One’s individual Freedom

The bigger the government the stronger it will become, the more restrictive it will become and the less free the people will be.  Emerson strongly endorses individual freedom for a reason, due to monarchical and governmental institutions unwillingness to be contained with its own borders.  Emerson even states that “The world has been instructed by its kings, who have so magnetized the eyes of the nations” I believe he was referring to the power accumulated from the kings of the old world.  The monarchs were always grabbing power they thought they were owed via Divine right of kings, the same concept applies to the modern governments of today.  A society that allows government to give them all that they want is also strong enough to take all that they have as the old saying goes.

It is unreasonable and illogical to think that  government not bound a document of restraint will not eventually try to seize power through any means.  At least with a document that restrains them so they can only grab power that the people give until there is no room left in the lives of the people who gave it to them from the start.  We as citizens of the United States need to realize that this government regardless of which party is in charge is willing to seize power as Emerson make known in various ways.  The title of his book is self-reliance of all phrases, I may not agree with him on certain pertaining to religions of history.  Doesn’t mean he isn’t making a case for freedom,   I see very much a classical liberal mindset in this book.

Do I believe there is some sort of mindset in the American political arena that gears itself towards individual freedom, sure, the libertarians are a good example, however, they lack organizational strength.  Liberals do care about the society freedom, however, they ideas are very vague as to what kind of government they want, and lastly conservatives may want small government and lower taxes, however, they are not good a unity and monetary strength.  Emerson wanted individual freedom that was achievable via unity and relying on our own strength to see the other side of the for freedom more clearly.  His book speaks to what today’s Americans lack lot and is courage to speak your mind and the strength accept that other people may disagree with you strongly or somewhat.

I do not believe that today’s American politics with its polarization and double standard along with the tragedies happening across the country have reached a point of actually unity.  Like when 9/11 brought us to our knees in humility and fear or when the empire of Japan attack our navy at pearl harbor the nation came together to protect our future.   Do I actual want those type events to happen NO, NO, not at all, however, I didn’t see liberal vs conservative when those events took place I learned we were a nation unity against evil  and we would face the future together whatever the cost.

 

 

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In the Wake of the Tragedy in Texas, Is it Time for America to End its’ Stagnance on Gun Control Legislation?

As most have heard by now, a mass shooting occurred in a Texas church early on Sunday morning. After the disaster in Las Vegas last month, many called for both sides to not politicize the issue. At this rate, however, we cannot afford to stand idly by while our fellow Americans are subject to a relatively dangerous (compared to other industrialized nations) climate throughout the States. I do not wish to appear hyperbolic, so let me start by saying that the chances of a given American being involved in a mass shooting are still incredibly small. However, American mass shootings and gun crimes are so much more common in America than they are anywhere else. We, as an American People, must finally have a real dialogue about our nation’s direction moving forward.

A common argument against gun control is that “People who buy guns legally aren’t the people we need to be worrying about”. This argument was blown out of the water when Stephen Paddock committed atrocities in Vegas with legally purchased guns. Even so, the most horrific gun crime in American history was only enough to get American legislators to consider a ban on bump stocks. If our legislation cannot change to accommodate our constantly morphing future, how can our nation hope to survive? Are we to put our trust in a governmental system that time in and time out has not seriously considered a remedy for our present situation?

I am all for the Rights of an American, but at a certain point, one privilege, a privilege which has been used for evil, is not worth the suffering of hundreds or thousands of American citizens. According to a study in the American Journal of Medicine, 3.6 Americans died from gun violence per every 100,000. This is alarmingly higher than the .1 citizen death per 100,000 citizens in the other 22 modernized countries (which include the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, et al.). The question now is how we manage this crisis while infringing on American rights as little as possible.

Any solution is sure to rub one group or another the wrong way, and I’m sure many Americans would be offended if they were faced with the prospect of their protection and security being taken from them, which I completely understand. However, gun reform in countries like Australia, where it has been wildly successful in curbing gun related deaths since its’ implementation, can be looked to for inspiration. I don’t think it unreasonable for individuals to be subject to a mental and criminal screening process, and a waiting period to ensure certainty that they want the responsibility of a gun in their home. A common argument goes as follows: How is it reasonable to subject women who want to get abortions to a waiting period, and in some cases psychiatric evaluation (however invasive or non-invasive that evaluation may be), when we don’t even subject buyers of deadly weapons to such extreme scrutiny.

