APUSH Discussion Groups: Was MLK essential to the success of the Civil Rights Movement? (No)

For this debate, I was in charge of the misconceptions about MLK’s role and motives in the Civil Rights Movement while my partner was in charge of what he actually did (or didn’t do) so I only have half the argument.

Synthesis and Thesis:

Abraham Lincoln is named the Great Emancipator in honor of his Emancipation Proclamation that freed most of the slaves during the Civil War as well as the passage of the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery, both during his presidency. However, the decision to make slavery the center of American politics was not a simple one and Lincoln was far from doing it for moral reasons. Sure, he thought slavery was morally wrong but he was not willing to risk it being a national issue until the Civil War in which he used slavery as a moral weapon against foreign countries seeking to weaken the United States by supporting the secessionist Southern states. This sort of oversimplification of character is also seen in portrayals of Martin Luther King Jr. He was seen as the spiritual and moral leader of the movement and often the effectiveness of the movement is attributed to him alone. However, this is not true. The black civil rights movement was already under way when MLK became known as a leader. He was in a time when the social pressures were just right for him to exhibit his full abilities as an orator and an intellectual and his role as a leader didn’t mean that other more locally-based leaders of the Civil Rights Movement weren’t as essential to the movement. Rather, King put a face on the Movement and people looked up to him but he was far from being the universal leader everyone thinks he is.

Points:

  • Rise to fame
    • Montgomery speech
    • Arranged by Rosa Parks and EB Nixon
    • Was chosen to give speech
    • Became famous for it
  • Social Factors
    • The counterculture of the 1950s and 60s were ripe for change
    • Protests as early as the 1930s gave black community the foundation for further change
      • They knew that organised protest often worked to get legislation passed faster
      • Ex. Brown v Board of Education: segregated but not equal
  • Not well-liked by everyone
    • People thought he was working too slow due his insistence on nonviolent protest and some started their own militant group in opposition to this
    • Even to his supporters, he was seen more as a role model rather than a leader
      • They were determined to make their own efforts for the Movement and not to rely on MLK, therefore the Movement was less about MLK and more about the grassroots nature of locally-based protests nationwide
  • Nonviolent Protest
    • Used as a PR tactic to garner sympathy
    • Gave the Movement good press
    • More of a strategy rather than a moral decision
  • Wasn’t only a spiritual and moral leader
    • He was an intellectual who knew that just moving oratory wasn’t going to change anything
    • He didn’t rely just on emotional appeal, he was highly practical and was involved in organising community efforts through “black community institutions, financial resources and grassroots leaders”
  • Wasn’t as magnanimous or as omnipotent as he’s shown to be
    • Admitted his own limitations multiple times throughout the duration of Movement
    • Was initially fearful of harm being done to his family for being a prominent figure of the Movement
    • Encouraged local leaders to take their own initiatives
  • Concluding statement: King didn’t make the Civil Rights Movement; the Civil Rights Movement made him.

APUSH Discussion Groups: Did Yellow Journalism cause the Spanish-American War? (Yes)

Stance: Yes (how the media blew up what was happening in Cuba in order to sell more papers)

Synthesis & Thesis: The Spanish-American War wasn’t the first time the Americans were whipped into a frenzy of mass hysteria: the earliest and most famous example of which was the Salem Witch Trials. Over two hundred people were accused between February 1692 to May 1693 and twenty were executed. They were accused of practicing witchcraft and people believed that they were agents of the devil and could bring curses upon those they didn’t like. It turned out that there was a strong correspondence between the wealth and status of the accused and the accusers. The economic hardships of the time as well as their deep-seated superstitions and resentment caused the Trials and their beliefs spurred on by rumors and fear, spiralled out of control and resulted in very real consequences, much like the baselessness of the Spanish-American War. With the press actively working to encourage war, public opinion soon became putty to be molded according to the news headline of the day. With news stories so completely false and separate from the facts and yet having a massive following with eye-catching headlines, the US and Spanish government was soon backed into a corner where one had to fight to save face or risk rebellion and the other had to fight to relieve the bloodlust of its people. Yellow journalism caused the War by putting forth false and sensationalist news that fuelled public outrage and then forced the hand of the government through the pressure of public opinion.

