish to be hyphenated Americans.

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The Divided Political Culture of Today and Tocqueville

Written by Gregory Blackie 

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Alexis de Tocqueville was a master observer, able to put into words the many aspects of American life, culture, and government he experienced while on this side of the Atlantic. Only a state of fascination and absolute curiosity could have inspired and compelled Tocqueville to write his thoughts down in such depth and clarity. He gave, and gives, Americans a description of the way in which they, at the time, and perhaps we, now, live from an outsider’s perspective having grown up quite differently and quite far away. One thing he observed as a danger of democracy was the inevitable tyranny of the majority. He noted that a mixed government cannot exist. He carefully mentions that he is not implying a mixed government in the sense of having different chambers, but rather that there cannot exist a government that has “mixed” ideas, principles and cultures. He declares that one will attain a majority and that one culture or philosophy will dominate over the other. This is okay, he thinks, so long as there is a force acting upon it so that it may not achieve its goals entirely or too quickly.Tocqueville

“The form of government which is usually termed mixed has always appeared to me to be a mere chimera. Accurately speaking there is no such thing as a mixed government (with the meaning usually given to that word), because in all communities some one principle of action may be discovered which preponderates over the others.” (Tocqueville)

What Tocqueville observed must have compelled him to make such a claim, and I believe it to be true, however I believe what he observed is far different and far better than what we observe today. Tocqueville came to America at a time when people were Tennesseans first, Americans second. State came before country, community before state. There was a strong tie between the people and their community. One majority didn’t rule over the entirety of the country, rather thousands of different majorities “ruled” over thousands of different communities. The one community wasn’t concerned with what the other did so long as their sovereignty was respected as well.

Democracy in America today is quite different. Instead of thousands of communities respecting the sovereignty of the others, we all fight on a national stage sending representatives to the House and the Senate as well as a representative to the executive. The majority, in theory, gets to rule both the Legislative and Executive branch of the federal government and since Tocqueville came in the 1830s, those two branches have slowly been infringing on the sovereignty of the localities, conglomerating most power in the District of Columbia.

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“When a community really has a mixed government, that is to say, when it is equally divided between two adverse principles, it must either pass through a revolution or fall into complete dissolution.” (Tocqueville)

Communities then, and even today, tend to be quite homogeneous in culture. When an issue arises, it lends to logic that the people in communities have some sort of connection with the others in the community and so the majority isn’t too different from the minority, and the fight for power won’t be very violent. However, with so much power given to the federal government, a hundred million different people are fighting a hundred million people they have never met in their life, who they will never meet in their life, and who grew up very, very different than them. Rural farmers in Tennessee are forced to fight with urban people from L.A, thousands of miles apart from each other, with entirely different cultures. Why should the way of life of the Tennessean be forced upon the Californian, or vice versa? It shouldn’t, and when it is the fight for a majority, for power in government becomes very divisive as we see in our political climate now. I don’t think the theoretical Tennessean wants to force his way of life on the Californian, or the Californian on the Tennessean, but with the state of American government, the Tennessean knows he must fight for that power to protect his way of life, and the Californian does the same.

If, as Tocqueville claimed, mixed government cannot exist, power must be localized or the divisiveness we see today will only continue to intensify.

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Modern Slavery: For Better and For Worse

Written by Alexandra Deemer

Here in the United States, we are lucky enough to have abolished slavery in the 1800s. While this certainly did not fix all issues for black people in America, it was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, this is not the reality in some countries across the world. Some countries just recently made slavery illegal, as recent as 2007. In many cases, the United States and its inhabitants are oblivious to the injustices that slaves still have to undertake in parts of the world. As Jacobs discussed in her book “Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl,” the slaves in the US endured harsh punishment and humiliation their whole lives. But, the question I have is: how does this compare to modern day slaves and how they are treated. Or, does it not compare at all?

To start with, Jacobs, in her book, tells many stories about what she went through, the experiences she had, and the hardships she suffered through. Jacobs talks about material and nonmaterial losses that she had. The major material losses she had were her food, a pair of boots, a lousy wardrobe, and was not allowed to have any personal possessions. Which is also one of the major reasons she had her boots taken away from her. Now, these things are replaceable but, they were symbolic of something much more than just clothes or a pair of boots. As for non-material items, she had taken from her was proper nutrition, love, affection, freedom, rights, dignity, family, humanity, and her overall wellbeing. Throughout reading Jacobs’ accounts, there was one major theme that prevailed: slavery is terrible, especially for women. Jacobs master was abusive and obsessed with her. He raped her and abused her, but was strangely in love with her. But, this caused her mistress to be extremely jealous giving more reason for Jacobs to live in fear. This is not something that just happened to Jacobs, this happened to slave women all across the South. It is obvious from this account, and from what we now know about slavery that it was a terrible time.