I find many compelling arguments on both sides of this debate, and I do truly understand the sentiment behind the desire to keep guns attainable, but this is not a “the Government is coming to take your guns away” situation. It is a counter measure to help ensure that massive acts of violence occur as infrequently as possible.

 

SOURCES: American Journal of Medicine

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Tyranny of the Majority? More like Tyranny of the Minority

I want to first start this off by saying that this post isn’t about minority races or ethnic groups, this about the very small portion of Americans who control vast amounts of wealth and political power. This blog post is based on Chapter XV in Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.

America, since it’s creation, has been a safe haven for equal rights and liberties among it’s people. Citizens of America have been guaranteed the unalienable rights such as Rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Declaration of Independence and these Rights were eventually guaranteed in the Constitution for every citizen in our country. Obviously there is still concern in the nation over social oppression of minority groups and women however every citizen of the United States at this moment has the right to vote and impact the direction of the government. Even with the equal voting rights provided to all Citizens, there has been a concern over Tyranny of the Majority since the inception of the U.S. Constitution. In Tocqueville’s writings, Tyranny of the Majority is described as, “that the interests of the many are to be preferred to those of the few.” In a pure democracy, I could see this being the case since the majority always wins out just by sheer numbers alone but with the American democracy, our representatives are supposed to look out for the well being of all Americans. I’d argue that American democracy in practice should be an ultimate defense against tyranny of any kind, yet there is clear evidence that there is tyranny in America…

What do today’s American’s and historians view as majority within America? The correct answer demographically would be white Americans (very evenly split on gender). Anyone with some knowledge of the U.S. population could have guessed this so what’s the point? Well let’s look deeper, what would be the political majority within America? The answer would be white men but once again this isn’t surprising (but it is unfortunate from a social standpoint). The 115th Congress of the U.S. consists of approximately 20% minorities and women while the rest fall into the aforementioned category of white men. From an outsider looking in, there is clear evidence that America is run by white American’s, mostly men and one could argue that this is tyrannical in nature. While all signs point towards a racial majority ruling America, I’d argue money and those who have it are the biggest culprits of tyrannical oppression within America.

Here is a long passage from Tocqueville that does not hold up in today’s America, “When an individual or a party is wronged in the United States, to whom can he apply for redress? If to public opinion, public opinion constitutes the majority; if to the legislature, it represents the majority and implicitly obeys it; if to the executive power, it is appointed by the majority and serves as a passive tool in its hands. The public force consists of the majority under arms; the jury is the majority invested with the right of hearing judicial cases; and in certain states even the judges are elected by the majority. However iniquitous or absurd the measure of which you complain, you must submit to it as well as you can.” The bold text from the quote assumes that the majority always wins out when they all vote a certain way. Majority of Americans voted for Hillary Clinton and yet she lost, majority of Americans are political moderates yet majority of the legislative branch have politically extreme ideology, and majority of Americans do not support the current president, however he still is declaring executive orders that are going seemingly unchecked through the courts and legislative branch. A minority of Americans essentially controls the political agenda of the whole country, with career politicians at the tops of both major parties dictating how OUR representatives should vote. Whenever other politicians (whistle blowers or moderate congressmen and women) call out this behavior, those with money fund campaigns to oust potential threats to party ideology and replace these spots with more obedient politicians. It’s a vicious cycle of those with money funding those with power to make sure the rich minority is represented over the general population of the U.S. Until the day where groups like the NRA have less impact on gun control then 60% of Americans who support more gun legislation, or large corporations no longer have authority over climate change legislation which 70% of Americans believe is a problem, then America will continue to be oppressed by a small, but vastly powerful minority.

Quotes from book

Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

Congress Demographics source

https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/slideshows/the-115th-congress-by-party-race-gender-and-religion

Climate Change info

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/21/climate/how-americans-think-about-climate-change-in-six-maps.html

Gun Control infor

http://news.gallup.com/poll/1645/guns.aspx

 

 

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What to you is this celebration?

Sure, we celebrate many holidays here in the United States, but do all citizens feel included within those holidays and are we doing the history of each day—of all the events that built up to one day–justice? Even at first glance it seems the answer to this question is ‘no’. I hate to admit it, but until I came across this paper, I hadn’t thought about what the fourth of July would have meant for slaves or recently freed slaves back in the 1800’s and even today for people of color. As we discussed Frederick Douglass’ analysis of what the fourth of July means to him and his history within America, I began thinking about how applicable his sentiment is to contemporary society.