Points:

  • Background-
    • Main players involved Hearst & Pulitzer, together had millions of readers
    • Penny newspaper means customers who are mid-lower class = less interested in mundane news = a lucrative business selling sensational headlines
    • Pulitzer and Hearst were rivals in the business
      • Pulitzer was against war but printed pro-war to increase circulation
  •  Incidents and Effects
    • De Lome’s Letter- construed as “the worse insult in American history”
    • He had to resign and it wasn’t much of a big deal if not for…
  •  Maine in Cuba
    • Was in Cuba on the pretense of being “a friendly act of courtesy”, the Vizcaya was sent to the US in return
    • Was hailed as the first “offensive” of the United States into Cuba by media
    • Was blown up, media blamed it on Spanish gov’t and spread the news that the Maine was blown up by mines planted by the Spanish government
  •  Vizcaya
    • Vizcaya arrived just after the Maine explosion
      • Front-page news for weeks, all spewing pro-war headlines of course
      • Suspected Vizcaya of ulterior motives– offended, Spanish officials barred Hearst’s men from boarding which caused more suspicious rumors
      • moon w/ two rings = sign from heaven
      • testimonials of wretched mothers (even made up a quote from Roosevelt), people volunteering to fight and condemned peace attempts as twaddle, whipping people up to a war-ready frenzy — revenge

On Campus Safe Spaces: The Drag and the Friction

For the 2016-2017 academic year, safe spaces were a particularly hot topic in light of the 2016 election in which both sides of America’s political spectrum were rather vocal in their support or opposition to the idea. There are some articles floating around that claim that safe spaces on college campuses are redundant if not counter-intuitive and promotes segregation instead of diversity. Those who advocate for the elimination or continued absence of safe spaces often misconstrue where safe places would be or exactly what constitutes as a safe space.

 

This could probably be due to the Sinclair group’s corporate takeover of local news channels so that they can spread their pro-Trump views by using flattering diction. This video is one of the many that appear when one searches “safe spaces” on  YouTube. FOX even has several of their own videos which ponder whether millennials will have the necessary skills to fight terrorism. Arguably, their perspective isn’t invalid because it questions the actual worth of the spaces but undoubtedly the language that both the left and the right use to refer to one another is nothing short of inflammatory. The “right” calls the “left” social justice warriors, cucks, and elitist snowflakes but the “left” is no better with insults such as backward hillbillies, Neo-Nazi, and white supremacists. Granted, there are actual neo-Nazis and white supremacists but to generalize all of the people of a particular political ideology certainly does no favors. If anything, it further alienates people.

 

People are now making awkward attempts to understand each other but it’s still mostly reporting statistics or forgetting that some, the new administration at the very least, promises change. Be it good or bad, people can’t ignore “the other side” anymore or write them off as a silent minority. Most news channels are confused by the conservative populism phenomenon (as historical trends tend to skew towards ideologies that favor progressivism) but there have been populist movements before and it’s always difficult to make sense of things as they happen. After bias, representation becomes the most condemning thing for media. What they decide or not decide to cover decides what voters are aware of as they make decisions. That’s part of the reason why FOX news does so well or that Trump resonated with those who voted for him. But in this case, when both sides speak of the other, it is often while maintaining a caricature of the “other side”. A character. A persona. But not another human being.  It then becomes a happy game of either intimidation or provocation on both parts due to this intense feeling of “other” produced by cultural lag. Cultural lag is when cultural aspects that were previously acceptable have been outstripped by progress, in this case, socio-political progress. It has been called fear-mongering and it has been called furious self-righteousness.