harrietjacobs

As for slavery in the modern world, there is not much known because it is all secretive and hidden, especially in places where slavery has been successfully abolished. It is estimated that today there is about 45.8 million slaves in the world. According to Hess and Frohlich, in 2014, India had the highest population of slaves coming in with 1.14% of their population enslaved. Among these slaves, there is house slaves, labor slaves, children slaves, forced marriage slaves, and even sex slaves now. This is something that was not, to the best of our knowledge, something that happened in the US during the slavery era. One website called Free the Slaves states that in 1850, slaves were sold for $40,000 in today’s money but now are sold for only $90, making them extremely cheap and even more disposable. Making this one of the biggest differences between the account of Jacobs and what we know about modern slaves. Another major difference is the types of slaves that are being abused. One being, sex slaves. While slaves like Jacobs were sexually abused and taken advantage of, modern sex slaves are bought and sold for the purpose of only having sex with their master no matter what. All too often, this leads to multiple rapes, gang rapes, and even death, all from sexual advances. Also with modern day slaves, much like historic slavery, slaves are not allowed to own anything, material or nonmaterial. Modern slaves are deprived of all the same things that the slaves from the 1800s and prior were. They don’t get love, affection, safety, humility, dignity, clothes, personal possessions, rights, or freedom and many other basic human rights.

Based on the comparison above, I would say there is some things that are similar, but the most significant difference I see is the new concept of sex slaves and the price of slaves back then and what it is now. However, it is one thing to try to compare these two things based on research on the internet, but to actually know what these poor people go through and went through, that is a whole other story. A story that has been told from the past, but yet, people still refuse to learn from. For people in modern day living in the US, we can only read and feel regret and grief, but there is no real way to compare what slaves must go through.

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Work Cited

“Modern Slaves Are Cheap and Disposable.” Slavery Today « Free the Slaves, Free the Slaves, www.freetheslaves.net/about-slavery/slavery-today/. 18 March 2018.

Hess, Alexander E.M. and Frohlich, Thomas C. “Countries with the Most Enslaved People.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 24 Nov. 2014. 18 March 2018.

McKay, Nellie Y. (editor). Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Harriet Jacobs. W.W. Norton & Company, 2001. 18 March 2018.

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The Illogic of Reparation

Written by Neil Johnston Rouse III

In determining the propriety of making ‘slave reparations’ one must first define the question of ‘reparations to whom,’ who were the slaves, where did they come from, how did they become enslaved? Perhaps the bigger question being, should the sins of the fathers be visited on their children? You cannot have one answer for DACA, and another for reparations. That is the core of the question, is there any legal basis at all to force people that have never owned a slave to give money to people who never were a slave based on events that ended a century and a half ago. The subject of ‘Jim Crow’ should be a separate issue, and one that may have standing, as there are living victims and living abusers. There is unlikely to be any surviving slaves, or even the children of slaves, which makes this a completely different issue than the Holocaust, or Japanese internment camps, as there remain living individuals personally injured by the actions of governments in those cases. As the slaves were never only Black, the owners were never only White, even though that was the usual occurrence, the idea that Americans of one color owe something to Americans of another color, based only on color, without any other qualifiers, is absurd, and might well be racist. The whole world was involved in slavery in one way or another, at one time or another, every race has taken their turn being slaves. Is America on one hand to give ‘reparations’ to the Cherokee for the Trail of Tears, and then take it back to give to the descendants of Cherokee slaves? Do the descendants of Black slave owners give or receive?

Certainly slavery was not something invented by Europeans, it has been a historic fact from the beginning of civilization, and although it would seem obvious that a man should not be able to own another man any more than a horse can own another horse, the practice of slavery has been universal, no culture is innocent of it. Which begs the question; if we are willing to go back a hundred and fifty years, why not three hundred, six hundred, or a couple thousand and let France sue Italy over Roman enslavement of the Celts of Gaul? Perhaps we might do better to deal with slavery, as it still exists in the world today, and finally, really, end it. But, if we are to concern ourselves only with New World slavery of over a century ago, than we should at least examine what we are talking about.

New World slavery began, not in the Caribbean with Columbus enslaving the Carib and other local tribes by telling the Pope they were cannibals, but it already existed; most notably among the Aztec, the Iroquois, the Yurok, and Klamath, long before the coming of Europeans. No one really has the moral high ground on slavery, including Africa. There was slavery in Africa long before the Portuguese set up business on the Slave Coast, and it was Africans, mostly the Alladah and Ouidah, that sold other Africans to mostly the Portuguese, and Dutch. Typically, the Alladah would sell war captives to the Portuguese who would sell to the Dutch who would transport them to the Spanish Caribbean, where most would end up in Brazil or English sugar plantations, or North America. No one had clean hands, including the African kingdoms; in fact, based on criminal law, it might seem the Africans were the thieves, everyone else simply in possession of stolen property. According to Snopes, which may obfuscate by diversion on political issues, but is generally studious in matters of history, tends like most to hide from the issue, even while confronting it.