Shklar argued for the existence of two necessary pathways to gain citizenship: the right to vote and the right to earn. While, one may gain legal citizenship status once these two rights are gained—are you a full-fledged citizen if you don’t feel included in what the country is celebrating? After all, celebrations should reflect the values of a community. If the values which are being celebrated are not aligned with large portions of the citizenry, it may mean large portions of the citizenry do not feel truly included.

indigenous peoples dayReading Douglass’ account reminds us of how valuable a diverse reflection and perspective on the nation’s holidays can be even to this day. In fact, there are contemporary arguments for the infamous Columbus Day to be replaced with a more historically accurate Indigenous People’s Day. As Leo Killsback, and ASU professor, argues, “Columbus Day is not just a holiday, it represents the violent history of colonization in the Western hemisphere.” It is never just a holiday, it has implications based on the language used and the focus of the day. What would diverse American citizens, most likely those of minority populations, say about other American holidays—Thanksgiving for example.

The celebrations could improve in their accuracy of the representation of the historical events, while still allowing for a celebration. A rhetoric could be developed which allows for atrocities to not merely be glossed over and for celebration of our progress to still be acknowledged. It’s true we can move on and progress, but we can only do so properly if we truly know where we’ve been–the language used around national celebrations of history inform us of just that, where we’ve been.

Throughout the paper, Douglass uses language such as “your nation” and “this Fourth of July is yours, not mine”. How many citizens today are feeling pushed aside–oppressed by varying degrees–so much so that they feel as if this is “your nation”, but surely not theirs. Their nation would value them, their history and their family. The way we celebrate speaks to what is important to us. America could and should improve in how it celebrates its national holidays. First, we can turn to those of diverse lineage and perspective to ask them, “Do you resonate with Douglass’ words? Is this your nation?”

 

 

Footnote: Just as a side note, while I was researching Indigenous People’s Day, I came across an article written by a stark opponent of the day’s creation, Michael Graham (2017). If you glance over his article, he seems to use much of the rhetoric which concerned us in the Tocqueville text, painting indigenous populations as savage, cannibalistic and so on. View Graham’s (2017) article here: http://thefederalist.com/2017/10/09/indigenous-peoples-day-far-worse-columbus-day/

 
Leo Killsback’s remarks can be found here: http://www.history.com/news/goodbye-columbus-hello-indigenous-peoples-day

 

 

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Immigration

Immigration is a very popular topic that has been talked about greatly especially with this most recent election. Immigrants have been coming to this country for centuries. America has been the land of freedom and opportunity. The United States of America has been a chance for immigrants to start a new life and get a second chance. We all know that America is referred to “The Melting Pot”.

I think that immigrant play an important role in our society. I think that if immigrants want to start a new life and work in our society that they should have a fair chance as long as the abide by our laws. I think that it becomes an issue when laws are being broken. I know Trump is big on keeping immigrants out and making bigger borders.

With all of that being said something that I would wanted to address that have talked about is DACA. As it has been stated Donald Trump is attempting to remove this because he wants more border security and less immigrants.”The DACA program was formed through executive order by former President Barack Obama in 2012 and allows certain people, called Dreamers, who come to the U.S. illegally as minors to be protected from immediate deportation. Recipients are able to request “consideration of deferred action” for a period of two years which is subject to renewal.”

I think that DACA is a very powerful program that needs to continue to be used and not terminated. It gives children and teenagers a better opportunity, it gives nearly 800,000 immigrants the feeling of working and having the citizen feeling. I think that’s what makes us so great as a country that people will work hard in order be apart of our great nation. The main question is should DACA continue to be association or do you support Trumps movement to terminate it.

 

 

 

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10/10/what-is-daca-and-why-is-trump-administration-ending-it.html

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Confronting Racism in the American Mind: Then and Now

Frederick Douglass, in his famous What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?,” wrote the following:

Sydney Smith tells us that men seldom eulogize the wisdom and virtues of their fathers, but to excuse some folly or wickedness of their own. This truth is not a doubtful one. There are illustrations of it near and remote, ancient and modern. It was fashionable, hundreds of years ago, for the children of Jacob to boast, we have “Abraham to our father,” when they had long lost Abraham’s faith and spirit. That people contented themselves under the shadow of Abraham’s great name, while they repudiated the deeds which made his name great. Need I remind you that a similar thing is being done all over this country to-day? Need I tell you that the Jews are not the only people who built the tombs of the prophets, and garnished the sepulchres of the righteous? Washington could not die till he had broken the chains of his slaves. Yet his monument is built up by the price of human blood, and the traders in the bodies and souls of men shout — “We have Washington to our father.” — Alas! that it should be so; yet so it is.