 

Perspective

I cannot speak as though some do not violently parade under the banner of the Black Lives Matter or even support black supremacy as opposed to equality. In the same way, not all Christians go on Crusades, not all Muslims are terrorists and not every Republican approves of the sitting president. We have to acknowledge these vast overgeneralizations based on extremes and instead look towards the medians. Progressives understand the Black Lives Matter Movement is a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement. The difference between then and now is that blatant racism was largely accepted. Now we shun actual discrimination without giving much thought to the actual prejudices. Mr. Jonathan Helwink of The Federalist asserts that safe spaces actually make the world a more dangerous place for that very reason. Doing this is often denoted as “political correctness” which helps to harbor resentment or at least the idea that the “left” has sensitive sensibilities which is where the term snowflake comes from.

 

Friction

It cannot be said that all of the right’s views are archaic nor that the left has all the answers to progress. Nor can it be said that one side is superior to the other. Both sides respect humanity but sometimes it becomes a matter of how they approach it.  According to the political spectrum some five years ago, many more people were moderates. So what changed in that span of time? Vox in particular points to the rise of nationalism in the Republican base and any mention of the Democrats is usually headed by “reviving the party” and “this is where we went wrong.” What the world is seeing now is called friction. Some minorities want acknowledgement, others want rights, and still other groups just want rights de facto. As soon as the election ended, news companies encouraged people to create a dialogue. For the most part, there were some half-hearted attempts but it didn’t take long to fall back into a routine with all the scandals surrounding the administration and the failure to distinguish between the different types of supporters on both sides of the aisle.

Conservatives still largely feel attacked for having an opinion and liberals do not “deign” to politely explain why they may find certain conservative views “ignorant”. This is the part of the reason why liberals are seen as elitist. Liberals now have views which would have been considered hippie or ultra-contemporary whereas the conservatives more or less want different things in foreign policy but want the domestic policy as it was ten years ago.

I won’t go into too much detail because that will take an entire article in of itself to elaborate fully. However, you can see the difference in the approaches of these two YouTube personalities and you can guess where their political philosophies lie and you can decide for yourself who is more respectable:

 

Learning that it is a bloody spectrum

If you want the other person to listen to you, you have to be willing to respect them as much as you want them to hear you out. Sometimes, it’s hard to not get emotional as most liberals were after the 2016 election (as it also was in 2000) but that does not excuse the mud-slinging. Twitter posts and the like of conservative minds often remark that they themselves did not behave in such a manner. The liberals were not reluctant to point out that this was not true. My honest opinion is that we all stop being dicks but then there’s the awkward grey area where the dickish people make us appreciate those who will have a dialogue. What to do? What to do? So, about safe spaces… Are they a legitimate thing?

 

Why I am probably not a credible authority on this discipline

We gossip. We laugh. We lament. We cry. But we do it all with people that seem like us. That is not to say that we are all friends within the space but that we can derive comfort and understanding from these spaces. If one is feeling homesick, one of the ethnic student associations may celebrate by organising ethnic festivals with food and ethnic culture. If one is a girl and is tired of having everything mansplained, there’s a space for women. Honestly, safe spaces are not bubbles that people are born and die in but it is a bubble that one retreats into when you want someone to understand you. I honestly cannot think of a way to define this without Neo-Nazis being able to say aren’t celebrating their “culture” and were also seeking the same comfort and like-mindedness offered in these spaces but I can say with certainty that all the minority groups that are requesting safe spaces do not mean other people harm. That should be the only thing I have to say in that regard.

 

Appreciating that we have more in common than we give ourselves credit for

We do not forget. We have been enduring. We will forgive if someone were to sincerely apologize but the majority of us bear no ill will to people who bear us no ill will. We have enough issues and although we speak about the things we want to change, there are things we know will take a while to change. That is why we use safe spaces: not to take away from democracy or counter-intuitively stimulate segregation.

 

Editor’s Note: I believe that we have come to a point where with my unruly schedule, my political forecastings are observations by the time I can write a post. How do you all feel with the current pacing of things? Have you lost track? Have you tried sorting things into wrong and right?