 

“Apologists for the African slave trade long argued that European traders did not enslave anyone: they simply purchased Africans who had already been enslaved and who otherwise would have been put to death. Thus, apologists claimed, the slave trade actually saved lives. Such claims represent a gross distortion of the facts. Some independent slave merchants did in fact stage raids on unprotected African villages and kidnap and enslave Africans. Most professional slave traders, however, set up bases along the west African coast where they purchased slaves from Africans in exchange for firearms and other goods. Before the end of the seventeenth century, England, France, Denmark, Holland, and Portugal had all established slave trading posts on the west African coast”(Snopes.com).

 

In other words, Africans sold Africans, but they did it at trading bases so somehow it doesn’t count? The fact is raids by Europeans on interior villages were very rare, it would have likely ended in their own death or enslavement, and was utterly unnecessary, they need only to have stayed in the shade in some safe camp drinking wine, and the captives would be brought to them. However, to suggest that slave sellers somehow exonerate slave buyers is crap. The drug dealer would not be in business without the addict, there would have been no slave seller without slave buyers, the guilt remains, it is only that there is enough of it to go around.

How far back do we want to go to assign culpability, who is culpable, and how do we define a victim?

 

anne_philip_starkweather.jpgAnn Phillip Starkweather                   wootonckuaske_philip_ mother of ann.jpg Wootonekanuske Pokanoket

 

The Starkweather family came to America before 1640, it is likely a made up name, and the reasons for settling in Massachusetts is likely political. All Starkweathers in America is descended from a John Starkweather  (1646-1703), and his wife Ann Phillip, the daughter of Metacomet (King Phillip) and Wootonekanuske Pokanoket. After King Phillip’s War, Metacomet’s head was set on a pole in the middle of town, his two younger daughters, Ann, and her younger sister Prentice, were held hostage by the colonials.

“With Metacomet’s death, the war in the south was largely ended. Over 600 colonists and 3,000 Indians had been killed. Several hundred more natives who had surrendered or been captured were sold as slaves in the Caribbean. Members of the sachem’s extended family were placed for safekeeping among colonists in Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut. In Stonington, Connecticut, selectman John Starkweather married his Christianized captive”(World History Project). Ann and Prentice’s mother and brothers were all sold into slavery in the Caribbean. This is not a matter of Americans buying slaves; this is Americans actually making free people into slaves. The Starkweather family no doubt numbers in the thousands by now, over ninety percent of them are likely over ninety present ‘White,’ but the direct descendants of a free person sold into slavery by Americans. Do these mostly White descendants get reparations?

 

In the 1650s entire Irish families were convicted of treason under the Proclamation of 1625.   Irish political prisoners were sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. Although the Irish being ‘enslaved’ in North America is not exactly true, their term of indenture was effectively slavery, and the Irish sent to Brazil by Oliver Cromwell were likely actual slaves. The difference being that indenture was traditionally a voluntary contract with well-defined responsibilities binding on both parties, and a set limit of time or production. These indentures were not voluntary and not defined as to any terms of service. It was not chattel slavery, but it was not simple indenture either. Another difference was that they could not be freed, or sold, their indenture was a criminal sentence from which they had to serve or be pardoned, as they technically ‘belonged’ to the state. Punishments could be appalling. “Punishments for attempted escapes included branding the letters ‘FT’ (Fugitive Traitor) on the servant’s forehead″( Irish indentured labour in the Caribbean). Should the Irish be offered reparations, should the Irish have to pay reparations?

 