The evil that men do, lives after them, The good is oft-interred with their bones.

It seems ubiquitous. People praise their heritage and ancestors, but their actions do not reflect, or even outright contradict the values espoused and embodied by their cherished role models. If there is a nation that has not fallen into this hypocrisy, it is most certainly not America. The most salient case of this incongruity of professed belief and action, is the anti-black racism that has haunted the nation since it’s birth.

The was first seen with slavery, as eloquently recounted by Douglass, and later with the stubborn persistence of Jim Crow in the south. In the case of the latter, it took the incredible courage and amazing determination of (mostly young) men and women, inspired by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., who traversed deep into K.K.K. dominated towns and went on voter registration drives, to secure the basic voting rights of African Americans and the pressure on the Federal government needed to convince them to end segregation. The cost was high for many, but in the end they triumphed, and legal equality and protection from discrimination and the dismantling of racial segregation was realized. By the end of the 20th century, America had crafted for itself a story of moral progress, from racial slavery to racial equality. Eight years later with the election of the first African American president, social commentators celebrated the commencement of  a “post-racial society.

Putting aside the criticisms of the”march of progress” thesis for a moment, and assuming that America has indeed only improved in terms of racial equality, the question should still be asked: Does the United States today live up to this legacy of rolling back anti-black racism? The pundits on all sides may unanimously sing the praises of the 13th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but do the actions of our society and government reflect the rhetoric and professed platitudes?

At a brief glance, two facts about contemporary America stick out: 1)The Police as an institution are biased against African Americans 2)The criminal justice system is biased against African Americans. As an example of the former, the most prominent case study is probably the 2015 “Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department” by the Department of Justice which found that “Ferguson law enforcement practices disproportionately harm Ferguson’s African-American residents and are driven in part by racial bias.” As for the latter, in 2010, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, hit bookstores, explaining how “racial caste” wasn’t not abolished but only “redesigned” and reincarnated in the criminal justice system.

These are just the two most salient cases of the continued racial injustices that exist in America at an institutional level. Racism rears it’s ugly head at other levels and in other forms as well. I’m not interested in how we can fight it racial injustice in terms of the logistics or political strategy and tactics; I’ll leave that to the activists. The question I’m interested in exploring is how can we sensibly combat racism today at the *philosophical* level. Frederick Douglass, in the middle of a speech in which he distinguished himself and his people from America and whites, nonetheless hinged his arguments against slavery on the Bible (the American people’s holy text) and the U.S. Constitution (American civil society’s sacred document). He grounded his stance in the American intellectual heritage while denouncing the historical manifestations that accompanied it. But is this attempted divorce of the history of a nation from it’s philosophy truly possible? Judith Shklar, in the introduction to her book American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion, argues that “Whatever the ideological gratifications that the mnemonic evocation of an original and pure citizenry may have, it is unconvincing and ultimately an uninteresting flight from politics if it disregards the history and present actualities of our institutions.” (p. 9).

The picture I’ve painted is admittedly not a bed of roses. The challenge of overcoming systemic racism is both intellectually and realistically tricky. I don’t have the answers. All I know are the questions we need to address for a start. But as Frederick Douglass told that room of abolitionists, a small minority at the time, on July 5, 1852, “Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country.”

 

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No More Outrage

This comes from a very interesting conversation I had in a class. There is no more outrage with events on the news. We see tragic events that have taken place or natural disasters that create a tremendous amount of damage. We see these events that take place get major attention for 3 days at the most and after that no one seems to care. Before there use to be more outrage the viewers demanded more news on those tragic events.

For instance the las vegas shooting was a very tragic event that toke place it got major attention but a few days later you don’t really hear anything about it. As soon as something more important or viral comes along those events lose attention. For example right now all major news have been pushed aside due to the Weinstein allegations that have been made.

There have been numerous hurricanes that have occurred back to back that left a tremendous amount of devastation and death. Once the hurricanes stopped and things start to set to a norm no one hears about how the people are doing and what is being done to restore the cities. We are currently living in a world that simply does not care about all the devastation occurring. People no longer care about the tragic events taking place. If I does not involve someone personally they have zero interest in what is occurring.

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