 

Abortion

Hello everybody! Hope you’ve all had a pleasant week so far. Today, I’m going to tackle the issue of abortion. My stance is generally pro-choice and I will explain why. To those who immediately felt a rush of animosity at my words, please restrain yourself from any unreasonable actions. To those who haven’t read the About page on this blog, please do. There are clear rules on this blog as to freedom of speech and I will not censor opposing opinions as long as there is logic to back it up. However, if any comments contain hate speech and/or argues points that I’ve already explained (seriously, please don’t be repetitive), I will delete them. Let’s start.

The main opponent to abortion, it seems, is the idea that it is equivalent to murdering a human being. That is not true. A person is considered irreversibly dead when their brain activity stops, therefore it stands to reason that a person is considered alive when their brain starts exhibiting regular signs of said activity or scientifically speaking, when electroencephalography (EEG) activity starts. That occurs at around 25 weeks, about halfway through the pregnancy. The definition of death is not disputed and so, will serve as a consistent marker in my argument. So that means that people who oppose abortion in all instances on moral grounds won’t be able to argue that the baby is veritably alive until at least halfway through the pregnancy. Therefore, abortion should be allowed at least during the first trimester.

To further expand on the first point, some of the same people who claim abortion shouldn’t be legal on moral grounds also say that the fetus has a “right to life”. If that is the case, then wouldn’t the mother also have the right to her body and her life? Remember, the mother is a fully-formed independent human being with thoughts and dreams and instead, the greater consideration is given to a bundle of cells that is in no way able to live outside the mother’s body and thus far doesn’t have any sort of human thought or personality. Having a “right to life” ultimately means being able to choose for yourself so there is no reason why the mother can’t choose to not have the baby, especially if having the baby means that the mother’s life is threatened.

Another anti-abortion argument is that abortion removes the consequences to having sex. Some people are afraid that if you were able to just get an abortion if you get pregnant, then unmarried people would have sex willy-nilly and the country’s morality would degenerate. Their argument basically says that if you have sex, then you know you risk getting pregnant. Thus, if you do get pregnant, then the responsible thing to do is to have the baby. While I can’t argue for the decision-making skills in teens, I can safely say that having a baby at that time of their life is disastrous. But it’s not only the teen mom’s life that will be ruined, the baby will also be born in subpar conditions and will probably live like that for the rest of their lives. (Fun Fact: For all of America’s reputation as a country of opportunity, the percentage of people who actually move up in life is 4% and that’s not taking into account exactly how much they’ve moved “up”.) This doesn’t apply to just teenagers though; teenagers just happened to be the most understandable scenario. In that case, the more responsible thing, I’d say, is to abort.

That said, having an abortion isn’t an easy thing. Having a procedure isn’t cheap and it requires a certain degree of desperation on the part of the mother. Going through abortion is not only a financial problem but also emotionally taxing.

You could also say that the woman can use contraception to avoid pregnancies, but contraception isn’t effective 100% of the time and even then, you have to assume that the option of contraception is available. Also, Sex Ed. isn’t taught in all schools in the USA either, meaning there is a serious lack of information about such things in the areas of the US that are most affected by unplanned pregnancies. And to those few that say a woman’s body is capable of shutting down a pregnancy if the woman really didn’t want to get pregnant, then you’re probably dumb or drunk or both.

In reality, the underlying argument in the question of abortion is about women’s rights. Does a woman have the right to choose? Does the woman have to sacrifice her goals and dreams and part of her life to take care of an unwanted baby? However, there is one crucial question that is missing, is the man responsible for the baby too? If the man were to be held accountable, then would the same arguments be put forward against abortion?

I won’t say anything about abortion in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in serious danger because there are clear reasons why abortion in those cases is the best thing to do.

That’s all for this time. Thank you for reading this rather long post. ^_^ Please leave your thoughts and comments below. There are a lot of aspects to this debate that I didn’t cover so I’ll be counting on you guys to help fill in. Remember to back up your arguments!