In 1861 there were four brothers living around Laurens NY. They were landed, educated, and besides farming and renting out their land, they all had learned a trade. Their family had been in America from the mid-1600s, their great grandfather had supplied two regiments to Rhode Island for the Revolution; their grandfather was a founding father of Otsego County and the town of Laurens NY in particular. The land owned by the extended family stretched across Otsego, Thompkins, and Jefferson counties. They were comfortable, and connected, and had no need of a military paycheck, nor any fear that a military draft could touch them. But every one of them volunteered and went off to fight the Civil War. They did not join over taxes and tariffs, not to ‘preserve the union,’ not even in retaliation for Ft. Sumter. They went off to fight for one reason, and one reason only…to free the slaves. Clark, the youngest at nineteen, joined the 121st NY Infantry and fought in The Maryland Campaign, The Battle of Crampton’s Gap/South Mountain, The Battle of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Franklin’s Crossing, The Battle of Maryes Heights/Fredericksburg, Salem Heights, Banks’ Ford, The Battle of Gettysburg, The Pursuit of Lee to Manassas Gap, The Bristoe Campaign, The Battle of Rappahannock Station, The Mine Run Campaign, Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, The Assault on the Salient/“Bloody Angle,” Cold Harbor, Siege of Petersburg, Jerusalem Plank Road, Repulse of Early’s attack on Fort Stevens and the Northern Defenses of Washington, Expedition to Snicker’s Gap, Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign, The Battle of Winchester, Fisher’s Hill, The Battle of Cedar Creek, The Siege of Petersburg, Dabney’s Mills/Hatcher’s Run, Petersburg, Appomattox Campaign, Assault on and fall of Petersburg, Sailor’s Creek, and Appomattox Court House (121st New York Infantry Regiment). Clark made it home alive, but not whole, his leg had been shattered by a mini-ball. His brothers, David, Nicolas, and Hiram, had also survived, but had also been wreaked in one way or another. They could no longer farm or fall back on a trade, there were few people left healthy enough to rent farm land, or available as labor, they had spent the last four years at vastly reduced income. They lost most of their land. They had freed the slaves, but the family would never be the same with the brothers moving off in different directions. How much more should this family owe?

In Tonawanda NY several people tried to join the army to fight the Civil War and free the slaves, they were not allowed to join. One, a fourteen year old boy named Henry Deo walked about two hundred miles to south eastern NY, and at about fifteen years old joined the 16th NY volunteer cavalry. It was not his age that mattered back home, no more so than Ely Parker’s age. It took Ulysses S. Grant himself to demand Parker be allowed to join, and made him his assistant. Parker wrote the terms of surrender at Appomattox, Deo on the other hand, far away from the Tonawanda Indian Reservation only had to lie about his race. Although Parker claimed a full regiment of Seneca volunteered to fight, only a handful managed to do so. Henry was shot through the hand during a charge, but lived to become a canal boat captain; he never returned to Tonawanda. The war was none of his business really, except that there were some people that were even worse off than he was, and he was determined to do something about it. How much should his family pay?

And who should get?

In his article for The Atlantic Daily, the same publication in which the article by Ta-Nehisi Coates appears, David Frum states;

“The problem of “who qualifies?” is explosive enough with hiring and admissions preferences. As the benefits at stake expand to the vast dimensions urged by Coates, the question will become more explosive yet. Does a mixed race person qualify? How mixed? What about recent immigrants from Africa or the West Indies? What about future immigrants? What about illegal immigrants from Africa who subsequently gain legalization—would amnesty come with a check attached?”( Frum.2014).

Would Obama get reparations? He’s wealthy, his ancestors were never slaves in America, and he’s half white, would his black half get, and his white half have to give? Or would he simply have to give having no ‘slave blood’?

What of the non-white slave owners. “There were approximately 319,599 free blacks in the United States in 1830. Approximately 13.7 percent of the total black population was free. A significant number of these free blacks were the owners of slaves. The census of 1830 lists 3,775 free Negroes who owned a total of 12,760 slaves”(Snopes.com). The Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek owned slaves. What of immigrates after 1861, or 1865 for whom slave ownership was an impossibility, do they owe? Does it depend only on their color if they give or get? It has to be more complicated than that, in fact it would have to be unreasonably complicated to even approach any degree of fairness, in which case reparations might not amount to the value of the postage to send out the check.

Even Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of the primary proponents of reparations admits in his article The Case for Reparations that the abuse transcended racial lines, stating;

“One hundred years later, the idea of slaves and poor whites joining forces would shock the senses, but in the early days of the English colonies, the two groups had much in common. English visitors to Virginia found that its masters “abuse their servants with intolerable oppression and hard usage.” White servants were flogged, tricked into serving beyond their contracts, and traded in much the same manner as slaves”(Coates.2017).

Yet he believes reparations should only be for African-Americans. Coates rightfully indicts Mississippi for the lynching of Blacks, but makes no mention at all of Michael Schwerner or Andrew Goodman who were murdered by the KKK with their friend Andrew Goodman for being White Freedom Riders, and damn Yankees, and helping to register minorities to vote. Coates claims that successful Blacks are at least twice as good as their White counterparts is unsubstantiated at best, and although one would not expect him to argue both sides in a piece meant to advocate a point of view, omissions of the extended facts are troubling. That the money would only be symbolic is an understatement. Even at a minimum of qualified recipients, the reciprocity would probably be less than one rent check or mortgage payment, and the bureaucratic mess would be unmanageable. It would amount to a meaningless and useless Act of Contrition, which would do no lasting good at all.

It is, however, undeniable that something has gone very wrong in intercity neighborhoods and Indian Reservations. As a national community, we need to be concerned with these social failings, even if only because like cancer, a small part can eventually have a devastating effect overall. As far as society today is concerned, those places might as well be on Mars, but they are truly in our own backyard. What we allow to happen there will absolutely be at our door eventually. A better use for ‘reparation’ money would be to bring those places home. The basic problems are known, and many of the answers are simple. Perhaps the most important (in so much as the rest depend on it being done), is to ensure the safety of the residents in their homes, schools, businesses, and on the streets. Companies and shops are understandably hesitant to establish themselves where there is a likelihood of being robbed and vandalized, kids are much less likely to finish an education where just coming and going to school is hazardous and where it appears that crime pays. Trust must be reestablished between police and residents. Tax incentives must be made available for business moving to the area and hire locally, individual incentives for finishing High School, government-sponsored college scholarships, and grants to neighborhoods to rehabilitate buildings, parks, and modernize the schools. It would cost less and accomplish much more to move into a brighter future than it does commiserate over a past that cannot be changed.

 

 

Works Cited

“121st New York Infantry Regiment.” The Civil War in the East.Web

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 17 Aug. 2017,

“Fact Check: 9 Facts About Slavery They Don’t Want You to Know.” Snopes.com | The definitive fact-checking site and reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.. Web. <http://www.snopes.com/fact-check/facts-about-slavery/>.

Frum, David. “The Impossibility of Reparations – The Atlantic.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic , 3 Jun 2014. Web. 15 Mar 2018.

“Irish indentured labour in the Caribbean | The National Archives blog.” Blog | The National Archives. Web.

Rouse Family History genealogical files.

“Sir Edmund Andros Negotiates Treaty with Northern Bands of Native Americans, Conclusively Ending King Philip’s War.” World History Project, worldhistoryproject.org/1678/4/12/sir-edmund-andros-negotiates-treaty-with-northern-bands-of-native-americans-conclusively-ending-king-philips-war.

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Who Deserves Reparations? The Case for Japanese-Americans Attachment

Written by Tanner Semple

Reparations are the proposed plans that, through financial compensation, would rectify past systematic injustices towards racial minorities. The most common argument comes in favor of African-Americans with relatives subjected to the Atlantic Slave Trade – the forced removal of Africans, their bondage into slavery, and forcing them to live and work as slaves in the United States. And while this is a completely rational choice, it is not the only possible one.

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https://kaiserpermanentehistory.org/tag/executive-order-9066/

With Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066 in February of 1942, all Japanese/Japanese-Americans citizens within the United States were forced to relocate to Western internment camps (detention camps for suspects during times of war), very similar to the infamous Nazi internment camps (although not as heinous or deadly). Camps were defined by mistreatment by government officials, poor and tightly-packed housing situations, and overall depraved food and living conditions. All individuals were only allowed to carry what they could hold and suffered greatly. In total, 120,000 individuals were placed in these camps and out of this number, roughly 62% of interned individuals being bonafide American citizens. All of this came the loss of jobs, homes, and established businesses for thousands of Japanese families; and on top of all of this, 7 interned individuals were executed by government sentries.

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http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2015/11/roanoke_mayor_on_refugees_and_japanese_internment_camps.html

Another massive blow to the Japanese-American community that came from this horrific policy was the feeding of race-based fear – coming from Japanese alliance with the Axis Powers in WWII – and the discrimination faced even after they returned home. While the material losses are certainly the most pertinent towards any arguments supporting reparations, the pain and fear instilled within the Japanese-American community when returning home to “No Japs Wanted” and “Japs Keep Moving! This Is A White Man’s Neighborhood” was brutal as well; deep scars were given during this period, scars that still remain to this day.

nojapswanted.jpg

keepmoving.jpg

http://miguel-esposiblelapaz.blogspot.com/2013/08/los-olvidados-campos-de-concentracion.html & https://sites.google.com/a/griswoldschools.org/internment-camps/home/why-were-internment-camps-started

In conjunction with the generation-spanning harms faced by African-Americans due to the introduction of the brutality of the Atlantic Slave Trade, Japanese-Americans additionally deserve a case for reparations due to their subjugation during their and their relatives’ internment during World War II. While the irrational fears of populations of racist America were quelled by Executive Order 9066, an entirely new fear was created. Japanese-Americans, and any ethnicities/races related to opposing sides in times of war, now live in fear that the United States government has the means to target, round-up, and brutally intern any of them. The only rational way to make up for this massive issue is to work to financially compensate those of Japanese heritage for the economic and emotional scars left over from the brutal abuse of power by the American government.

           If you are interested, attached above is a firsthand account by Japanese-American actor Pat Morita detailing his placement into an Arizona internment camp and some of the mental anguish he suffered because of it.

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Team USA and the melting pot

Written by Turner Hubby

Citizenship is a provocative topic in American politics. I thoroughly enjoy Walzer’s argument about American citizenship. When I went through my notes I loved how Dr. Kirkpatrick broke down the argument into three main points. In this post, I want to examine how one of my favorite School House Rock songs and the recent Winter Olympics depict Walzer’s argument and show its continued relevance in the debate on what American citizenship is.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/trying-to-make-team-usa-look-more-like-america/2018/02/02/422ca13a-04fe-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_story.html?utm_term=.1b6ba78f0438

The first point of his argument is American citizenship is many things that make up one. To begin with the song, the chorus is all about America being many things but being one thing at the same time. “You simply melt right in, it doesn’t matter what your skin. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, Or your religion, you jump right in, To the great American Melting pot. Ooh, what a stew, red, white, and blue.” This vision of a melting pot is still alive. Recently, the Winter Olympics saw the most diverse Team USA at the Winter Games. The article notes this as an achievement, but with only 10 African Americans and 10 Asian Americans, this isn’t so much a melting pot as it is a White Team USA. Now I understand that the Winter games are different from the Summer Games, but this still lakes the “many” parts of American citizenship that Walzer argues.

Team USA Athletes at the 2018 opening ceremony

Picture: Team USA entering at the 2018 opening ceremony (http://www.justjared.com/photo-gallery/4030520/team-usa-opening-ceremony-winter-olympics-2018-01/)

From the first argument, I found that the second argument that American citizenship should be hyphenated was relevant in 1977 and still in 2018 America. The article I have included quotes the United States Olympic Committee’s director of diversity and inclusion that sums up to a vision of a team that represents every American. That team USA should, at least on the exterior, be representative of the many countries and races that have immigrated to it. Beyond race, the song included a verse that highlights this second point. “They brought the country’s customs, Their language, and their ways. They filled the factories, tilled the soil, Helped build the U.S.A. Go on and ask your grandma, Hear what she has to tell How great to be an American And something else as well.” For the song being an American is having a pride in the United States but also being proud of your hyphen. That we should all ask our ancestors about our heritage and find our hyphens.
The last part of the argument, the patriotic fevers, is the one that I have the most difficulty in pinpointing. If I understand it correctly as a pendulum (back in forth between a hyphenated American to an American) then these two examples represent a hyphenated American. With the example of Team USA, the article pretty much focuses solely on the race of the athletes and sexual orientation. It doesn’t include the many other aspects (religion, language, culture and so on). So I feel as if the Olympics isn’t at one end or the other of the spectrum, but slowly swinging to the side of hyphenated pride. In conclusion, America’s melting pot was relevant then and is today, it swings back in forth from whether we should be proud of our ingredients or just the whole stew. Based on the Olympics, we are proud of the stew but shifting to focus more on the ingredients like the song.

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Why The World Hates Nickelback

Written by Delaney Tobin

 

They were one of the most popular bands of the mid-2000’s. With easy-to-memorize bops, and an edgy, bad-boy vibe paired with band members who looked as wholesome as bible camp counselors, they seemed enjoyable for everyone. However, without warning, reason, or ceremony, they became one of the most universally loathed bands in recent history. Now everyone knows their songs but can’t sing along, for fear of public ridicule. What happened here? Where did they go wrong? And most importantly…

Why does everybody hate Nickelback?

This is a question so confusing that scientific studies have actually been conducted, such as the one by Salli Anttonen, a cultural studies Ph.D. student at the University of Eastern Finland, scathingly entitled, “‘Hypocritical bullshit performed through gritted teeth’: Authenticity discourses in Nickelback’s album reviews in Finnish media.” Yeah…not the most impartial study but a thorough analysis nonetheless. If you would like to read more about her take on the band, the full article is can be found here: Authenticity discourses in Nickelback’s album reviews in Finnish media. Anyway, “science” aside, one can theorize other reasons for this band, and other major pop culture figures, failing to win the hearts of the public, or losing them after initial popularity.

 

In this case, it appears that the bulk of people have fallen victim to what Tocqueville calls the “tyranny of the majority” in his book Democracy in America. The basis of this is that people tend to be extremely susceptible to go with whatever the popular opinion is about things. It becomes a tyranny because often times if anyone chooses to voice an opinion or belief that is not in line with what the preponderance of society thinks, they are shut down and even ostracized. Although the example of Nickelback is a bit trivial, it is a perfect illustration of how this phenomenon works. Even now, you will never hear anyone saying they enjoy their music, and in the rare event that you do, they will be met with great mockery and protest, which is an immense detriment to freedom of opinion and expression. Many people, Salli Anttonen obviously excluded, don’t even know why exactly they dislike them, they just do because everyone else does.

This type of mob mentality is dangerous.

Tocqueville states in his book that a tyranny of the majority is much more dangerous than an actual tyrant, such as a dictator. Being forced to go along with what everyone else thinks due to fear of alienation from one’s peers puts a stop to individual thought and creative thinking – no one will have any desire to have original ideas anymore. Tocqueville goes as far as to say, “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.” He’s not wrong, even on seemingly free-thinking places such as college campuses, there have been people who have been violently driven from them for daring to voice an opinion outside of the norm. When individuals begin fearing extreme backlash from their peers for having original beliefs, conversations tend to cease, as does freedom of thought.

If the tyranny of the majority is capable of changing the general opinion about a popular band, imagine what else it can affect. Is it possible to have a stance on major issues without being swayed by popular opinion?

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America is More Socialist than You Might Think

Written by Oscar Rodriguez

Growing up in socialist Cuba, we were often reminded how fortunate we were to be living in a socialist country where people were taken care of by the government and where every citizen has access to free healthcare and free education from preschool to graduate school. We were also reminded that in socialist Cuba nobody experiences hunger because the government feeds everyone through a system of monthly rations enough to feed a person for a month. These rations included a variety of products like milk, meat, fish, grains, candies and even beer and cigarettes. If a person used all his rations he can buy more in state markets at a low price where all the products are subsidized by the government.  Other perks of living in “Cuba’s socialist paradise” are free mortuary services and nursing care.

To this day, many people on the island that haven’t had the opportunity to travel (because international travel is restricted although the government has softened restrictions in recent years) or do not have any relatives residing in the US, still have the idea that in the US people die ill on the streets because they cannot have access to healthcare. Or that education is basically inaccessible for those that cannot pay for it.  The Cuban government constantly compares the “good socialist system” against the inhumane and evil American capitalist system where the most fundamental human rights and needs are totally reserved for those that can afford it.

The “ill American capitalist society”, according to the Cuban regime, does not have a cure, it will never get better because that’s the way it is and has always been. In its principles and core is inhumane and unequal.

But is it? Of course not; the truth of the situation is far from what the Cuban regime depicted. The fact is that the US despite being the champion of capitalism in the world has many socialist like programs that are the envy of any socialist country that ever existed. American kids have access to free education through K12 and even free or subsidized higher education. There are also health programs like Medicaid and Medicare that secure treatment for individuals in financial need and the elder. And there are the SNAP and WIC programs to help families that cannot afford to buy food.  These and many other state-supported programs make possible a more equal society by lifting those who are at the bottom and securing some equality of opportunity.

The founding father Thomas Paine noted that for a society to function properly, even an individualistic one, there must be some degree of equality. In his pamphlet Agrarian Justice, he proposed to redistribute wealth from the wealthier to the poorer, therefore, creating a more equal society. Paine proposed welfare benefits for the disabled and the elder as well as land and money to young people once they reach maturity. This pamphlet dating from the early years of America are a clear evidence that social welfare and equality were pillars in the creation of the new nation.

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Posted in Communitarianism, Individualism, Socialism | 6 Comments

Barn Raising in a Barnless World

Written by Chase Bethay

Daniel Kemmis, an attorney and Harvard graduate, starting his life in the humble land of eastern Montana. Here, in this rural landscape, Kemmis experienced and learned many lessons that would develop and influence his political beliefs. Kemmis is a civic republican at heart, because of what he learned growing up on his farm in Montana. Because of his upbringing, the civic republican way of life was a must. The choice to be completely independent was impossible, and dependence on your neighbors was a good thing.

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These ideas were laid out in a work of his, Barn Raising, in which he describes the trials of surviving harsh winters and the unforgiving landscape of Montana. Here, nobody was rich enough or owned enough stuff to be able to be self-sufficient, and therefore everyone relied on everyone. For Kemmis, this was a good thing. You learned to get along with people you greatly dislike, and you do so because you have a greater common goal that needs to be accomplished. Kemmis explains how this teaches true tolerance and responsibility. To simply raise a barn means that you must rely on your community to bring hands, equipment and time to put this project together. The civic republican way of life was a must, and it was a good thing.

However, Kemmis’ arguments for civic republicanism are easily criticized by pointing out that not everybody lives like he did in rural Montana, and they would be right. They claim that because we live in urban environments where we are able to be self-sufficient, should we rather just embrace liberalism because civic republicanism is unnecessary? Absolutely not – in fact, maybe a little insufficiency would be good for us. Perhaps, as a society, we should move towards a lifestyle like that of young Kemmis, for the sake of strengthening the community.

In my life, I was very active in my high school Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter. Through this organization, I learned a lot about the agriculture community. In fact, I become so involved with other agriculture-minded students that I competed in a lot of FFA events and even raised a pig. The lessons I learned through these adventures opened my mind to completely different kind of lifestyle – that of the civic republican.

I have spent my entire life in the suburbs of Goodyear, Arizona. I have lived a distinct life apart from what Kemmis was raised in. There was no necessary cooperation, no co-dependence. I was self sufficient, and had no reason to embrace anything other than liberalism. However, when I decided to raise and show a pig for my FFA chapter, that all changed.

Completely out of my element and in foreign territory, I relied on the community to provide. In order to purchase a show pig, I needed someone who knew how to get a show pig – my agriculture advisor, Mr. Blattner. He was the one who traveled across state lines to buy pigs for the students and bring them back to Arizona. When I had to find a place to house my pig, my friend offered up a spare pin in her backyard. To feed a pig, I needed someone who knew how to properly care for a pig’s health. I met Mrs. Trump, who taught me how to feed and care for my pig. When my pig was sick, I had to find a veterinarian to bring my pig back to health. I remember going to sell our pigs at the market, and one of my friend’s pigs did not meet the weight threshold to be able to sell her pig. A nearby ranch owner bought her pig so that she would not be out hundreds of dollars as a high school student. I learned that it takes community to accomplish something as small as raising a single pig. The lessons I learned from this venture taught me so much about what it means to be a member of the community, and to care for others.

So yeah, Kemmis’ ideas about barn raising probably don’t hit home to everyone. But his ideas ring true – that raw, gritty, unfiltered community can teach us the importance of civic republican community in a way that we would never otherwise experience. Rather than scrap his ideas, maybe we should take on some sort of rural adventure. Maybe we should embrace a little insufficiency. Maybe we should rely on the community more. Maybe we should all raise a pig. You never know what you could learn.

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Posted in Communitarianism, Kemmis | 5 Comments

Communitarianism in an Individualistic Nation

Written by Ethan Anderson

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The United States is known as a place of promise, a place where people can come from nothing and achieve greatness. The “American Dream” is something that people have been chasing for centuries. It exemplifies the individualistic tendencies of this nation, where many people believe in doing what needs to be done themselves. However, is it fair to refer to the United States as an individualistic nation? There are many aspects of everyday American life that are possible thanks to the idea of communitarianism. Despite the labels, the communitarian aspects of American life and Western culture must be adequately recognized.

First and foremost, individualism is the idea that people should act for themselves and look to their own needs before looking to the needs of others. Ralph Waldo Emerson writes of this in his essay “Self-Reliance.” Emerson writes that readers should use their own methods, discover things for themselves, and find what goodness means to them before acting on it (Emerson 2). He argues that in order to live the most satisfying and fulfilling life, people must address their own wishes before addressing those of others. He goes as far as to refer to those who seek help from others as the leeches of society (Emerson 3). While this idea may be extreme, individualistic tendencies can be traced back to the beginnings of the United States.

The oppressive rule of the British government over the United States colonies led the colonists to yearn for independence. After achieving such independence, they created a national doctrine that would afford all Americans the rights that were not granted to them by the British. They were free to do as they pleased and granted the new government little power over the people. This revolutionary idea birthed the beginnings of individualism within the United States. The people were given basic rights and liberties and the majority could not take that away from them.

But as the centuries passed, it can be seen how the efforts of the American collective have led to many great things. For example, the American Revolution itself was a communitarian effort. It consisted of people coming together for a common cause: freedom. Daniel Kemmis wrote his essay “Barn Raising” arguing that the community receives the most out of issues that are decided upon by everyone. A collective common ground serves the community better than if everyone were to live based solely on their individual needs.

This idea of communitarianism is often overlooked by Americans. After all, the foundation of this country is that of a sentiment of individualism. The communitarianism that is neglected is often utilized in everyday life. For example, it is a collective effort to manufacture and grow food to be sold to the public. It is a collective effort to build up industries that grow the economy. It is a collective effort for people to develop communities and suburbs. While it is important to remember the individualistic roots of this country, it is also important to recognize and appreciate all that communitarianism has built for the American people.

 

Works Cited

Emerson, R. W. (n.d.). Self-Reliance. Emerson on the Soul.

doi:10.4159/harvard.9780674734524.c15

Kemmis, D. (1990). “Barn Raising” – The Community and Politics of Place.

Posted in American Dream, Communitarianism, Individualism, Kemmis | 2 Comments